Using The Sheets

When I refer to “sheets” I am referring to the Ragozins or Thoro-Graph. While both are speed figures there is something that separates them from the rest. They are not “raw” speed figure numbers. They encompass trip, things like ground loss, wide, inside, and more. Buyers, and most of the others are raw numbers that purport to tell us how fast a horse ran. I can look at the charts and see that.

There was a time, not all that long ago when you’d see a horse on the sheets that was flat out faster than the rest. Many times this horse would not be the favorite, and often would not have the best or fastest raw figures or Beyers. Many won at nice prices. You can peruse past performances for hours today and you could be hard pressed to find such a horse. If you do find a sheet standout, they will likely be a short price.

Like everything else to be successful and stay on top you must adapt. Things change. Today many more people use the sheets, so the fast sheet horses get a lot of play. Info is shared and sold reducing the price even more. Horses have more parody as well it seems. More trainers are taking more edges and more horses have similar figures and even pattens. Are the sheets still valuable? Absolutely. You just have to read and use them correctly for today’s game.

It was never as simple as who has the lowest or fastest number will win. It was always more about patterns and moving forward or regressing or bouncing as we like to day. That’s a conversation for another day and column. Today we will look at a way to use the sheets to help us make some money.

Knowing a horse likely won’t win can be as much of an edge as knowing one who likely will win. Even more sometimes especially if the horse is a short price. With how the game has evolved, and with the emphasis we have on multi race wagers like pick 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s being able to eliminate or toss horses can be a significant edge. Sheets can help here.

When I read the sheets l like to look for horses who have two things going against them.
1- They are too slow on the sheets for the competition.
2- They don’t have a pattern or trend signifying a strong enough forward move to be competitive against the competition.
Finding one of these, sometimes even at shorter odds, is easier today than finding a faster horse “sheetwise” at longer odds. Rarely will a horse who has both these checkmarks beat you or knock you out of a multi race wager.

Eliminating horses who likely won’t knock you out of a multi race sequence is invaluable. It reduces your investment and also can allow you to add that live bomb difference maker. It lets you avoid the costly “all” button.

Most will still look at the sheets searching for that faster horse. I like to go the other way. Going against the grain and masses is never a bad idea in a pari-mutual system.

We have talked about some good angles of late. The more you have in your arsenal the better your chance to get an edge and separation. That’s what you need to help get you in position to beat this tough but skill game.

Let’s not think it is hopeless to find a faster horse on the sheets. It isn’t but if you want a faster horse at a price you will have to really know your patterns. Patterns repeat. You have to watch for changing or similar conditions when looking at patterns. If you can spot a forward move others miss and that forward move would put the horse ahead of the rest then you have your play.

We never stop evolving in this sport. It’s one of the great things about it.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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