Handicapping & Dosage Figures


Thunder Snow

Every so often, usually around Kentucky Derby time, a typical so-called pedigree expert will pen a scathing article against the use of Dosage. They set forth the same tired argument and their words only depict evidence of ignorance on the subject. Without proper knowledge and without the aptitude to take the subject away from the 1980’s, I cannot fault these people for their narrow viewpoint. The opinion of those who know little or nothing at all on the subject is usually found within a few paragraphs of boredom and for me personally, rarely do I even make it to the end of the article. I prefer to re-read an old Derby analysis and reconfirm to myself just how perfect Dr. Roman’s numbers truly are.


Everything that revolves around dosage numbers boils down to common sense and having a certain understanding on how to unravel and untangle those numbers is of great value. It will only enhance your handicapping and most likely allow you to cash a few extra times in a season. No matter the resistance, what I see year after year, is an 80% to 90% accuracy in reading a horse’s capability as it pertains to distance. There is nothing as powerful and there is certainly no other aspect within handicapping that gives the gambler that much of an edge. I would challenge anyone to read a colts capability at a certain distance with the type of accuracy that only dosage can provide.


The hurdle is in the understanding of it. The only way to understand it is to take it from the beginning using simple common sense.


The Immediate Sire vs Four Generations of Chefs


The first hurdle is to understand what a Chef actually is. In a simple, quick and condensed description, a chef is a sire who consistently produced offspring who were adept at the same (or one other) distance. This sire had to produce an abundant amount of foals who proceeded to demonstrate the exact same tendencies WITHOUT the impact of the female that the sire was mated with. He had to mate with different females over and over again and he had to show that these foals, no matter the mare, exhibited the exact same capability in distance when they became runners themselves. This exercise takes years, sometimes decades, to demonstrate. A Chef is a proven and documented sire who passes down certain prepotent characteristics and optimum distances.


The elite sire is absolute and without question, however, this sire is not expected to hit the target every single time. He will pass a “clunker” from time to time. This may or may not be his fault, as his success certainly relies on the female as well. Imagine A.P. Indy mating with an unknown mare named Bambi out in the foothills of Montana. Good chance the foal would be a dud. This is why we rely on the expertise of good breeders.


An Immediate sire has proven nothing yet. He has not documented enough winning offspring to prove that he is passing down certain distance capabilities at a consistent pace and without credit to the female line. In a nutshell, an immediate sire is a pure crap-shoot when determining optimum distances and only a sire listed as a chef can offer a greater probability of accuracy.



A colt (generally) utilizes the BALANCE of his combined Chefs from the first four generations.


A colt is not made up of one “ingredient” from one sire in his chart. He is the product of all of his chefs combining and blending.


Imagine baking 3 separate cakes using boxed cake mix. After you prepare the batter in 3 separate bowls, you dump in one extra cup of sugar to the first bowl. In the second bowl, you squeeze in 6 lemons. In the 3rd bowl, you pour in ¼ cup of sugar and squeeze in one lemon. Once baked, you taste the first cake and it is overwhelmingly sweet. The second cake is overwhelmingly sour. The third cake is balanced perfectly, not too sweet but sweet enough with a little hint of lemon. Perfect.


Now, picture the sugar as speed and the lemons as stamina. If five sires pass “sugar” then the foal will most likely be a sprinter. If five sires pass “lemons” then the foal will most likely be a long distance (or turf) runner. If two sire passes “sugar” and three sires pass “lemons” then the foal may be a good Classic runner. I think you get the picture.


The five digit dosage profile tells you the “ingredients” of the tested sires that they passed down. These 5 numbers give you the best snapshot of what the new colt is holding – strictly from their chefs. When you mix the ingredients together, you are given the INDEX. This index tells you exactly where the colt falls within the speed/stamina balance once ALL CHEFS within the first four generations are blended together. There is no better snapshot of perfectly documented and tested sires than the chef’s index. With complete honesty, this index is not infallible, however, 8 times out of 10, you can bank on it.


A colt is NOT made up of sires alone.


Federico Tesio, one of the greatest breeders of the century, believed that a colt is made up of 60% from the males and 40% from the females. Dr. Steven Roman’s numbers account for only the Chefs-de-Race. While a great number of the arguments against Dosage rely on that fact, it is easy to see the ignorance and close-mindedness of those authors. The Reines-de-course numbers depict those mares who reside along documented and tested bloodlines going back approximately 120 years. Just as blending together the “ingredients” of the tested chefs, one can easily blend in the “ingredients” of all of the mares (reines) within the chart as well. When you combine these numbers in a certain way, the full picture will emerge.


Using the Information in Handicapping


There are immeasurable benefits to using these numbers in conjunction with your past performance sheets in order to handicap a specific race. They are limitless and necessary for so many reasons.


1. Short maiden races (6f to 6.5F) will give you trainer information and workout times on the past performance sheets. The combination of dosage numbers will give you a bulls-eye onto the speedsters of the field. One should NEVER bet a maiden race without consulting the numbers first.


2. In order to spot an early champion in the making, especially if you place futures bets, is to gauge the potential distance capability and to note if the colt is running past his inheritance. To place a futures bet on a colt who only won a short maiden and a couple of 8f races along with using the immediate sire only without understanding the full distance capability (pertaining specifically to 10F) is placing a fool’s bet.


3. The historical values of the numbers are unsurpassed when trying to differentiate between a 9f runner and a 10f runner when it comes to the biggest race of the year, the Kentucky Derby. The biggest mistake to make is to rely on an immediate sire, no matter how great he was on the track during his career. The champion sire is now performing in the breeders shed and the two careers do not go hand in hand. This fact is the single most important thing that a gambler must take to heart. No matter how many graded stakes races a horse has won during his time has no bearing whatsoever as to how he can potentially pass down those traits to his offspring. He has not been time tested yet. The “ingredients” of the chefs and the reines will tell the broader picture.


4. Breeders Cup races will be filled with the best of the best within a certain distance on a certain surface. When faced with a field of highly capable contenders for the specific race, historical dosage numbers will pinpoint how those numbers react to the bias of the specific track they are running at.


5. Dosage numbers should always be consulted when a fast track turns into a sloppy track. If you have a field of contenders who never ran on a wet track, is it better to just bet with blinders on or is it beneficial to see if there are any overloaded chefs profiles with an advantage. Dosage is so important in that scenario.


6. Every track has its own bias. What wins on one track does not always translate to another facility. Historical dosage figures can give one an edge at the betting windows of every track both here and abroad. They will also depict advantages under all surface conditions.


7. One of the most important aspects of dosage figures is the ability to capture a young runner early on and know exactly when to bet on him, when not to bet on him, and when to stop betting on him. They will tell you at what distance a horse will hit his wall, they will tell you that the best of him is yet to come, and they will point out a maiden winner with the potential to go undefeated in his career just from his first race.


Colts with "too high" of an Index win the Derby.


Another tired argument against the use of Dosage, especially as it pertains to the Kentucky Derby is that the Index number of the eventual winners is way too high and therefore invalid for use. To me, this is the most comical argument and truly displays the bubble that some people prefer to live in.


Over the years, specifically after the 70's, breeding has shifted to speed and therefore, slowly but noticeably, dosage indexes have risen on the chef's side. But even with that change, the Kentucky Derby is no different than any other Graded Stakes race. Speed wins races no matter the distance. Pure chefs's speed will tackle most every distance up to 9f and usually these speed horses were gifted with at least a few points from their Classic/Solid/Professional Chefs who reside within their charts. The greater addition and the reason why horses like Giacomo and Nyquist were able to conquer the 10f of the Derby is because their overabundance of speed inheritance gave them the edge against the field in the first place and the undeniable inherited stamina in order to sustain that speed came directly from their Mares. Yes, the mares. The ones who are always glaringly absent in the mundane arguments against dosage simply because Dr. Romans numbers cover only the Chefs. When you add in the contribution of the Reines to the Chefs, the speed/stamina balance of their inheritance is defined. This is an easy exercise and one that gives you, the gambler, such an upper-hand at the betting windows.


As I stated above, I do not fault those who wish to pen articles against the use of Dosage because I know they speak out of ignorance to the concept itself. It is actually a blessing in some ways, as those who are blind to the theories will continue to bet heavily on sprinters thinking that they will perform just like Daddy did at 10f. It's actually quite as sweet as that first cake to be perfectly honest!


Dosage, both chef and mare combined, tells the story of an offspring and defines his optimum distance capability. Using those numbers in conjunction with your normal handicapping ritual will only enhance your game and give you more ammunition than your parimutuel betting competition.


Next up – The 5 Digit Profile.

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