Handicapping Tip #39 – Pace Makes the Race

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

On select major days throughout the year, I offer my professional analysis of the big race, e.g. Preakness, and the undercard races at that track.   This past Saturday I did the 14 races on the Pimlico Preakness card, which is always a great day of wagering.  One of the key aspects of my report is the pace scenario analysis for each race.  If you don’t understand the expected pace of the race, it can be very difficult to select the winner or the top finishers.  How the race sets up is critical to predicting the outcome.

In turf sprints I almost always emphasize early speed, especially if it is a 5 furlong grass race.  In analyzing the pace of race #2 on Saturday (May 20, 2017) one horse jumped out to be as the lone speed.  #1A FLIGHT CREW was 20/1 on the morning line, enough to scare off many horseplayers.  After determining that he was probably the early pace setter, I needed to look at the overall early pace to determine if he could “hold on.”  Was there enough other early speed to put pressure on him at some critical early juncture of the race?  I came to the conclusion that the answer was “no.”  It looked like a moderate pace, so now I was very intrigued with this longshot and dug deeper.

Pace makes the race

He was the son of Elusive Quality, who has sired many good horses sprinting on the law, and out of a mare by Danzig (enough said).  The pedigree was certainly there.  This was only the 2nd career grass start for Flight Crew.  In his only other attempt, he pressed a fast pace (+17 +19 on the BRIS Race Shape figures) while going 1 1/16 miles on a good turf course.  Despite that, and breaking from a poor outside post, he still ended up defeating half the field, finishing 5th.   He was trained by 15% local horseman Hugh McMahon.  What else did one need to pull the trigger on a big longshot?

Pace makes the race.  Flight Crew did not get the initial lead but by the time the field hit the far turn of this turf dash, he was in complete control.  At odds of 9-1, he opened up under Katie Davis and kept the field at bay down the lane. Scores like this are very sweet indeed.

Make sure you analyze the pace of every race you wager.  It’s the first step to selecting many winners.

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Handicapping Tips #4 – Pace Makes the Race

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Handicapping Tip of the Day – Pace Makes the Race

One of the first, if not the first thing, you should be doing when handicapping a race is to try to figure out the anticipated pace scenario.  Which horse or horses figure to vie for the early lead?  Is one of those speed horses faster than the others?  You can use excellent pace figures such as the ratings Brisnet puts out, or you can look at the raw fractional times to figure out the typical 1/4 and 1/2 mile time that each horse Horse racing notes: Brickyard Ride set for Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Marruns.   Additionally, some horses want to be up on the lead regardless of superior early speed of other rivals, and they will ‘use themselves’ in the process to vie for the front end.  Needless to say, that can affect all of the horses involved.  Some jockeys are better gate riders than others, and it is helpful to know the riders’ traits on your circuit.

After you analyze the pace situation, you can then determine which runner(s) is at an advantage based on the makeup of this race.  That’s a big edge over the public that skips this vital step in the handicapping process or does so haphazardly.

~ Rich Nilsen

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