Dec 16 2014

A Christmas Wish List For The TimeformUS Elves

TimeformUS Xmas

Back in August we introduced readers to TimeformUS with the article, “There’s A New Racing Form In Town.”  Since that time we followed up with articles explaining their Trainer Ratings, Speed Figures, and Perspective Comments.

Over the course of the past few months we have been using TimeformUS on a regular basis, enough so that we now feel compelled to submit our Christmas Wish List to TimeformUS.  However, unlike other requests this time of year, we’re not looking for our wishes to be fulfilled by December 25.  If your little programming elves can see their way to making these enhancements during the coming year, we’d be very happy little horseplayers.

Label Starting Gate Locations

A topic discussed in several articles on this website is the uniqueness of racetracks in North America.  Racing ovals range in circumference from 1 mile (8 furlongs) to 11/2 miles (12 furlongs).  Their stretch runs are as short as 900 feet and as long as 1,400 feet.  And these stretch run variations exist even when the oval sizes are identical.  For example, both Del Mar and Fairgrounds are 1-mile ovals.  Yet the stretch at Del Mar is 919 feet and Fairgrounds is 1,346 feet.  Click here to read an article explaining these many variations.

All of these many variations makes it difficult, even for experienced handicappers, to remember the location of the starting gate at the many racetracks, for the many distances races are run.  Why is this important?

  1. Is the starting gate located near a turn?
  2. What post positions are good or bad for that particular starting gate location?
  3. Does the distance translate to a 1-Turn or 2-Turn race?

All of these are questions are important to a handicapper.  And you (TimeformUS) could help us quickly identify this by labeling the track diagram in your past performances with the location of the starting gate.  Below are a couple excerpts of PPs with the addition of a “G” labeling where the starting gate was located for each race.

Improvements - Starting Gate Label

In this example, the last two races for Costenia were both contested at 1-mile on the turf.  The starting gate location at Keeneland for the October 24 race shows this to be a 2-turn affair, while the 1-mile race at Belmont started out of a chute at the top corner of the turf course, making it essentially a 1-turn race.

Improvements - Starting Gate Label2

The example of Goodtimehadbyall is super, because it shows the many different starting gate locations for races run between 7-furlongs and 81/2 furlongs at four different tracks.  Contrast the 11/16 race at Belmont on Sept. 18 with the 11/16 race at Gulfstream Park on April 26.  The distance is the same, but the difference is a 1-turn race and a long run down the backstretch at Belmont vs. a 2-turn race and hitting the first turn almost immediately after the start at Gulfstream Park.  Post position scenarios are entirely different for these two races.  For example, inside speed would be a big advantage for horses in the Gulfstream Park races at this distance.


Include Next Race Speed Figures For Top Three Finishers

A nice feature provided by TFUS is the ability to click on the top three finishers from a prior race and pull up the race chart in a separate browser tab.  Within the chart view you can click on each horse and see their Speed Figure for their next race, or the race that immediately followed the one in the race chart.  This information is very useful to a handicapper, as it provides some insight into the level of the competition a horse faced in a prior race.

Our suggestion is to include the “Next Race Speed Figure” for the top three finishers of each race in the past performances, thereby saving us the step of pulling up the race chart.  We can always pull up the chart if we want more detail, but this would give ‘cappers a tremendous head start in evaluating the talent in prior races.  Below is an example:

Improvements - Next Race Figure

To the right of each horse you see a figure in brackets.  So, Transparent and Cease both ran a ’99’ speed figure in their next race following the Sep. 18 race.  You will notice we kept with the TFUS standard of using color to indicate the surface.  If the next race had been on grass, the figure would have appeared as [99].

This type of information is especially useful for young horses that progress rapidly.  Seeing a horse exit a race where the top three finishers all moved forward in their “next race” figures offers a hint that other horses exiting the same race might do the same.


Option To View Furlongs Instead of Mile Fractions

The last item on our wish list is for those of us who think in terms of furlongs rather than mile fractions.  Instead of thinking of a race as 11/8 miles, we think 9 furlongs. Why do some handicappers do this?

  • It helps to identify the progression of distance changes for a young horse.
  • It makes cutbacks in distance obvious.
  • It eliminates the need to make mental calculations translating fractions to furlongs.

In general, viewing distances in furlongs is more efficient and cuts out the mental calculations.  For example, quick … how much is the difference between a 11/16 and 13/8 distance race?

The answer: 21/2 furlongs.

Would it have been easier if I had said, how much is the difference between an 8.5 furlong race and an 11 furlong race? You get the point.

Below are the PPs for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Texas Red.  The left side shows how TFUS shows the distance currently.  The right side shows how it might appear when converted to furlongs.

Improvements - Furlongs1

In this way you can easily see the progression of distances (5, 6, 8, 8.5) for this 2-year old horse.  Will 9 and 10 furlongs be upcoming for this horse next year?  The owners are surely hoping for that progression, with 10 furlongs (11/4 miles) being the distance of the Kentucky Derby.

Realizing that some people might prefer to see distances in the traditional mile fractions, we thought this feature might be provided as an option on the “Preferences.”

Well, there’s our Christmas Wish List.  Readers, please add comments to this article if you like the suggestions.  And I’ll make sure that our list gets to Santa Timeform.

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

9 comments on “A Christmas Wish List For The TimeformUS Elves

  1. 1. Option to turn checkmarks on and off.
    2. In the my pics box, if you “toss” a horse that horse’s name in the left column should be grayed out.

  2. 1. Showing starting gate location is a great idea, especially for people that like to bounce around many tracks and lose track of each tracks layout. Would be a feature not offered by DRF either.
    2. Next race speed figures would be nice. It would be a little like the DRF Formulator view in their result charts, which right now is more robust than what Timeform is offering for result chart info.
    3. Like furlong idea, and your reasoning makes sense, but not sure if it has broad appeal. Being an option makes the most sense.
    All good ideas. Hope they take requests!

  3. Nice job Neal. As you know we’ve discussed this TimeFormUS product on various occasions in the past. Here is my wish list.

    1. To pile onto Neal’s “G” starting gate icon also add a hint text box if you hover over the “G” or perhaps click the “G” to show more info. I’d be curious on the PP stats for that track at that distance. In Neal’s example for Costenia, the Sept 12 race at Belmont you click the “G” and you can see the stats of PP #1 going 1 mile out of the chute on that particular turf course. Not only can you visually see where the gate is in the diagram you have the stats to back up whether it’s advantageous or not.

    2. I don’t think Trakus is a competitor so if not try to link into them for the tracks that use Trakus. For example in the PP line you can show a + or – distance travelled in relation to the winner or in relation to the horse that ran the shortest distance in that race. For example you see a horse ran 2nd beaten by a length and then the Trakus column says +68 showing the horse ran 68 feet further than the winner. In the Aqueduct 7th race on 12/15 I notice the winner ran further than every other horse in the race. Pretty cool to note that somehow and I don’t think anyone else is doing this. A link to the Trakus result chart would be a bonus.

    3. I may be alone on this one but an option to hide the M/L in the PP’s and Preview tab. I handicap the day before or morning of a race card. I find it human nature to try to find flaws in a horse with a M/L of 2-1 and try to look for positives on a horse with M/L 10-1. I don’t even want to know until I’m done handicapping the race.

    4. As horseplayers we all have our ways to watch race replays. However, the end goal is use 1 product (one stop shopping). Would be nice to have a race replay link in the PP’s even if you charge more money.

    5. I get the whole trainer stat and single number component to make it simpler and easier for people but I would like more. Similar to my idea on the “G” above to click to get more information maybe when I see a trainer at rating 86 in the last 15-26 days I can click it to simply see starts-win-place-show-roi. (26-4-3-5-$1.78). As Neal has posted many times the trainer information is key. The more you can build in this section the better. Custom filters for example to see a rating on my own criteria.

    This next section is related to printing. I know the future is all visual real time with tablets and printing is secondary, but there still exists a group that prefers and needs the printout. For me personally I attend the races more than I play from home (living in the Saratoga area). It’s a social event at the track. I just don’t envision the day where I’m me holding a tablet all day. I print on high speed black/white laser printer days before and handicap using the TimeFormUS tool on my laptop at home making my notes on paper. With that said it would be extremely beneficial especially for the days when I don’t have the advance time to handicap and just print and run.

    1. The Condensed PP’s. Instead of seeing last 10 speeds figs I’d rather have more data for the last 5 races (assuming real estate on the paper is an issue). Give me the speed figure and race rating figure like 87/80. A symbol for dirt, turf or synthetic like 87/80t for turf. If no symbol we assume dirt. Maybe a symbol for route/sprint. If no symbol we assume sprint, but an * for route. So a horse that ran a turf route in an 87 race rating with an 80 speed figure would be 87/80t*. That same situation in a dirt sprint would say 87/80.

    2 For the PP’s the color in the printout is kind of a killer. The PP’s are lengthy and use a lot of color. I think laser printer black ink is my only option. Using my laptop I really enjoy the color coding on the track bias and the pace. It’s so quick and easy to get a visual that a horse wired a field with a slow pace on a speed bias track using your color codes. However, that doesn’t translate so well to black ink print. Can this be translated to symbols in the printout vs. color (or at least the option to do this). For speed bias Red is ++, Pink is +, Lite Blue is –, Dark Blue is two – symbols. Or maybe codes instead of color, just not color. Same goes for the pace lines where you currently show red or blue, maybe use + and – for print.

    3. Probably don’t need the Pace Projector graphic printed seeing you give us the pace values and running style but somewhere in the race heading maybe you can print your blurb “Favors Leaders” or whatever projection verbiage you currently have.

  4. Really cool concept Neal. So many variables listed and used in racing that jockeys, trainers and handicappers use, why not list something as important as the placement of the gate for that track and distance! Bravo!

  5. How about also a link to a bet calculator, and an expansion of either Notes or the My Picks to contain the bets one wishes to make for a race (straight, vertical or serial)? One stop shopping indeed. I like the idea of a link to a replay, kid of like Trackmaster’s Platinum Harness PPs…

  6. I love timeforum it helps a lot with major stakes races where all the horses are very good and you can see who will get the pace advantage.

  7. Neal, The gate and speed figure suggestions are a great start to the wish list. I’m late to the comments on this post, but I agree that a wagering calculator would be helpful. I request the wagers somehow be saved in a “Wagering Column” for quick access when on the ADW or at the window. I also think many handicappers have biases or angles they prioritize when handicapping different races. Perhaps for a fee, a checklist could allow different customized views for different races so some informational.options would be eliminated to “declutter” PPs for certain races if the handicapper never uses the information. I liken it to spreadsheets in which certain columns can be removed to enhance or highlight a particular characteristic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *