"Well thought-out design--not for neophytes/technophobes"
Version: QuickHorse Horse Racing Software 1204 13.11.1a
Superb customer support
"Free" past performance data for most North American tracks
Real-time tote board monitoring and scratches
Uses Reverse Polish Notation
Enormous learning curve
Can be a bit quirky in places
Full benefit is hard to achieve without embracing Reverse Polish Notation
CNET has given this an "average" review, but you would be hard-pressed to find any other CNET reviews of thoroughbred handicapping software. If you were to compare this against the very expensive products and the cheap garbage that is available, it does fall somewhere in the middle, so I will accept their rating as fair though probably very lacking in any true understanding of how this product works nor what it is trying to do.
Let's take it from the top. The appearance of this application is from the late 20th century, but it can be forgiven for that. The purpose of this product is not to overwhelm you with graphics but to crunch numbers, which it does very well. For example, a few years ago I compared two tax products. One had a clunky chunky appearance like QuickHorse, the other had an animated opening screen and used a true database to store data. In raw ability, the two products were similar, but in terms of speed and use of resources, the former could be used to complete a tax return while the latter was initiating its graphics and logging into its database. Sometimes simpler is better, especially when speed is important and since we are talking about thoroughbred handicapping, you probably realize that speed is important.
You next start trying to understand the "Free" data concept. While we can always argue about whether the data is free or simply included in the price, the important factor is that you do not pay for additional tracks if you choose to use the "Free" data. With other products, if you decide you want to see if you can pick winners at Retama Park, you must buy the data for your software, run the software and decide if you would have won or lost. You can run simulations of your selection criteria against any and all tracks with QuickHorse without incurring additional cost.
The next thing you notice is that there are odd codes of "Methods" and strange numbers associated with "Columns" that are together used to determine which wagering interest may be most likely to do well in a race. There are terms like "Tuning" and "Backtesting" and Track and Horse "Profiles" which need to be understood in order to make this product work. Similar products in this price range generally have you apply weights to a subset of the hundreds of arcane thoroughbred past performance characteristics. This product does, too, but it hides those behind a coding structure that may obscure the true underlying values. This takes some getting used to. It is both a significant power and a difficult concept. If the user is not willing to delve into this portion of the product, the product will likely be of uncertain value.
Within this structure, the software allows you to choose and/or develop up to 8 characteristics that can be used for computing the viability of a particular horse in a race. 8 factors may seem restrictive, but each of these 8 factors can themselves be composed of the result of a variety of computations based on other factors. However, here is where the learning curve starts to creep in. In order to manipulate this data, you must define a column made up of these other characteristics in some formula (using Reverse Polish Notation). Defining this column is not straightforward and debugging them and/or determining if you have properly subtracted or divided in the correct direction is not particularly easy. Besides, in order to do this, you must first understand handicapping terminology and what you want to do with these numbers. Certainly the software will allow you to multiply the current Jockey's winning percentage times the average of the horse's last four post positions, but your handicapping knowledge should prevent you from doing that.
Columns are combined into Methods and Methods are applied to a particular Track and a target wager to form a handicapping Profile. That is a mouthful and all I can say is that there is copious documentation to tell you precisely what that means. It is not intuitive. You need to understand what this product can and cannot do before knowing if it can or cannot help you to handicap a race.
One place where this product outshines its competitors is in its parameter tuning ability. In short, while you can decide that a particular characteristic should have a particular weight to it, the software has the ability to instead "derive" the best weighting to apply to each factor. While this "SuperTune" concept may be difficult to relate to, it basically uses past history to determine what weighting factors to use to choose a contender based on similar races in the past. Thus, the software has the ability to "tune" a profile based on race type, surface conditions, and distance. The user determines the granularity of the tunings and how far back to go in terms of time and number of races. While this may sound daunting, it should be noted that other software products probably make similar assumptions but do not allow the end user to tweak how they are derived. This is where this product goes far beyond many comparably priced products. You truly control what and how it looks at past races and can change the way it handicaps different tracks. This tuning of the particular profile for a race can take several seconds to quite a few minutes depending on the way the user chooses to have the racing profile tuned.
As I indicated, the tuning is done based on the track and the granularity of the conditions, distances, and grades the user selects, and is stored with a cryptic name like "APRCJGGDI1760C" to identify the characteristics used. The software automatically (thank Goodness) selects applies the appropriate tuning profile to the characteristics of the current race. It should be noted that while it is possible to "SuperTune" the characteristics of each race, it may not be necessary since two races with similar profiles would be tuned identically. This is where their "SuperHandicap" facility becomes valuable. This feature looks at a card and tunes all of the different types of profiles to the most current information in the free data provided.
So in a nutshell, the product provides past performance data at no additional charge, allows you to select the characteristics which should be used to identify contenders, allows you to weight these characteristics or have them tuned automatically and then applies these profiles to a given race to rank the contenders.
From my perspective, I like being able to look at the factors used to rank a set of horses and to tweak them to match my particular view of what is or is not important. I also like the automated weighting of these factors using SuperTune/SuperHandicapping. There area other features like the ability to tune these races based on Win percentage or ROI and the ability to test different wagers types against the selections provided by a particular profile.
There are other features like the ability to use their culling feature or to limit odds to tweak results and do further analysis. Also, their product includes race results in the "Free" data which is critical for evaluating if your selection criteria was or was not any good. Another feature they include is a scripting language which can be thought of as an advanced tool to automate commonly repeated functions like downloading data and SuperTuning a race. This feature is exceptional for allowing you to automate some of the more mundane aspects of the products use. For those scenarios where you want to look at the underlying data, the past performance data is available for each horse (though if you want to spend time reading and comparing horse past performances, you really would want to buy a Daily Racing Form instead).
Overall, there is a lot included in this product and far more options for controlling its behavior than a user will likely ever need. but it is not perfect.
One of the negatives I see in this product is that there is no way to identify overall pace of the race so that you can determine if there will likely be a relatively fast or relatively slow pace. Likewise, you cannot "tune" a race to favor front runners or horses that come from behind. This is also a deficiency of most competing products, so I would not downgrade this product for that. In other words, I see no way to downgrade a frontrunner if there are four other sharp fast horses nor to upgrade it if there are none since the factors used are based on a horse and its past performance, not a comparison across multiple horses.
Wager success can be easily measured and backtested for any race that covers a single race. In other words, you can determine if using a profile to achieves success in Win/Place/Show betting or Perfectas or Trifectas, but there is no way to evaluate past success of multirace wagers like Doubles or Pick5s.
Also, there is no way to identify late jockey changes. Since many players believe that trainers or jockeys are very important in assessing whether a horse is or is not "ready" to win, this is likewise something that must be handled outside of the software.
So, in essence, what it was built to do, it does and it does it well. While they will not teach you Reverse Polish Notation and they will not help you build a column nor evaluate a method, the support team is among the best I have ever encountered. Mike has answered all of my questions professionally and courteously, often far quicker than any expectation I have had.
Overall, this is a very good product with exceptional product support.
Now that I have had my say, let me review the reviewer's review.
I tend to agree that the program's interface requires getting used to and that "abstruse" may be an appropriate adjective, but I do not believe that the navigation is difficult. I hate using a mouse and this program requires you to use it. Navigation generally requires a left-click to enter a feature/option and a right-click to leave it. It is also generally hierarchical. That takes some getting used to, but is not difficult to learn nor to get used to.
I take issue with the concept of the product having neither form nor function in its design, since I recently commended this vendor on the level of engineering this product has. There are wise decisions made in terms of the hierarchy and in terms of how the product works. That is not to say that it is perfect. Like any product that has gone through years of upgrades, there are features which would have been built differently if they knew in advance how they would be adding features later. This often makes me recall the codes for the Columbia Record Club. Why didn't they use "R" for Reel-to-Reel Tapes and "C" for Compact Disks? Not because of poor design, but because they did not foresee that people would buy Reel-to-Reel tapes and Compact Disks when they selected "R" for records and "C" for cassette tapes. I am sure they would have used "M" for monaural records since they used "S" for stereo records when that became the distinction, but they had not foreseen that stereo records would be created. Lack of the ability to foresee the future is different from poor design, though I can understand how you might misconstrue one for the other.
I believe that in response to the harsh criticism of the colors, they have added the ability for each user to choose their own horrendous color scheme. Personally, I like the capital letters and find them easier to read on a quick glance than I would with more closely spaced lower case items. Since I need to use this product to be able to quickly make decisions, I prefer the harsh in-your-face text to the more subdued fonts of their competitors. I think it is a matter of taste, but beware, if you hate all CAPS, you will hate this product.
I agree that there is no scrolling and it is a pain to have to go a full page forward to see the horses beyond the first 8. Some handicappers contend that if you are looking at horses in contention order, you really don't need to see more than 8 horses unless there are over 16 entries in the race, but I digress. Scrolling is not a feature, but I have not found it to be a problem. I have tried to get "trapped in a part of the program" that I could not get out of since I read this review last summer. In short, I cannot. As I indicated, left-click to enter, right-click to leave. It seems to work for me. I am not impressed with the interface either. There is room for improvement there, but it is not as horrendous as the reviewer suggests.
Interesting that the reviewer indicates that the program "does seem" to contain some useful features. Apparently, the reviewer was unable to determine if the program's features had any value at all. To my knowledge, the free data does not come from BRISNET, since that would require a paid subscription. One can argue that the paid data would have more valuable information than the data provided at no additional charge, but those who understand these ideosyncracies are likely already using the paid data.
The statement, "we don't think that QuickHorse is easy enough to use enough for us to recommend," bothers me. Please take a look at all the popular reviews of consumer tax software for the past 20 years. Read through every review and you will find discussions of look and feel and ease of use. Not one of those reviews ever mentions whether or not the product can produce a correct tax return nor how easy it might be to make a horrendous mistake. Keep that in mind when reading reviews that emphasizes "easy to use." No, the product is not "easy" to use. Accurately handicapping a race using paper and pencil and looking through all the track and trainer and jockey variants is not easy either. The point should be that this is a product for a handicapper who knows horse racing and who wants a product to help narrow the field to a more manageable number of contenders. This product is not TurboHorse and does not provide a GPS for your handicapping. There is no such product. Easier is not necessarily better since your goal with this software would be to use your skills to have a better winning return on your selections. I have been handicapping horse races since the early 1960s. I do not think an easy to use product would be exactly what I want. There are easy to use Android and iPad products that do not pick horses particularly well...and you cannot use your knowledge and skills to make those work better. Plus, the cost of accumulating five years of paid data on which to base your future selections should make this product worthwhile even if you never used it for more than the ability to look at past information.
This is quite a few steps above a blank spreadsheet...it provides you with a tool upon which you can build your own handicapping biases and beliefs (within the product's limitations). I heartily recommend it for someone who knows handicapping and is not afraid of computers. I import the selections from their tipsheets into some huge spreadsheets I have built. I like it.
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