Overview of the Past Performance
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
The past performance, or pp as it’s sometimes called, is your key to unlocking the puzzle of the race. It comes in many shapes and sizes, displaying varying types and amounts of data, laid out with a variety of subtle differences, but at the end of the day it’s giving you the data you need about the conditions of the race and the horses running in it.
In my contribution to the Letter to a New Horseplayer series, I tried to stress that there is a giant amount of data available to you as a handicapper, and you should NOT feel obligated to use all of it… especially when you’re starting out. Cozy up to a few data points and expand to new ones as you become familiar and comfortable. You’ll figure out which data you like to use most, what angles are most appealing… think journey, not destination.
Each vendor’s past performances has its own appeal and band of loyal followers. There have been several improvement and an entirely new past performance product since our original publishing of this post in 2010, here’s an updated overview of the various past performance products on the market, listed alphabetically.
Each type of Brisnet past performance includes proprietary speed figures and their top-of-the-line Ultimate version includes field rankings by class ratings, speed last race, best speed at the distance and their prime power number. Another excellent feature of Brisnet is that they allow you to create your own card (must be logged-in to access). For example, if you wanted to play three races at Aqueduct, two at Fair Grounds and four at Gulfstream Park you could compile those races into a single card, versus buying three cards as long as the races are all on the same day.
Daily Racing Form
The pdf version of the Daily Racing Form’s past performance has not changed over the last five years, and in some respects is still the gold standard by which all other past performance products are judged. But the web-based version, Formulator, has made a number of improvements in the last five years and has been steadily gaining in popularity.
In addition to the standard information found in all past performances, one of DRF’s main features are the Beyer Speed Figures, which still seam to be the most preferred fig on the market. The web-based Formulator app allows for a certain level of customization and several useful features such as trainer pattern tools, TicketMaker for multi-race exotic tickets as well as unlimited replays.
There’s a handy tutorial on “How to Read the Form” that will come in handy when trying to figure how to handicap/get a handle on all the data. Simply click on an area of the past performance it loads in explanation of all the data points.
Frequently found in programs, Equibase offers a basic and a premium past performance. Over the last five years they’ve also added a more visual approach to handicapping in their Entries Plus product that displays basic information as color bars, bar graphs and line graphs.
You can use a pared down version of Entries for free that includes information on earnings, wins per starts, starts, win% and wins or purchase a premium version that includes more data. They also offer free samples and a handy “How to Read an Equibase Past Performance” for both the basic and premium version.
Other products from Equibase include Tablet Handicapper and Pocket Handicapper, that allow you use Equibase products on your tablet or phone (both iOS and Android). There’s also an iPad app called iPP.
Equibase also has a handy tutorial where you can mouse over sections and get an explanation of the data points.
Launched in 2012, the team at TimeformUS has a built an entirely new, web-based past performance product from the ground up. “Playing the Races: Modernized, Faster and More Fun” is their tagline, and to that end they’ve made some bold choices about what key pieces of information to make readily available. But, rest assured, all the usual data points are still available within a click and they’ve added some nice features such as proprietary speed figures, a pace projector and color coding for track biases as well several other differentiators.
A recent enhancement has given TFUS the performance boost needed to make clicking each of the entries almost seamless. They’ve made impressive gains out of the gate and are an interesting and well considered product.
You can try them out for free by registering and learn more about their product in these blog posts:
Each provider offers subscriptions, bundled packages and additional products beyond the past performance. For example, you also can purchase lifetime past performances for individual horses at Brisnet, Daily Racing Form and Equibase, among other things.
While all the products vary slightly, listed below is generally what you’ll find in any past performance (with the exception of the track program). This list is based on the Daily Racing Form past performance model. Instead of providing an explanation of each item, I’ll direct you to the aforementioned DRF Past Performance tutorial.
Information about the horse, it’s connections and overall record:
Name of the horse
Number of the horse
Name of the jockey
Name of the owner
Jockey’s record at the track/on the year
Description of the silks
Color of the horse
Age of the horse
Trainer’s record at the track/on the year
Current year record
Last year’s record
Dirt fast track record
Dirt wet track record
Information about past races on a per race basis:
Date of the race
Position at points of call
First three finishers of the race
Number of starters
Information about work outs and trainer stats:
As with everything else, try a few different products and see what you like. And remember, sometimes less is more! For good overview of how to read the past performance, check out this video from Night School.