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A Simple Pace/Race Shape

Formula: pv + wsf(pc)

Pace velocity (pace of the race) + winner's speed figure compared to par for class.....again.....simple pace shape that includes the pace of the race (not a particular horse) and the way the "winner" finished against the pace of the race represented by the "winner's" speed figure relative to par for the class.

As you know by now, we've entered the Race Shape Age. Everybody's doing it. BRIS has an approach. Daily Racing Form has a convoluted approach - unnecessarily complicated. By the way, I've checked the BRIS, DRF and my VG pace of the race velocity ratings and guess what? They're all different a lot of the time. Who's got it right?

For those of you new to my site I'm going to present to you a simple pace shape. I presented this information back in '98.

It's part Quirin and part me. Quirin first presented the race shape concept in Thoroughbred Handicapping, State of the Art back in 1984.

It goes like this:

Pace of race = Fast 5.
Speed figure of winner earned against the pace velocity (Fast 5) = 89
Par speed figure for the class = 95
Pace Shape = Fast-Slow.
Pace Shape favors closers.

Simple. Let's do another one.

Pace of race = Slow 9
Speed figure of winner earned against the pace velocity (Slow 9) = 98
Par speed figure for the class = 95
Pace Shape = Slow-Fast
Pace Shape favors Early Pace horses.

The definitions of pace shapes and race quality:

AVERAGE-AVERAGE: Favors no particular running style

AVERAGE-FAST: Strong front running performance or anything close to the pace.

AVERAGE-SLOW: An average pace that fell apart. Nothing stands out.

FAST-FAST: The best pace shape. Any horse that finished close to the wire raced exceptionally well. (Ghostzapper's 123 Beyer was earned against a pace of the race FAST 5!)

FAST-AVERAGE: A very good performance by a early pace type. If won by P/C or C the winner was taking advantage of a fast pace.

FAST-SLOW: Late runner advantage

SLOW-FAST: Early pace advantage. Anything that closed and finished close raced well.

SLOW-AVERAGE: Good performance by early pace type. Very powerful if won by a stretch-runner.

SLOW-SLOW: You'll see this one a lot. Nothing can run early or late.....even a "fast middle" move doesn't save this one.

Of course you must have an understanding of the inverse relationship between pace and final time before any of this makes sense. How many times have you seen a career best speed figure when the horse was loose on the lead? Can you say slow pace, inverse relationship?

Unlike the DRF pace progession notes you will be comparing to two benchmarks, pace of the race and speed figure par. Just because a race was run faster from a slow first quarter (internal fraction) to the pace call doesn't mean anything if the pace of the race was very slow. In my view, it's misleading to say that a pace was fast middle when in fact the the pace was slow.

In other words, a fast middle (internal fraction) in a SLOW-SLOW pace shape is a big whoop di do. Two bads don't make a good! And it's probably dangerous to your bankroll. Huh, and where's the benchmark?

The pace of the race relative to par for that particular final time and the final time (speed figure) of the winner! We simply want to know what a horse confronted in its last race(s) and how it handled it relative to its running style. I hope you see that simple is better.

By the way, we should remember that if we're talking about pure pace of the race shapes then there are only three possible shapes:


This is my preferred way of doing a quick pace shape. This is the information that my VG program generates. I know right away if a horse's running style was advantaged or not by the pace and how the horse handled the situation. However, adding the winner's speed figure in the Quirin style gives me the overall quality of the race as well.

But remember, all this is yesterday's news. Moss, BRIS, Giles all have to be projected. What is "today's" pace match-up? How will each horse's last race Pace Shape help me "today"? If you're not good at that one then no vendor's pace figs, progressions or ratings will help.

In closing........I use my own running styles, Quirin speed points and pace of the race velocity ratings, mine too. The combo gets the job done nicely, in a simple and efficient way. I never consult pace figures. So I'm biased, I know. I just don't see a reason for all the DRF hoopla over pace figures and race shapes. They've been around for years. The Daily Racing Form has not improved on the original Quirin concept that was presented to handicapper's who cared back in ‘84. They've only complicated it, confused it and branded it. I believe in the power of simple. It works.

Oh, one other thing.......I understand that as I write about pace of the race it's something of an advertisement for my Velocity Generator. I try to avoid it......but it happens. So I want to be as fair as I can.

Here goes:

If you're not interested in generating your own pace shapes with VG then I recommend BRIS. They have a simple format (+7, -6, etc.) that I agree with because that's my format as well. It's simple, direct and clearly stated. No useless information. Their Premium Plus and Ultimate PPs have this information in PDF. However, as I stated in this article we don't come up with the same velocity ratings very often. Of course it's up to you to decide on the more accurate product. Having said that I cannot, absolutely not, recommend the DRF product. I've been involved in pace of the race research for many years, well enough said. I believe the DRF pace product is overblown, misleading and misguided.......

A message to DRF by way of Wikipedia - KISS principle is a colloquial name for the empirical principle that simplicity is an essential asset and goal in systems and processes. It is popular in software, animation and engineering in general. The term KISS is an acronym of the phrase "Keep It Sweet & Simple". It also corresponds to the phrase "Keep It Simple, Stupid" though many other expansions have also been used. Most of the expansions maintain the same idea of the principle, roughly corresponding to the Occam's razor(1) and to Albert Einstein's maxim that "everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler".

So there. Fair enough.

(1) A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. -