How do you read speed figures in horse racing?

Reading speed figures in horse racing is a crucial skill for not only professional handicappers but also casual fans who want to make more informed bets. The Beyer Speed Figures, one of the most widely used rating systems, assigns a numerical value to each race performance, indicating how fast the horse ran and how strong the race was. Understanding how to interpret those numbers can give you an edge in picking winners. Here are some tips for reading speed figures in horse racing:

  • The higher the number, the better: As the answer already mentioned, a higher Beyer Speed Figure indicates a faster performance. A horse with a figure of 95 is faster than a horse with a 85.
  • Look for patterns: It’s not enough to just compare the figures of two horses in their last races. You need to look for patterns and trends. Some horses may run faster on turf than on dirt, or they may prefer longer distances. By analyzing the speed figures from different races and tracks, you can spot those patterns and adjust your handicapping accordingly.
  • Consider the pace: A horse’s speed figure is just one piece of the puzzle. The pace of the race, track conditions, and other factors can also impact the outcome. For example, if a horse set a fast early pace but faded in the stretch, their speed figure may be lower than a horse who closed strongly. Make sure to consider the race dynamics and the potential for a pace meltdown.
  • Know the track bias: Different tracks have different biases, meaning that certain running styles or positions may be more advantageous. For example, a track may favor speed horses who break quickly out of the gate. By knowing the track bias and how it may affect the race, you can adjust your speed figure analysis and make more informed bets.
  • By understanding how to read speed figures and incorporating that information into your handicapping, you can improve your chances of success at the races. Remember to look for patterns, consider the pace and track bias, and always look beyond the numbers to get a full picture of each horse’s chances.

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    Pro Tips:
    1. Understand the basics – Before diving into reading speed figures, make sure you understand the basics of horse racing and the factors that affect a horse’s performance. This can include track conditions, distance, jockeys, and more.

    2. Look at the number – Speed figures are typically represented by a number, with higher numbers indicating a faster speed. However, keep in mind that speed figures can vary depending on the track and distance, so don’t compare apples to oranges.

    3. Consider the track and distance – As mentioned, the track and distance can greatly impact a horse’s speed figure. Some horses may excel on a particular track or distance, so knowing this information can help you make more informed bets.

    4. Look for trends – Rather than just focusing on one speed figure for a horse, look for patterns and trends in their past performances. Do they consistently perform well at a specific track or distance? Are their speed figures improving over time?

    5. Use speed figures as one tool in your arsenal – While speed figures can be a helpful tool in predicting horse performance, they should not be relied on entirely. Consider other factors such as the horse’s form, jockey, and trainer, and don’t be afraid to trust your gut instinct.

    How to Read Speed Figures in Horse Racing?

    Understanding Beyer Speed Figures

    The Beyer Speed Figures is a system of rating horse racing performances developed by Andrew Beyer. It is a numerical score that reflects how fast a horse has run in a particular race. The higher the Beyer number, the faster the horse has run.

    Speed figures help to compare the performances of different horses, even if they run on different tracks or distances. For instance, a horse that runs a mile in 1 minute and 38 seconds at Churchill Downs might be faster than a horse that runs the same distance in 1 minute and 40 seconds at Santa Anita Park.

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    Beyer Speed Figures are the most widely used speed rating system in North America. They are available in most racing programs, so even if you are not a regular horse player, you can still understand how to read speed figures.

    How to Read Speed Figures in Horse Racing

    Speed figures are usually listed in the past performance line of a horse. For instance, a horse might have the following Beyer Speed figures over its last three races:

    • 90
    • 82
    • 89

    Another horse might have the following Beyer Speed figures:

    • 79
    • 85
    • 83

    To determine which horse is faster, you need to compare the numbers. From the above examples, Horse A is faster than Horse B, as it has been able to get higher Beyer Speed figures in all three races.

    Interpreting the Numbers on Speed Figures

    Beyer Speed Figures can range from 0 to over 130. However, the majority of horses will have Beyer numbers between 60 and 110, with 85 being an average figure for a racehorse.

    Understanding how to read speed figures involves knowing that there are several factors that can affect a horse’s Beyer speed rating, including:

    • Race distance
    • Track surface
    • Weather conditions
    • Race class
    • Weight carried
    • Jockey riding the horse

    Taking these factors into account can help you to interpret Beyer Speed figures more accurately.

    The Meaning Behind Higher and Lower Numbers

    Higher Beyer Speed figures generally indicate a faster and more competitive horse, while lower Beyer Speed figures can indicate that the horse is either slowing down or racing at a lower level.

    However, it’s important to note that speed figures alone cannot give you the full picture of a horse’s performance. Other factors, such as trip, pace, and running style, can have a significant impact on a horse’s ability to win races.

    Evaluating a Horse’s Performance Based on Speed Figures

    Speed figures are a useful tool for evaluating the performance of a horse over time. If a horse consistently puts up competitive numbers in different conditions, then it has shown the ability to compete at a high level.

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    However, if a horse’s speed figures have been declining over time, it might indicate that the horse is losing competitive edge or is struggling with physical problems.

    Comparing Two Horses Using Speed Figures

    Comparing two horses using speed figures means looking at their respective Beyer numbers over their last few races. Remember, higher Beyer numbers usually indicate a better-performing horse. But as mentioned earlier, it is vital to consider other factors such as race conditions and track surfaces.

    Sometimes, one horse may consistently get high Beyer numbers in allowance or claiming races, while another horse may get lower Beyer numbers, but dominates in graded stakes races. Understanding how to read speed figures involves appreciating that they are just one tool to help evaluate a horse’s form.

    Using Speed Figures as a Handicapping Tool

    Speed figures can be an essential handicapping tool for many horse racing enthusiasts. Understanding how to read speed figures can give you a good idea of how fast each horse has run in its previous races. Additionally, it can help you to predict which horse might perform better under certain race conditions.

    However, speed figures alone cannot give you a comprehensive picture of a horse’s racing abilities. Keep in mind that other factors like pace, trip, and class can significantly impact a horse’s performance. As such, it’s essential to use speed figures in combination with other handicapping techniques to increase your chances of getting a winner.


    Speed figures are an essential tool for evaluating racing performances in horse racing. Understanding how to read speed figures will help you to make informed decisions when betting on horses. However, it’s crucial to remember that speed figures are not the only factors that affect a horse’s racing performance. As with all forms of handicapping, it’s essential to evaluate multiple pieces of information to make an educated decision.