July 22, 2024

Sports Enthusiast

Professional Sports Purveyors

What Is Tactical Speed In Horse Racing And How To Handicap It

What Is Tactical Speed In Horse Racing And How To Handicap It

When the triple crown races and other classic races come around each year the subject of tactical speed and how to use it to handicap horse races usually comes up. Some people are confused about what tactical speed actually is while others deny its value. Tactical speed, in my opinion, does exist and is very important for several reasons.

Tactical speed is the ability of a horse to get itself close to the front runners early in a race and to maintain a comfortable position to be able to strike for the lead when the opportunity presents itself. The opportunity is usually when the front runners are starting to tire. Having tactical speed allows a horse to avoid trouble because it is near the front and is less likely to be blocked or have to be taken up.

Tactical speed shouldn’t be confused with early speed, though tactical speed horses do have some early speed ability. The difference is that a horse with tactical speed doesn’t have to be on the lead and can also change pace and speed later in the race when the other early speedsters are tiring. Horses like “Big Brown,” for instance, have tactical speed. The fact that his dam is out of “Nureyev,” a sire known for producing horses who can go classic distances, is an indicator that he would likely have tactical speed.

When I am handicapping and looking for tactical speed I look at the horse’s position in its last few races to see if it was within 5 lengths of the leader at the early calls and how much speed it exhibited late in the race. Now here is the key. A horse with good tactical speed not only passes the front runners who are tiring, but also keeps pace with or surpasses the horses who come from well off the pace. For instance, if a horse runs within 5 lengths of the front runners, takes the lead at the top of the stretch, or gains the lead in the stretch run, despite a late charge from another contender who comes from off the pace, I consider that a horse with good tactical speed.