Chapter 10: Using the "Track Ratio" Feature
TRACK RATIO - Definition - a mathematical ratio of "an average time or velocity at today's track and distance" and "an average time or velocity at the last race's track and distance". Each of these two parameters are configurable by the user and can even be set directly rather than allowing QuickDog to calculate them.
Once computed, the TRACK RATIO is multiplied by the ART or VART (Variant Adjusted Run Time) to attempt to compare dogs which are running at distances today that DIFFER from the distances they've run in the past. It is also used to adjust the times of dogs which ran at different tracks and distances from today's track and distance.
Most handicappers will say that you should simply skip races where some contestants have not run at today's track or distance. That may be good advice. However, it is also true that sometimes these races can provide a better return on investment than others. As always, QuickDog is about OPTIONS, and the TRACK RATIO feature can be used in this way.
To begin our discussion of TRACK RATIOS, let's return to the discussion on TRACK VARIANTS because the track variant menu is also used to create TRACK RATIOS. If you are not familiar with TRACK VARIANTS, please CLICK HERE.
Below is the track variant menu.
Figure 1 - Computing Base Data and Daily Track Variants Menu
Click on the button labeled "TRKRATIO.TXT". A notepad will pop-up with information similar to that shown below.
Figure 2 - The trkratio.txt Configuration File
This simple text file contains one line of information for each track and distance. Note it may not be complete and if not, you may simply add lines to it as described below. Let's look at line 1 for example.
This line describes Birmingham Track, 5-16 Distance. These are the first 2 fields. Note that BM is the 2 character track identifier as it appears in past performance lines in a program. The "5-16" is also the way the track distance is shown in the past performance lines. If the distance was shown as "5/16" (note the slash rather than the hyphen), then you would use "5/16".
All fields MUST BE separated from others with a comma. The third field, 1650 in our example, represents the number of feet in the course as published by the track. This field is very important because some tracks may list a distance as 5-16 but in reality the actual distance may be several feet longer or shorter than a true five-sixteenths of a mile. Note on lines further down in this file, the DB,5-16 line for example, an asterisk appears.
This asterisk means that we've not researched or relied on any other data to come up with the FEET figure we've used. If this is a track you are interested in using, it is recommended that you VERIFY the distance to FEET value we've provided. Other data was obtained by handicappers who use QuickDog and we feel these are reliable, however, we make no guarantees. If you know of corrections please send an email to that effect to email@example.com
Ok, let's continue - the next field is used by QuickDog as a GRADE indication. This GRADE information "tells" QuickDog to average GRADE M (line 1 example) races at the 5-16 distance to come up with an average running time at Birmingham and that this figure can be compared to the average running times at other tracks to produce the track ratio.
Why M, why not B, or C? Well, this is up to you. We know that different tracks have a different set of average dogs which compete there. What you are attempting to do is find the "average dog" at each track.
To find a good TRACK RATIO you wish to find what an "average dog" runs at each track. This then will measure the track, rather than measure the ability of dogs that run at that track. An average dog at Birmingham may indeed be a maiden, however, an "average dog" at Gulf may be a Grade C. What you are telling QuickDog is that a Maiden at Birmingham is about the same as a Grade C dog at Gulf and, therefore these two types of dogs can be used in the TRACK RATIO.
Is this true? Some might agree that the opposite is true. What do you think?
It's up to you. But the goal is to use this GRADE field of the line to provide your idea of equality amongst the dogs no matter which track they run at. For the lower distances, we figured that Grade M dogs are just starting out and nobody knows what they really can do, so we assumed these are pretty much the same for each track. Whether you "buy this" or not is up to you. You choose the GRADE you wish to compare. If you feel that a Corpus Christi B dog is comparable to a Birmingham C dog, you'd select C for BM and B for CC. The entry is simple, however, the thought process might require some analysis and experience on your part.
Next field, the "minimum number of races to be used" tells QuickDog that if it can't find AT LEAST this number of races at this distance and grade, that it should not use TRACK RATIOS for this track. Or, if there is an additional field, that QuickDog should use the next field as that average if an average can not be computed.
For example, suppose line 1 read -
This means you are saying - "QuickDog, calculate the average of all 5-16, Maiden Races at BM, but if you don't find at least 20, use the default value provided of 31.48. Eventually QuickDog will find 20 races and replace your "guess" with what it actually finds.
Some QuickDog users have recommended that a good value for this calculation is the TRACK RECORD for this distance at each track rather than using averages.
If you feel this way, you would simply place this TRACK RECORD in as the default value, then set the number of races from 20 to 10000 which is so large that QuickDog will never find that number of races and, therefore will always use your default value.
If you do think that track records make a good value, then we recommend that the track record be relatively recent, and not so old that the track has been reconfigured since then. After all, the purpose of the Track Ratio is to compensate for differences between tracks the way they exist today, not 20 years ago.
Each time you make changes to this file, you must save it, then CREATE the BASE DATA for VARIANTS again. You may do so either for the particular track you just made changes to, or if you've made several changes, simply process all the tracks. Use the "ALL TRACKS' DATA" for all tracks, and the "SINGLE TRACK DATA" for the track that QuickDog is currently handicapping.
Figure 3 - Cursor is on the ALL TRACKS' DATA Button
After QuickDog builds the base data and track ratio information, a notepad will pop-up with a report as shown below. In this example, we've chosen to run a "Single Track Data" for Birmingham Race Course. Our "input", the trkratio.txt file shown above, was used by QuickDog to produce this report.
Figure 4 - Report on Birmingham while running the Base Data Build
The report shows each grade found, and an average speed for each grade. In addition it shows how many races were found for that average. Notice the 10th line, the highlighted one, which shows that, according to our trkratio.txt file, we selected GRADE M, and the average was 31.61 with 58 total races found. Now look at the data for the 3-8 distance.
Look at the last line. It tells us that our selected GRADE B was not available because only 10 races were found and we had asked for 20. Therefore a ZERO appears which means no track ratio will exist when one of the tracks/distances is BM,3-8. After all, you can't form a ratio when one or both numbers is zero. The resulting speed would be either undefined or ZERO. So, QuickDog will not change it. After looking over this information, you might change the data in your trkratio.txt file. If you do, then you MUST RUN this BASE DATA build again.
You might either select another GRADE, for instance GRADE D has 25 outings, or put in your own DEFAULT VALUE, or change your minimum count to 10.
YOU MUST build the BASE DATA though each time you make changes to the trkratio.txt file. Some users figure that if they merely edit the trkratio.txt file, this alone with update everything. THIS IS NOT TRUE! So, run the "ALL TRACKS' DATA" or "SINGLE TRACK'S DATA" buttons after you edit the trkratio.txt file.
Ok, let's assume you've now created the average time values using the methods shown above and that you now wish to use this feature in your handicapping. TRACK RATIOS can be turned on or off from the HANDICAPPING STYLE Display. If you are looking at the VARIANT Menu that we've just used, go ahead and click the RIGHT MOUSE button to return to the Handicapping display.
Now, click on the HANDICAPPING STYLE button as if you wanted to select another handicapping method. This display, shown below, allows you to switch between handicapping methods such as Morgan, or Standard, etc. It also allows you to turn on the Track Ratio feature.
Figure 5 - Turning Track Ratio On or Off
Click on the "TRACK RATIOS ON?" button for the handicapping style you are using. You'll notice then that the word "YES" appears with the letters "SEC" set in the column labeled "FPS/TM". QuickDog allows you to compute your track averages as SECONDS of in Feet Per Second. We've found that the best setting to use is SEConds, but this is up to you.
After turning the track ratio on, select your HANDICAPPING STYLE as usual to return to the handicapping method display.
Figure 6 - Results of the Track Ratio, Dogs moving from VL to BM Track Ratio Applied
When you select a dog's outings by clicking on the dog's name, QuickDog will produce a colorful past performance lines display. Times that are color coded DARK BLUE have been converted using the TRACK RATIO feature. If you had also selected the VART feature along with the TRACK RATIO feature, these speeds would be displayed in a GREEN COLOR to indicate that both VART and TRACK RATIO had been applied. This is shown below - notice VART is turned ON by clicking on the VARIANT - NO button just above the dogs name on this OUTINGS display.
Figure 7 - Same dog, BOTH Track Ratio and Variant Applied
As you recall from the Variants tutorial, Variant Adjusted Run Times are in CYAN, the color GREEN indicates both the Variant and TRACK RATIO calculations were done to produce the time. Does using Track Ratios help your handicapping?
Like all QuickDog features, using TRACK RATIO takes practice. We encourage you to ask questions regarding TRACK RATIOS by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2001 JONSOG associates, Inc. PO Box 911, Lyle WA. 98635 Last Updated on - 05/10/2003