what is official rating in horse racing

Official rating in horse racing refers to the numerical value assigned to a horse by handicappers to indicate its estimated ability compared to other horses in a particular race or over a specified distance. This rating is used to determine the weight each horse must carry in a race, with higher-rated horses carrying more weight and lower-rated horses carrying less weight. The purpose of official ratings is to level the playing field, ensuring that all horses have a fair chance of winning, regardless of their past performances or perceived ability. Handicappers consider a range of factors when assigning official ratings, including a horse’s previous race results, time performances, breeding, and jockey’s ability. Adjusting ratings of already rated horses are made regularly to ensure ratings stay current using factors such as performances of horses it has raced against or performances against horses that have a rating. This process helps maintain a balance in ratings and is essential to have fair competition in each race.

Official Rating in Horse Racing

In horse racing, an official rating is a numerical value assigned to a horse based on its past performances. This rating is used to determine the horse’s eligibility for certain races and to handicap races.

Handicapping in Horseracing

Handicapping is the process of assigning weights to horses in a race to try to equalize their chances of winning. The official rating is one of the factors used in handicapping.

  • Weight-for-age: In this system, younger horses carry less weight than older horses.
  • Handicapper’s ratings: These are based on a horse’s past performances and are used to assign weights in races.
  • Timeform ratings: These are based on a horse’s past performances and are used to assign weights in races.
Table of Official Ratings
0-100Very poor
130-140Very good

Official Ratings in Horse Racing

Official ratings are a way of ranking horses based on their past performances. They are used to determine which horses are eligible to run in certain races, and to handicap races so that all horses have a fair chance of winning.


Weight-for-age is a type of handicap that is used in horse racing. In weight-for-age races, the weight that each horse carries is determined by its age and sex. Older horses and stallions carry more weight than younger horses and mares. This helps to level the playing field and gives all horses a fair chance of winning.

The following table shows the weight-for-age allowances for horses in the United States:





AgeWeight Allowance (lbs)
4-year-olds and up
Stallions 4-year-olds and up

Official Rating in Horse Racing

In horse racing, the official rating is a number that is assigned to a horse by the handicapper. This number represents the handicapper’s assessment of the horse’s ability, and it is used to determine the horse’s weight in handicaps and other races.

Time Performance Figures

The handicapper uses a variety of factors to determine a horse’s official rating, including the horse’s time performance figures. These figures are recorded during the horse’s races, and they provide information about the horse’s speed and stamina.

  • Final time: The total time it takes a horse to complete a race.
  • Fractional times: The time it takes a horse to complete each section of a race, such as the first quarter-mile or the final furlong.
  • Speed figures: A number that is calculated using the horse’s final time and fractional times. Speed figures are used to compare the performance of different horses.

The handicapper will also consider the horse’s form, which is a record of the horse’s recent results. The handicapper will also take into account the horse’s age, sex, and weight.

How Official Ratings are Used

Official ratings are used to determine the weight that a horse will carry in handicaps and other races. The higher the horse’s official rating, the more weight it will have to carry. This is because the handicapper is trying to level the playing field so that all horses have an equal chance of winning.

Official ratings are also used to determine the starting positions of horses in races. The horse with the highest official rating will usually start from the outside post position.

Example of Official Ratings
HorseOfficial Rating
Horse A120
Horse B115
Horse C110

In the example above, Horse A has the highest official rating, so it will carry the most weight in the race. Horse B will carry less weight than Horse A, and Horse C will carry the least weight.

Official Rating in Horse Racing

Official ratings are numerical values assigned to horses by racing authorities to indicate their relative ability. These ratings are used to handicap races, ensuring that horses with similar abilities compete against each other. In this article, we’ll delve into the two key factors that influence a horse’s official rating: class and distance.


Class refers to the level of competition that a horse is capable of competing in. It’s determined by a combination of factors, including the horse’s pedigree, past performances, and earnings. There are different classes of races, from maiden races for horses that have never won to group races for the elite horses in the sport.

  • Maiden races: For horses that have not won a race yet.
  • Novice races: For horses that have won a few races but are still relatively inexperienced.
  • Handicap races: Horses are assigned weights to balance their chances of winning.
  • Listed races: Typically more prestigious than handicap races, but below the level of group races.
  • Group races: The highest level of competition in horse racing, reserved for the top horses.

The higher the class of a race, the higher the official rating required to participate.


The distance of a race is another important factor that influences a horse’s rating. A horse’s optimal distance is often based on its physical attributes, such as stride length and stamina. Some horses are better suited to short, sprint distances, while others excel in longer, stamina-testing races.

Horse Rating Adjustments by Distance
Distance (miles)Adjustment
0.5 – 1+4 lb
1 – 1.25+2 lb
1.25 – 1.50 lb
1.5 – 1.75-1 lb
1.75+-2 lb

Horses that are rated highly at one distance may not have the same rating at a different distance. This is why it’s important to consider the horse’s previous performances at similar distances when analyzing its official rating.

Well folks, that about covers the basics of official ratings in horse racing. Thanks for sticking with me through all the numbers and stats. I know it can be a bit dry at times, but it’s important stuff if you want to understand how the pros handicap races. If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to drop me a line. And be sure to check back later for more insider tips and tricks on how to make the most of your horse racing experience.