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Blog - GAMBLING

Little Mike is very good.  Sectional timing data suggests Little Mike could be even better than his three 2012 Grade 1 wins already suggest.

Considering Little Mike’s victories in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, Arlington Million, and Breeders’ Cup Turf probably cost me at least $10,000, making such a claim is not taken lightly, especially given significant time to ponder his 2012 performances. 

Allow me to make peace with my wagering failures.  On all three occasions this year, I had substantive multi-race bets (two pick fours and a pick five) that involved races that included the three Grade 1 events Little Mike annexed.  Each time, I thought there was no way he could carry his tactical speed throughout.  Each time, I was wrong.

My strongest opinions in the races surrounding Little Mike’s would have kept me alive.  On the Kentucky Derby undercard in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, when it appeared a sure certainty that Little Mike would face a ton of pace pressure from the likes of Turbo Compressor and Get Stormy, he didn’t.  The result wasted my pick fours that relied heavily on Hungry Island (Distaff Turf Mile) and Groupie Doll (Humana Distaff).  At Arlington, Jakkalberry (Arlington St. Leger) and Bayrir (Secretariat Stakes) were strong singles on my multi-race plays, while I’m A Dreamer (Beverly D. Stakes) was one of two main horses used in the penultimate pick five leg.  At the Breeders’ Cup, Sprint winner Trinniberg was a “B” horse in pick four plays, while Wise Dan and Fort Larned were well-backed “A” horses on those tickets.  Little Mike destroyed the Breeders’ Cup pick four with a first leg, 17-1 upset.

On all three occasions, Little Mike’s number never appeared on a single ticket.   

Despite these consistent losses as a function of Little Mike, it has been easy to appreciate his speed and consistency.

As was mentioned in our post-Breeders’ Cup blog, recapping the interesting, albeit voluminous data that emerged from the racing cavalcade, Little Mike held what seemed like an interesting statistic.  In the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the differential between Little Mike’s fastest and slowest quarter-mile segments was less than a second (0.98 seconds to be exact).  That differential was 0.48 seconds faster than the next-fastest differential in the race (Trailblazer – 1.46).  The full sectional timings, as recorded by Trakus, appear below.

Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) - Nov 3, 2012 - Santa Anita

HORSE

1/4

1/2

3/4

1M

1 1/4M

FINISH

High Low Diff

1st

LITTLE MIKE

24.00

23.14

24.07

24.12

24.10

23.20

0.98

2nd

POINT OF ENTRY

25.04

23.06

24.18

23.93

23.63

22.92

2.12

3rd

ST. NICHOLAS ABBEY

24.92

22.94

24.24

23.92

23.70

23.14

1.98

4th

TRAILBLAZER

24.49

23.03

24.21

24.01

23.95

23.38

1.46

5th

SHARETA

25.15

22.92

24.30

23.89

23.72

23.09

2.23

6th

KINDERGARDEN KID

25.35

23.26

24.30

23.87

23.49

23.26

2.09

7th

COGITO

25.35

22.97

24.24

23.84

23.66

23.47

2.38

8th

SLIM SHADEY

24.67

22.59

24.21

24.07

24.21

23.98

2.08

9th

DULLAHAN

25.12

23.26

24.25

23.86

23.66

23.84

1.86

10th

TREASURE BEACH

24.71

23.09

24.18

23.93

23.78

24.44

1.62

11th

OPTIMIZER

23.91

23.03

24.10

24.04

24.41

24.73

1.70

12th

TURBO COMPRESSOR

23.69

22.94

24.18

24.13

24.44

25.37

2.43


Coming down the hill at Santa Anita, the second quarter-mile (designated in the above-chart as ½) is likely to be faster than what would be witnessed on a course with no undulation.  Of twelve horses, only Point of Entry can claim he did his fastest running at a point that wasn’t coming down the hill (22.92 seconds in the final quarter-mile, compared to 23.06 in the main down-hill segment).  It is worth noting that he also covered the shortest trip in the Turf, reminding us of the oft-cited “ground loss matters” slogan.  If the hill portion of the course, early in the 12-furlong contest were flat, we could rightly estimate those sectional times would likely be about a second slower than they otherwise appear.  Do so, and Little Mike reels off five-consecutive fractions between 24 and 24.12 seconds, before kicking for home and running a sub-24 final quarter.

So does any of this suggest Little Mike is a superstar?  Time will tell.  Here’s what we know.

The son of Spanish Steps is remarkably consistent, loves to race forward, either on the lead or just off the pace, can accelerate away if the pace is slow or maintain a level cruising speed if the pace is stronger.  Soft ground is definitely not to the liking of this Dale Romans trainee (see his run at Belmont before the Breeders’ Cup), although it does not have to be absolutely firm (see the Arlington Million).  Having proved his ability to rate if given the opportunity to settle into his own, manageable rhythm, Little Mike might be very difficult to beat going forward. 

Below are Little Mike’s full quarter-mile sectional times from his four wins in 2012. 

Race

1st 1/4

2nd 1/4

3rd 1/4

4th 1/4

5th 1/4

6th 1/4

Sunshine Millions Turf

23.6

24.40

23.84

22.83

 -

-

Woodford Res.Turf Classic

23.78

24.49

24.54

23.69

-

-

Arlington Million

25.10

24.85

25.08

24.51

22.90

-

Breeders' Cup Turf

24.00

23.14

24.07

24.12

24.10

23.20


Remember, that second quarter at Santa Anita came down the hill.  Otherwise, Little Mike’s done his fastest running at the end of each race, and been rated consistently in other sections.  Ridden by Joe Bravo in his first two seasonal wins and Ramon Dominguez in his later two, Little Mike might be tough to catch if he can stay healthy and replicate a similar pattern to his wins above.

Now, it wasn’t always roses for Little Mike this season, with a fourth in March’s Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park and a third in June’s Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park.  Below are the sectional times for Little Mike in the Canadian Turf, and then the leader’s sectionals at each point of call from the Shoemaker Mile, the first three of which were set by Little Mike.

Race

FIN

1st 1/4

2nd 1/4

3rd 1/4

4th 1/4

Canadian Turf

4th

24.04

22.92

22.36

23.58

Shoemaker Mile

3rd

23.59

22.81

23.41

24.18


While both races were run over shorter distances (1 mile) than any of his four 2012 wins, which obviously changes the tactics of the race and the energy distribution through speed, there is little denying that Little Mike’s internal sectionals were his undoing.  He lost the Canadian Turf by 1 ½ lengths and the Shoemaker Mile by only 1 ¾ lengths.  It’s doubtful we will ever see him over such a short trip again.

So what is next for Little Mike?  In the intermediate term, a trip to the Dubai World Cup meeting is a serious possibility.  Several days before the Breeders’ Cup, I discussed the possible Dubai trip with Romans, Dullahan’s principal owner Jerry Crawford (Donegal Racing), and Little Mike’s breeder, Carlo Vaccarezza, whose wife Priscilla owns the Turf winner.  Romans is no stranger to the Dubai World Cup, winning the then $6 million race with Roses In May in 2006, and acknowledged he would love to go back.  Crawford indicated the World Cup was the goal for Dullahan, even before his Pacific Classic tally.

Below are the 2012 sectional times for the two, $5 million turf races contested in Dubai, the Duty Free over about 1 1/8 miles and the Sheema Classic over about 1 ½ miles.  Take note that there is no traditional “run-up” segment, and that the clock starts immediately upon the gate break, inflating the first segment by about two seconds.

Dubai Duty Free (G1) - Mar 31, 2012 - Meydan

HORSE

1/4

1/2

3/4

1M

FINISH

1st

CITYSCAPE

25.88

22.97

24.07

23.20

12.53

2nd

MUTAHADEE

26.18

23.35

24.18

23.32

12.32

3rd

CITY STYLE

26.28

23.49

24.16

23.26

12.19

4th

WIGMORE HALL

26.65

23.26

24.07

23.64

11.97

5th

XTENSION

26.33

23.31

24.13

23.72

12.14

6th

MUSIR

25.85

23.15

24.15

23.81

12.94

7th

AMBITIOUS DRAGON

25.95

23.12

24.33

23.66

12.88

8th

DELEGATOR

26.25

23.09

24.27

23.75

12.72

9th

DARK SHADOW

26.05

23.23

24.16

24.01

12.70

10th

RAJSAMAN

26.46

23.12

23.98

24.10

12.55

11th

GREEN DESTINY

26.03

23.08

24.33

23.90

13.19

12th

CALIFORNIA MEMORY

26.44

23.32

24.01

24.21

12.84

13th

RIO DE LA PLATA

26.10

22.89

24.18

24.93

13.82

14th

PRESVIS

27.51

22.95

23.66

24.50

15.56

15th

AWAIT THE DAWN

25.55

23.09

24.67

27.94

18.37

 


Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) - Mar 31, 2012 - About 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Meydan

HORSE

1/4

1/2

3/4

1M

1 1/4M

FINISH

1st

CIRRUS DES AIGLES

27.28

26.20

25.34

24.79

23.60

24.09

2nd

ST. NICHOLAS ABBEY

27.90

26.26

25.28

24.64

23.52

23.74

3rd

JAKKALBERRY

28.23

26.06

25.30

24.68

23.37

24.21

4th

TREASURE BEACH

27.47

26.21

25.36

24.77

23.46

24.65

5th

MAHBOOBA

27.73

26.26

25.28

24.82

23.43

24.60

6th

BEATEN UP

27.67

26.18

25.34

24.81

23.38

24.96

7th

CAVALRYMAN

28.20

26.23

25.25

24.67

23.52

24.76

8th

SONGCRAFT

27.44

26.23

25.28

24.85

23.72

25.18

9th

SHIMRAAN

28.61

26.08

25.14

24.70

23.38

25.17

10th

BOLD SILVANO

27.24

26.20

25.20

25.02

23.83

31.38


Review the timing data from last year’s two Dubai World Cup turf races, run over good-to-firm ground, and compare it to Little Mike’s style – his tactical, consistent speed seems an intriguing advantage, especially in the Sheema Classic.  No American has ever won a turf race at either the old Nad Al Sheba course, or the newer behemoth at Meydan.  The Tin Man recorded the best finishing position for a US-shipper when second in the 2006 Dubai Duty Free.  Interestingly enough, he was also a wire-to-wire winner of the Arlington Million, albeit after his Dubai performance. 

While many suggest that international, Group 1-caliber turf horses are far superior to Americans that pursue the top prizes here, perhaps some reconsideration is in order.  Despite the lack of Frankel, Nathaniel, or Snow Fairy making the Breeders’ Cup trip, each of the three non-juvenile, route turf races at this year’s Breeders’ Cup went to Americans.  More so, for the first time in the history of the three Breeders’ Cup turf route races (Mile, Turf, Filly & Mare Turf), Americans filled the exacta of all three races.  It was the first time Americans swept the first two positions in non-juvenile turf route races at the Breeders’ Cup since 1998 when Buck’s Boy and Yagli grabbed the top two spots in the Turf while Da Hoss and Hawksley Hill managed the trick in the Mile.  Maybe the American turfers are better than conventional wisdom suggests.

Little Mike caught many off-guard with a 17-1 Breeders’ Cup Turf win, but he’ll never catch me short-changing his abilities again, especially after finally dissecting his path to success this season.  With extraordinary consistency as his best asset, he could continue to pillage big prizes, potentially in Dubai and definitely back home, in 2013. I doubt we will see him at 17-1 ever again.

 

Image Description

Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the Director of Racing Information for Trakus. Based in Boston, Mass., Trakus provides full-field in-race tracking, instantaneous motion graphics, and real-time information to racetrack operators worldwide. Trakus is currently installed at racetracks in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Data analysis from Trakus appears on Twitter regularly @TrakusRacing.

Cummings also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. He has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007 and provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. He also is the North American correspondent for Al Adiyat, a Dubai-based weekly racing publication.

Prior to joining Trakus, he worked for seven years in the financial services industry, and has served the racing industry in various capacities since 1999.  Pat was the backup announcer at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) from 1999 to 2009, and also has called cards at Atlantic City Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park, Manor Downs, and Monmouth Park.

A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Pat earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and a BA from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

 

Image Description

Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the Director of Racing Information for Trakus. Based in Boston, Mass., Trakus provides full-field in-race tracking, instantaneous motion graphics, and real-time information to racetrack operators worldwide. Trakus is currently installed at racetracks in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Data analysis from Trakus appears on Twitter regularly @TrakusRacing.

Cummings also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. He has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007 and provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. He also is the North American correspondent for Al Adiyat, a Dubai-based weekly racing publication.

Prior to joining Trakus, he worked for seven years in the financial services industry, and has served the racing industry in various capacities since 1999.  Pat was the backup announcer at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) from 1999 to 2009, and also has called cards at Atlantic City Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park, Manor Downs, and Monmouth Park.

A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Pat earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and a BA from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

 

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