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The Speed Spot System

In the Dec. 1948 issue of American Turf Monthly Ray Taulbot unveiled his Speed Spot System. It's the granddaddy of pace handicapping. He focused on what happened early - at the pre-stretch call or pace call as we know it now - in the race instead of late. He had been writing about pace for much longer but this a good illustration of the evolution of pace handicapping.

Since the past performances in '48 only showed final time it was impossible to get an exact figure on the velocity of the pace of the race. He had to go about it a bit differently. Don't laugh now, it's a beginning and he didn't have much to work with. He had this to say:

For instance, suppose that you were considering a sprint race in which one horse recently ran in a six furlong event where the winner's time was, say, 1:10. Further, suppose that the horse you are considering was defeated some seven lengths. The big question is not so much beaten lengths at the finish as it is lengths off the leader during the early portion of the race. If the above horse, beaten seven lengths, was within three or four lengths of the leader as far as the pre-stretch call, then it is very likely to defeat a recent winner that ran the distance in something like 1:11. This true because the first horse coped well with a very fast pace as far as it went, while the latter animal had only to deal with an average pace throughout the entire race.

Notice that there was no mention of variants or track adjustments, just raw times. And notice, too, that if the horse was close to the pace (4 lengths) against the fastest unadjusted final time that horse was the best horse in terms of handling the swiftest pace. It's an extrapolation - the pace could have been slow - but considering the information available it was best anyone could do. In today's world we could go about it this way:

The best final time as expressed with speed figures (I would make an amendment -instead of the horse with the top speed figure use a horse with one of the top - last race -three speed figures that qualifies on pace velocity. I'll find better value that way) against the fastest pace time as expressed by pace of the race velocity figures and within 4 lengths of the leader at the pace call. If there are two qualifiers then go with the horse that ran against the highest class.

That's the modern version of the Speed Spot System.

Can you make money with the Speed Spot System? I don't know but I'm going to research it. I'll let you know. You might want to give it a try as well. But there's something more here than making money; we get an opportunity to appreciate where we came from as pace handicappers. There's no better person than Ray Taulbot to do that. By the way, in 1948 the American Turf Monthly magazine sold for 35 cents per issue. You could save some money and subscribe for $4.00 for one year or $6.00 for two years. And you didn't have to worry about the neighbors finding out about your sinful habits; it was sent in a plain envelop.