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What are fractions in horse racing?

Fractions are the internal running times in an individual race.

While the final time of a race is what gets entered in the record books, the internal fractional times of a race tell handicappers a lot more about how the contest unfolded.

Was there a three-horse duel for the lead that produced lightning-fast times in the early stages but left the front-runners gasping for air at the top of the stretch? Or was the early pace dawdling, leaving a lone front-runner with plenty of gas left in the lane?

Fractions also provide clues about the “class” of a racehorse, as many horses racing are capable of throwing down fast early fractions but wilt in the lane. Those that do likely need to find easier competition by dropping down the class ladder. 

Conversely, a horse that can stay in hot pursuit of fast fractions and then take command in the stretch may be bound for much better things.