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CPR Handicapping Update

Hitting the Gap Horses:    Using the Distance and Turf Ratings

April 7, 2006.

As you will have probably noticed in the reports on some of our recent studies horses with an RTG of "++ " or better tend to perform well. This is because they have demonstrated an ability in the past to run to par for the current group in both the B2 and DR (or TR if a turf race) ratings. Combined with other positive indications they become horses to look over and not to overlook in your handicapping.

Our primary focus in other studies was to use the RTG as a performance or ability indicator. We also focused on whether the horse was given some positive respect by the crowd (being in the top 2 or 3 crowd choices) and had a high AER (average earnings ratio) as an indication of decent class. Our final consideration was readiness which we have defined as returning to race within a reasonably short time. Initially that was set at within 28 days, but our last study seemed to suggest that horses returning within 35 days did almost as well.

Since the key to a horse scoring a ++ rating is that it has performed at par or better at the distance of today's race, I decided to take a closer look at the DR rating. In the past I have often noticed the importance of requiring a gap of 2 points before considering the rating difference between two horses to be of any importance. This is because with rounding up and down of numbers there will often be virtually no difference between two horses one point apart. For instance, horse A may have a rating calculated by the computer at 78.6 while horse be has an almost identical rating of 78.4. Removing the decimals the computer will round horse A up to 79, while setting horse B at 78.

Initial Results

So I decided to analyze the results of those horses with a top DR rating in the field where there was a gap between that horse and the next horse of at least 2 points. What I have found so far is that combining that top DR rating with a gap and other factors we have been considering points to a few horses in every card that are worth watching. Unfortunately there are a number of these horses that are obvious standouts and their odds will be low, and some horses will meet these criteria and yet go off at substantially higher odds indicating the crowd has some reason to suspect their reliability.

Nevertheless, looking at 111 races since March 25 in which such horses qualified, regardless of odds, there were 47 winners (42.3%). And they produced a $2ROI of $2.52 with no other handicapping applied.

Gap Horses Criteria

Below is the criteria that I followed. Remember this is a small sample and you should only use these criteria as an initial indicator that the horse is worth a closer look. Apply your own handicapping tools to verify that it is a contender, and always insist on fair odds before you wager.

Horses To Watch for April 8th

It's often easy in hindsight to pick the winners. As it happens the results for today April 7th were very good with 5 winners in 7 races and a return of $36.40. But how will this approach work in practice? Here is a short list of the Gap Horses for tomorrow, April 8th, 2006 that I think are worth watching. With a lot of 3 year old races to go with Derby Prep race time there are only five qualifiers (not seven, as I inadvertently noted in an earlier posting) to look at, rather than the average of 10 or so. Let's see how they make out.

Track Race Horse
Aqueduct 1 Sea Lawyer 5/2
Keeneland 1 Stalwart Memory 5/2
Laurel 2 Roop's Loop 8/5
Santa Anita 1 Fail Me Not 4-1
11 Urban King 9/2

Results for April 8th:
April 8, 2024

A quick look at our results shows 4 of the 5 horses we highlighted yesterday as GAP Contenders managed to win, returning $15.30 on five $2 win wagers. The first race at Santa Anita was the only one that failed to win, and our contender there finished last. Perhaps an indication of the flaw with that horse was the fact it has been worked 9 furlongs in the last 3 weeks, despite returning to race within 13 days. Maybe they were trying to work out a problem, and that might have been a warning sign for us. Of course, we can't expect such a high percentage of winners every day, but this is quite good considering we picked them ahead of race time and not just in hindsight to prove the stats. Combined with the 5 out of 7 on Friday night the GAP Contenders are currently on a roll as an angle to watch.