How To Use DRF - Tomlinson Ratings

Mudders & Turfers Ratings

Mud Rating of 320+ Merits further consideration as a horse who could run particularly well over a wet track.
Turf Rating of 280+ Merits further consideration as a horse who could run particularly well over the grass.

If properly utilized these ratings will prove to be extremely useful especially in the following races

  • Most maiden races

  • Races switched to a main track listed as "Sloppy" or "Muddy"

  • With horses trying mud, slop, or turf for the first, second or third time. Every horse whose sire and maternal grandsire have had a meaningful sample of offspring is assigned two Tomlinson Ratings - one that assesses it's likely aptitude for grass and one that does the same thing for muddy or sloppy tracks. These ratings which have been updated historically twice a year and will now be updated quarterly, are derived from an analysis of tens of thousands of race results on turf courses or wet tracks. The ratings, which appear next to the "Turf" and "Wet" headings in each horse's career box, can range from 0 (totally unsuccessful) to 480 (spectacularly successful.) A dash (-) means that the horse's sire has had an insufficient number of runners to create a rating.

Runners whose sire and/or damsire have relatively small samples (fewer than 80 runners), are listed with an asterisk (*) following the rating. Experience has led me to believe that small samples must be looked upon with a cautious eye. In fact, I would be inclined to favor a a solid rating of, let's say, 380, over a rating of 400* which has an asterisk attached.

Once a runner has raced more than 3 times on the same surface he faces today, he has most likely given you an indication of whether he likes it or not.

The key in any particular race is not so much who has the highest rating overall, but rather the difference, or margin, that separates the contenders, providing the runner with the highest rating "merits further consideration".

I am frequently asked what "margin" do I consider to be substantial. Generally speaking my confidence level goes up a notch when the margin in question is 40 points or more on muf/slop, and 30 points or more on turf. There are times when three or four first time starters have ratings which are perhaps 20 points apart (lets say 300, 310, 315, 320). Because of other considerations (trainer, workouts, etc...) I might very well not favor the one with the highest rating. Remember that this is a handicapping tool... not gospel.

Look as these ratings as you would a baseball player's batting average... the higher the average the greater the probability of getting a hit. However, he won't get a hit every time up. In fact, ball players with a low batting average will frequently out hit the higher average player in a given game but not over the course of the season. Don't over look these less obvious uses for "Mudders & Turfers":

  • An import from Europe is making its first start on DIRT after a compiling a good, but not great, record on the grass. If upon closer look, the horse's Turf rating is average at best: this runner might just be better suited for dirt racing than turf racing.

  • A young horse is making his second lifetime start. In his debut he/she was fairly well bet but did not run particularly well. However, that race was run on a "sloppy" or "muddy" track and the Tomlinson mud/slop rating was not that good. If today's race, however is on a fast track, you should definitely give him the benefit of the doubt and another chance to prove his/her ability.

  • On the other side of the "coin", if a young horse is coming off a great effort on an "off" track, and today's race is on a "fast" track, you might just want to check his mud/slop rating. If, indeed, that rating is a high one, you might want to deduct some points from the last performance, especially if he/she was not well backed on the tote board.

Tomlinson Distance Ratings

Daily Racing Form has added the Tomlinson Distance Ratings to the career box above each horse's past performances. These ratings, based on a statistical analysis of the performance of other thoroughbreds with the same pedigree influences, may prove helpful in predicting a thoroughbreds ability to handle the distance of today's race.

The new ratings, that appears in parentheses after the abbreviation "Dst" in the career box, are similar to the Tomlinson wet-track and turf ratings which already appear in the box. Ratings range from 0 to 480, with a rating of around 320 considered average. A rating followed by an asterisk means the rating is based on a small data sample, usually because a sire or dam sire has had a limited number of runners.

Unlike the other Tomlinson ratings, the Distance Ratings are keyed to the distance of the race in which the horse is entered in today. Races fall into one of four categories: six furlongs or shorter; over six furlongs but less than a mile; a mile or over but less than a mile and a quarter; and a mile and a quarter and over. Each horse has a rating, revised quarterly, in each of the four distance categories and the one that appears today is determined by the distance of today's race.

These ratings might prove especially useful when handicapping younger horses with a limited number of starts at the distance in question.

Here are two examples of "question mark" situations where the ratings should provide considerable help.

  • A field of eight maiden two year olds going five furlongs (5f), most making their racing debut. Which ones are bred for speed? Perhaps one has a pedigree that shouts, "I'm a speedball and sprinting is my game!". The distance ratings will help you determine each runner's probability of success.

  • You're looking at a field of three-year-olds scheduled to go a mile and a quarter...perhaps the Kentucky Derby or the Travers Stakes. While several entrants have gone a mile and an eighth, none has ever crossed that imaginary barrier and raced at a longer distance. A look at the ratings might give you a clue as to which of today's contestants has the pedigree to get the mile and a quarter distance.