Today in Racing, Dec 19, 2013

A couple of new features are now available in our result charts.  You can now scroll through all of the races on that day’s card by clicking either the arrows to the left or right of the race number to proceed to the prior or next race….or on the race number itself to get a drop down from which to select.  Now you can see how a track was playing on a particular day to help put the performance of the horse you are looking at in better context.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 10.10.00 AMAlso, we are now color coding the subject horse and any others in today’s race in red….in the charts…..and in the 1-2-3’s in the running lines as well.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 10.13.33 AMScreen Shot 2013-12-19 at 10.13.58 AM

And let me please mention once again how the trainers appear directly under the horse, so that you don’t have to look at the bottom for a line list and then go back to try and match them up.  Next up in the results charts will be what we are referring to as a ‘continuum’ of each’s horse’s prior – and subsequent – speed figures, as well as more information about each race in the boxes.  So, you’ll be able to scroll back beyond the three races we’re presently showing, and forward to see how each horse has done since the race portrayed in the chart.

– The hype for the Shared Belief continues to build after his win in the CashCall, with his course to the Kentucky Derby already being plotted.  (Some nice publicity for CashCall as well.  And note that even the LA Times can’t decide whether to put a space in the name.)

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I generally prefer to see a horse actually run on dirt before being handed the roses in December. We’ve been reading how his Beyer figure of 106 is the best by a two-year old this year, higher than those earned in the Kentucky Derby, etc., For now, we’re sticking to our story, as explained in this post, that his final time was illogical in the context of the prior races on the card, and of the prior figures earned by the horses in the race, necessitating a split of the track variant when calculating our TFUS speed figure on the theory that the synthetic track had to have changed prior to the race.

The Beyer folks did not take the same approach.  But, as explained in this totally excellent piece by our Doug Salvatore on the Horse Racing Nation blog, they did exactly that for the same race in 1989, when Grand Canyon shattered the Teletimer clock with a 1:33 mark for the mile that, as reported by Doug, “still stands as the fastest mile ever run by a two-year-old on dirt.”  Without splitting the variant, that would have registered as a 120 on the Beyer scale which, it was reasoned, was “impossible.”  The final time by Shared Belief doesn’t quite fall into that category, but it raised enough alarms with our Chief Figure Guy Craig Milkowski that he took the measures that he did.

To put Shared Belief’s effort into perspective from our standpoint, here is where it ranks amongst the top TFUS speed figures earned by two-year olds this year:

Havana – 110 – Champagne Stakes – Belmont (dirt)
Havana – 108 – 8/23 Maiden Sp Wt – Saratoga (dirt)
Peace Mission – 108 – 10/27 Maiden Sp Wt – Belmont (dirt)
Strong Mandate – 107 – Hopeful Stakes – Saratoga (muddy dirt)
Top Fortitude – 106 – 11/16 Maiden Sp Wt – Hollywood (synth)
Honor Code – 105 – Champagne Stakes (winner) – Belmont (dirt)
Surfing USA – 104 – 10/27 Maiden Sp Wt – Belmont (dirt)
Hardly – 103 – 11/17 Maiden Sp Wt – Aqueduct (turf)
Ride On Curlin – 103 – Champagne Stakes – Belmont (dirt)
Cairo Prince – 103 – Nashua Stakes – Aqueduct (dirt)
Shared Belief – 103 – CashCall Futurity – Hollywood (synth)

Obviously not the best of the year for juveniles on our scale.  Still, we don’t mean to demean his performance; and no speed figures take into account the kind of sheer dominance with which he won (after a perfect trip behind a 131-1 shot and a 26-1 shot).  And again, we will be keeping a close eye on this as Shared Belief and the others from the race – and the others run that day – start to run back.

As far as the surface question goes, Doug relays some skepticism from Jeff Siegel (whom he most appropriately describes as the ‘excellent HRTV commentator’) in his piece.  His TFUS pedigree ratings are rather inconclusive on the subject.  His rating for dirt routes is 79, as compared to 87 for dirt sprints, and 83 for synth routes (the conditions for the CashCall).  Not a bad number to be sure, but not something to go running to the futures market over either, especially considering all the publicity he is getting at this time.

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7 Responses to Today in Racing, Dec 19, 2013

  1. youknowwho says:

    When all is said and done, I suspect we still aren’t going to know which figure was correct. When dealing with 2yos and surface switches, the volatility of form is so large, future results will be interpreted in light of the changing conditions and original opinions about the race.

    If the Cash Call horses do not run back to their Beyer figures, some will argue that they did not like dirt as much. Others will argue they all bounced. Others will argue the figure should have been broken out.

    If they do, some will argue that the figure was correct while others will argue they are improving 2yos or improved on dirt.

    To me, the bottom line is that the Cash Call was a pretty solid field (as Cash Calls go). IMO, it was a legitimate Grade 1 2yo race. The winner was very impressive going into it and several horses that were competitive in Grade 1s (including the Juvenile) got buried by him. So rather than argue about a few points either way, I think it’s enough to say he’s a solid Grade 1 caliber 2yo. Next year we’ll see if he likes dirt and 10f.

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  2. Steve in NC says:

    I just looked at the 12/15 post and offer these differences with Craig’s logic:

    The winner of the Native Diver was coming out of an excellent race in the Breeders’ Cup; the place horse was stretching out after running well in a sprint first off a long layoff; the show horse was coming off a nice win. These are not improving two year olds. For all three to regress a bit off good efforts doesn’t seem implausible.

    But the horses that ran behind Shared Belief are 2 year old colts who should be improving rapidly this time of year. Let’s say that Shared Belief was scratched – erase him from your mind in this race. Wouldn’t you expect the 1-2-3 finishers, which is what the 2-3-4 horses would have been, to have posted improved figures, maybe even big improvements?

    Maybe the track changed for just one race, or maybe Shared Belief freaked. I think you have to have some basis for your variant change other than the figure being an outlier. Bob Beamon’s Olympic jump was a shocking and unbelievable outlier, but it was measured and it was real. Smaller outliers happen all the time in all kinds of sports. Unless there is evidence of maintenance, or some drastic humidity/wind change, I think you have to give the horse credit for freaking. And he may never repeat the number (especially on other surfaces), but that doesn’t mean the high number has to be wrong.

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    • marcatrtr says:

      Hi Steve,

      Craig has experimented with both cutting races loose and keeping variants steady and he has arrived in a place that, according to his research, gives his figures the maximum predictive power going forward. Having said that, as Craig noted–he’ll keep an eye on this figure. Typically, our Chief Figure Maker and his team are loathe to cut them loose.

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  3. Steve in NC says:

    Before you start adjusting variants, I hope you’ve first satisfied yourself that the posted time was accurate. It wouldn’t be the first timer malfunction that wasn’t caught or acknowledged until whistles were blown. Did you go to the replay and time the race gate to wire, and then include the run-up in your calculations?

    Also, did you check with the crew to see when maintenance was done and what kind was done? If you can’t get that info upon request, you can use your TVG platform to complain loudly and force changes in CA. Or hire a track man.

    IMHO, presuming that big track changes are happening without apparent cause introduces dangerous levels of subjectivity. I hope you aren’t going there often.

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  4. willie lee says:

    what would cause a synth track to change bigtime over 2 hours (no rain) ? 32-1 on SB in the 1st KY Derby Pool looks like a heckuva bargain, no?

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    • Craig Milkowski says:

      Track maintenance. Having done figures for all the synthetic surfaces from the outset, I have learned those surfaces are MUCH more likely to have big speed changes when weather isn’t a factor than dirt courses are.

      A few tracks, most notably Woodbine, actually list the maintenance performed throughout the card. These almost invariably lead to big changes in the track variant. Keep in mind, a “big time” change is only big in regards to figures. A change of one second in time over races that take nearly two minutes to run doesn’t mean something drastic was done to the surface.

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    • Alan Mann says:

      Yes willie lee, 32-1 would seem a fair price……at least as far as these things go. In reality though, given all of the possible pitfalls, and the fact that we are five months out, wouldn’t it really be closer to a fair price to him starting in the Kentucky Derby? Thanks for the questions.

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