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As fun and enjoyable figure handicapping may seem, there are drawbacks to every good thing.

Figure handicapping is mostly based on Pace, speed and class figures. We use all three to narrow down key contenders in different race types but now, we need to cover the most important factor of figure handicapping, common sense.

Here is a short list of what may effect figure handicapping:

Our pace lines, pace and speed figures are carefully generated by predicting a race profile and selecting one or more pace lines for each horse.Then these figures are adjusted for track, surface, surface bias and host of other factors. As accurate as these numbers may be, there are situations that make these numbers unreliable. By understanding this fact, we hopefully can use these figures more effectively.

One of the most common situations that we encounter is when our pace figures are completely different from how a race is running. This mostly happen with lightly raced horses. If our lines show that a horse should be on the lead but it has been taken back to the back of the field, other than a bad start that could cause this, it could be that the trainer is trying a different running style with the young horse. The point we are trying to make is that if we are using pace numbers to handicap a race, we should first consider the pace numbers' reliability. Our reports contain enough information for handicappers to effectively consider the reliability of these figures. Is the horse lightly raced? Is the horse coming off a lengthy layoff and may need a race to run to the expected pace line? Does the horse have a low percentage trainer that may try a different running style just to experiment? ....

Another common situation we face everyday is the scratches at post time. Our system has a built in mechanism to select the most probable pace line for each horse even if the pacesetter is scratched but often scratches are the result of other factors that could render our numbers unreliable. The most common cause of this is the weather.

Off tracks. Some horses like it, some don't mind it and some will not run their best on it. We may have the wet stat for the horse to predict if our pace and speed figures are reliable but most times even the wet start data is not reliable enough for an educated guess. How would you interpret a 0 for 1 in the money in the slop? Did the horse hate the surface or just did not know how to handle the surface the first time?

Even a worst situation is an off the turf race. Turf races have a different pace and pace lines are selected accordingly. If a race is taken off the turf, not only the pace will change but most likely the race be run on a sloppy track and then there is the scratch problems again. The calculated pace and speed figures are the most unreliable in these races and must be used with caution.

Maiden races. These races are usually loaded with question marks. We covered pace line selection problems with lightly raced horses before. Almost every horse in maiden races is lightly raced. Then, we have the first time starters to add to our problems. These horses may jump on the lead and set a fast pace and fade, may just run mid pack and do not effect the pace or just flat miss the break. As the number of first time starters increase in the race, the more unreliable the pace factors become.

Last point that we need to make here is that we don't have to sit out every race we don't feel comfortable with but to play them accordingly. Do not play a race that you are 50% confident about the same way as a race that you are 90% confident about.

Good luck at the races.