Averaging Sheet Numbers       

There is always a tension in handicapping off the SHEETS between looking for the fast numbers as against reading the patterns in an attempt to predict which way a horse will deviate from its recent form. In looking for the fast numbers, I don't think that simple averaging is the right way to go in any case. A better approach is to look for the horse's best recent effort and then maybe debit the horse a point or two if that effort is substantially better than any other recent efforts. I think that this approach is a good way to begin handicapping a race as it will give some indication as to how many horses in the race are serious contenders (assuming that there are several horses who have somewhat similar peak recent abilities). The next step for me is to look to see if there are any horses within 3-5 points of the "fast" contenders that have strong condition lines that could be predicted to produce new tops. My next step is to look to see if any of the "fast" horses have indications that they don't figure to run one of their best efforts because they're off of efforts that they'll react from or they have overall backward moving patterns.
From the remaining "fast" and slower condition horses the primary question has to be odds. I often end up with a slower condition horse not because I think it has a better chance to win, but because such a horse often offers the best odds value since I'm playing it to run better than any of its recent efforts. If one of the "fast" horses who has no obvious knocks against it is generous in odds, there's no rule against making the obvious play.

                                                                               Len Friedman