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What is pace handicapping in horse racing?
Pace handicapping is a school of forecasting horse races by predicting how fast a particular contest will be run and whether one entrant in particular might benefit from the “shape” of the race.
Whereas other handicappers might place the most emphasis on how fast a horse has run or whether it has been facing tougher or softer competition, pace handicappers first look at the expected pace of the race.
This means looking at the “internal fractions” that they entrants have run in previous races but also considering their usual running style.
For example, some horses always try to go to the front as soon as they break from the gate. These front-runners often fade if they are challenged early, so if you have a race in which there are four go-to-the-lead horses entered, it’s often advisable to look at the closers to see which one is most likely to benefit from such a duel.
Conversely, when you find a race where a single front-runner appears likely to dominate from the start, that is one of the most powerful handicapping angles of all.
The classic handicapping book “Pace Makes the Race” is a great way to get a full understanding of the power of this approach to handicapping.