When speed figures — developed by Andy Beyer and then Equibase — started appearing in race programs three decades ago, horseplayers were able to see the “fastest” horse in a race and that horse, of course, would have diminished betting value.

Or so one would think.

So how do you explain this? Download race 4 on Woodbine’s Saturday program and scan the horses to see who has the highest speed figure in his last race.

Go ahead. It will take you mere seconds and the result will knock your socks off.

You’ll note the highest speed figure for any horse is 94, six points higher than the next-highest speed figure. If you did this on Saturday, your jaw would have dropped to the floor because the horse with the 94 speed figure was going off at 31-1. THIRTY-ONE TO ONE! So would you have asked yourself “how can this be” and rushed to bet a few bucks on the horse, thusly pocketing $64.70 for every $2 you bet?

For whatever reason, horses with top speed figures just like this get overlooked from time to time, giving you an opportunity to score big simply by finding the biggest number. That 31-1 horse won the first leg of the jackpot pick-6, resulting in one bettor’s 20-cent ticket scooping the entire $60,420 pool. It was also the first leg of the pick-4 that paid $1,244 for 20-cents and the third leg of the pick-5 that paid $3,473 for 20-cents.

Why not make a habit of circling the biggest speed figure among horses you’re handicapping in a race? Then glance at the odds close to post time to see if that horse is worth betting. If it’s a horse in a pick-4, pick-5 or other sequence and there are no odds to be seen, add that horse to your ticket, especially if the oddsmaker has assigned it high odds. And you soon may be boasting about boosting your bankroll simply by having your wits about you.

What are the “rule” horses tonight at ASD and tomorrow at Fort Erie?

The rule horse tonight at Assiniboia Downs: There should be an investigation if #5 Far Beyond doesn’t go far beyond other horses in race 5, a 7-furlong specialist distance. Not only does this gelding have a 7-furlong Equibase speed figure way above the others (95), he’s dropping into a straight claimer from the much-tougher AOC (allowance optional claimer) condition.

And how did last week’s rule horse fare? It won and paid $8.50. (It was a 7-furlong race, too.)

The rule horse tomorrow afternoon at Fort Erie: #7 Musical Stride at 12-1 in race 4 is dropping from an SOC $7,500/$15,000 race (starter optional claiming race) at Woodbine to a straight $6,250 claiming race at Fort Erie. A drop from a “starter” race into a straight claiming race is substantial. #8 Shakoo Makoo at 4-1 is the other horse in the race making a similar drop but hasn’t raced since last year.

In last week’s column, the highest speed figure didn’t win the specialist 7-furlong race BUT the two horses who had the second- and third-best figures finished one-two and the $2 exactor paid $50.90.