04/13/2016 12:16PM

New symbols more clearly define Race Shape feature


In an effort to help handicappers better understand how to apply Daily Racing Form’s newest handicapping tool, some of the Race Shape symbols have been changed.

Beginning with past performances for this Friday, April 15, symbols for DRF’s new Race Shape tool will be  or  for races where the pace scenario favored horses with speed in a race, while  or  will mean that closers in the race held the advantage due to the race flow.

The Race Shape symbols, located between the distance and the race’s opening fraction on a horse’s running line, indicate which running styles were at an advantage, and which were disadvantaged. Unchanged is the fact that the  means those horses close to the early pace held the edge, while horses coming from off the pace were at a disadvantage. The  still indicates that the race flow was strongly favorable to those horses with SPEED, while extremely limiting the chances of ralliers to make a winning late run, as originally intended.

Conversely, a race where the CLOSERS held the advantage as a result of the race flow is now illustrated by a , which replaces the original “H” symbol. The , which replaces the inverted H, is indicative of a pace meltdown, as a preponderance of speed led to the stretch-runners dominating the running.

::DRF race shape symbols: Frequently asked questions

It’s important to note that the race shape symbols are not an attempt to gauge how fast the early pace of a race was. Rather, they indicate whether the race flow favored those horses who were on or near the lead, or were looking to come from off the pace. Here’s how the Race Shape symbols are assigned: Prior to every race run in North America, the field is scanned to find a projected race shape, whether it be one that should be expected to develop well for closers or for speed, due to the amount of projected frontrunners in the race. Then, after the race is run and the official chart is available, the program checks to see if the race was run as expected. If it was, the pre-race symbol is applied. If it was not, there is no race shape symbol for the race. There is no subjectivity involved, and the “chart check” application ensures that the pre-race designation was in fact correct.

Not every race receives a race shape symbol – in fact, most do not. That doesn’t necessarily mean the race was neutral, as it could also mean that the post-race analysis did not match the pre-race analysis. Or, the lack of defined running styles of the runners in the field made it too difficult to project a race flow with any degree of certainty. The symbols are applied only in situations where the flow of the race clearly aided a particular running style.