September 27, 2023

Handicapper’s Library: Using Ultimate PPs to your advantage

Fair Grounds Turf Racing
Fair Grounds Turf Racing (Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir)

by Les Instone

There is no shortcut to good handicapping!

To become a good handicapper, or to be good at anything, you need to learn everything you can and continue to learn from your experience.

The Ultimate Past Performances from Brisnet gives you more information than the average bettor at the racetrack has available. That information gives you an advantage, if and only if, you use the information effectively. Using this exclusive information will make quite a bit of difference in your bottom line.

One of the many mistakes made by novice handicappers is not learning from your previous experience. Go back through the Ultimate PPs for the last week and highlight stats that could have pointed out not only the winner but horses that were close (within three lengths) at the finish.

Analyzing Ultimate Past Performances

Starting at the top of a horse’s past performances, let’s first look at “the human factors,” that is the jockey and trainer.

Look for riders with at least a 12%-win rate for the current year and for the current meet. I like a rider who has a higher win percentage for this meet compared to his overall percentage for the year. I also like to see a higher win percentage for the jockey when he or she rides for this particular trainer. Also, look at the rider’s win percentage with horses of this running style. Some jockeys are better suited to a particular running style, and the statistics found in the Ultimate PPs will show if this is the case.

Look at the trainer’s stats in the same manner. Pay particularly close attention to the trainer stats pertinent to this race. Trainers have strengths and weaknesses. For example, some professional handicappers recommend staying away from all horses laid off for 90 days or more, but this rule is too general. With Brisnet Ultimate PPs, you will find trainers that excel with horses off of a long layoff. This is just one of the many advantages you will have over the general betting public who generally would never bet such a runner. Watch for trainers that excel with specific trainer moves like dirt-turf-dirt, route to sprint, 2nd grass start, etc.

Next, let’s go to the Prime Power rating and ranking (located next to the career record). This is one rating per horse, and it is Brisnet’s most predictive number. Prime Power employs a sophisticated algorithm to combine many factors — pace, class, speed, form, etc. — into one rating. While the number does pinpoint a high percentage of winners, it does not separate dirt and turf, nor sprints and routes. It only points out how well this runner has been running recently regardless of surface and distance.

If a horse ranks high on the Prime Power rating but his last three races have been dirt sprints, it doesn’t mean very much if today’s race is nine furlongs on the grass. The same is true if the horse bled, had trouble in a race, or caught a track he didn’t like. Be forgiving for a low ranking if the runner has not been competing at his correct distance and surface.

Let’s look at the career stats box. Two stats you must consider are the “distance” stats and this runner’s stats for this track. A horse may have a record of 3-3-0-0 at seven furlongs but has been running and losing at 1 1/16 miles lately. If today’s race is seven furlongs, you may have uncovered important data. Some horse love certain tracks and can’t earn a check on other tracks. If a horse has a record of 6-0-0-0 over this track, you can usually eliminate that runner.

Below the career stats, the Brisnet Ultimate PPs will show sire and dam statistics and sales information in all maiden and turf races.

These stats can give you a big edge over other bettors. The sire statistics include the AWD (average winning distance) of all of the sire’s progeny. An AWD of around 6.0 furlongs indicates a sprinter, whereas something near 6.7 to 6.8 furlongs is a miler and 7.0 furlongs or higher is a route horse. Be careful if the sire has only one or two crops to the races. These foals have not yet proven themselves, especially at longer distances.

Mud% indicates the success of the sire’s foals on muddy or sloppy tracks. Ten percent is about average while 18% or higher is outstanding. The Mud% stat is more reliable if there are at least 30 mud starts shown.

If this is a turf race, you will also find the winning percentage for all of the sire’s foals on the turf and first time on the turf. 14% turf and 8% lstT (1st time turf) are average for a good turf sire. The higher the percentage, the better. Next is the sire’s SPI (Sire Production Index). This compares the average earnings of this sire’s foals to the national average, which is an SPI of 1.00. If a sire has an SPI of 2.00, his foals have earned twice the national average.

Brisnet has now added stats for the dam’s sire (broodmare sire). These statistics can again help you with turf and mud stats, average winning distance and the SPI (Sire Production Index) of the dam’s sire.

Brisnet also has important information as to the racing success of the dam. It will spell out if she was a stakes winner, winner, placed, unplaced or unraced. This information is only on maiden and turf races. If this is a turf race, see how many turf winners she has produced. All dam statistics are shown by number of winners rather than percentages because a mare produces only one foal a year while stallions may sire 40 or more foals per year. Check how many starters (“str”) she has produced, number of winners (“w”) and number of stakes winners (“sw”). The Dam’s Production Index (DPI) is similar to the SPI with 1.00 being the national average.

Brisnet Ultimate Past Performance lines include more information than other bettors will have available.

The exclusive Race Rating (RR) refers to how tough a field actually was for that race. Not all races for $25,000 claimers are equal. The Brisnet Race Rating will show you which races were stronger (the higher the number, the tougher the race). The Brisnet Class Rating (CR) measures this horse’s performance in each individual race. Concentrate on races at or near today’s distance, preferably over this race track. These two figures will help separate contenders from pretenders.

The exclusive Brisnet Pace Ratings is the best tool for finding the real speed in each race. Those not using these pace figs presume only horses that go right to the lead have speed. But Brisnet Pace Ratings will be much more reliable. By looking at the Brisnet Pace figures, you can easily determine a horse’s preferred running style and how fast they move early or late. E1 is the first call Brisnet Pace figure; E2 is the second call figure; and LP is the late pace rating from the second call to the finish. One length equals two points in all Brisnet Pace figures.

Take a step backward and notice the letter and number in parenthesis next to this horse’s name. The letter indicates the horse’s running style (E=Early; P=Presser; S=Sustained/Closer). The numeral is the Early Speed Points with a range of 0 to 8, with 8 being the highest or fastest early speed. Obviously, if there is a lone E8 runner, he could go to the front and never look back. If there are three or four runners are in the E6 to E8 range, then the race may set up for a come-from-behind runner.

The bold number just to the right is the Brisnet Speed Rating, which already includes a track variant for that race as part of the number. So a horse that wins one six-furlong race in 1:12 flat can have a higher speed figure than another horse that wins in 1:11.60, despite the latter being a faster raw time. A 95 at Parx is equal to a 95 at Saratoga. Brisnet Speed Ratings have a progressive scale compared to beaten lengths. At six furlongs, one length equals 1.66 points; at seven furlongs, 1.42 points; at one mile, 1.26 points; 1 1/8 miles, 1.12 points; and at 1 1/4 miles, 1 point.

RELATED: How to read a Brisnet horse racing program

Using Track Bias Stats & Race Summary

Some tracks and turf courses have a consistent track bias, but any bias can change depending on many factors, especially weather. The Brisnet Track Bias Stats will point out the Running Style and Post Position bias for the meet (left side) and for the last week (right side). If there have been five or fewer races in the last week at the distance, more emphasis should be placed on the full meet stats to the left. What should jump off the page are the “+” (which indicates this stat is higher than average) or a “++” (which indicates this stat is extremely successful). Check the “% Wire” which indicates the percentage of wire to wire winners at this distance. Then check the success rate of the running styles and post positions.

The Race Summary section is good to glance at to see which horses have been doing well lately. Horses with the speed figure surrounded by asterisks indicate this runner has two or more races within the last 90 days at today’s distance and surface. This is the most reliable information. Horses with parentheses around the figure (which indicates no races within the last 90 days and/or this distance) and horses with no asterisks or parentheses (which indicate only one race within the last 90 days at this distance) need to be researched further to determine if they are a contender in today’s race.

The columns below are also good references to determine contenders vs. pretenders. Glance at the columns Speed Last Race, Early Pace Last Race, and Late Pace Last Race which are for the most recent race regardless of surface and distance. If that race was at a different distance or surface, a high figure here can indicate a horse that could continue to improve. A high ranking under Current Class, Average Class Last 3, and Prime Power can also point you to the contenders.