Improving Three-Year Olds
As concerning the Unknown Handicapping Factors which we call Entelechy, specifically, Existing Reality (that which is visible in the past performances), and Potential Existence (the proverbial horse "sittin' on a race" that may not be visible on the face of past performance data); thoroughbred races for three year olds, as well as three year olds and up, present numerous complexities.
These horses walk around all day just oozing Entelechy, with a Potential Existence that increases by virtue of waking up in the morning. From the ages of two to four years old, a thoroughbred race horse will improve approximately 20-25 points on the Beyer speed scale; often demonstrating continuous improvement throughout its three year old season. In fact, a healthy and sound three year old race horse, is in a period of rapid physical development, growing stronger and running faster every day; learning the game and gaining valuable experience with each race. Consequently, when handicapping these races, it's important to consider the natural process of maturity taking its course.
During the first half of the year most three year old race horses will run slower than those ages four and up...
In Allowance races, horsemen will be experimenting, owners will be headstrong, as a result many will be ill placed; such that eventual claiming horses may find themselves facing allowance company. Therefore, three year old race horses moving up from Claiming to Allowance class, would possess a diminished Potential Existence. In Claiming races, other than the restricted N2L and N3L events, three year olds will be generally unreliable, claiming prices will be inflated, expectations should be low; the horses with higher Potential Existence will be dropping in after having demonstrated some level of ability at the allowance level.
Later in the year, the three year olds are able to compete against older horses more effectively...
In Allowance races, trainers will be out to win, the owners more realistic, as a result, horses will be better placed. The talented, lightly raced horses will catch the eye, as they clear the conditions on their way to stakes level competition. In Claiming races, barring the presence of aforementioned Allowance droppers, three year olds climbing in class within their own age group will possess the highest Entelechy; but they can be expected to disappoint in the 3 years old and up races, due to a diminished Potential Existence against the older hard knockers.
Also late in the year, three year old Claiming horses may compete in Allowance races and some do win; but their Potential Existence will be in the negative when the talented horses moving through the conditions are present. The improving Allowance horses will win no matter if the Claiming horses own better speed figures. Only when the race lacks genuine Allowance contenders, then, Claiming horses with recent wins at higher claiming class levels will own the highest Potential Existence.
In the fall, Potential Existence goes through the roof for the up and coming three year olds which have cleared their basic conditions. These horses can be considered legitimate stakes contenders when they fulfill the requirements in terms of Class, Speed, Pace and Current Form; of their rivals in stakes races for three years old and up.