Horse Race Tip: Speed Ratings

Speed ratings give Quarter Horse handicappers another number to compare speed at the race track. Learn more in our free ebook.

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By Michael Cusortelli

Speed figures make the world go around - at least the world of American Quarter Horse racing.

For the more than a decade, Quarter Horse handicappers have had two speed figures to choose from: the traditional speed index and the TrackMaster speed rating. The speed index has been around since 1970, when it replaced the original letter-grade system with a number system.

The actual calculation of the speed index starts with taking the three fastest winning times at a particular distance for the past three years at a given track. These times are averaged together, and that average is then the 100 SI for that distance at that track.

To calculate an SI, the time the horse recorded is compared to the average speed for the distance of the race, and points are added or subtracted based on whether the time was faster or slower than the average. The number of points subtracted or added varies according to the distance of the race and is based on a speed index chart distributed annually by AQHA.

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In 1997, TrackMaster, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Equibase Company LLC, introduced a new speed figure to fans of the sprint game. Valuable to handicappers, breeders and buyers, TrackMasters ratings standardize horses' finishing times across all different tracks, distances, surfaces and weather conditions. The numbers are generally between 0 and 130, with 130 being an extremely high figure earned by a Grade 1-caliber horse.

TrackMaster president David Siegel thinks Quarter Horse racing's traditional method of rating speed has an inherent flaw, as the general quality of horses differs from track to track. Therefore, the speed indexes are unequal and difficult to use when comparing horses from different tracks.

Simply stated, the TrackMaster speed rating combines three factors in its final figure - a raw speed rating based on the time of the horse and distance of the race using a formula based on a parallel time chart; an Intertrack Variant (ITV), a number that gets updated annually and allows for time and speed variations between tracks; and a Daily Track Variant (DTV), which makes adjustments for things such as wet track and wind conditions.

The ITV and DTV are added to the raw speed rating to come up with the final speed rating that appears in TrackMaster's past performances.

The TrackMaster speed rating is based on formulas and thousands of pieces of data for a more reliable number. Fans, breeders and buyers can be assured that the numbers they see for a horse are more accurate (than the speed index) and a better representation of that horse.

TrackMaster's Quarter Horse speed ratings are broken down into three different components:

  • Raw speed rating
  • Intertrack Variant (ITV)
  • Daily Track Variant (DTV)

The speed index number is based on a very small sampling of information and data available. It doesn't allow someone the ability to compare one track with another or give a true picture of a horse's ability.

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The folks at TrackMaster have made several enhancements to the way they calculate the Quarter Horse speed rating. One of the changes involves the wind factor (specifically, the direction [head, tail and cross] and speed [measured in miles per hour]). Another enhancement - and this is perhaps the most important - is that soon every Quarter Horse who races in an official race will have a speed rating, regardless of whether that horse races at an uncommon distance or at a track that offers limited racing opportunities during its meet.

All of this means that handicappers have access to more accurate speed ratings -- and that's good news for all players who want to have more money in their pockets after they leave the track.

Beginners and experts alike will benefit from this valuable ebook. Share this amazing resource with your horse racing friends!