Pace Velocity and the Final Fraction

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Today I want to talk a bit about the adjusted speed figure that’s included in the PA PPs. I received a letter, not an email, about it, and so it occurred to me the adjusted figure is not well understood. That’s my fault. The jest of the letter was this: All well respected writers of handicapping books know that final time is slow if the pace is fast; conversely, the final time is fast is the pace is slow. So the multipliers that I included in Extreme Pace Handicapping were misleading. Well, my response is this: Not always. Here’s why. On many occasions I’ve seen a 1:10.4, say, six furlong final time (on the same day) have two different pace times. One could be a 44.8 and the other a 45.4. That’s 3/5ths of a second difference. Different pace times but the same final time. Now if the average pace time for a 1:10.4 at this track and distance is 45 flat then the first one was 1/5th of a second faster than par and the second one was 2/5ths of a second slower than what’s average for that particular final time. The final time in the example above was arrived at in two different ways. When we look at the problem in terms of pace shapes we’ll understand why this happens and why it’s not problem. A pace shape is like a seesaw, one goes up the other goes down, but not necessarily with final time, only the final fraction! So there’s an inverse relationship between pace and the final fraction – but can be true of pace and final time outside of a certain pace velocity range. When we look at pace and final fraction there are only three possible pace shapes, average/average, slow/fast, and fast/slow (we’re talking about pace of race not pace of the horse). As I said, not necessarily with final time. And there’s the letter writer’s oversight. Pace does not effect final time unless it’s extremely fast or slow.

So the adjusted speed figures tell us that if the pace of the race was evenly paced, average, then this is the figure a horse could run. Could is a very important word. It means nothing unless we relate that figure to the pace picture match-up. The Lone Early, Lone 2D Early, 2D Early, and Lone Presser (see Pace Boxes) are the pace boxes that tell us that this could figure is in play. These pace boxes have been designed with that simple concept in mind. And that’s the reason that the range I mentioned above is so important. For example, a Fast 3 or Slow 3 don’t really mean anything much. It’s when those pace of the race velocity ratings (PVR on your PA PPs) exceed that range that they become important. They have been adjusted to reflect the writer’s concern about slow pace/fast final time, fast pace/slow final time. So the writer was right some what, but we must remember that that’s only true outside of a certain range of pace velocities that are in the extreme – extremely fast, extremely slow.

And finally, get your brain twister hat on, that’s the case for me anyway: The adjusted speed figure is not designed to adjust Beyer or BRIS brands to reflect the extreme effects of pace (I’m sure you’ve noticed that the speed figure increases when the pace is fast and decreases with the pace is slow) but rather the speed figure a horse could run if the pace of the race comes up average or, you could say, the race is run evenly. And that’s the reason I put so much emphasis on the pace picture that’s embedded in the PA PPs. Those pace boxes give us the best chance of that could figure. When you see a breakout adjusted speed figure (over the competitive speed figure range), well, now you know.

By the way, I really like challenges when the rules of critical thinking are abided by because I get to rethink all of this stuff and make changes if necessary. The letter writer was very courteous and presented his argument succinctly and professionally. I appreciate that. I’m always open to criticism as long as those rules are in place. That’s what makes learning so much fun for me. And there’s still plenty to learn, and that’s why I’m still in the game.

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March 3, 2010 • Posted in: Articles

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