Simplified Class Based Ratings

Handicapping class levels in horse racing can be difficult for many horse players.  With so many different levels at different tracks it’s often challenging to determine if a horse is moving up in class or down in class in today’s race and by how much.  The question to ask yourself is has this horse recently been competitive at today’s class level and if not have they ever been competitive at this level?

Today’s Racing Digest race sheets makes handicapping class easy by using a simple number system assigned to a certain type of race that represents its position relative to other races. By assigning a numerical value to a race it allows the you to easily discern the quality of one class of horses from another. The Digest does this by designating a number, anywhere from 75 to 210, to each race. The higher the number, the stronger the race. For the most part, each class receives a number that remains constant. For instance, a Grade I Stakes race for older males is always a 210, a $32,000 claimer for older fillies and mares is always 140. (Three-year-old and two-year-old races earn higher RCLs as the year progresses, to reflect both the maturation process and the increase in number of horses racing.)

Five points equals one class level.

A Grade I race for older males has an RCL of 210, with Grade II older males receiving a 205.  Since the Grade I race is five points higher than a Grade II race, the Grade I race is considered  to be one class level stronger than a Grade II race. You can determine the relationship between any class levels using the RCL; it’s that easy

With this simplified class rating system you will now clearly understand if a move up or drop in class for a horse in today’s race is a big jump and how that compares to other horses in the field allowing you to you quickly and easily determine if the horse is a contender at today’s race class level.

Race Level

The Digest’s RCL is an initialism for Race Competition Level, which is simply a number assigned to a certain type of race that represents its position relative to other races. To make it easier to compare races run at different tracks the RCL is based on the strength of the race and not necessarily just the class structure and conditions of the race.  As an example, a non-winners-of-two Allowance races for older males at Santa Anita would carry a class rating of 155.  But the same race conditions at Golden Gate Fields would be rated at 145.  A similar race at Turf Paradise is rated at 130.  Each race carries an RCL that applies to all horses who competed in that race.

race level
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The Race Level for each race is listed in the top right hand side of the race sheets.  This is the number that relates to today’s conditions and should be compared with the other class based ratings in the race sheets to determine a horse’s ability to compete in today’s race class level.  In the example on the left, the Race Level is 125.  This is the number you want to use to compare the other Race Class Level data described below.  The higher the number the more difficult the race.

Download Today’s Racing Digest’s Race Class Level Chart

Recent Race Level (RRL)

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Recent Race Level (found in Column 3 in the race sheet header) is the Race level of the horse’s last race. Compare this number to the Race level in the Race Header to quickly determine whether the horse is up or down in class.





Recent Competition Level (RCL)

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In the race sheet headers you can find the Race Class Level where the horse has recently been competitive (finished 5th or better and within 5 lengths of the winner) within the last 90 days.  An “x” in this column indicates a horse hasn’t been competitive at any level recently.




Highest Proven Race Level (Past Class)

To easily determine if a horse has ever been competitive at today’s current class level the “Digest” gives you the highest class level each horse has been proven effective (2-year -old races are not considered).  Past Class can be found in the race header in column 13 titled Past Class.

past class header
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This shows the highest class level (RCL) at which the horse has been effective previously (2-year-old races are not considered)  This let’s you know how classy a horse once was.




Race Competition Level (RCL) for Past Performances

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Found in the data lines for each of the horses we list the Race Competition Level for each of the horse’s past performances.  Compare this number to the Race level in the Race Header and other RCL’s to see if this horse has been moving up or down in class and by how much.  Two columns to the right shows the Finish Position and Beaten Lengths (FIN POS/BTN LNGH) for this horse’s past performance.  The first number is position the horse finished the race, followed by how many lengths he was beaten (or won by if the first number is a “1”) crossing the wire.  Now you can quickly determine if this horse is a contender in today’s race.