For this discussion the handicapper's view of a race horse shall be referred to as Existing Reality, and Potential Existence shall refer to the question of whether or not the horse will fulfill its potential of winning.
Additionally in specific handicapping terms, we attempt to measure Potential Existence as a degree of improvement or regression to be expected in the performance of a race horse, either above or below that which is reflected or visible in past performances.
Explained another way, every day handicappers consider and eliminate horses based on the visible information contained in past performance data; all too often they eliminate solid contenders at overlaid odds and the story repeats itself at thoroughbred racetracks throughout America.
Race horses with positive Potential Existence ratings might include second time starters, Maiden Special Weight dropping to Maiden Claiming, a bred for turf maiden touching the stuff for the first time, a three year old with an improving Beyer pattern, a four year old coming back from a layoff of one year or more, a sprinter stretching to a route with strong pace ratings, a horse that has won six out of six times down the hill at Santa Anita, a Grade 1 horse in peak form owning solid Beyers earned at the Grade 1 level; apparently, due to the complex variations present in thoroughbred horse racing, depending upon the day, this list could be infinite.
Horses with negative Potential Existence ratings may include, a horse which obviously can't win at the level and needs a drop such as a $20,000 Maiden Claimer on its 11th attempt, a Maiden Special Weight horse with more than eight attempts or an N1X Allowance horse after six or seven tries; a race horse five years or older entered in a Claiming race while returning from a layoff of six months or longer, a Claiming horse entered at the $50,000 level or higher which has never won a race above the $32,000 dollar level, a horse at clear disadvantage in Speed or Pace, a race horse in declining form; again, the complexities and varied conditions of thoroughbred horse racing can make this exercise a never ending one.
Entelechy is always present but circumstances will be the key. The Maiden Special Weight horse dropping into a Maiden Claiming race after dueling for the lead, tiring in the stretch and finishing fourth up close - comment: "edged for 3rd"; is much a different wagering proposition than the one finished a dozen lengths back in ninth place - comment: "chased, no rally".