Talkin' Horses - Live Discussions

Steve Haskin

Wednesday February 1, 2006

Senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse since 1998, Haskin is an award-winning Turf writer renowned for his Kentucky Derby commentary.

During his nearly three decades at Daily Racing Form, Haskin made a name with his "Derby Watch" columns.

Steve answers your questions about Triple Crown 2006 now that the nominations are around the corner and future pool wagering has opened.

In the first of what promises to be many enlightening visits along the 2006 Derby Trail, we have a ton of good questions about this year's crop of 3-year-old hopefuls, so let's get right into it.

Windham, NH:
Steve, I have read your column for the past several years. I find such great joy in looking forward to and eventually reading your articles. I have loved Thoroughbred racing since I was a child and you have added a new dimension to this great "King of Sports". I will continue to enjoy your writing and hopefully ask a question or two. Thanks.

Thank you so much for the kind words. I truly appreciate it. Please do ask a question or two. That's what I'm here for.

Oz, NY:
Hey Steve, Thanks for stopping by again! Love reading your analysis here from time to time. Way off the topic here, but I'd appreciate it if you can answer this. I recently started handicapping and love this great sport. Was wondering if you could explain to us how to use the par/track variant times in the programs to handicap? I heard it's kind of complicated and maybe you can shed some light on it.

The only figures in the program are the pace figures and speed figures, and they are both computer generated to the extent that no one in the media relations department really knows how they're computed, only how to interpret them. The only track variant is in the DRF, along with the speed rating. That is basically arrived at by starting at the track record (it was changed years ago to the fastest time over the last three years). Each fifth of a second off the record represents one point. So, if a horse misses the record by two-fifths, he gets a 98. The track variant simply goes in the other direction, averaging out all the races. If a race is run one second off the record, the variant for that race is a 5. Two seconds, a 10. The higher the variant, obtained from the average, the slower the track. If the average times off the record come out to three seconds, the variant for the day is a 15. I hope that didn't confuse you even more.

Best of Talkin HorsesTo read the complete transcript of this chat, along with many others, check out Best of Talkiní Horses.

Best of Talkin’ Horses features provocative “chats” with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most prominent names. Adapted from “Talkin’ Horses,” the popular weekly online chat series hosted by, this edited collection provides additional insights by Ron Mitchell, editor and moderator of “Talkin’ Horses."


Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Talkin' Horses discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests; guests may decline to answer questions. Opinions expressed by guests of Talkin' Horses are those of the guest and do not represent the opinions of Blood-Horse Publications, its employees, associates, or affiliated organizations. Guests, dates, and times of Talkin' Horses discussions are subject to change.