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Par times are speed figures or actual times that the average winner wins with in a particular class and distance of race. For instance, a 6 furlong $10,000 claiming event for 4 year olds and up might have a par of 1:10, meaning one minute and ten seconds and a par of 88 (speed figure). The speed figure may be a Beyer speed figure or another method may be used to calculate it using proprietary software.
They are also used for fractions or segments of the race as well, such as a par of 80/92/89. That would mean that the eventual winner of the race ran the first section or quarter of the race in 80, the second quarter in 92 and the last in 89. Looking at the expected pace of each runner would then give you an idea of which horses best fit the winning pace profile for the race.
Of course, in a perfect world horses would always run exactly the same and you’d win all your wagers, but this is horse racing reality so we know that isn’t going to happen. Scraping out any kind of a profit betting on horses, even with sophisticated information like this, is still very difficult.
On the other hand, before the race starts it is nice to think that you know exactly how the runners will race and where each one will be during each quarter of the race.
Once the gate opens and pandemonium starts and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach, well, that’s when you realize that par times and pace figures and speed figures are just a guide. Nonetheless, they are useful and should not be overlooked as a handicapping tool. A good way to use them is to look for horses who have run a recent race in which they have set the par times in each fraction as well as the final time figure.
Using the example of the par times and pace pars above, any horse who had set those pace pars and also the final time for a race would be considered a contender. Since this isn’t an exact science, you might want to allow a little wiggle room and say that any horse who had come within a tick or two of those times was also a possibility.
With younger horses these methods must be considered a rough guide because young horses are still improving and the pars they set in past races may not indicate what they’re capable of today. However, when handicapping races for older horses, many have already peaked and the par times you see in past races are the best to be expected.
write by Charity Hawk