This came up in a thread on the Pace Advantage board and I thought it would make a great topic for a blog post.
So what’s the answer? Yes and no.
If you are in system development mode very little will develop your system as quickly as doing a postmortem on every race. However, the post-race analysis should be done immediately following the race, while it is still fresh in your mind.
The best way to do this is to get yourself what I call a “decision notebook.” That notebook is used to record each race’s results and commentary. The commentary should be divided into two columns: positive and negative. If you prefer you could call these columns right and wrong.
What you write in each column is a simple, one sentence description of what you got right and/or what you got wrong. You should emphasize only those right or wrong points that resulted in either winning or losing the race.
The strength of the decision notebook lies in formulating your potential answers ahead of time. You do this by forming good questions. For example, suppose you want to know if you’re top early speed horse is really getting to the front. You might formulate a question like this: “ES went to the front?”
Then, as you go through each race, all of your answers should relate directly to this question. For example, if your ES horse went to the front immediately and won, paying $16.80, your comment might be “ES1 w2w.”
If your ES horse did not go to the front but the first call leader won the race in wire to wire fashion, your comment might read “Wrong ES1.”
If the winner of the race was not the horse that took the lead at the first call, then it does not matter which course you pick to be ES1. Therefore, there should be no comment relating to ES.
At some point in your study you will be capable of going back and tallying up all your answers:
ES1 w2w 12
Wrong ES1 8
In this way, you are ultimately able to say, “My early speed process works 60% of the time.”