# How to use feet-per-second when handicapping a horse race (Hint: It’s all about turn time)

Pick Pony | June 24, 2024, 2:52 p.m.

- Turn-Time - the “hidden fraction”
- Turn-Time calculations
- Why Pick Pony’s feet-per-second calculations are superior
- How to use Turn-Time when handicapping a race
- How to calculate Turn-Time and other velocity handicapping measurements

## What is “Turn-Time”

It’s called the “hidden fraction” because it is not clearly evident in horse racing past performances data. Many believe it’s the most important angle in the data. The concept is relatively simple, but challenging to implement, and thus, many handicappers ignore it. It’s the time the horse takes to run around the turn, typically the second fraction in past performances data. And yes, we readily provide the calculated number for you in Pick Pony Past Performances.

## Why is Turn-Time important?

Many believe most horse races are won during the final turn towards the home stretch because, surprisingly, running around a turn is not entirely comfortable for all horses, especially inexperienced ones. They must negotiate the turn while ensuring they are on the correct lead (the leg that hits the ground first when a horse gallops). They may feel compelled to change their lead while running the turn if they are not on the correct lead. Experienced horses have it down. Inexperienced horses may simply give up and bolt to the fence.

In addition, some horses may be reluctant to take the lead. This shows during the turn when the jockey encourages them to make their final move. Horses are herd animals, and by instinct, some are leaders, while others are not. These leaders will show themselves in a horse race, fighting for the front position. Losers will struggle and fall behind in the final turn.

Finally, the various fractions in the race are inherently set by various factors. For instance, the first fraction depends on the horse’s speed, the jockey’s tactical guidance, and even gate position. The late pace has similar attributes, most importantly, the horse’s stamina. But the Turn-Time is the most consistent timing of the race. It is not impacted as much by tactics or pace.

# Turn-Time calculations

## How to calculate turn-times

The first part of the calculation is simple. Subtract the first fractional time (typically a quarter-mile in sprints and half-mile in routes) from the second fractional time (the half-mile in sprints and 3/4 mile in routes). This gives us the time of the turn - for the lead horse. Fractional times only apply to the lead horse, not each individual runner. We can only estimate each runner’s time based on the leader’s time and the lengths behind each horse.

To estimate each horse’s time, we use the “beaten lengths” measure for each horse at the second fraction. This length is multiplied by a factor, typically around .18, to estimate the additional time for the horses running behind the leader.

For example, a race’s leader ran the first fraction in 23 and the second in 43. Subtracting 23 from 43 tells us the lead horse ran the turn in 10 seconds. If the second-place horse is two lengths behind, we add .36 (our .18 factor times 2) to the leader’s time, giving us a time of 10.36 for the second-place horse.

Finally, we must calculate the feet per second. This would give us the horse’s speed, similar to the miles-per-hour measurement for a moving automobile. To calculate feet-per-second, we divide the distance of the turn by the time it took to run it.

As you can see, the calculations are not rocket science but involve several steps, which opens up the opportunity for mistakes. Pick Pony calculates the feet-per-second for you and displays it as the subscript for each fraction of the race.

# Why Pick Pony’s feet-per-second calculations are superior

## A wide range of factors impact fps calculations

As noted, the feet-per-second calculation estimates the speed of the horse on the turn, or in Pick Pony’s PPS, for each fraction of the race (with the “turn” calculation being the second fraction).

But remember, we are not given the timing for each individual horse. Only the leader’s time is provided in past performance data. This means our feet-per-second is an estimate based on an estimated fractional time for each horse other than the leader.

Pick Pony improves the feet-per-second calculations by considering various additional conditions and events that can impact a horse’s speed. These factors create a more accurate “factor” for the fps calculations.

For example, our .18 factor (mentioned above) may be sufficient for a “normal” dry track, but what about a wet, sloppy track? Indeed, horses will run slower in such conditions, so our factor should be adjusted for the poor track surface.

In Pick Pony’s Past Performances, our feet-per-second calculations are more accurate because of the various factors we use. Track surface condition is only one such factor. We use the track variant, surface type, how wide the horse ran around the turn, the speed par of the race, and many more attributes to provide what we feel is the most accurate feet-per-second calculation on the market today.

# How to use Turn-Time when handicapping a race

## Turn-Time is not the end-all handicapping angle

Turn-Time alone is not a good handicapping angle. It may, for instance, be highest for a closer that ran too early. Instead, use Turn-Time as one angle to supplement your other handicapping angles.

## Steps to using Turn-Time when handicapping a race

Look for recent improvements in Turn-Time coupled with a finish within a couple of lengths of the winner.

Next, look for improvements in Turn-Time coupled with improvements in the first fraction time or feet-per-second.

Finally, look for improvements in Turn-Time coupled with improvements in Early Pace (E1), preferably with improvements in E2 or LP pace, too (horses with improvements in more than one pace figure are always excellent choices).

In addition, you should always downgrade a selection if they show declining Turn-Times. Horses like this prove they cannot maintain their position around the final turn.

## Special circumstances to consider when using Turn_Time for handicapping a race

You can also use Turn-Time to evaluate races with multiple early pacesetters. In these instances, Turn-Time can be used to evaluate which horse will best be able to maintain (or improve) their position in the turn.

Similarly, Turn-Time can be used to evaluate races with a lone early pacesetter. Turn-Time will reveal whether the horse has what it takes to maintain the early lead.

For late runners, especially in turf races or longer routes, Turn-Time reveals horses that start their late run in the turn rather than waiting for the home stretch. Horses with solid numbers at the second call have better chances of finishing in the money.

What about horses with good first fractions and good Turn-Times but poor third fractions? If they are going on Lasix for the first time, they are more likely to finish much stronger than their numbers would indicate.

Turn-Time can also be compared to the par Turn-Time for the race. Runners with Turn-Times above par are likely to be able to handle the class they are facing in the race. This is an especially good angle for horses coming off of maiden wins.

A good Turn-Time is not always desirable. Consider horses with strong early and late fractions but lower Turn-Times. Known as V-pattern runners, they are a popular angle for many handicappers.

# How to calculate Turn-Time and other velocity handicapping measurements

## Calculating handicapping velocity figures

Below is how to calculate a horse’s average feet-per-second velocity based on the Brohamer Compound Pace Ratings measure.

Internal Race Fractions | Sprints | Routes |

Fraction 1 | gate - 2 furlongs | gate - 4 furlongs |

Fraction 2 | 2 furlongs - 4 furlongs | 4 furlongs - 6 furlongs |

Fraction 3 | 4 furlongs = finish | 6 furlongs - finish |

Early Pace (EP) Pace Rating = Second Call distance/Second Call time

Sustained Pace (SP) Rating = (EP + 3rd fraction)/2

Average Pace (AP) Rating for sprints = (1st fraction + 2nd fraction + 3rd fraction)/3

Average Pace (AP) Rating for routes = (EP+ SP)/2

Factor X (FX) Rating for sprints only = (1st fraction + 3rd fraction)/2