Pandycapping by Bob Pandolfo
Stanleyís Law: The Bread and Butter Method
(This column was originally published in Drf Harness)
Some of you may remember the term, ď
ís Law.Ē It refers to a harness handicapping book written by
Canadian author Al Stanley.
wrote several handicapping books and also published a newsletter.
Youíll find some of
ís writings at handicappingharness.com, a blog that has been
publishing old Al Stanley newsletters (with the authorís permission).
is retired now and his books are only available used through resellers.
Some of his methodology is probably a bit dated
now, as harness racing has changed. But one particular method that I
like is his ďBread &
ButterĒ method. Here is an excerpt:
ďI cannot impress upon you enough how important
early speed is in predicting the outcome of the harness race. In fact,
the early speed variable is the single most important factor in harness
racing. If the horse is not able to get into position to score he cannot
win the raceójust like in baseball, you must get the runner to second
or third so he can score on a base hit or fly ball.Ē
If you read my handicapping book, Trotpicks: Modern Harness Handicapping, or columns Iíve written on
ZIP, you know that I emphasize the important of speed.
likes to see horses that went out to the lead in one of their last two
starts. He believes that a driver would not try to cut the mile with a
horse unless the horse is in good physical condition. I agree. In
fact, improved early speed is often a precursor of improving form.
ís Bread & Butter method concentrates on horses that are able to
establish position. Iím going to give you some of the details of the
method, and then Iím going to give you my own personal Bread &
Butter tweaks, or additions.
The first step is to pick a recent paceline.
Generally speaking weíre going to use the horseís last race.
However, if the horse had a tough post or trip in its last start, we
will go back to a paceline thatís a better example of the horseís
recent form. If a horse had post 8 at
and went evenly around the track, thatís not a good line to use. But
if the horse had post 4 two starts back and a clean trip, weíd use
BASIC BREAD & BUTTER: At the half and
three quarters, and stretch call, a B&B horse must have been either
1st, 2nd, or 3rd and no more than 3 Ĺ
lengths behind the leader if the horse is riding the pylons. Or, at the
half and three quarters, the horse must have been parked out and no more
than 3 Ĺ lengths behind the leader.
finish, the horse must have finished in the top 4 while no more than 3
Ĺ lengths behind the winner, or, had finished anywhere, but
less than 2 lengths behind the winner. (
ís original method called for a horse to be no more than 1 ľ lengths
behind the winner at the finish (if it finished out of the top 4). I
changed it to anything less than 2 lengths behind the winner at the
If a horse is either 1-2-3 at the first call or
parked out within 3 Ĺ lengths of the leader (and still in position the
rest of the mile), that makes it a stronger B&B qualified horse.
But, the horse does not necessarily have to be 1-2-3 at the quarter in
order to qualify.
main qualifications come from the half , three quarter and stretch
calls. Again, if the horse is on the pylons at the half and three
quarters, it must be either first, second or third and no more than 3 Ĺ
lengths behind the leader. If the horse is parked out at the half or
three quarters, it must be no more than 3 Ĺ lengths behind the leader.
The difference is, if the horse is parked out, it can be 4th
or 5th at the half or three quarters, as long as it is not
more than 3 Ĺ lengths behind the leader. At the stretch call the horse
must always be either first, second, or third to qualify as a B&B
PANDYíS BREAD & BUTTER TWEAKS: Iíve
come up with a basic point system to rate Bread & Butter qualified
horses. You donít have to apply the points if you donít want to, you
can just circle the B&B horses that qualify.
1). For each call that the horse qualifies, give it
1 point. Start from the first call, not the half.
2). Give it one point for each circle.
the horse was uncovered for more than one quarter (for instance first
over from the half), give it 1 point.
4). If the horse finished in the top 4 and lost by
3 Ĺ lengths or less, give it 1 point.
5). If the horse did not finish in the top 4 but
lost by less than 2 lengths, give it 1 point.
Letís look at an example. The asterisks * take
the place of circles because I canít type small circles on my keypad.
Look at the pp line below. This horse was first over. I didnít put in
the beaten lengths, but the horse was within 3 Ĺ lengths of the leader
at the key calls. The horse was 3rd at the quarter, add 1
point. The horse was 4th at the half, but only 3 Ĺ lengths
behind, add 1 point, plus add another point for being outside. The horse
was third at the three quarters and only 3 lengths behind = 1 point,
plus it gets another point for being outside. At the stretch the horse
still is in position, add 1 point. Then it also qualifies at the finish,
where it finished 6th, but only lost by 1 Ĺ lengths, which
is worth 1 point. The horse
was uncovered for at least two calls, add 1 point. So this horse was in
B&B position at each of the four calls, which is 4 points. It then
gets 2 points for the two circles (being parked on the outside).
Thatís 6 points. Then it gets another point for being uncovered for at
least two calls, thatís 7 points, and it gets another point for being
within 2 lengths of the winner at the finish, for a total of 8 points.
6 (1 1/2) (this B&B line is worth 8 points)
Letís do another line:
Here the horse is in position no more than 3 Ĺ
lengths behind at the half, three quarters, and stretch calls, so it
qualifies, and thatís 3 points. It also qualifies at the finish
because it finished in the top 4 but lost by 3 Ĺ lengths or less, so
thatís another point. It is either 1-2-3 at the first call, add 1
point. Now we have 5 points. Then it had a total of 2 circles, 2 more
points, total points = 7.
4 (3 Ĺ) (this
B&B line is worth 7 points)
Hereís another one:
(this B&B line is worth 7 points)
This time the horse got 1 point for each call, but
then another 2 points for the two circles it earned going three wide.
The total is 7 points.
This horse (below) does not qualify as a B&B
horse. First of all, the horse was not 1-2-3 at the stretch call, it was
4th. Plus it finished 4th (and was more than 2
lengths behind the winner). So in this case, even if the horse was
within 3 Ĺ lengths behind the leader at the half and three quarters, it
does not qualify.
The Bread & Butter method is not meant to be
the way that each race is handicapped. The idea is to find horses that
are good bets and qualify under the Bread & Butter specifications.
Itís meant as a Spot Play addition to your handicapping arsenal, or
simply a way to affirm your selections.
For instance, say that you handicap a race and
realize that only one horse in the race is a qualified B&B horse.
That horse is going off at 12-1 and has a good post (say post 1 through
5 on a half mile track). If the horse has a good driver, you could very
well be looking at a live longshot. Bread & Butter horses are fit,
and have tactical speed.
If you are using Harness
Eye or Trackmaster Speed Figures, Iíd prefer to see a Bread &
Butter horse that has a recent Speed Figure thatís reasonably
competitive, say within 5 points of the top figure. Iíd also like to
see a horse thatís in the same class or dropping, unless the horse is
stepping up to a level where he has done well at in the past. The final
decision of course comes down to value. But these Bread & Butter
qualified horses are certainly in top shape and have the tactical speed
thatís so important to win harness races.
To learn more
about Bob Pandolfoís handicapping theories, check out www.drf.com/harness,
Or write to Bob Pandolfo,
3386 Creek Rd
of popular Harness Racing Terms
Also Eligible: Horse officially entered in a race,
but not permitted to start unless field is reduced by scratch(es).
Backstretch: The straightaway on the far side of the
racetrack. Also refers to the stable area.
Barren: A broodmare who has had at least one foal,
but is not pregnant.
Blanket Finish: One which finds several horses
finishing very close together at the wire.
a horse is boxed in on the outside. The typical blindswitch occurs when
a horse is following cover and a horse goes three wide to its right
flank, which results in the covered horse being caught in a "blindswitch."
Boxed In: When a horse is racing along the pylons
and cannot improve his position in a race because of the presence of
other horses in front, behind and beside him. Also called Locked In.
Break: When a horse breaks from its gait into a run
or gallop. Denoted on the program with an X.
Breeding Season: The usual breeding season runs from
February 15th to July 15th.
Broodmare: A mare who has had at least one foal.
Card: Another term for a program of racing. For
example, someone might say there are ten races on tonight's 'card',
meaning there will be ten races contested that night.
Catch Driver: A driver who doesn't train his/her
horses and is hired by other trainers and owners to drive their horses.
Chart: A comprehensive account of a race showing the
positions of all horses at various stages of the race.
Colours: The special colourful jacket worn by
drivers in a race. Unlike Thoroughbred jockeys, drivers register their
own colours and wear them every time they race.
Colt: A male horse three years of age or younger.
Conditioned Race: A race where eligibility is based
on age, sex, money won or races won. An example would be 2 Year Old
Colts, Non-winners of $5,000 or 2 races life.
Conformation: The physical attributes of and bodily
proportions of a horse; how it is put together.
Cover: A horse which races with another horse in
front of him is said to race with cover, as the leading horse cuts the
Cross Fire: When a horse's hind foot strikes the
opposite front foot or leg.
Dam: The mother of a horse.
Dead Heat: When the judges cannot separate two
horses at the finish line even with the aid of the photo finish, it is
called a dead heat.
Distanced: When a horse finishes more than 35
lengths behind the winner.
Division: A race that has too many entries and must
be split into two or more divisions.
Driver: The person holding a license or permit to
drive harness horses. There are different types of licenses, which
correspond to differing levels of experience.
Early/Late Closer: A race requiring payments which
start much closer to the actual race date than a stake 'Early' and
'Late' involve specified periods of time.
Entry: Two or more horses starting in a race owned
by the same person.
Favorite: The horse considered most likely to win
based on the odds and past performance.
Filly: A female horse three years of age or younger.
First Over: The first horse to make a move on the
leader in a race, moving up on the outside.
Free-Legged: A pacer which races without wearing
Foal: All baby horses are called foals.
Garden Spot: The second position on the rail during
most of the race.
Gelding: An altered (neutered) male of any age.
Gestation Period: The gestation period for a mare is
Hand: A unit of measurement (four inches) by which a
horse's height is measured. A horse which stands 15 hands is five feet
tall at its withers.
Handicapping: The first step in successfully picking
a winner (or handicapping) is becoming familiar with reading the racing
program. Each program has a section explaining the information format
used at that track. Probably the best place to start when handicapping
Standardbreds is time. Since over 99 percent of all harness races are
conducted at the one mile distance, valid comparisons can be made among
Harness: The gear which is used to attach the sulky
to the horse, to carry the hopples and to enable the driver to steer the
Home Stretch: The straight length of the track,
nearest the spectators, where the finish line is situated. It is called
this because it is the final part of the track a horse travels down
during a race, on its race home (or to the finish line).
Hopples: The straps which connect the front and rear
legs on the same side of a horse. Most pacers wear hopples to help
balance their stride and maintain a pacing gait. The length of hopples
is adjustable and a trainer registers the length that best fits his/her
horse. There are also trotting hopples that work through a pulley system
to help trotters maintain their gait.
Horse (Stallion): A male horse four years of age or
In Foal: A pregnant mare.
Inquiry: A review of the conduct of a race, called
for by the judges.
Lapped On: At the finish when a horse's nose is at
least alongside of the hindquarters of the horse which finishes ahead.
Lame: The term used to describe a horse which is
limping or has difficulty walking properly.
Leasing: As opposed to buying a harness horse,
people have the option of leasing one. Just like some people lease a car
instead of paying the money up front, leasing a horse gives people use
of a horse without large capital outlay. An agreement or contract must
be drawn up between the two parties and the lease must be registered
with the relevant controlling body.
Length: Measure of distance based on average length
Maiden: A horse who has never won a race with a
purse. (Also refers to a mare who has never had a foal.)
Mare: A female horse four years of age or older.
Objection: A claim of foul lodged by a driver,
upheld or dismissed by the judges.
Parked Out: When a horse cannot find a position
along the rail in a race and is forced to race outside those on the
inside. Is also called taking the overland route.
Photo Finish: When two horses cross the finish too
closely to identify a winner, officials call for a photograph of the
race, taken exactly at the finish line, to help them determine the
Pedigree: Refers to a horse's family tree, paternal
and maternal ancestors. A horse's pedigree provides insight into its
potential ability and value.
Post Position: Generally, the closer a horse starts
to the inside rail, or barrier of the track, especially on smaller
tracks, the better its chance of winning. At the start, horses must
either "leave" (start quickly) to get a good position or else
find a place on the rail to avoid racing on the outside of other horses.
When racing on the outside the horse is said to be parked out and loses
ground on every turn. A horse on the inside has a better chance to get
to the rail or quickly get a good position.
Post Time: The starting time of a race.
Qualifier: A race in which a horse must go a mile
below an established time standard to prove itself capable of competing
in pari-mutuel races.
Ridgling: A male horse with one or both testicles
not descended into the scrotal sac.
Scratch: The removal of a horse from a race after
its entry has been accepted.
Second Over: The
horse following cover on the outside that is the second in the outside
tier is second over. The horse following it is "third over."
Sire: The father of a horse.
Sires Stakes: Stake races designed to promote
Standardbred breeding and racing within a jurisdiction. Eligibility to
compete in the Sires Stakes events depends upon the rules of the
Stakes Race: A race where owners make a series of
payments, starting well in advance, to keep a horse eligible. If an
owner misses a payment, the horse is ineligible.
Spayed Mare: A neutered female horse of any age.
Starter: The person responsible for starting a
harness race. The starter controls the start of the race from the back
of the mobile starting gate.
Sulky: Also known as the cart or racebike, the sulky
is attached to the harness and carries the driver which the horse pulls.
Time Trial: An attempt to have a horse beat its own
best time in a non-competitive event. A time trial is not a race.
Galloping horses hitched to sulkies, called prompters, are used to push
a horse to its best effort.
Tote Board: An electronic board, usually in the
infield of a racetrack, which posts the odds, amount of money bet,
results of a race and the wagering pay offs.
Weanling: Foals weaned from their mother until they
reach their first birthday.
Yearling: Any horse between its first and second
PACER: Pacers move the legs on one side of their
body in tandem-left front and rear, right front and rear. Pacers are
also referred to as sidewheelers. Pacers account for approximately 80%
of all harness horses and are aided in maintaining their gait through
plastic loops called hopples. Some pacers perform without the aid of
hopples and are called free-legged pacers. Pacers are generally faster
than trotters due to the sureness of their action.
TROTTER: Trotters move with a diagonal gait, the
left front and right rear legs move in unison, as do the right front and
left rear. Trotting is the more natural gait for the Standardbred, but
it takes a great deal of skill to train and maintain a trotter.
Claiming Race: A race in which each horse carries a
price tag (claiming price) and may be purchased. Claiming races are
established according to price; ie. $25,000 claimers.
Conditioned Race: A race in which eligibility is
determined based on age, sex, money or races won. Example:
Four-year-olds and younger, non winners of $50,000 lifetime, or 7 races.
Early & Late Closing Events: A race requiring
payments starting closer to the actual date of the race compared to
stake events. Early and late refer to the time period involved.
Invitational (Open or Free For All): Usually a
weekly race for the top horses at that racetrack.
Stake Race: An event or series of events in which
horsemen have made payments well in advance to keep their horses
eligible to compete. If a payment is missed, the horse becomes
ineligible to race.
Supplemental Entry: Some stake events allow you to
make a supplemental payment days prior to the running of the stake if
your horse(s) is ineligible to the stake.
Win: The horse you select must finish first in the
Place: The horse you select must finish first or
second in the official order.
Show: The horse you select must finish first, second
or third in the official order.
Daily Double: You must select the winners of two
Exactor or Perfecta: You must select the first two
finishers in exact order.
Triactor or Trifecta: You must select the first
three finishers in exact order.
Quinella: You must select the horses that will
finish first and second in any order.