Q: Are the pace pars just an averaging of all the data for each pace call and final time for each distance, or is the PAR for each based on a particular class (eg. 4yo and up $10,000 claimers), and if so, what is it?
A: Pace FIGURES are based primarily on the average fractions recorded by horses who run in the Beyer Speed Figure range of 80-89. Sometimes I'll compare 70-79 ranges as well, or even 60-69 ranges at racetracks that run lesser-quality races.
Once pace FIGURES are established for a track, pace PARS are obtained by taking final Beyer Speed Figures and calculating the average/median values for pacefigs associated with those final figs.
The final step is to transfer all numbers from the Beyer scale into the pacefig scale.
Q: Why are par figures not available for each race? Or, why is par not available for the race I am handicapping?
A: We know pace pars for each race are of benefit, and we are hoping to include them soon. That requires expanding the Beyer Speed Figure final pars, which currently do not include races for 2yos, 3yos or state-breds.
Q: How can a horse running in a $10,000 non-winners of 2 lifetime have higher pace pars than a horse who running in open $5,000?
A: Pace pars are based on final time, not class. If a $10,000 non-winners of 2 lifetime race turns out to be faster than an open $5,000 race, the par fractions will also be higher. I initally chose this method because DRF does not currently have final Beyer Speed Figure pars for state-bred, 2yo and 3yo races, which comprise a large chunk of the daily fare at most tracks (which is also why pace pars for each race are not yet available).
When we do have pars for each class level, I'll make a decision whether to key the pace pars to class averages or final time. I'm already seeing advantages to both methods.
Q: Why do some races show Moss Pace Figures, but no pars (for example, 7 1/2 F races at Gulfstream, and some races on synthetic surfaces)?
A: Gulfstream reconfigured its track at the beginning of 2006 and has only run a handful of 7 1-2F races. To get accurate pars, a decent sample of races are needed.
Q: How are you using track variants to create your numbers?
A: As a starting point, the same variant used in the calculation of Beyer Speed Figures is also applied to the pace figures. Because parallel-time charts already have deceleration averages built into them, separate variants for each point of call are not necessary... in theory.
Unfortunately, it isn't quite that easy. Because the effects of wind and "off" tracks, I'm finding that separate pace variants need to be calculated at least 50% of the time, and more than that at some tracks. Because this is so time-intensive, I will be able to hand-calculate variants on only select meetings throughout the year. I'm guessing that will be four or five tracks at any given time
Q: When you say you use the same track variant as the Beyer Speed Figures, I assume that means if the Beyer's indicate that the track is playing 2 lengths fast, that you use a 2 lengths fast variant at each point of call. If so, how do you account for things like wind speed and direction on some days that affect the pace times differently than the final times?
A: Accounting for wind speed is very subjective, and there is no way around that. If I'm doing daily pace variants for a track at which I can see flagpoles during replays, I'll note the wind direction and estimate the wind speed for each race. If, for example, it appears that Oaklawn Park has a strong backstretch tailwind on a particular day, I'll keep that in mind when looking at the day's results and usually some adjustment will be required.
Sometimes the wind changes directions during an afternoon. Sometimes it subsides. I'll note that, too. When changes like that happen, I'll occasionally need to make more than one pace variant. But regardless of what the flagpoles appear to show, if I can't see any tangible effect on the fractions, then I won't make any changes. Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between, say, a tailwind and a crosswind, so I require that the visual evidence be backed up by what's on paper. And I'm pretty stingy in general about making changes; I want the pacefigs to reflect how fast a horse ran, not how fast I think he should have run.
Q: Assuming that the Beyer variant is proprietary info, could you say how you apply it to each point of call?
A: The Beyer variant is applied to each point of call. About half the time this is sufficient. The other half of the time, wind or track-surface issues require that separate variants be made for each point of call. Runup adjustments are added to the variant as well.
Q: If the track variant is 5 fifths fast over (say) a six furlong race and you applied the variant at each point of call, you would end up adding a second every two furlongs or 3 seconds for the race, no? Don't you mean to say that a portion of the Beyer variant is applied at each point of call?
A: If one simply uses fifths of a second as in the Quirin pacefig scale, then it would be absolutely mandatory to use only a portion of the final variant for each fractional call. But the beauty of the Beyer system is the set of parallel-time charts that already take into account the proper values of a fifth of a second at every distance. So a Beyer final variant of, say, minus-15, can be applied across the board - because that same minus-15 across the parallel-time chart is equal to .31 seconds at a quarter mile, .64 seconds at a half-mile, and one full second at six furlongs.
Q: Beyer adjusted Summer Doldrums' figure down after one of his recent races. Do the Moss figures also adjust figures or do they keep the figure intact ?
A: Our pace figures are based on the variant obtained from the Beyer Speed Figure. Thus if a Beyer figure changes, so does the pace figures.
However... and I hope this makes sense... sometimes a Beyer Speed Figure is “projected” upward or downward because of a slow pace or sometimes a fast pace, and when this happens, it will almost never be reflected in the pace figures.
Brief and possibly confusing explanation:
Using the pacefig number system, let’s suppose Summer Doldrums runs pace figs of 55-58 en route to a frontrunning 6F score for a final figure of 72, based on the track variant for the day’s other races.
Now let’s suppose that because of the effect the slow pace had on the final time, the Beyer Speed Figure is adjusted upward, and the final figure becomes 76 on my scale. If left alone, our computer system will automatically change Summer Doldrums' figs to 59-62 and 76. However, just because the final time was affected by slow fractions doesn’t mean the pacefigs should be changed, too. They are what they are. So I will go into the system and override the projection back to 55-58 – what the pacefigs would have been if the projection had not been made.
Here’s the rub... the final figure cannot be overridden. So the figs will actually appear in print as 55-58 and 76. I’m aware that this messes up the Race Shape somewhat, but it’s a tradeoff. Given a choice – and I have one here – I’d rather have the pacefigs be as accurate as possible.
Q: Do Moss Pace Figures incorporate the track condition? For example, would muddy tracks have lower figures than fast tracks?
A: The track condition is already factored into the pace figures through the Beyer Speed Figure track variant calculation.
Q: Why in sprint races is the Race Shape and Pace Line number blank for the 3rd call, but in route races you have a number?
A: In sprints up to 6 1-2F, we use two pacefig calls: the quarter-mile and half-mile. For 7F races, we also add the six-furlong call. In routes from 1M to 1 1-16M, we use three pacefig calls. Beginning with 1 1/8M races, we use four calls, adding the one-mile call. And beginning with 1 1/2M races, we use five calls, adding the 1 1/4M call.
Q: If a horse is trailing the leader in a sprint, why is his individual Pace Figure significantly less than the leader’s figure? In route races, their individual numbers seem closer.
A: Beaten lengths always carry a higher value at shorter distances. It's the same with the Beyer Speed Figure parallel time chart. Every length behind at 2F devalues horses considerably more than a length at 8F. Andrew Beyer used an example in one of his books to illustrate the difference... to paraphrase, a horse running one second slower than a 1 1/4 in 1:59 would still be running faster than possibly any other horse in America can run. But whereas a horse consistently running a quarter mile in 21 flat would beat almost every thoroughbred in the country to the lead, a thousand horses or more are capable of running a quarter in 22.
Q: If I understand correctly when using your pace figs a 75 for a half mile in a sprint equals a 75 for a half mile in a route. Does that mean that the half mile par times are equivalent ?
A: It took quite a while, but I came up with a formula/adjustment to equalize sprint pacefigs and route pacefigs.
A horse who runs a 75 pacefig in a route has theoretically run exactly as fast as a horse who runs 75 in a sprint. Of course, route pacefigs are typically slower simply because jockeys aren't usually asking their horses for as much speed.
Par times are very different for sprints and routes.
Q: What happened to the "Race Shape Notes" line?
A: The new Race Shape Progression is a retooled and improved version of what we formerly called Race Shape Notes. The terminology remains the same (very fast early, slow late, etc), but the way the Race Shape Progression is derived should make it much more useful for pacefig handicappers.
Example: the Race Shape in a one-mile race is 60-66-76 for a final figure of 87. Compared to par, those pacefigs are slow: -16, -10 and -9.
In the old Race Shape Notes, this race would erroneously be described as "very slow early, very slow middle and very slow late," when in fact the first quarter-mile was indeed slow (-16), but the second quarter of the race picked up six points against par (-16 to -10), and the final stage of the race was run considerably faster than par (third call 76-to-final fig 87 compared to par of 85-to-87).
The new Race Shape Progression takes these internal fractions into consideration.
In the above example, the Race Shape Progression would read: Very slow early, fast middle, very fast late.
Q: In the example you give explaining your new "Race Shape Progression," what is the final fig (87) in relation to par?
A: On the Race Shape Progression, as with the Race Shape itself, the par for the final figure should always be interpreted as 0, since the pacefigs themselves are based on the final figure.
Q: Also in the above example, why are there four numbers (60, 66, 76, 87) but only 3 descriptive phrases. When you say "the second quarter picked up 6 pts. against par ( -16 to -10) and therefore makes the Race Shape Progression "very slow early", "fast middle"... it's only "fast middle" in comprison to the opening quarter not to PAR, right?
A: Four-number Race Shape Progression is supposed to work like this.
Let's suppose a Race Shape of 60-66-76-87 has par comparisons of -16 -10 -7.
Again, because the fractions are keyed to the final time, that can also be interpreted as -16 -10 -7 and 0. The first quarter of minus-16 qualifies on our scale as "very slow early." During the middle two quarters, the race picked up nine points against par (-16 to -7), which qualifies as "very fast middle," and the last portion of the race (-7 to 0) would be "very fast late."
A SPRINT race with 1/4 and 1/2 fractions that came up slow compared to par by -16 and -10 would receive Race Shape Progression comments of "very slow early," "fast middle" and "very fast late" using the method we employ that treats fractions incrementally.
But because a ROUTE race has an extra call and we have room for only three comments, we had choices to make with the Race Shape Progression... I decided to make the 1/4 call the "early" one, make the "middle" portion of the progression correspond to the middle TWO calls, and the make the "late" call from the 3/4 mark to the wire. That means that a route with -16 -10 -7 would indeed be "slow early," with a "very fast middle" (-16 to -7).
Q: In a six furlong race, does the second pace figure represent the half (say :45.1) or does it represent the second fraction?
A: The pace figures always correspond to the fractional times and not to the internal fractions, if that makes sense. In other words, in a six furlong race with :22 - :45 fractions, the second pace figure is keyed to a half in :45 rather than a second quarter in :23.
Q: What are Moss Pace Figure Values at various distances?
A: 1 length equals:
3.3 points at 2F
1.6 points at 4F
1.3 points at 5F
1.0 points at 6F
0.8 points at 7F
0.75 points at 1M
0.7 points at 1 1/16M
0.65 points at 1 1/8M
Q: How can you have an identical pace number for a $10,000 claimer versus a Stakes horse? Shouldn't the final race times give you a major difference in the Pace numbers based on the better final times of the leaders of the Stakes race?
A: These pace figures are based strictly on the same principles as Beyer Speed Figures. In Beyer Speed Figures, if a $10,000 claiming race runs faster than a stakes race – and there are no mitigating circumstance such as a change in track-surface speed – then the $10,000 claimers get a high figure.
In pace figures, there are MANY times in which lower-class horses will run at a faster early pace than higher-class horses. Almost any good frontrunning $10,000 claimer can run 6F fractions of 22.1 and :45, but occasionally stakes races with short fields will go slower than that. Then good horses finish faster and cheap horses fall apart.
In two-turn races, the pace differences can be even more minute. For example, there isn’t much difference at all between $7,500 claiming races and $25,000 claiming races in average 2F and 4F fractional times at 1 1-16 miles, but then the difference shows up in the final half-mile.
The pace figures are all based on the same set of numbers, and they are exactly comparable to one another regardless of class involved.
Q: Can you explain further the differences between pace handicapping for dirt and for turf races?
A: Perhaps the most difficult aspect of creating Moss Pace Figures for turf races is the varying way the races are timed when the portable rail is moved around. Some tracks have different electronic timing beams for each "about" distance in an attempt to maintain some sort of timing continuity, but the majority of tracks don't. As a result, a grass race that would go in :24 and :48 when the rail is in its original position might go :25.3 and :50 when the rail is moved 20 feet out. And I've seen some tracks that still hand-time "about" races.
About a year ago, DRF began including the rail position for grass races in its database, but programming different pace figures for different rail distances at every track will be a tough job. DRF actually does intend to expand this into turf racing at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Q: Is their enough information out there to create figures from tracks who race on the poly surface. With Arlington coming up, is there or will there be figures assigned from the current meet or will you just skip this year?
A: We will have figures, but not the pars.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between Moss Pace Figures and pace figures horseplayers have been calculating on their own?
A: There are actually quite a few factors that go into Moss Pace Figures. To begin with, DRF has allowed me total access to its database, so I can download 15 years worth of data on, say, 6F races at Santa Anita to know exactly the relationship of fractional times to final times at that distance/track. I do this with every track, look at horses that ship from circuit to circuit, and then factor in such things as runup distances to the timing beam, etc. It's pretty complicated. Hopefully I can save you a lot of time.
Q: Are Moss Pace Figures going to be printed in Daily Racing Form editions that are delivered to tracks?
A: It is doubtful the pace figures will ever be incorporated into the printed past performances, and certainly not in the near future, simply because of the space required and the cost of newsprint. Besides, it looks like this internet craze may stick around for a while.
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