Speed Figures for Horse Racing Patterns

As you become comfortable with the Numbers, you will want to become familiar with trends and patterns that lead to winning with generous odds.

How a horse’s numbers have improved or declined coming into today’s race can be a strong indicator of how it will run. There are several trends that are predictors of further improvement and some that indicate a likely worse performance.


Is when a horse regularly runs new Bests. If you are following the prescribed methodology of circling a horse’s Bests, you may circle several numbers on a Marching horse’s race line. This is a very strong pattern and simply means the horse is getting better and better.

The strongest of the Marching patterns are those where the horse regularly runs Bests that are 1- 3 point improvements over previous Bests. These small moves forward tend to mark continued improvement.
Larger moves can also be OK, but they also often lead to bouncing as a result of the dramatic improvement. Additional time for the horse to freshen can help reduce the chance of bouncing.

3 year olds tend to be a bit of an exception as they often improve by 5 points or more with no negative reaction.
With Marching, not every race needs to be a move forward from the previous one. It is quite common for a horse to have a reaction to a new Best and to run a slower number next time. The smaller the bounce, the better.
Look primarily for generally steady improvement. This is a very strong pattern and can identify a horse that is about to run a better Number than ever before.

Circle Back

Is when a horse runs its Best, runs one or more off races, and then starts improving again. There are several variations. A tight Circle Back is generally when a horse runs a Best, regresses a bit and then returns to pair up (or thereabout) its Best. This tends to be very strong, especially if its earlier races were of a Marching trend.

A loose Circle Back occurs when a horse runs its Best, runs a couple or more races that are steadily slower, then finally runs a race or two that are headed back in the right direction. This pattern can produce some long shot winners as the recent races are all below the horse’s Best and only by recognizing this pattern in The Numbers will you be able to anticipate the horse may return to its Best or even better.

Rest Then Best

Is when a horse runs its Best within a race or two after a layoff. This is a very powerful indicator of another big future move. This is especially true of 3 year olds early in the year.
For example, Mine That Bird, the Kentucky Derby winner at 50 – 1, ran a 6.5 in his second race off a layoff. This exceeded his 2 year old Best of 7.0. With a 5 week freshening, this long shot surprised the world.