by Brett Sturman
When handicapping a harness race, it’s been traditionally simple to shortly assess a subject in a race. Commonplace situation sheets have made it easy to check courses and know which horses are stepping up, which of them are dropping, and the the reason why horses are in a race to start with. However that’s not at all times the case nowadays.
A normal situation has at all times been non-winners of some quantity of their final 5 begins, together with an additional situation for an elective claiming worth of one other quantity. This nonetheless is the case in lots of locations, however at different tracks the place competitors has elevated for horses to fill the entry field, situations have change into immensely tougher to decipher. Take this situation from the Meadowlands final Saturday, which isn’t an unusual one both: It reads, “N/W $10,500 (NJSO, N/W L3 or F&M $12,500) in L5.AE: Winners B/C N/W $8,000 or Much less L/S.AE: N/W 8.(FM 10) Ext. PM Races Life. Choose. Clm $30K (N/W $7,500 L5/ AE: Winners B/C N/W $8K-Much less L/S/AE: Mares N/W $60K Life Drawn Inside.
Is any regular race-goer anticipated to know what that situation means? I’ve slowly gone by way of every line of code within the situation and tried to map it to every horse within the subject and I’m nonetheless not there but. The great factor, although, is that from a handicapping standpoint it makes the race far more difficult, and probably extra rewarding than a typical situation race wherein most individuals have the identical college of thought. However the place do you begin when 10 horses are getting into the race of all units of courses making it tough for apples to apples comparisons.
That is the place the TrackMaster horse score system is available in. As written about beforehand on this column, the concept of the score system – in the event you purchase into the mannequin – is that it establishes a day by day up to date common score of a horse’s skill primarily based on earned TrackMaster pace figures in previous performances. Up to now couple of years, the TrackMaster horse scores have change into more and more adopted at racetracks as methods to set morning strains and maybe extra controversially, be used as a part of the eligible situations for a horse to race below (i.e. race is for horses with a TrackMaster score between 75 and 80).
As a place to begin when starting to evaluate a race, the Trackmaster horse scores might function a good starting. Although not included on any remaining program that I’m conscious of, all of the scores can be found day by day as public knowledge by way of the TrackMaster web site. A cursory evaluation of the scores on every horse within the race can typically present who the likelier contenders are. By boiling down the horse’s present skill to a single quantity and handicapping from there, it streamlines the method of evaluating completely different situations and evaluating uncooked race instances prior to now performances.
Whereas the idea of handicapping primarily based on calculated pace and sophistication numbers hasn’t caught on in harness racing, the idea is broadly utilized in different racing. Thoroughbred racing makes use of metrics reminiscent of Beyer, Ragozin and Thoro-Graph figures in not solely handicapping however different decision-making processes, and different worldwide racing jurisdictions assign an up to date numerical score to a horse, much like TrackMaster.
Like anything in handicapping, the Trackmaster scores aren’t a be-all end-all, however relatively one piece of the puzzle. For instance, the present score isn’t going to account for a barn change the place a horse is making its first begin for a 35 per cent barn after compiling it’s score within the palms of a coach with a document this 12 months of three for 81. Equally, it’s not going to account for an tools change that produces a three-second enchancment. That’s the place the human factor of handicapping is available in.
From 13 races final Saturday on the Meadowlands, there have been solely three the place the winner paid greater than $7.80. Of these three, the very best paying winner Basic Pleasure A who paid $27.20 because the winner of the seventh race that night time. In that race, horses had TrackMaster scores that ranged from 80.96 to 86.94. With a score of 86.41, Basic Pleasure A bested everybody aside from odds-on race favourite Grand Teton who was simply increased at 86.94. Granted that Basic Pleasure A had a tougher put up task in put up 9, he additionally had Dexter Dunn driving. Regardless of the marginal distinction in score, the chances distinction was big and Basic Pleasure A swept the sector from final to win comfortably ultimately.
The subsequent-highest paying winner that night time was Duddie’s Lor from the twelfth race. Paying $13.80 to win, it was much like the prior instance the place Duddie’s Lor was the second-highest race TrackMaster horse within the race. His score of 88.39 was increased than everybody aside from race favourite Palomar. Despatched off at odds of practically 6-1 in comparison with the race favourite of 5-2, Duddie’s Lor bought the journey with Tetrick and the win. The runner-up within the race Unloaded N was the third-highest rated TrackMaster horse and accomplished a $69.80 exacta.
Switching to Pompano Park, their extremely publicized Ship It In invite on Thursday for “laborious luck” pacers within the Jackpot Hello-5 necessary payout nightcap had horses coming in from each class possible. A evaluation of the TrackMaster scores confirmed that horses ranged from 64.72 to 71.18.With a excessive of 71.18, race favourite Queen Me Once more drained after a a number of transfer and first-over attempt from put up 9, and the winner was the second-highest rated horse and solely different horse above a 70, Large Dangerous Child who paid $14.20.
The purpose of the examples isn’t to cherry decide situations the place the TrackMaster score is spot-on, as a result of that’s not at all times the case. And there are legit the reason why in some instances they could not make sense. However, general, the scores may help present readability in tough to grasp fields, in addition to lending themselves to be one element of a bigger handicapping image.