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Pace Travels

I've spent the last few days rereading the highlighted sections in some old handicapping books and magazines. They go back a long way. Who inspired me the most, I wanted to know. Ray Taulbot was the first. He's the guy who started the whole pace of the race thing that I've been committed to for most of my handicapping career. Pace of the horse is one thing but pace of the race is where the fascination is for me. Taulbot piqued my interest and I was off to the, well, races. As I've said ad infinitum, pace of the race is the least investigated and most misunderstood factor in all of the handicapping. I am indebted to Ray Taulbot; my software evolved from his work.

Winning At The Races - Computer Discoveries in Thoroughbred Handicapping by William Quirin. This book was a major influence. I don't know, probably not, if the percentages hold up today. It's out of print but maybe you can find a copy somewhere, maybe Amazon used books. I can't recommend this book enough. Once again it brought some order to the chaos of racing. It was also the first book to utilize Impact Values as a means of expressing statistical data, I believe.

Next came Huey Mahl. His little book The Race is Pace was a gem and still is. Especially the chapters Think Pace and Condition and Variant. The book was published back in 1983 when pace handicapping was considered an esoteric endeavor that was practiced by voodoo doctors. Not much as changed, actually. There are still droves of handicappers who are still of that opinion even now - think Speed Guys.

I must mention William L. Scott. His Investing At The Race Track gave me idea that horse racing could be treated like day trading futures. I would create profiles and models that would trigger a "trade" if the price was right for that particular model. He turned handicappers on to the realities of the game in terms of percentages of favorites winning as well as the top three choices in the betting, e.g. "The top three choices in the wagering win 66.9% of all races...." Then came Total Victory At The Track. The form factors he presented in this book are still part of my handicapping tool kit today.

James Quinn's The Handicapper's Condition Book is the best handicapping book ever written, I believe. I've read it and consulted it so many times my copy is falling apart. I've spent many happy hours just studying the eligibility conditions and the way trainers place their horses and then asking myself what I would do. My appreciation of all things racing improved because of this book. To this day my favorite plays are in the Class A conditions - those horses moving from Maiden Special Weight to the Allowances and then on to stakes events. My pace of the race ratings have been invaluable in exposing the horses that will have the most trouble moving up the conditions ladder. James Quinn has my undying respect. As a matter of fact, I recommend any of Quinn's books.

Even though I made my own speed figures, I was trilled when Andy Beyer's figs came out in the Daily Racing Form (They first hit the handicapping world in the Racing Times - was that the name?). By that time I was mainly working with pace so the laborious process of making speed figures was a thing of the past. I only used speed figures, and still do, as a gauge of the competitive range of the race. Although I had read his two other books I wasn't much interested in speed handicapping. I did and do enjoy Beyer's nerve and bravado, though. Bold statements about racing appeals to me. How Was the Figure Earned? and The Mathematics of Pace were something of a "pace confession", I think. Pace matters, finally. If I may use the same Beyer bravado, I have solved the problem for Mr. Beyer. My pace of the race ratings will answer the questions he asked in those two chapters. "They had simply run exceptional figures when they encountered exceptional pace situations. Most thoroughbreds will do the same." I agree, Andy.

So what is the moral of this little handicapping bio? I believe it is this: Find the area of handicapping that really jazzes you. Create your own approach. Believe nothing until you have tested it. Be open minded to new information. Trust yourself. Make money.