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dilanesp
05-11-2017, 03:50 PM
I have some questions about pace figures that maybe the more mathematically inclined folks here might be able to help me with.

Up until the mid-1990's (roughly when I got out of law school) I made my own speed and pace figures. I used Beyer's method for speed figures, and made what was basically a Beyer figure for the first half mile of 5 1/2 furlong, 6 furlong, and 6 1/2 furlong sprints. I found the pace figures very useful in identifying when a speed horse was faster than his rivals. I can remember some significant tickets I cashed doing that.

When I no longer had time to make my own figures, I started using the pace numbers out of Today's Racing Digest, again only in the sprints. Again, I've had some big scores using that, the most memorable probably being Trinniburg in the BC Sprint.

Here's my basic, beginners' questions. There's now been an explosion of pace figures. There are Equibase pace figures in the programs that they produce, calculated precisely taking into account the various run-ups. The Racing Form now runs a timeform pace number (just one for each horse, not every race). And Formulator features Moss Pace Numbers. I know Timeform sells pace numbers directly too.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the following questions:

1. My use of pace numbers, as you can see from my discussion, is pretty limited. I just use them to see if there's a superior speed horse in a sprint. What are some handicapping angles beyond this. How should I approach pace numbers in routes, or elongated sprints? Do they have any usefulness in turf sprints? Turf routes? When is a superior pace number irrelevant?

2. Which pace numbers, of the commercially available ones, are the most useful for these purposes?

Thanks in advance for all discussion.

PressThePace
05-11-2017, 04:21 PM
I'm not an authority by any means but I look for a couple things that have served me well over time. First, when a horse is up on an exceptionally hot pace while losing ground into the first turn(especially in route races) and still runs credibly, but may fade late...that is a horse that will get my attention. I will always refer to the charts to make sure others weren't able to do the same thing in the race, because there are times when the figures may not tell the whole story. Conversely, if a horse closes into a slow pace to get up or just miss, again merits consideration next time out. Of course, other factors (namely, class for me) come into play. I don't consider anything a given in this game.

DeltaLover
05-11-2017, 04:49 PM
Does anyone have any thoughts on the following questions:

1. My use of pace numbers, as you can see from my discussion, is pretty limited. I just use them to see if there's a superior speed horse in a sprint. What are some handicapping angles beyond this. How should I approach pace numbers in routes, or elongated sprints? Do they have any usefulness in turf sprints? Turf routes? When is a superior pace number irrelevant?

2. Which pace numbers, of the commercially available ones, are the most useful for these purposes?




(1). The best way to discover how to use a pace figures (or any other numerical metric) is to develop an automation mechanism to test many randomly created decision trees and select the most appropriate for the specific race to bet (obviously, the implementation of this system is not trivial and most likely you do not have the required knowledge and talent to accomplish something like this).

(2). The usefulness of any figure is a product of its effectiveness, so your question is incomplete as you need to define the “cost function” or in other words how you are comparing different methodologies among themselves. For example, a less accurate figure can very well represent a superior metric compared to one that fits the data curve closer, assuming that we can discover a deviation threshold, beyond of what we can catch huge betting anomalies.

dilanesp
05-11-2017, 05:18 PM
(1). The best way to discover how to use a pace figures (or any other numerical metric) is to develop an automation mechanism to test many randomly created decision trees and select the most appropriate for the specific race to bet (obviously, the implementation of this system is not trivial and most likely you do not have the required knowledge and talent to accomplish something like this).

(2). The usefulness of any figure is a product of its effectiveness, so your question is incomplete as you need to define the “cost function” or in other words how you are comparing different methodologies among themselves. For example, a less accurate figure can very well represent a superior metric compared to one that fits the data curve closer, assuming that we can discover a deviation threshold, beyond of what we can catch huge betting anomalies.

Delta- no way can I do (1) , you are quite right. And I do understand why (1) is necessary to really determine the effectiveness of the numbers.

Not sure what (2) is getting at though.

whodoyoulike
05-11-2017, 05:22 PM
I have some questions about pace figures that maybe the more mathematically inclined folks here might be able to help me with.

Up until the mid-1990's (roughly when I got out of law school) I made my own speed and pace figures. I used Beyer's method for speed figures, and made what was basically a Beyer figure for the first half mile of 5 1/2 furlong, 6 furlong, and 6 1/2 furlong sprints. I found the pace figures very useful in identifying when a speed horse was faster than his rivals. I can remember some significant tickets I cashed doing that.

When I no longer had time to make my own figures, ...

1. My use of pace numbers, as you can see from my discussion, is pretty limited. I just use them to see if there's a superior speed horse in a sprint. What are some handicapping angles beyond this. How should I approach pace numbers in routes, or elongated sprints? Do they have any usefulness in turf sprints? Turf routes? When is a superior pace number irrelevant? ...

I don't think it's that limited. I always felt the 4f mark was very important but I do consider the other fractional calls for race scenarios (i.e., shape). I actually don't handicap races less than 5.5f. Races from 5.5f on up reports the 4f call. I think what you're missing as far as what you've posted is applying or referencing it to a database and it's relationship to the race shape in general using stratification of your database because "class" is different for each distance.

DeltaLover
05-11-2017, 05:56 PM
Delta- no way can I do (1) , you are quite right. And I do understand why (1) is necessary to really determine the effectiveness of the numbers.

Not sure what (2) is getting at though.

OK, I will try to explain #2 in a few words (although I am not sure that I am articulating my thoughts very well).

Let’s assume that we have some methodology to estimate the accurateness of a specific metric that measures some attribute like a pace figure. This methodology can be a very analytical one that considers very low level and primitive data, like the geometry of the track, the humidity of the track, the wind direction etc or it can be any other model that provides us with enough confidence that we can estimate the mechanics of a race with a high accuracy. Please note that I am not claiming that this methodology really exist and I only use it to explain my point.

Now, let’s consider two different algorithms to estimate the pace figure and we want to decide which of the two is better.

What I am trying to say, is that even if one of the two might be closer to the “real” value as dictated by the analytical model, the other one can very well be superior for betting purposes.

if we can detect some patterns by the application of an additional layer of indirection to reform it, the more “wrong” figure might reveal many more positive EV outliers and become the basis for a superior betting approach assuming that is only used when a significant (amplified) value is calculated.

cj
05-11-2017, 06:04 PM
I'll try to add more later. For now, I'll say that applying an adjustment based on run up distance is very, very risky for a variety of reasons. If horses were always gunned out of the gate like quarter horses, it would be fine. But thoroughbreds, even in sprints, are not.

dilanesp
05-11-2017, 08:18 PM
OK, I will try to explain #2 in a few words (although I am not sure that I am articulating my thoughts very well).

Let’s assume that we have some methodology to estimate the accurateness of a specific metric that measures some attribute like a pace figure. This methodology can be a very analytical one that considers very low level and primitive data, like the geometry of the track, the humidity of the track, the wind direction etc or it can be any other model that provides us with enough confidence that we can estimate the mechanics of a race with a high accuracy. Please note that I am not claiming that this methodology really exist and I only use it to explain my point.

Now, let’s consider two different algorithms to estimate the pace figure and we want to decide which of the two is better.

What I am trying to say, is that even if one of the two might be closer to the “real” value as dictated by the analytical model, the other one can very well be superior for betting purposes.

if we can detect some patterns by the application of an additional layer of indirection to reform it, the more “wrong” figure might reveal many more positive EV outliers and become the basis for a superior betting approach assuming that is only used when a significant (amplified) value is calculated.

I'm seeing it now, thanks. One of the many subsets of "look for factors that give you positive EV, not necessarily factors that identify the most likely winner of the race".

Tom
05-11-2017, 09:58 PM
I found the pace figures very useful in identifying when a speed horse was faster than his rivals. I can remember some significant tickets I cashed doing that.


With this in mind, start looking very hard the new TFUS early pace numbers.
You will find many, many situation where they will point you to good priced winners.

Case in point....the Oaks last Friday.
Many people were conceding the race to Paradise Woods off her powerful front running win in the last race. The Early pace figs suggested a fast pace and if you believed that, you easily has the winner, the top LATE pace horse at 9-1. And the icing on the cake, the #3 LP horse ran second at 12-1.

This has been going on for years. Cj introduced those figs to his clients a long time ago and they have stood the test time.

Remember, they are not race figes, they are horse figs - they use several recent races not just one. Pick your spots where you see certain horses may be favored by the pace what are nor favored by the toteboard.

They are there, they are easy to use, try them, take some notes.
Discuss live races here......best research is done live with real money. Those lesson tend to stick more.

Tom
05-11-2017, 10:52 PM
At NYRA, run up = grab up. :rolleyes:

thaskalos
05-11-2017, 11:43 PM
The set of pace figures is incomplete if it doesn't also provide a rating for the race's final fraction. Only by consulting BOTH ratings can the horse's overall performance be properly evaluated.

Another major function of the accurate pace ratings is that they sometimes signal the impending improvement (or deterioration) of the particular horse's "form", thus allowing the horseplayer to ANTICIPATE the fluctuations of form that we so often see...instead of just expecting the horses to "repeat" some recent race(s) that they've already run. The bigger profits lie in the "projection"...IMO.

For instance:

An unusually-quick half-mile rating is often a "wake-up" factor for a horse, even if it leads to an unimpressive final effort resulting in a slow final speed figure. And an unusually-quick final-fraction rating often is an indication of a poorly-timed ride by the jockey...suggesting that the horse was capable of displaying more early speed in the race, if the jockey were so inclined.

Many people use "pace-handicapping" in order to predict how the upcoming race is likely to be run, but, IMO, the most useful aspect of pace-handicapping is that it allows us to better understand how impressive the PRIOR races of these horses were. Only by thoroughly understanding the PRIOR races can we form an accurate opinion of what the future may bring.

DeltaLover
05-12-2017, 01:00 AM
The set of pace figures is incomplete if it doesn't also provide a rating for the race's final fraction. Only by consulting BOTH ratings can the horse's overall performance be properly evaluated.

Another major function of the accurate pace ratings is that they sometimes signal the impending improvement (or deterioration) of the particular horse's "form", thus allowing the horseplayer to ANTICIPATE the fluctuations of form that we so often see...instead of just expecting the horses to "repeat" some recent race(s) that they've already run. The bigger profits lie in the "projection"...IMO.

For instance:

An unusually-quick half-mile rating is often a "wake-up" factor for a horse, even if it leads to an unimpressive final effort resulting in a slow final speed figure. And an unusually-quick final-fraction rating often is an indication of a poorly-timed ride by the jockey...suggesting that the horse was capable of displaying more early speed in the race, if the jockey were so inclined.

Many people use "pace-handicapping" in order to predict how the upcoming race is likely to be run, but, IMO, the most useful aspect of pace-handicapping is that it allows us to better understand how impressive the PRIOR races of these horses were. Only by thoroughly understanding the PRIOR races can we form an accurate opinion of what the future may bring.

:ThmbUp:

Great posting!

CincyHorseplayer
05-12-2017, 01:11 AM
The set of pace figures is incomplete if it doesn't also provide a rating for the race's final fraction. Only by consulting BOTH ratings can the horse's overall performance be properly evaluated.

Another major function of the accurate pace ratings is that they sometimes signal the impending improvement (or deterioration) of the particular horse's "form", thus allowing the horseplayer to ANTICIPATE the fluctuations of form that we so often see...instead of just expecting the horses to "repeat" some recent race(s) that they've already run. The bigger profits lie in the "projection"...IMO.

For instance:

An unusually-quick half-mile rating is often a "wake-up" factor for a horse, even if it leads to an unimpressive final effort resulting in a slow final speed figure. And an unusually-quick final-fraction rating often is an indication of a poorly-timed ride by the jockey...suggesting that the horse was capable of displaying more early speed in the race, if the jockey were so inclined.

Many people use "pace-handicapping" in order to predict how the upcoming race is likely to be run, but, IMO, the most useful aspect of pace-handicapping is that it allows us to better understand how impressive the PRIOR races of these horses were. Only by thoroughly understanding the PRIOR races can we form an accurate opinion of what the future may bring.

The final fraction figure is a must. Any compound rating will not suffice. Especially when evaluating turf performance. I don't see a true late pace rating anywhere except in the numbers HDW puts out. Figure maker variants are their true virtue. But this rating is more important than even that IMO.

dilanesp
05-12-2017, 12:54 PM
I should have mention sustained pace numbers, which I do use on turf races. I learned about them from one of Beyer's books. Is it better to just look at a figure for the last fraction than to use a number that takes into account the entire race?

DeltaLover
05-12-2017, 02:20 PM
I should have mention sustained pace numbers, which I do use on turf races. I learned about them from one of Beyer's books. Is it better to just look at a figure for the last fraction than to use a number that takes into account the entire race?

The real problem is to define what "better" means and how it is tested and confirmed something that is related to my previous posting in this thread.

Ideally you need to be in the position to decide upon the value of any kind of metric without knowing what (or how) it is measuring.

Your first and most important step must be to transform the descriptive data into a vector containing numerical and categorical data in such a way that no significant information is lost but also unnecessary noise is minimized. Take as an example the following horse whose past performances are described using my proprietary metrics and software:

http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20083&stc=1&d=1494608507

You probably recognize some of the data but you have no idea what each metric means of how it is calculated, the idea is to be able to decide whether some (or all) of them are "good" for betting or prediction purposes.

Even if you do not know what each number means, you still can select some of them and reduce the dimensionality of the data to something like the following matrix:

http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20085&stc=1&d=1494609959

You follow the same procedure for all the available horses in the race and you end up with an array of similar matrices.

Now, assuming that you have a full historical data base you can do the same for every available race and using its outcome (including the finish sequence ,the odds or even the fractional calls if you like) you are missing a black box that will decide weather your input data (the matrices you created before) contain sufficient data to create a winning selection system or not. If you cannot find such a system you need to improve your existing metrics or create new ones.

cj
05-12-2017, 03:03 PM
I should have mention sustained pace numbers, which I do use on turf races. I learned about them from one of Beyer's books. Is it better to just look at a figure for the last fraction than to use a number that takes into account the entire race?

The whole race. Lots of horses fly home without making a dent, or even backing up, when the pace is slow.

dilanesp
05-16-2017, 09:08 PM
I'll try to add more later. For now, I'll say that applying an adjustment based on run up distance is very, very risky for a variety of reasons. If horses were always gunned out of the gate like quarter horses, it would be fine. But thoroughbreds, even in sprints, are not.

Hoping cj has the time to add more on this.

cj
05-17-2017, 04:58 PM
Hoping cj has the time to add more on this.

Basically, as far as run up goes, it is a crap shoot. Obviously the shorter the run up the less the effect. Unfortunately, we have run ups going as far as 100 yards and more. The actual pace of the race has a lot to do with how much of an effect the run up has.

For example, maybe we have two mile races at Santa Anita where the run up is long, lets say 60 yards.

Race A: The horses are gunned out of the gate and reach the finish line the first time quickly and trip the beam to start timing. They are already at or near full speed.

Race B: There is little speed and nobody is in a hurry when the lead horse trips the beam. The horses are nowhere near full speed.

Applying a generic run up adjustment would give you skewed ratings. I've tried figuring out a good adjustment for run up but it just doesn't work. There are too many other variables. If we had the time of the actual run up, it might be a different story, but we don't.

Further, it is pretty easy to time from the gate to the wire from video. You can get more accurate final times. But the fractions are a different story. Camera shots are not consistent, angles skew the actual point where horses pass the poles. It can be done with some other methods I've devised but it is time consuming.

The last part, and probably the most troubling, is that you have to trust that run ups are being reported properly. That simply isn't the case. Tracks give Equibase the intended run ups for each race and that is what is reported in the PPs. That doesn't mean the gate was actually placed in the spot the track said it would be placed. Even for the biggest races in the country, like the Belmont Stakes with American Pharoah going for the Triple Crown, it is often misreported---and not by a few feet.

dilanesp
05-17-2017, 07:40 PM
Basically, as far as run up goes, it is a crap shoot. Obviously the shorter the run up the less the effect. Unfortunately, we have run ups going as far as 100 yards and more. The actual pace of the race has a lot to do with how much of an effect the run up has.

For example, maybe we have two mile races at Santa Anita where the run up is long, lets say 60 yards.

Race A: The horses are gunned out of the gate and reach the finish line the first time quickly and trip the beam to start timing. They are already at or near full speed.

Race B: There is little speed and nobody is in a hurry when the lead horse trips the beam. The horses are nowhere near full speed.

Applying a generic run up adjustment would give you skewed ratings. I've tried figuring out a good adjustment for run up but it just doesn't work. There are too many other variables. If we had the time of the actual run up, it might be a different story, but we don't.

Further, it is pretty easy to time from the gate to the wire from video. You can get more accurate final times. But the fractions are a different story. Camera shots are not consistent, angles skew the actual point where horses pass the poles. It can be done with some other methods I've devised but it is time consuming.

The last part, and probably the most troubling, is that you have to trust that run ups are being reported properly. That simply isn't the case. Tracks give Equibase the intended run ups for each race and that is what is reported in the PPs. That doesn't mean the gate was actually placed in the spot the track said it would be placed. Even for the biggest races in the country, like the Belmont Stakes with American Pharoah going for the Triple Crown, it is often misreported---and not by a few feet.

That last one totally doesn't surprise me. I noticed a long time ago that in mile dirt races at Del Mar, the gate placement clearly differed from race to race and especially from day to day. (It seemed to vary more in mile races-- those races have a longer runup because of the short run into the first turn. In contrast, I bet runups in 7 furlong races in SoCal don't vary much at all, because the gate is basically at the back of the chute. Similarly, the 6 furlong runup at GGF has got to be totally standard.)

Tom
05-17-2017, 11:00 PM
I may have told this one before, but one day at FL, I was sitting on a bench down near the rail. There were three 1m70 races that day, I believe - it was a long time ago, but I remember the first one, the gate was directly in front of me. the next one was about three or four rail post to my left, and the last one 4 posts to my right.

classhandicapper
05-18-2017, 12:03 PM
I think running styles are very important also. Most horses will only go as fast early as they have to secure the position they want.

If a speedy horse just happens to draw into several races in a row without much other speed, all of his pace figures will be probably be on the slow side even though he's capable of running much faster.

If a speedy horse just happens to draw into series of races with a lot of speed horses, he'll either run a lot of really fast paces or be taken so far out of his element by getting outrun, he'll look off form and slower than he actually is.

Horses like that are hard to compare on pace figures because conditions have a lot to do with their pace figures and where they were positioned.

However, when we are pretty sure we are dealing with pure speed front runners, looking at a horse's pace figures when really asked (and against other front runners) can often help you find the speed of the speeds and whether he can outrun the others and possibly last.

dilanesp
05-18-2017, 03:01 PM
I think running styles are very important also. Most horses will only go as fast early as they have to secure the position they want.

If a speedy horse just happens to draw into several races in a row without much other speed, all of his pace figures will be probably be on the slow side even though he's capable of running much faster.

If a speedy horse just happens to draw into series of races with a lot of speed horses, he'll either run a lot of really fast paces or be taken so far out of his element by getting outrun, he'll look off form and slower than he actually is.

Horses like that are hard to compare on pace figures because conditions have a lot to do with their pace figures and where they were positioned.

This is good stuff. I am trying to connect all the dots on this thread. So before discounting a horse based on an unfavorable pace figure, it is a good idea to check the replay and see how the horse was ridden.

classhandicapper
05-18-2017, 04:27 PM
This is good stuff. I am trying to connect all the dots on this thread. So before discounting a horse based on an unfavorable pace figure, it is a good idea to check the replay and see how the horse was ridden.

Yes.

It helps to look at the chart, watch the replay, and look at the field so you know what other speeds were in the race. Unfortunately, time becomes an issue. So at the very least when you handicap and bet make mental or paper notes.

I've been automating as much of it as I can. I run daily reports that flag all the races and days I might want to take a better look at and why. That helps a lot because it forces consistency, but I still spend time when a race is flagged.

CincyHorseplayer
05-19-2017, 08:16 AM
I'd include distance relationships also. A horse in a 5.5 race might get a pace figure of 100 then 108 at 6f then 116 at 7f even if running the same exact race. The numbers get inflated especially at 6.5-7f. You have to look through the horse's PP's to get an idea of their pace ability vs a particular distance. I used to equalize these for a distance but I can see through it enough now.

dmerlin
05-19-2017, 11:38 AM
Great discussion guys. Newbie so please dont hurt me. The problem I run into when using pace figures or pace calculations in trying to figure out how a race is going to be run is the fact that if one horse races different from their expected style, it can screw the whole race up. I have always been better off concentrating on class and form moreso than pace.