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What Are Beyer Speed Figures?

If you are handicapping horse races, there are many different metrics out there you can use to try and evaluate the contenders and make predictions about the future.  Beyer Speed Figures are some of the most powerful and comprehensive statistics out there.  They provide you with a measure of how fast a horse can run based on its historical performance.


What makes Beyer Speed Figures more comprehensive than simply going with the final times is that they are much more in-depth, and they account for (some of) the context surrounding a horse race.  Final times tell you nothing more than which horses won or lost and what places they came in.  They tell you nothing about the horse racing conditions.


With Beyer Speed Figures, you can compare performance in a variety of situations.  The speed and the depth of the racing surface both are accounted for.  So is the distance of the track.  The resulting figure is one which you can transfer across a variety of different types of races and tracks.  The figure should apply to both longer and shorter races and (theoretically) different running surfaces.


Beyer Speed Figures are available to the public, so anyone can use them to handicap races (this was not always the case).  Keep in mind that Beyer Speed ratings are updated over time.  So a horse’s most recent Beyer Speed Figure may not match an older rating.  The most recent rating is the one which is going to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information on that horse. 


You will notice if you look back over Beyer Speed Ratings that ratings can improve for horses that are new to racing, but after a while, the improvements tend to plateau, and you get a fairly consistent rating that will not change dramatically upward at any time in the future.  So if a horse has been consistently scoring low over a long time period, you have no real reason to expect that horse has a chance against much higher scoring contenders.  It is not going to just suddenly undergo some kind of revolution.


With that in mind, it is also important to know that declines in ratings are always possible. Lots of different factors can affect a horse’s performance, and a consistent high scorer can always have a bad day.  Oftentimes when this happens, it is a fluke, but a fluke can still cost you money.  So while you can assume that consistent low scorers are throw-outs, you can never assume that a consistent high scorer is an automatic winner.


You now have some familiarity with Beyer Speed Figures and understand why they are valuable metrics for handicapping horse racing betting. While the ratings are pretty comprehensive, they do have some limitations, and not all factors are accounted for.  In my next article, I will talk a bit more about these limitations and what you need to know when you are using Beyer Speed figures to handicap an upcoming race.

Read here about the various types of horse racing bets you can place.


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