Using Speed Figures to Bet on Horse Racing

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

Last Updated:

Read Time: 7 minutes

In the exhilarating world of horse racing, fans and seasoned punters alike are constantly on the lookout for a competitive edge. As the thundering hooves echo through the racetrack, one metric stands out among the rest—speed figures. 

These numerical representations of a horse’s performance hold the key to unraveling the mysteries of the track and predicting the outcome of races. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the importance of speed figures, their crucial distinctions from final times, explore popular speed figures, and unveil the art of using these figures to confidently predict winners.

The Importance of Speed Figures

Speed figures are essentially numerical ratings assigned to horses based on their speed performances in previous races. These figures provide a standardized metric, enabling horseplayers and horse racing fans to compare and evaluate the relative speed capabilities of different horses. 

The significance of speed figures lies in their ability to offer a more nuanced and accurate assessment of a horse’s potential compared to traditional methods like final times.

Enhanced Precision with Speed Figures

Unlike final times, which may be influenced by various external factors such as track conditions and racing tactics, speed figures take into account these variables and provide a more precise reflection of a horse’s actual speed. This precision allows bettors to make more informed decisions, minimizing the element of chance in horse race predictions.

Consistency Across Tracks

One of the key advantages of speed figures is their consistency across different racetracks. Final times may vary significantly due to variations in track surfaces and layouts. Speed figures, on the other hand, standardize these differences, providing a reliable and comparable measure of a horse’s performance, irrespective of the racing venue.

Horses may show an affinity for a certain track, distance or surface. However, an 89 speed figure earned in a dirt route at Santa Anita Park should demonstrate equal ability to an 89 on the Gulfstream Park turf surface.

Speed Figures vs. Final Times

While final times offer a straightforward measure of how quickly a horse completed a race, they often fall short in capturing the subtleties of a horse’s performance. Speed figures address these limitations by incorporating various factors, resulting in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Accounting for Track Conditions

Final times may not account for variations in track conditions, such as a muddy track or a fast surface. Speed figures, however, are designed to adjust for these conditions, offering a more accurate representation of a horse’s true speed capabilities regardless of the racing environment.

Factoring in Pace

Pace, or the speed at which a race unfolds, plays a pivotal role in determining a horse’s chances of success. Some figures take into consideration the pace of a race, allowing for a more nuanced analysis of a horse’s performance. 

A horse that finishes strong in a slow-paced race may have a different speed figure than a horse with a similar final time in a faster-paced event.

Even the figures that do not directly account for the pace of given races, will add in a track variant which indicates how quickly the track was playing compared to the average. A horse running an average time over a slow track will actually get an upgrade.

Popular Speed Figures

Several organizations and methodologies generate speed figures, each with its unique approach to assessing a horse’s speed. Understanding these popular ratings is essential for harnessing their predictive power effectively.

Beyer Speed Figures

Horse sets speed figure record

Ghostzapper holds the record for highest ever Beyer Speed Figure at 128

Developed by Andrew Beyer, Beyer Speed Figures are widely regarded as one of the most popular and influential speed figures in horse racing. 

These figures provide a standardized rating that reflects a horse’s performance in a specific race, considering factors such as track condition, distance, and racing tactics. The higher the number the faster the horse’s performance.

Brisnet Speed Figures

Brisnet Speed Ratings, another well-regarded metric, aim to quantify a horse’s performance by considering factors like track variant, distance, and pace. These figures are standardized, allowing bettors to compare the speed capabilities of different horses easily. Brisnet Speed Ratings provide valuable insights into a horse’s recent form and potential for upcoming races.

TimeformUS Speed Figures

TimeformUS has changed the speed figure game by adding significant pace consideration. Along with raw numbers, the team will also provide a pace adjusted figure. This metric will help to establish who ran the best race, even if the horse did not run the fastest race.

Betting News Speed Ratings

One significant disadvantage of the major commercial figure makers is that their product lives behind a paywall. Horse racing betting featuring the most expensive vigorish of any wagering event. Horseplayers that pay for data are effectively increasing an already absurd takeout.

Betting News offers free speed ratings for horses at all the major tracks each and every day!

Using Speed Figures to Predict Winners

Now that we’ve explored the significance of speed figures and their distinctions from final times, let’s delve into the practical aspect of utilizing these figures to predict the outcome of horse races.

Analyzing Trends

One effective strategy for using speed figures is to analyze trends in a horse’s performance. By examining a horse’s recent speed figures across multiple races, bettors can identify patterns that may indicate an upward or downward trajectory in form. 

Consistent improvement in speed figures suggests a horse in peak condition, increasing its chances of success in upcoming races.

Comparing Competing Horses

Speed figures offer a valuable tool for comparing the relative strengths of horses in a given race. Bettors can assess the speed figures of each contender, taking into account factors like distance, track condition, and recent form. This comparative analysis allows for informed predictions, guiding bettors towards horses with superior speed capabilities in the specific conditions of the upcoming race.

Factoring in Class Changes

Changes in class, such as a horse moving from claiming races to stakes races, can significantly impact its performance. Speed figures help bettors assess how well a horse is likely to adapt to a new class. 

A horse with consistently high speed figures in lower classes may demonstrate the potential to excel when stepping up in competition.

Considering Track Bias

Track bias, or the tendency of a racetrack to favor certain positions, can greatly influence race outcomes. Speed figures can be used to identify horses that have performed well despite adverse track biases. Bettors can then capitalize on the potential undervaluation of such horses in the betting market.

False Speed Figures

One challenge with speed figures is that due to their effectiveness, high numbers can often be overbet. However, many players lack the discernment to look for patterns. This can lead to some great value plays. 

A horse has been consistently running speed figures in the 60s (64-62-67-62) and then in the last race jumped up to an 81. Today he runs against a bunch of entries that have failed to top 75. 

There may be a logical reason why this horse magically improved by 20 lengths. Perhaps it was a surface switch or a class drop. Maybe the horse was recently gelded or earned the figure first off a layoff after a grueling campaign. 

In that case the horse may just crush this field. However, if there is no discernible reason for the increase, the race may be an outlier and the horse may be poised to return to a mid 60 figure where he belongs. 

The public will bet the top figure into the ground and increase value on the other runners in play. Horseplayers who can spot this may just be able to get a steal on an undervalued contender. 

Horse Racing Betting Based on Speed Figures

In the dynamic and unpredictable world of horse racing, speed figures are a must use for those seeking a winning edge. 

Their ability to standardize performances, account for external factors, and offer a consistent metric across different tracks makes them invaluable tool for bettors and enthusiasts alike. 

By understanding the nuances of speed figures, comparing popular metrics, and applying strategic analysis, horse racing fans can elevate their predictions and approach the thrilling sport with a newfound confidence. 

So, next time you find yourself at the racetrack or browsing around your favorite online sportsbook, let speed figures be your guide to unlocking the secrets of success and predicting the winners with precision.