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Old 08-24-2023, 10:38 PM   #1
Running Amok
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The Face Value of Ratings

When it comes to the numbers and ratings used in PPs, it seems looking at them in an absolute value sense muddies the waters.

For example:

Lets assume we're looking at two horse that we've labeled contenders in an upcoming 6 furlong race. Horse A has a speed rating of 80 and horse B has a speed rating of 73.

To make all things equal, let's further assume that they both earned their respective speed ratings on the same day, on the same surface and at the same distance. So the track variant is null.

Does it make sense to extrapolate from the speed ratings that horse A actually had a 10% faster final time than horse B?

80 is approximately 10% greater than 73. But if horse A has a final time of 1:11 and horse B has final time of 1123 then the their respective speed ratings should not be taken as nominal values.

So my question is, how can we determine the intrinsic values of these types of rating?

In other words, with ratings (like pace and speed ratings) that take a measure of something (like time) and convert it to a number, how can the real value of the rating within itself be calculated?

Because to assign values that measure how much better one rating is vs. another, it seems that giving a 10% bonus to a horse that earned an 80 over a horse that earned a 73 is misleading at best, and likely not correct.
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Old 08-25-2023, 12:35 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Running Amok View Post
When it comes to the numbers and ratings used in PPs, it seems looking at them in an absolute value sense muddies the waters.

For example:

Lets assume we're looking at two horse that we've labeled contenders in an upcoming 6 furlong race. Horse A has a speed rating of 80 and horse B has a speed rating of 73.

To make all things equal, let's further assume that they both earned their respective speed ratings on the same day, on the same surface and at the same distance. So the track variant is null.

Does it make sense to extrapolate from the speed ratings that horse A actually had a 10% faster final time than horse B?

80 is approximately 10% greater than 73. But if horse A has a final time of 1:11 and horse B has final time of 1123 then the their respective speed ratings should not be taken as nominal values.

So my question is, how can we determine the intrinsic values of these types of rating?

In other words, with ratings (like pace and speed ratings) that take a measure of something (like time) and convert it to a number, how can the real value of the rating within itself be calculated?

Because to assign values that measure how much better one rating is vs. another, it seems that giving a 10% bonus to a horse that earned an 80 over a horse that earned a 73 is misleading at best, and likely not correct.



Everything being done on the same track on the same surface in the very same race...reading those figures tells you mostly nothing of how the race will go the next time they meet 'heads up'...and for legitimate, honest reasons for the most part. One horse got the less high marks, may have 'needed the race' and thus lost. Other one may have 'peaked' earning a better figure, yet could easily regress from today's effort. So, who is best next time the two meet should be played out in the handicapper's thoughts. Even as to surface, one could absolutely prefer today's surface perhaps it a harder surface and yet the superior figure it earned was because the horse is sounder than the other, absent much detriment from the 'sting' in the ground. Hell, could even be lighter framed and not so prone to the concussive effects of racing on such a surface. Could even be more confusing were the surface softer and a different set of effects come into play. Thats all a part of what makes handicapping an art as much as a simple figures game.
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Old 08-25-2023, 01:04 AM   #3
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Comparisons are best made on races that are comparable to the current race and representative of one of the horse's better (not necessarily "best") races... through the process of selecting pace lines.

If today is a dirt route, it makes no sense to compare speed ratings from a turf sprint.

Also, trip sometimes has to be considered. If a horse gets knocked all over the track coming out of the gate, then, yes, it is likely to run a 73 when another horse ran an 80. The 73 is probably not a race that should be selected as the horse's pace line.

Once I get the pace lines selected, I look for 4 contenders. Then, I narrow it down from there through what could be among many indications.

I know that everyone handicaps differently, but solely comparing a 73 speed rating to an 80 speed rating has very little meaning for me.
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Old 08-25-2023, 04:24 AM   #4
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If you want to go broke in this game, then start assigning figures like 80 and 73 to the horses based on their most recent starts...as if these recent figures somehow describe the ability of the corresponding horses. But if you want to survive in this game, then I suggest you start looking a little more deeply so you can ascertain how the horses earn the speed figures that they record...and if they are capable of REPEATING them.

Some horses record their best figures when they get loose on the lead, so the determination must be made if these horses can get a clear lead today. Other horses run their fastest figures when they drop in class, and are vulnerable when they don't. Still others display the curious characteristic of running faster when they trail other horses at the wire than they do when they themselves win the race.

When I handicap a race and I look at that 80 and 73 that you mention, the first thing that I ask myself is if I have any reason to believe that these figures can be repeated today, under today's racing conditions and circumstances. IMO...the biggest mistake that the handicapper makes is to look at the 80 that the horse earned in its last race and call this horse an "80" going forward. Let's say that out of the 10 races shown in the PPs, the horse shows this 80 in its most recent start...and that 80 is the fastest figure in the horse's record. What reason do I have to believe that this horse will repeat that 80 today...if it hasn't been able to repeat it anywhere in its published record?

It behooves the handicapper to remember that his job isn't to determine which horse has run the fastest prior races. His job is to use all his interpreting skills to figure out which horse will run fastest TODAY. Fortunes have been lost by people who bet on the horse with the fastest last race...when the horse clearly shows that it's incapable of running two fast races in a row. It takes time and considerable skill to handicap races effectively. The horseplayers who look for shortcuts don't last long in this game...although I sure wish that they did.
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Old 08-25-2023, 05:38 AM   #5
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Off the turf races: How can you evaluate a field when many only have turf lines to evaluate against those that draw in with only dirt lines?

Apples oranges
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Old 08-25-2023, 09:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 46zilzal View Post
Off the turf races: How can you evaluate a field when many only have turf lines to evaluate against those that draw in with only dirt lines?

Apples oranges
Yes, I pay attention to first time on the surface and first time at a route.
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Old 08-25-2023, 10:22 AM   #7
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One thing I continually differ from most in the evaluation of a race is WHO will be up front, Every Race.

I find that a lucrative aspect of "alone on the leads" stealing race after race, more often on the main but occasionally on the grass (only grass races I would bet since late traffic would not be a factor in that position)

Speed trumps stamina OFTEN and at a price.
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Old 08-25-2023, 11:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senortout View Post
Everything being done on the same track on the same surface in the very same race... Thats all a part of what makes handicapping an art as much as a simple figures game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ranchwest View Post
I know that everyone handicaps differently, but solely comparing a 73 speed rating to an 80 speed rating has very little meaning for me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thaskalos View Post
If you want to go broke in this game, then start assigning figures like 80 and 73 to the horses based on their most recent starts...as if these recent figures somehow describe the ability of the corresponding horses.
All great replies but perhaps I didn't word my inquiry correctly as it seems the point of my question was missed.

First, I never said these figures were earned in the same race. But even if they were, it's irrelevant.

The point I'm trying to make lies in the title of the thread and in the first sentence of my post. I'm asking about the numbers and ratings used in PPs and how they seem to misrepresent, (muddy the water) if one takes them at face value. Then I gave an example.

I am not looking to solely compare a 73 speed rating to an 80 speed rating. Nor am I trying to assign figures like 80 and 73 to the horses based on their most recent starts. That is not the point.

It intrigues me that these ratings seem to have an error, which I tried to show in my example. And what I'm trying to understand is could they possibly be scaled better to more closely represent the actual value they're trying to rate.

I know it may sound like I'm trying to reinvent the wheel, but hear me out. If you were to assign a value to the speed ratings, or pace ratings, or any other type of rating that takes a measure of something and convert it to a number, how can the real value of the rating within itself be calculated?

Let me put it another way. I'm using speed ratings in this example but please understand that it could be any of the ratings shown in the PPs. So, in a race where the field has speed ratings between say 70 and 85, on a scale of 1 to 10, what value would you assign to the 73 and 80?

I'm no math guru but I will say the answer would seem to have something to do with the range of the ratings, which in this case is between 70 and 85.
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Old 08-25-2023, 12:14 PM   #9
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The Speed Figures used as an example in the original post at the top of this thread (80 vs. 73) aren't suggesting Horse A ran 10% faster than Horse B.

Most Speed Figures have a points per beaten length component.

Typically, the number of points per beaten length decreases as race distance increases (because horses decelerate as distance increases.)

For example, at the Brisnet site:
Quote:
HOW MANY SPEED POINTS REPRESENT ONE LENGTH?

The Brisnet Speed Ratings points-per-length scale is based on the long accepted premise that as distances increase the value of a length decreases. On the Brisnet Speed Ratings scale one length is approximately equal to 1 1/2 points in sprints and approximately 1 point in routes.

No two figure makers use the same exact methodology. Each set of Speed Figures (Beyer, Brisnet, Equibase, HDW, Ragozin, TimeformUS, etc. can have a slightly different take on both the definition of a "length" and the resulting points per beaten length component.



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Old 08-25-2023, 12:15 PM   #10
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All great replies but perhaps I didn't word my inquiry correctly as it seems the point of my question was missed.

First, I never said these figures were earned in the same race. But even if they were, it's irrelevant.

The point I'm trying to make lies in the title of the thread and in the first sentence of my post. I'm asking about the numbers and ratings used in PPs and how they seem to misrepresent, (muddy the water) if one takes them at face value. Then I gave an example.

I am not looking to solely compare a 73 speed rating to an 80 speed rating. Nor am I trying to assign figures like 80 and 73 to the horses based on their most recent starts. That is not the point.

It intrigues me that these ratings seem to have an error, which I tried to show in my example. And what I'm trying to understand is could they possibly be scaled better to more closely represent the actual value they're trying to rate.

I know it may sound like I'm trying to reinvent the wheel, but hear me out. If you were to assign a value to the speed ratings, or pace ratings, or any other type of rating that takes a measure of something and convert it to a number, how can the real value of the rating within itself be calculated?

Let me put it another way. I'm using speed ratings in this example but please understand that it could be any of the ratings shown in the PPs. So, in a race where the field has speed ratings between say 70 and 85, on a scale of 1 to 10, what value would you assign to the 73 and 80?

I'm no math guru but I will say the answer would seem to have something to do with the range of the ratings, which in this case is between 70 and 85.
I like looking at ratings in multiple ways. For instance, speed. You can look at the speed for the pace line, speed of the last 4 lines weighted by recency, a count of races within say five points of today's par, speed on the surface, speed at the distance, speed on a wet surface, speed on turf, speed on a fast track, speed this year, speed last year, whether speed exceeds a minimum bar, best speed in the last 10 races, best speed lifetime, speed against a fast pace, speed against a slow pace, best 3 of last 4, etc. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

The idea is to get a sense of what is a reasonable number to expect today and which numbers are unreasonable to expect today. For me, tossing out phony numbers is an important part of handicapping.

A similar approach can be taken to pace, class, form and other categories.
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Old 08-25-2023, 12:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 46zilzal View Post
Off the turf races: How can you evaluate a field when many only have turf lines to evaluate against those that draw in with only dirt lines?

Apples oranges
He clear;y said same surface,
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Old 08-25-2023, 12:35 PM   #12
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All great conversation

What I have learned is that as one person suggested was to take a deeper look. I always do if I have time first run all the numbers i.e. speed, variants, pace. Then I will put those depending on whose figures you are using and then take a look at the pps. Crunching numbers is a very long process and unless you are using somebody else's software or your own set up. What I find is speed numbers are figures to the cycles they are run in, and how they fit with a horses fitness and the trainer's style to getting the horse to run in the condition book and the class i.e. someone mentioned dropping class or moving up.

The same goes for horses that are young with only a few starts and have run their best number the last start. In terms of Math, what I have found, either that horse with the 73 will jump up at a price and bump off the 80 but it is rare.
I have been keeping my own par figures for NY and California for two years. Believe it or not, the types of wins as Dave Schwartz point out is sprints or routes, depending on the class or the conditions dictate type of winner, E or EP, most races are won by an Early and in a whole card. I believe in taking the par and a horses best average speed to the par and then equate that, it gives mre of a level playing field etc.
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Old 08-25-2023, 12:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Running Amok View Post
All great replies but perhaps I didn't word my inquiry correctly as it seems the point of my question was missed.

First, I never said these figures were earned in the same race. But even if they were, it's irrelevant.

The point I'm trying to make lies in the title of the thread and in the first sentence of my post. I'm asking about the numbers and ratings used in PPs and how they seem to misrepresent, (muddy the water) if one takes them at face value. Then I gave an example.

I am not looking to solely compare a 73 speed rating to an 80 speed rating. Nor am I trying to assign figures like 80 and 73 to the horses based on their most recent starts. That is not the point.

It intrigues me that these ratings seem to have an error, which I tried to show in my example. And what I'm trying to understand is could they possibly be scaled better to more closely represent the actual value they're trying to rate.

I know it may sound like I'm trying to reinvent the wheel, but hear me out. If you were to assign a value to the speed ratings, or pace ratings, or any other type of rating that takes a measure of something and convert it to a number, how can the real value of the rating within itself be calculated?

Let me put it another way. I'm using speed ratings in this example but please understand that it could be any of the ratings shown in the PPs. So, in a race where the field has speed ratings between say 70 and 85, on a scale of 1 to 10, what value would you assign to the 73 and 80?

I'm no math guru but I will say the answer would seem to have something to do with the range of the ratings, which in this case is between 70 and 85.
You may have to settle for a field ranking value (in today's 7 horse field, the 70 gets a "1", the 85 gets a "7", etc. ). Do this for all your relevant factors, perhaps weighting them and then averaging.
The database guys could probably inform you as to how often, e.g., this ranked speed rating wins vis--vis that ranked speed rating, assigning a ranking from that info. Or if you're a manual handicapper, incorporate public odds as a separate, and perhaps highest weighted ranking factor to obtain the latter information.
Or perhaps construct an odds to pct. chance of winning table (e.g., 3-5 =50%, 2-1 =26%, 5-1 = 12%, 10-1 =7 %), using subjective judgement to estimate the win rate of a "70 " vs. an "85", or by using Fibonacci numbers (in 7 horse field e.g., lowest ranked speed rating =3, then 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, or .5, .8, 1.3,2.1, etc. if preferred.)
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Old 08-25-2023, 01:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Running Amok View Post
When it comes to the numbers and ratings used in PPs, it seems looking at them in an absolute value sense muddies the waters.

...

So my question is, how can we determine the intrinsic values of these types of rating?

In other words, with ratings (like pace and speed ratings) that take a measure of something (like time) and convert it to a number, how can the real value of the rating within itself be calculated?

Because to assign values that measure how much better one rating is vs. another, it seems that giving a 10% bonus to a horse that earned an 80 over a horse that earned a 73 is misleading at best, and likely not correct.
This is actually a pretty good question on a complicated topic. As most handicappers are well aware that horses can earn speed ratings in al kinds of different ways (good trip, bad trip, bad ride, brilliant ride, slow pace, blistering pace, etc.), I'll just take all that for granted and assume you are asking what you say you are asking.

The short answer to the question "...how can we determine the intrinsic values of these types of rating?" is research. Lots.

Here's my longer answer:

Take your example of horses who got 80 and 73. Is the 80 horse 10% better? Or deserving of a 10% bonus?

Imagine instead of 80 and 73, this race is a much poorer quality race and the numbers are 35 and 28, also a 7 point spread. Is the 35 horse now magically 20% better (yes, and still really really slow!)? Or imagine 120 and 113 speed ratings? is the 120 horse 6% better? Or worthy of ONLY a 6% bonus?

I believe the answers are no, which tells me there is something amiss with the way the question is posed.

In addition, the speed points per length are likely different for different distances. What does that mean? At 6F on our speed ratings, 1 point (for instance 86 versus 87) = 2.5 lengths. In 12F races 1 point is considerably less. In 2F races, that one point is huge. And the speed points per length differs in a nonlinear way for 2F to 18F, meaning it doesn't just change in a straight line manner - the equation has exponents.

So how do you figure THAT out?

A. Do what Andy Beyer says he did (as I recall from his book). Get a bottle of Jack Daniels and stay up all night. This also assumes a lot of knowledge and background and experience.

B. Research (back to my simple answer ). This is one of the first problems Jim Cramer tackled when making speed and pace ratings. The answer is in the data, though you have to know the right questions to pose, you have to have the data and you must have an understanding of what you are doing. Incidentally, after arriving at his speed points per length values for all the various distances, Jim had even more respect for Andy Beyer and his Jack Daniels (or whatever he was drinking).

C. Ignore the question. This is always an option on most issues. Just use one value for all distances. Next!

You can have different sets of values for these speed points per length (SPPL), including just using one value for all distances, using 1 value for sprints and one for routes, using a linear equation and using nonlinear values (values you cannot plot on a simple straight line). All of these can and should be tested. In other words, make a ton of speed ratings using all sorts of different SPPL values and evaluate. Modify them and evaluate. Repeat over and over until you hate horse racing and just want to go fishing.

What does all THIS have to do with the original question? The idea of 10% better, when applied to plain old speed ratings (POSR) is like entering a field full of landmines, both because the same delta values (7 points in the example) at different points on the scale (80, 73 versus 35, 28) yield different percentages and because the difference in speed ratings can mean different things based on the distances.

The other part of the question, the 10% bonus question, is easier to answer. 10% difference in speed ratings will likely not translate into 10% bonus on whatever number you are adding the bonus to. The scaling may be completely different - speed number versus horse ability or performance number. There are many people on the BBS who have explored such things but in the end, the answer is research and testing (that pesky duo again). How to weigh different factors that go in a performance number, including how to weigh speed number differentials like 80 versus 73 and incorporate that into the performance number. It's tricky if a bunch of different TYPES of data go into that performance number - Workout rating, pedigree evaluation, speed ratings data (like that 7 point difference), jockey evaluations, etc.

I know how we do it but I don't know how others do it. Again, you try some sh*t, test, evaluate, rinse and repeat. And do your version of going fishing every now and then to stay sane.

I should also point out that Z-scores come in handy when dealing with this data, like speed ratings and differentials between horses. I know people who ONLY use Z-score converted speed and pace ratings, never that RAW 80 and 73. This solves a lot of problems and is something we certainly use.

Summary:

This is so long and rambling I need a summary? LOL

The original question is good. Converting a 10% difference in speed ratings does NOT easily translate to giving a horse a 10% bonus, for the reasons I gave. This issue is not unique to speed numbers though.

So what DOES that 7 point difference, 80 and 73 or 40 and 33, REALLY mean, in real world evaluations of horses? The real answer requires lots of research and testing with lots of data. It won't be obvious. You may have to go fishing a few times. And a bottle of Jack wouldn't hurt, for those who imbibe.

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Old 08-25-2023, 01:38 PM   #15
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^^ Excellent answer Ron! you totally got what I'm asking.

I read your response after I posted my reply below. But perhaps there is something amiss with the way my question is posed. You really gave me some food for thought.Thank you for your in depth reply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dnlgfnk View Post
You may have to settle for a field ranking value (in today's 7 horse field, the 70 gets a "1", the 85 gets a "7", etc. ). Do this for all your relevant factors, perhaps weighting them and then averaging.
The database guys could probably inform you as to how often, e.g., this ranked speed rating wins vis--vis that ranked speed rating, assigning a ranking from that info. Or if you're a manual handicapper, incorporate public odds as a separate, and perhaps highest weighted ranking factor to obtain the latter information.
Or perhaps construct an odds to pct. chance of winning table (e.g., 3-5 =50%, 2-1 =26%, 5-1 = 12%, 10-1 =7 %), using subjective judgement to estimate the win rate of a "70 " vs. an "85", or by using Fibonacci numbers (in 7 horse field e.g., lowest ranked speed rating =3, then 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, or .5, .8, 1.3,2.1, etc. if preferred.)
Excellent, you got what I'm asking! And perhaps the field size should be a factor. But I think it's easier to use a scale of 1 to 10 and forgo field size. That way all races use the same scale.

So the 70 gets a 1 and the 85 should get a 10. And if we used that, what should the 73 get and what should the 83 get?

And they don't have to be whole numbers and most likely wont be. Like it's perfectly OK to use decimals such as 6.4, 7.1, etc.

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The Speed Figures used as an example in the original post at the top of this thread (80 vs. 73) aren't suggesting Horse A ran 10% faster than Horse B.

Most Speed Figures have a points per beaten length component.

-jp
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In the example in the original post at the top of this thread, Horse A certainly did NOT run 10% faster than Horse B. So the speed figures should not suggest it did.

But the figures themselves show a 10% difference. And that is exactly my point. It's misleading. It makes it appear that there was a significant difference in final time (10%). When in fact, it was less than two seconds in a race that lasted over 70 seconds.

And yes, it's true. Most Speed Figures have a points per beaten length component. But why is points per beaten length scaled in a way that misrepresents the actual margin? That's what I'm asking.

And I'm also asking if you wanted to assign a number to represent the intrinsic value of a rating, such as a speed rating, or any other type of rating that takes a measure of something and convert it to a number, how should it could be calculated?

In the world of finance, intrinsic value is a way of describing the perceived or true value of an asset. I would like to know the perceived value of the ratings in the PPs.

By the way, I can tell by the replies I've got that there's a lot of really good handicappers in this forum. And guys, I'm just trying to think outside the box here. Just trying to look at things in a different way than the conventional view.

Last edited by Running Amok; 08-25-2023 at 01:50 PM.
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