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Homeracing

Looking for lone speed horses with Brisnet Pace ratings

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 15th, 2022

There’s something exciting about betting late-running Thoroughbreds and cheering for them to catch up down the homestretch, but they’re generally at a disadvantage against rivals with superior early speed. And Brisnet Pace ratings can help you find those superior speed horses.

In the United States, dirt is the primary racing surface, and early speed reigns supreme in dirt racing. Horses able to race on or near the lead have an edge over deep closers who fall off the early pace. Why shouldn’t they? It only makes sense that getting out in front and playing “catch me if you can” is more effective than giving your rivals a head start.

Of course, speed doesn’t win every race. Sometimes multiple speed horses hook up in an early duel and tire each other out, setting the stage for a stretch runner to rally and win. But when you encounter a race with only one obvious speed horse, take note—you’re likely looking at a dangerous win threat.

A perfect example came in the 2022 River City H. at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/8-mile race was originally slated to take place with a full field on turf, but when rain forced the River City to be switched to dirt, half of the entrants scratched and only seven horses faced the starter.

Among the seven horses, only one seemed likely to pursue the early lead. Hozier, runner-up in the 2021 Rebel (G2) on dirt, had set the pace in two of his three starts leading up to the River City. The four-year-old gelding was exiting a quartet of turf starts (including one victory), but brought a dirt pedigree to the table and had shown some ability at Churchill Downs when finishing second in the Isaac Murphy Marathon about six months prior to the River City.

Brisnet E1 Pace ratings strengthened Hozier’s credentials as a lone speed horse. Whereas his rivals had rarely posted E1 Pace ratings higher than 90, Hozier had cracked the 90 plateau in five of his six starts leading up to the River City, peaking with ratings of 97 and 99.

Despite Hozier’s evident tactical advantage, bettors allowed the lone speed horse to start at odds just under 5-1. Those odds seemed like a gift after Hozier dashed to the front from the rail post, maintained an uncontested lead through slow fractions of :24.05, :48.51, and 1:13.59, and kicked away down the homestretch to beat the pace-tracking 14-1 longshot Starting Over by 3 1/2 lengths.

Anyone who bet $20 to win on Hozier saw a return of $119.00, all because he was the only logical pacesetter in a small field.

It pays to look for lone speed horses at enticing prices.

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