Turf Racing Trick

Turf Racing Trick

Answer this question as best you can:
In turf routes, which wins more often;
late speed/energy or early speed/energy?

Most of you will likely have thought for about 1/2 a second before answering “late speed, naturally.”  Others will have thought a bit longer – assuming it was some kind of trick question because the “late” answer seems so obvious.

It’s not a trick question, yet it’s a ‘tricky’ question.  The right answer will give you – perhaps not the proverbial “Key To The Mint” – but at minimum a key to increased profits on the green . . .

As a result of handicapping tens of thousands of turf races . . . below is how I do it – and why I do it that way.

In all kinds of racing (not just turf routes), I generally settle on 3 to 6 horse per race as potential contenders to win.  Even when I feel super strongly about one or two of them, I’ll compare (and keep records) on 3 to 6 of them.  I do this so that my handicapping models will be more accurate as to average rankings (i.e. comparing a horse that between only two is ranked 2nd in, say, late speed –  has far different value than one who is also ranked 2nd – but is compared to 4 or 5 other horses).

For turf routes – I get my preliminary contenders in the quickest possible way (quick if you have some kind of software that spits out fractional times per horse that include beaten lengths at each call – otherwise it takes a bit longer to do the calculations):  I only consider the best four late pace horses in the race. 

Many are now thinking, “Then the answer to the original question is still “late speed” – right?

Yes – sort of.  

But now how to rank (for betting decision purposes) those four? Most players might think to go with the best late pace figures – i.e. the two that rank on top when their late pace is compared, or even the best two on total speed rating (or Beyer rating, or whatever).  

I go the opposite way –  I go with the 2 best early pace runners from among them!


A few things are going on here . . .

There is the old handicapping problem of landing on horses that invariably close very strongly, but just aren’t fast enough overall to win today. By only considering how fast a horse can close – how slowly he ran early is often overlooked. You can land on runners that, though they’ll be closing well – are just too slow to compete in today’s field.

I want horses that can run a solid final fraction – but that can also stay close enough to the early pace, so that they don’t have too much to do late. This kind of runner also can more often avoid going very wide late, and/or encountering traffic problems.

Again – this is horse racing – there are no handicapping factors that are written in stone. But by being a contrarian in at least part of your turf route evaluations – by choosing the best two early pace runners from among your initial final four best late pace runners (and by having a minimum acceptable odds/value of 3/1 or higher) – you’ll increase your bottom-line, grass racing profits.

Give it some thought – then give it some serious testing (with accurate record keeping) – you’ll like what you find.

As always – comments are welcomed.                – Gary





  1. Hi Gary,
    Bit late with this comment. How many races do you go back through to get the best late pace horses? Is it just the last race, last 5 races,10races or all races the horse has run.? Also, do you consider the best late pace times only from the same distance as today or from all distances?

    Do you have a preferred distance on turf as in longer races (2000m and over)horses with early speed wouldn’t necessarily have an advantage.

    Thanks in advance for any comments.


    • Pete – There can be mitigating circumstances, and variables that cause one to ‘fudge’ the guidelines a bit – but generally, I want to use the most representative race (or two) from the last 3 or 4 – as long as they were run within the last 6 months.

      For distance of the representative race/s you are choosing – at least limit by groupings; 5 to 6.5 furlongs / 7 to 8 furlongs / 8.5 to 10 f. Again this often needs to be fudged because the horse only has a limited number of races from which to choose. If you only have say a 5f race to compare to others with routes – the idea won’t be as valid and you might want to skip the race. The ‘marathons’ of 12f and longer do not lend themselves to this type of evaluation.

      Regards – Gary

  2. gary,the turf trick article,that is amazing,i was really surprised,i didn’t win any money saturday,but i got one very good piece of handicapping education.i found 3 turf routes,took yourcontrarian thoughts, and bingo. one race i did not bet because of scatches,but the other two,it put first four horses at the finish in both races.i was just giving it a try,it kind of made sense.i was curious,next time i will be better prepared.you have some good handicapping material.thank you gary,i will be a contrarian from now on. larry outlaw

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