#TheAction: The Distance


Basic Action: Distance is one of the most important variables to consider when opening the program to study a race. Most horses have a “preferred distance” at which they excel and, conversely, distances at which they tend to not perform as well. The reason for that has a lot to do with pedigree, or the horse’s bloodlines. Generally speaking, horses who are the offspring (children) of other horses who ran well at shorter “sprinting distances” (under a mile) tend to run better when running in sprint races. Horses who are by sires (fathers) and out of dams (mothers) who performed better at longer “route distances” (a mile or longer) -  or were themselves children of horses who performed better at longer distances - tend to logically do their best going a route distance.

Advanced Action: Pedigree, as it relates to doing analysis of races, is a tricky thing. It’s extremely important when trying to assess the chances of a first-time starter who has never run before (and hence, a horse who has limited information printed about themselves in the program). My advice would be to learn as much as possible about pedigree traits or characteristics associated with certain bloodlines, but don’t become overly reliant on it. At the end of the day, regardless of pedigree, some horses will run better while sprinting despite having little or no sprint pedigree. And you’ll also find good route, or distance, performers who outrun the distance limitations their sprint pedigrees might’ve logically seemed to impose on them.

The best indicators as to how well a horse will run at a certain distance will be found in the racing program/past performances and video replays. Ask yourself, “how well has this horse run in the past at this particular distance or at a reasonably comparable distance?” The next thing you’ll do is try to determine whether variances in performance indeed were connected to the distance, or whether they were associated with any number of other variables like surface, track condition, class, trips, equipment changes, and so on. We’ll get to more of those variables in the coming weeks on #TheAction.

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