Horse racing handicapping is a nuanced art that requires both knowledge and intuition. One of the most crucial tools in the handicapper’s arsenal is the Beyer Speed Figure. These numerical ratings, named after their creator, American horse racing journalist and author Andrew Beyer, have revolutionized how we analyze horses’ performances and predict future outcomes.

What Are Beyer Speed Figures?

In a nutshell, Beyer Speed Figures are a numerical assessment of a horse’s performance in a race, taking into account the speed of the horse and the quality of the track. The higher the figure, the faster and superior the performance. These figures appear in the Daily Racing Form, and understanding them can provide significant insight into the relative abilities of racing horses.

How Are Beyer Speed Figures Calculated?

The calculation of Beyer Speed Figures is a complex process. It begins with the time a horse runs in a race, which is then converted into a raw speed rating. However, this rating alone doesn’t give a full picture. It needs to be adjusted based on the track condition and its inherent speed.

These adjustments take into account the ‘par’ speed of the track – a standard that denotes the average speed of races at a particular distance on that track. Other factors include the impact of weather and track maintenance on the race day.

After all these adjustments, the final Beyer Speed Figure is derived, which is a far more meaningful representation of the horse’s performance than the raw speed figure.

Why Are Beyer Speed Figures Important?

Beyer Speed Figures are a game-changer in the realm of horse racing betting because they distill many complex factors into a single, easily understandable number. They enable handicappers to make quick yet informed comparisons between horses, even those racing at different tracks or times.

For example, if Horse A records a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 at track X, and Horse B records a figure of 105 at track Y, despite different track conditions and other factors, it can be inferred that Horse B had a superior performance.

How to Use Beyer Speed Figures in Your Handicapping

Using Beyer Speed Figures in your handicapping strategy requires careful analysis. While a higher figure is generally better, it’s essential to remember that horse racing is a dynamic sport with many variables.

When assessing a horse, look at its sequence of Beyer Speed Figures over its last few races. A consistent horse will have figures that don’t deviate too much. A sudden spike might indicate an extraordinary performance or an inaccurate figure, requiring further investigation. Also, consider the conditions under which the past races were run.

On the other hand, a progressive rise in figures might indicate a horse that’s improving and could peak in the next race.


Understanding and using Beyer Speed Figures can drastically improve your handicapping strategy. They add depth to the analysis of each horse, going beyond the basic past performance data. However, like all handicapping tools, they are not infallible. They are most effective when used in conjunction with other tools, personal judgment, and a keen understanding of the sport.

By comprehending the potential that Beyer Speed Figures offer, you can elevate your horse racing experience from casual spectator to strategic engagement.

Happy Handicapping!