03/18/2016 2:23PM

Peck: Pace Ace uncovers sneaky good efforts


DRF's newest handicapping feature, Pace Ace, has uncovered hidden longshots and exposed many vulnerable favorites since it launched two weeks ago. It's revolutionary, and it changes the way horseplayers handicap a race. But here's what it is not:

Pace Ace is NOT a tool that measures the speed of fractions. It does NOT judge the pace of a race based on splits. It is largely based on the projected race flow AND the actual race flow how a race figures to set up, and how it actually does set up, from a race flow perspective.

If the field for a given race has a lot of early speed in it, and the race is run and closers do in fact have the edge, that race will be labeled as a pace meltdown, marked by one of two symbols: an , which means the flow favored ralliers, or an , which should be viewed as a pace meltdown of sorts, with deep closers holding the advantage. If the race doesn't appear to have a lot of speed in it, and a check of the chart after the race reveals the front-runners did in fact control the tempo, Pace Ace will mark that with either , which means the race flow favored the speeds and put closers at a disadvantage, or , which means the speed had a big edge, and stone closers had little chance.

Let's look at an example. On its surface, the effort by Bold Summit on Feb. 7 is one that many handicappers would downgrade. After all, he shook loose early on through seemingly average fractions and was still no match for the winner late, tiring in deep stretch and finishing second despite a four-length lead at the eighth pole. Horses who blow clear leads as favorites are the type that many players look to bet against in their return, and Bold Summit certainly fits the bill in that regard - on the surface.

But that imprecise opinion was one horseplayers might have had before the advent of Pace Ace, which seeks to provide more information than the running lines without this feature could. The  on Bold Summit's Feb. 7 running line means that not only was his effort not worth downgrading, the opposite is true - the speeds in that race should be upgraded, and the closers downgraded.

Prior to the running of that race, the pre-race Pace Ace analysis suggested this would be a sprint that would set up well for the ralliers, due to the presence of several speeds. And the race actually set up nicely for the closers: the winner came from 11th and last, and the third-place finisher was ninth early. What happened in that sprint was Bold Summit had to be used early to outrun a few other pure speeds to get to the lead.

Taken at face value, that blown clear lead could be viewed as a negative. But the fact that he was able to hang on for second in the face of an unfavorable race flow makes him a horse to upgrade in his return start, as opposed to downgrade. This was not a case of a lone speed falling out on the lead in a paceless race and weakening despite an unpressured advantage; this was a "speed of the speed" outrunning other fast horses and gamely holding on late. The "H" symbol clearly shows that this was a race where the closers held an edge, and Bold Summit was game to hold the place. Not surprisingly, Bold Summit returned to win his next start - on the lead, in a race featuring less early pace pressure.