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Time is money
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - by Tim Bojarski

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“Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town; waiting for someone or something to show you the way.”

Years ago, Pink Floyd lyrically summed up what I have been feeling concerning the speed races have been going this year while trying to differentiate between horses as a result of it. In a nutshell, what the heck is going on? It seems class has nothing to do with performance anymore and regardless of what condition you watch, there is a lesser class going as fast or faster on the same night.

A NW8000 last 5 at Pocono paces in 1:50.1, a $12,500 claimer at the Meadowlands paces in 1:50.4 and a NW5301 last 5 at Harrah’s paces in 1:50.4. On those same days, the feature races didn’t go that much faster (if in fact they did go faster) than the undercards. These are just a few examples that come to mind; believe me there are plenty more.

People, it’s only April and these horses are already flying!

I’m to the point that it’s getting hard to use class as a measure of handicapping at all. Decades ago the 2:00 mile was called “magic” and was the measuring stick of a good horse. Then that time dropped to 1:55 and finally down to 1:50. But 1:50, to me anyway, is no longer the mark of a modern day champion; it could just be a $12,500 claimer!

If a $12,500 claimer can pace in 1:50.4, it certainly puts a price tag on a lot of higher class horses racing on the same card, over the same track, going the same speed; and that is where it gets hard to delineate.

Much has been written about the A-B-C classification system recently as it has come back into use. I say that another method of putting fields together, which long precedes the A-B-C, should be revisited to see if it could sort out the performances we are seeing on the track each week.

Some may recall the time classifications used as far back as the 1800s. It would group horses not by earnings, but by their time performance in their most recent races. There would be a 2:30 Class, a 2:20 class, a 2:10 class and a 2:05 class, which would have been your best horses on the grounds at the time.

Why not just update it to current standards? On a big track there could be a 1:55 class, a 1:53 class, a 1:51 class and a 1:49 class. Where you perform is where you fit. Then we could see how a $12,500 claimer who just paced in 1:50.4 really fares against a NW20,000 last 5 who just went a similar mile.

Could this system actually be plausible today? Probably not. But it would certainly be interesting to see the match-ups it would deliver, the betting opportunities it might present and the way it could affect the perceived value of a lot of horses we watch every week.

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