At the bottom of your horse's stats there is a section entitled Peer Comparisons, which provides a rough idea of how your horse compare to other horses it will be racing against. All categories factor in Peak. This can be a useful tool to check prior to buddy workouts if you want to see how your horse is shaping up. If Peer Comps are looking bad, you may want to hold off on doing workouts or make sure to use a low-statted buddy!
There are three different peer comparisons you can view:
This is the narrowest category and compares your horse to other horses of the same age group and gender. Since you typically race your horses against others of the same age and gender, this is the category you should be checking most often when deciding what grade to race in.
This can be extremely useful when it comes to estimating your young horses. If your 2 year old is rating 'Far Above Average', that's a good indication that they will be a strong contender in the Gems, Gold Cups, and WCF - regardless of their potential! This means that out of all of the 2 year olds of the same gender, they currently have the aptitude to perform far better in races. If you have a 2 year old who is 'Below Average', despite having a decent potential, you can assume they have low Peak.
If they're young and not peaked yet, hold off on racing until they are where you'd expect them to be. Ex: You wouldn't want to race a 55 potential 3yo who is 'Below Average' because they are well below peak. At peak they should be 'Far Above Average' and that's when you'll want to start racing them.
It compares your horses to all other horses of the same age group. For most horses, this will have the same rating as the Gender Group. However, fillies may sometimes rate higher in Gender Group than Age Group. It may be something to keep in mind if you're thinking about entering a filly in an open race.
It compares your horse to all other racing horses. For young horses, it's very likely to see a lower overall rating than in the other categories. For older horses, you may see that even low potential horses can rank well here. This should not be used as a guideline for choosing grades. Because it is comparing your 20 potential 100% peak horse against 24 potential (and still maxing) and 30% peak 2yos, it should be taken with a grain of salt. It may still be a good way to judge how a horse is improving as they grow up.
Peer Comparisons & Grades
Peer comparisons are the single best indicator of what grade your horse should enter at any given point in time. While potentials remain steady (once maxed), many other factors can change that will impact how your horse performs in races. The most important of those is Peak, which is something factored into Peer Comparisons as explained above. While an unpeaked 50 potential may race in allowance, a peaked 50 potential should generally be in G1. Peer comparisons will help you figure out where in that spectrum your horse falls.
Generally accepted guidelines for grades based on peer comparisons are listed below.
Far Above Average = Grade 1
Above Average = Grade 2
Average = Grade 3
Below Average = Listed/Allowance
Far Below Average = Allowance/Claiming