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A Beginner's Selection Method
Although called a "beginner's system", this method can
be used by anyone wanting a relatively quick, mechanical
selection process. It will usually point toward the best horses
in the race, with the winner to be found somewhere in the final
three picks most of the time. On May 10th, 1989 Golden Gate
Fields, it picked 6 of 9 winners!
So you've never been to the racetrack, know virtually
nothing about horseracing, but would still like to amaze your
friends with you handicapping prowess? Do we have a method for
The first step, of course, is to purchase the Daily Racing
Form. Next turn to the section that contains the past
performances of the horses running today at the track you plan to
attend. That's the hard part!
Frankly, I'd like to reprint a couple of past performances
here, but alas I do not have the permission of the copyright
holder! Even so, it should be simple to figure out exactly what
I'm talking about.
This method is very simple and mechanical. You won't have
to worry about whether or not you've selected the "right" horse -
everything is automatic.
For each horse in the race, total the speed rating and track
variant for it's last two races. These figures are found in the
main body of the past performances. There's a speed rating and
track variant for just about every race line on each horse. It
looks something like this 77-14. The first number is the speed
rating for the race (how fast a horse ran compared to the track
record for that distance) and the second number is the track
variant (an indication of how fast or slow the track was that
day). Sometimes a race did not get a rating at all. In that
case, ignore it and simply take the first two rating-variant
combinations you find. Start at the top of the past performances
as these are the most recent races.
If you're having trouble finding the speed ratings and
variants, ask someone who looks like he knows what he's doing.
Ask a different person the same question just in case the first
person was jiving you!
Go through each horse totaling those speed ratings and
variants. Write the total number somewhere near the horse's past
performances and circle it so you can't miss it. This is the
SPEED FIGURE for that horse. After you've totaled all the
horses, put a big black "bullet" (solid black circle or some
other distinguishing mark) next to the horse with the highest
figure. If more than one horse has the same high speed figure,
give them each a bullet.
Now it's time for step 2! Find the lifetime earnings line.
This is found just above the latest running line for the latest
race. It looks something like this:
Lifetime 42 9 8 6 $157,150
What all of that means is that the horse ran 42 times in his
life, won 9 times, ran second 8 times, ran third 6 times and made
a grand total of over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars! All
you really care about is how many times he ran (42) and how much
money he made ($157,150). Divide the money by the number of
starts into the amount of money and round it to the nearest
dollar (157150 / 42 = 3742). Write the result down near the
horse's name and circle it. This is the CLASS FIGURE for that
horse. Find the horse with the highest class figure and put a
bullet by his name. If more than one horse has the same high
class, give them each a bullet.
The third step is even easier than the first two. However,
it's a little confusing to do at first. Looking for a winner
really involves looking for losers and eliminating them. You're
going to start eliminating horses that don't figure to win the
You're going to eliminate the lowest CLASS FIGURES and SPEED
FIGURES alternately, starting with class. Find the lowest class
figure and eliminate that horse from contention - draw a squiggly
line through his past performances and forget about him. Next
find the lowest remaining speed figure and eliminate that horse.
Continue eliminating horses alternating from class to speed until
you have only three (3) horses remaining. Remember to start
eliminating with CLASS (because C comes before S, you see!).
Once you have only THREE horses remaining, look to see if
any of those three horses had a "bullet work-out" at the same
track they're running on today AFTER his last race. This is a
bit confusing, but a bullet work-out is really easy to spot.
Look at the bottom of the horse's past performances and you'll
see up to four workouts that look something like this:
Apr 20 GG 4f ft :49 H
That's a work-out, but it's not a bullet work. A bullet
work-out would have a black circle in front of it like this:
@ May 3 GG 3f ft :34 H (pretend the @ is a bullet!)
A bullet work is the fastest recorded work-out for that
distance of all horses working that day. It's a good indicator
that a horse is ready to run today, especially if it occurred
after the horse's last race. (The date of the last race is the
first information on the first past performance line, 17Apr89-5GG
If any of your three horses have a bullet work-out after
their last race, give them one of your "bullets" next to their
At this point, your three horses may or may not have
bullets. If only one of them has one or more of your bullets,
that's your pick. If two or all three have the same amount of
bullets, you're going to have to do a little more work. Most of
the time, one horse will have the only bullet or (even better) it
will have two or three. The more bullets the better the chance
of it winning.
If you still have a tie, pick the horse who came closest to
winning his last race. Find the final "beaten lengths" in his
last race - this is the small, superscripted number that occurs
just before the jockey's name in the last past performance line
(in the Western Edition, anyway.). You'll see four numbers with
superscripted numbers right about in the middle of the line -
it's the last superscript. The big numbers are the running
positions at various points in the race. The superscripts are
the number of lengths behind the leader. The last pair of
numbers is the final placing and the number of beaten lengths.
Pick the horse with the smallest subscripted number if the big
number is 2 or more, if the big number is a 1, he did win his
In the highly unlikely event you still haven't come up with
a pick, pick the horse with the highest class figure.
With a little practice and a calculator, you should have no
problem doing a race in five minutes or less. The hardest part
is dividing for the class figure - just takes a bit of time.
You'll be able to do the entire day's races in less than an
hour's time and you'll find your picks are as good or better than
*** Late (1992) Update ***
Since the Daily Racing Form(c) now publishes the Andrew Beyer
speed figures for _most_ races, you may substitute these for
the Speed Rating - Variant pairs.