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What are “past performances” in horse racing?

Past performances are similar to stock tables, but instead of giving information about a company they paint a statistical picture of each horse in a race through the lens of its prior races.

Many old-timers still refer to past performances as “The Form,” in deference to The Daily Racing Form, the historic provider of the information. But past performances are available from many resellers who use information gathered by industry clearinghouse Equibase and analyze it and present it in different ways.

In addition to providing details on the race, similar to what you normally see in a racing program, traditional past performances show each horse’s career in reverse, beginning with the most recent race and descending through earlier efforts.

Each “running line” includes the class level of the race, the final time and interior fractional times, the horse’s position at each call of the race, the jockey, weight carried and the top three finishers.

 It also often contains a very brief shorthand description of the horse’s adventures on that day that can take some practice to decipher. For example, “Bobbled, bp rptdly early” can be loosely translated as “The horse broke poorly and was bumped repeatedly in the early stages of the race.”

How do you read past performances horse racing?

Past performances are the lifeblood of handicapping, as they succinctly capture a vast amount of information about each horse entered in a given race.

There are different types of past performances, with the best known being the printed product produced by the Daily Racing Form, but most include the same basic information. In addition to details about today’s race, such as the distance and purse, the past performances list the horse’s breeding, human connections, earnings, and record at different surfaces and distances.

They also contain mathematical representations of the horse’s prior races, showing how fast each was run and detailing the horse’s position at various stages of the race. With this information, the experienced handicapper can calculate each horse’s chances of winning and look for those whose abilities are likely to be underestimated by the public.