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Average Competitive Level (ACL) represents the level of competition a runner can successfully compete, on average, based on its previous in-the-money performances. Developed to not only recognize "class runners" while handicapping a race, but to also to evaluate the previous performances and current condition of all runners in a race.

This numerical representation is computed by taking the average Race Rating a runner has run in up to its last five in-the-money performances covering not more than a year period from the date of the race entered. In-the-money performances at the same distance/surface category as the race entered are emphasized through a sophisticated weighting procedure, and then are further adjusted to reflect the runners in-the-money performance and consistency.

To alert horsemen and handicappers of an Average Competitive Level computed solely on races NOT RUN at the same distance and surface as the race entered, it will appear in parentheses, for example: (114.2). IF A RUNNER HAS NEVER BEEN IN-THE-MONEY, IT WILL NOT HAVE AN AVERAGE COMPETITIVE LEVEL.


  • Use the Race Rating of previous races to determine the quality of fields, not the claiming price, purse, or conditions.

  • While handicapping a race, note the Race Ratings that each runner has competed in successfully - preferably under conditions similar to the race you are handicapping.

  • Use the Average Competitive Level as a tool to determine the current competitive level for all runners in the race. When confronted with young or lightly race runners, particularly two and three-year-old, which have recently run successfully in Race Ratings higher than their Average Competitive Level use those higher Race Ratings as the runner's current competitive level. By relating a runner's Average Competivie Level to the Race Rating of its current performances, these improving runners will standout.

  • Any runner, including the top Average Competitive Level rated runner, who has recently been unsuccessful in Race Ratings at the same level or below its Average Competitive Level without legitimate excuses (uncomfortable distance, footing, post position, pace, etc.) can usually be considered unfit. Do not consider a runner's Average Competitive Level to be its current competitive level.

  • Among young, lightly raced, developing runners advancing to higher levels for the first time, merit serious consideration to those who have just run "impressive" races. These can best be recognized by their manner of victory as well as the Speed Ratings earned.

  • In claiming races, beware of unusually large claiming price drops. Particularly those runners with apparent good form. These runners are heavily bet and are usually hurt. If a good claimer is dropping well below its Average Competitive Level, it's usually best to avoid it. Trainers don't give away $35,000 runners for $10,000.

  • Avoid a runner which has recently been unsuccessful without a legitimate excuse in Race Ratings that other runners in the race you are handicapping have handled successfully under the same similar conditions.

  • When evaluating the relationship of each runner's Average Competitive Level in comparison to its performances in recent Race Ratings don't isolate the likely winner based upon class alone; use Speed Ratings to separate the contenders identified by class. Be sure to analyze the Speed Ratings in the context that the ratings were earned (class, distance, footing, etc.).

  • Restrict the usage of Speed Rating to those runners which are not outclassed today. A runner which earned a big Speed Rating against weak competition cannot be expected to approach that figure when outclassed.

  • A fit runner with a significant Average Competitive Level advantage will consistently beat its rivals when incidental race factors (distance, footing, post position, pace, etc.), do not nullify its class advantages.

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