Pace Analysis in Horse Racing

A guide to how to profit from the current Weight for Age scale in horseracing

Weight for Age Pointers

The previous page explained what the Weight for Age scale means. Shown below are some suggestions as to how the WFA scale which can be exploited for profit.

Stamina or Speed

I would say that the biggest single thing to be aware of is the flaw that was made when the original WFA scale was developed by Admiral Rous in 1855, and has still not been corrected. Admiral Rous assumed that racehorses gain stamina as they age and therefore the weight allowance given to younger horses is greater for the longer distance races. In fact the evidence actually points the other way and suggests horses gain speed and not stamina when they age.

Therefore the weight allowance given to younger horses over middle and long distance is generally to high, and all other things being equal the bet when two horses of similar ability race against each other is to back the younger horse who will be better handicapped when taking into account the WFA allowance.

What is an average 2 year old?

All racehorses in the Northern hemisphere have the same official birthday, which is the 1st January. However in reality the foaling date of a racehorse can vary dramatically, so all 2 year olds are not the same. Foaling dates can vary by as much as 6 months, and young horses change dramatically over a 6 month period. It is therefore worth taking into account how old a horse actually is when it is receiving a weight allowance from an older horse.

The Nunthorpe is an all age sprint race which normally attracts one or two of the top 2 year old sprinters. By their very nature these 2 year old sprinters are very precocious and ahead of the WFA scale of an average 2 year old. It is therefore felt that these such juveniles get too big an allowance by the BHA and that a two-year-old in the Nunthorpe is almost always well in.

On a side point not really related to WFA, A horse born in January will normally appear precocious alongside one born in June even though they were both granted the same ability at birth and then developed through to maturity at the normal rate. The gap in performance will narrow continually throughout their years of immaturity but will not close completely until the younger one reaches maturity. So precocity, or lack of it, has to be viewed in the light of the foaling date. Once this is understood, the practical use of foaling dates becomes apparent. For example if a pair of two-year-olds recorded similar ratings, both in October, then assuming all other things are equal the better bet as a three-year-old would be the one with the later foaling date, as this horse would have more improvement in it.

Does weight carried really matter

The other point to consider which has much wider implications than WFA, is just how important is the weight carried by a horse to how it performs.

My view, for what it is worth, is that weight is over rated. Generally the reason that horses stop winning when they are raised in the handicap is not that they have to carry more weight, it is actually the fact that they are forced up in class and have to race against better horses. That is why in Nursery races it is normally the top weighted horses that perform better, simply because they are better racehorses, and the early juvenile races are open ended so class of race doesn’t come into it.

Consider this: An average thoroughbred racehorse weighs between 1100 to 1200 pounds. Do you really think that carrying an extra 5 pounds, which is less than .5 % of its body weight, will actually make any material difference?