Feb 6 2015

Introducing Get A Leg Up↑ – Giving Horseplayers A Little Boost

Get A Leg Up Logo 001

Today we introduce a new feature on the website called “Get A Leg Up↑“.  This is a term used in horse racing when someone gives a jockey a boost up onto the back of a horse.

In our series we hope to give horseplayers a boost up on a race.  We will select individual races that provide opportunities to learn and maybe with a little luck, provide some financial rewards in the process.  But, our main focus is education.  We will not be providing any “picks,” and we will try to keep the analysis focused on … well, as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

There will be multiple components to this new feature.  The first three will be published prior to the race.  The last two will be published after the race.

  1. Show a Pace Projector for the race, provided by TimeformUS.
  2. Provide a Summary Sheet that includes some information about every horse in the race, including horse number, post position, age, jockey, trainer, morning line, and a “Form Indicator” (explained below).
  3. Provide detailed handicapping comments for every horse in the race (explained below).
  4. Provide a post-race recap that summarizes the results of the race and relates them back to the handicapping comments.  Also, a link to the official Equibase race chart will be provided.
  5. If a public video of the race replay is available (i.e. on YouTube), the video will be added to the article below the post-race recap.

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Whenever possible, the race selected will be one of the upcoming free races offered on TimeformUS. That way readers will have the opportunity to see the complete Past Performances for the race at no cost to them. Click on the logo to the side for more information on obtaining free PPs for select races.

Form Indicator

Unlike other factors (e.g. Distance, Class, Speed Figures), “Form” is a fundamental component of handicapping that does not have it’s own column in the Past Performances. We will offer our own column, with acronyms for key form considerations. For example:

Acronym Meaning
* Very sharp in multiple recent races.
L-xxx Layoff – Off xxx days
FT-ssss First Time on a new surface (ssss = Turf, Syn,Dirt)

A full list of acronyms will be provided in a subsequent article on the terminology used in the “Get A Leg Up↑” series.

Handicapping Comments

The handicapping comments will focus on the fundamentals of handicapping (Distance, Form, Class, Pace, Figures, etc.) . They will be color coded as follows:

  • Blue comments will be favorable (Pros) to a horse’s chances of performing well today.
  • Red comments will be cautionary (Cons) to a horse’s chances of performing well today.
  • Green comments will be “not so obvious” information that was gleaned from watching race replays, researching trainer statistics, reading past race charts, etc.

Collectively these comments should help a handicapper narrow the field down to the true contenders in the race. Please note, no “picks” or “selections” will be made by the author in these comments.

Example Of Content

In preparing to get ready for this new feature, we had a few practice rounds reviewed by a select group of readers, who provided us with feedback on the material presented. We have selected one of the races from these practice rounds to use as an example.  We believe it’s a good example because of the variety of topics that it touched upon.

Gulfstream Park, January 28, 2015, Race 10. First, the Pace Projector as it was presented on TimeformUS after the #7 was scratched.

Pace Projector (2015-01-28 GP Race 10)

Next the real heart of the “Get A Leg Up↑” series, the write-up with information about every horse, including form indicators and handicapping comments. The following write-up was created prior to the running of the race.  Notice that the top two lines contain information about the race; including the date, track, race#, distance (in furlongs), surface, sex, age, class, and purse.

The third line (“Race Notes”) contains comments relating to the overall nature of the race.  It will contain information about class, pace projections, starting gate location, post positions, etc.  The actual content will depend on the dynamics of the individual race.

Get A Leg Up (2015-01-28 GP Race 10)

Footnote to the handicapping comments:

There will be a follow-up article explaining all of the terminology to be used in these write-ups.  For example:

  • All Speed and Pace Figures will be presented within square brackets [xxx].
  • // will be used as a separator of unrelated comments on a line.
  • The odds column will be presented in decimal format (e.g. 4.5 = 9-2 odds).

Following the race, a post-race recap summarizing the race results will be added to the article.  Also, a link to the complete race chart on Equibase will be provided for easy reference.  Below is our recap of the sample race above.

Post-Race Recap

Click here to read the complete race chart on Equibase.

The TFUS Pace Projector was spot on for this race, as the pacesetters were 4-10-2, exactly as predicted … and the pace was rather brisk by any measure. The quick pace enabled the closer, J.L.’s Princess, to run her race from the back of the pack, and “close with a rush” to win the race and pay $22.60 for the win. From a “Form” standpoint, J.L’s Princess was very logical with both sharp form (*) and upward trend in figures (↑) noted in our comments.

Very Few Details ran another solid race, finishing 2nd despite setting the fast pace, and her sharp form (*) continues. Morning Star seems to have gotten back on track, finishing a credible 3rd, suggesting her form might be headed in the right direction. Will to Shine had no excuses, as she did break alertly and was in a good position throughout the race, but she tired in the lane.

Indian Starlight probably needed this race off the layoff, and the trainer’s rating of {47} off layoffs proved to be reasonable.  Hit Squad once again showed little effort, and the drop in class did not help. Malibu Holiday returning from a layoff of 179 days, was unable to return to prior form and tired in the lane. Blues and Silvers, another off a layoff (103 days), was in good position until the top of the stretch, and then she tired.

From an odds perspective, Thundering Gale was very disappointing, finishing last at 7-2 odds. She was likely backed by the public because of the success of her trainer, Chad Brown. But from a Form and Figures standpoint, her dull effort was not a surprise. Both of these cautions were raised in our comments.

Lessons Learned

Sometimes a hot trainer (e.g. Chad Brown) can be over-bet by the public because of their recent success. If their horse presents enough “red flags” suggesting they might not run well, the over-bet trainer can create value plays for other horses in the race.

Video Race Replay

That concludes our introduction of the new “Get A Leg Up↑” feature.  Click here to read our next article explaining the terminology to be used in this series.


If you don’t want to miss any of the future articles in this series, we recommend that you subscribe to the Blog via e-mail and/or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
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*** Existing e-mail subscribers: You will be included in the drawing for the free year of PPs from TimeformUS.

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By Neal Benoit

4 comments on “Introducing Get A Leg Up↑ – Giving Horseplayers A Little Boost

  1. Neal,

    I am very impressed with this new concept to help educate fans. I believe it will be of value to both hardcore handicappers and most other fans. It will also be handy for fans who want to take an educated guess when they haven’t handicapped a race themselves. The information on which they make that guess will be provided by you.

    I hope your post race recaps can point to big or little things that occur in a race that may explain why something you didn’t plan on happening affected a race. In this case things appeared to be fairly formful from your analysis, if not the betting public.

    I particularly like the easy to remember symbols and the color coded comments.

    I am not wishing you a bad result, but I hope you have the same candid commentary after a race in which your analysis doesn’t hold up during a race. Comments on horses who don’t fire or have bad racing luck post race are as important as analysis of a winning trip.

  2. You have an excellent method of determining the needs of the everyday handicapper. You hit the nail on the head. This is a great tool to educate new inquiring fans.
    I will be watching for ‘Get A Leg Up’.

    John de Simone on
  3. FYI, Will To Shine and Indian Starlight came back to run 1-2 in 9th race on Feb. 25 at GP. Will To Shine paid $17 to win and the exacta paid $81. Thought you might like to know.

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