I have been following a recent thread on the Pace Advantage forum entitled Identifying Early Leaders. This most informative thread addresses a question that all pace handicappers typically begin with. Ironically, it is the focus upon this question that I believe makes it difficult to show profit from pace handicapping today. Below is a direct link to that thread: http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=80692
The emphasis in pace handicapping is typically focused on the early horses. One reason for this is that it is much easier to measure the early horses than it is the late ones because you’re measuring them all from the start of the race. That is they all have a common starting point. Late horses start their runs from different positions, making their measurement more difficult.
The reality is we are all looking for “value,” that often hard to find commodity that ultimately determines whether we win or lose. Of course, value is not found in early or late, specifically, but on the tote board. Like many of you I have been handicapping for years with more than a little success. I always found that pace handicapping was the best way to determine who will likely win the race but that does not always translate into “value.”
In recent years I found that the early horses that looked like they were strong enough to win paid next to nothing. The early horses that appeared to “have a chance” but figured to fail would occasionally pay huge prices. In other words, the best of the early horses lost me money, while the worst of the early horses could have been profitable in the long term.
In looking at late horses – how do you define a “late horses” anyway? – Usually do not measure up on the numbers when compared to the early horses. Again, as with the early horses, it was the lates that did not figure in the race based upon pace numbers that ultimately produced the greatest return.
I have been a “modeler” for many years. Some races run as you expect and then you get $6 or less. Rarely do my “solid” plays produce anything that resembles the prices I got 20 years ago. The less “solid” the play is, the greater the likelihood of a big price. The time when good pace handicapping could produce profit on the top horses in the race is gone.
I have conceded that I really do not know which horse is going to win a given race except with the occasional very obvious horse (that usually pays next to nothing).
I have determined that my most profitable plays are the ones that produce serious doubt before the race, and most of them wind up losing! In the long run it is these “doubtful contenders at a price” that drive my profit model.
I have determined that I do better picking contenders with good pace handicapping and not attempting any form of “separation” between them. That is, I allow the tote board to select my plays for me. This is a significant difference from standard “Sartinian pace.”
Recall that conventional pace handicapping (i.e. Sartinian pace) is based on the following logical steps:
- select contenders
- select pacelines for those contenders
- consult a model to determine likely winners
In my approach to the game, I selected no contenders, no pacelines, and use no model.
Instead, I use running style to determine who the early and late horses will likely be, then use speed (in a unique way) to determine who the final contenders will be. The contenders’ odds are considered to decide which horses will likely produce “value.”
In other words, be pace analysis of the race determines the contenders rather than the other way around.
I encourage your comments and feedback to this post.
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