• Dave Schwartz
    Note: This was my response to a PA post entitled, How would you rate or compare tracks?

    I'd like to help in answering this question.

    But first, a comment about using purse values.
    The issue with using purse values is that it is a function of more than the quality of horses.

    It is mostly a function of ATTRACTING HORSES within the scope of those available in the surrounding area at a given time of year.

    To make this point easily, just look at CBY on a map that is to scale.

    CBY is literally WAY OUT THERE.

    In order to attract horses, the purse values are unnaturally high considering the level of races and horses.

    My belief is that what matters most is the degree of reliability in the handicapping.

    That is, how often does handicapping lead to the winner?

    At the bottom of this post you will find a link to download the entire report that will be described here.

    I am the builder of The HorseStreet Par Times.

    Included with those pars is a document known as The Speed Reliability Index.

    This metric is based upon how well horses run back to their speed ratings in today's race.

    The scale looks like this:

    90-109 is considered average, with 100 being dead center average. That would represent 62% of all winners ranking in the top 3.

    For those who are statistically minded, originally, this represented one standard deviation from average, and each of the upward or downward steps represented 2 and 3 Std Devs, respectively.

    Over time, as most tracks have improved, I did not change the StdDev. Instead, I kept the same rating system.

    Here's a quick look at the best SRIs.

    This began as a project back around 2012 to improve my par times. This document just highlights the two best groups.

    There are extenuating conditions to these, with the biggest one being TRAINER. This is why the EXCELLENT group is mostly small tracks: At those tracks a tiny handful of trainers tend to dominate.

    BTW, a logical conclusion would be that this is a function of field size. Surprisingly, that does not hold up.

    IOW, the top 3 win almost exactly the same percentage in a 6-horse field as opposed to a 10-horse field.

    I have theories about that (and statistics to support), but that's for another day.


    The Alphabetical List shows a quick lookup of the the tracks over the years.

    I've only shown 3 years of the last 7 but I do have all the years.

    Generally, tracks show improvement year over year because the Pars have been in a significant state of improvement for over a decade.

    When tracks turn for the worse there is generally a reason.

    Here's the link to download the full PDF.
    HorseStreet Par Times 2023 Speed Reliability Index.

  • Deleted User
    A function of field size and perhaps the style of track in terms of angle, i.e. like Hastings in B.C. is like a bull ring.
  • Dave Schwartz
    A function of field size and perhaps the style of track in terms of angle, i.e. like Hastings in B.C. is like a bull ring.Charles Lucas

    Surprisingly, not a function of field size except with the tiny tracks (i.e. TIL, SAL, etc.)

    But at those tracks, top trainers dominate so strongly that everything points to them anyway (i.e. speed, top jockeys, pedigree, etc.)

    Yes, pedigree.
    It's a sleeper factor I found and it matters in cheap claimers for OLDER horses!.
  • Deleted User
    Yes... particularly with dirt tracks only that do not run on the grass. I am not sure whether people agree, because horses generally prefer the cooler weather which was not surprising to me. However, like any or most land animals etc.. they adapt to climate as much as we do. I see some really great speeds in August, late August in 4 season weather. I know there are some who take the weather conditions very sincerely, like headwind speed with the way a track has been harrowed by the tractors, in terms of cooling down or a surface heating up in terms of fast speed.

    I have always thought in terms of horses struggling in New York circuit or Parx circuit, will ship there in horses in for the class relief and cheaper in order to get wins. I have noticed in many years of handicapping where horses that come up from Gulfstream early spring to New York or late winter, cheaper and even young 3 years olds with class struggle and do not run well and vise-versa.
  • Paul Michael
    Dave thank you for posting this and allowing us to print it. This is very valuable information. Regarding the Tracks that are of smaller size that you have commented that these are usually dominated by a handful of trainers, I tend to stick with Penn National and Charles Town, of course I also do aqueduct and such but for the most part my research and focus is mainly with Penn National and I have been studying charlestown. Is Penn National and for charlestown on this list? I apologize if that seems like a silly question but I don't see an abbreviation for Penn National and I'm not sure if Charles Town is up there.
  • Dave Schwartz

    PEN & CT are most definitely in the list.

    Go to the alpha list and you can find them easily.

    All the tracks are there.
  • Dave Schwartz

    Ah... You're "Autumn Lotus" on PA!

    Read that other post I made in your other thread on PA yesterday. That's where the meat of winning can be found. But most people would rather not work so hard.

    How People Handicap (my reply on PA)
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