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Blog - GAMBLING

Orb won the Fountain of Youth (G1) on February 23 at Gulfstream Park. Photos courtesy Coglianese Photos

When Gulfstream Park added a second finish line, accommodating dirt races at 1 1/16 miles, it certainly offered more options for horsemen. Races start past the main finish line and end at an alternative finish line, the “first finish,” which is situated slightly past the sixteenth pole. The ornate poles that adorn almost every racecourse around the world, identifying the distance to the finish, apply only to races using the original, or “second finish” at Gulfstream, making a viewing of the simulcast and attempted hand-time almost impossible as a separate series of poles do not exist (we probably wouldn’t want them either as that would be a whole slew of poles).

There has been some chatter in the blogosphere about the timings from the Fountain of Youth, and we thought it worthwhile explaining the intricacies of this particular distance. First, recognize that the final sixteenth in 1 1/16-mile races at Gulfstream are run 100% in a straightaway. It gets a bit more complex after that when analyzing the four two-furlong segments that compile the first mile of these races. For this race length the run-up is approximately ninety feet, the distance between the starting gate and the point where the official race-timing starts (1-1/16 miles from the finish). For Gulfstream races at this distance the run-up typically takes roughly three seconds to complete.

Gulfstream Park, since its redesign, has longer turns and shorter stretches than most ovals measuring between eight and nine furlongs in circumference. Pace dynamics within a race, as dictated by the jockeys, often serve as perspective for an end-race result.  Did one horse run with the swift early pace and dig in, despite the increasing likelihood that horse would back up as the race progressed?  Despite slower fractions, did one horse really kick on for home faster than another? Individual sectional times, for tracks including Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Santa Anita, are available on their websites for your dissemination.

There are no straight courses in American thoroughbred racing. Each race is a bit different, but given the track configuration, running around a turn is a necessity – it’s just that differing amounts of time are spent on the turns. Below, we compare the approximate time spent on straightaways or turns, by the leader, in each of the quarter-mile sectionals in both Saturday’s Fountain of Youth and a comparable race at the same distance of another track – we chose the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Race

Sam F. Davis

 

Fountain of Youth

Sectional

Straightaway

Turn

 

Straightaway

Turn

1/4

52%

48%

 

20%

80%

1/2

49%

51%

 

46%

54%

3/4

51%

49%

 

45%

55%

1 Mile

53%

47%

 

32%

68%


Interpreting the graph above, approximately 80% of the leader’s first quarter came on the first turn, while only about 20% is run on a straightaway. The majority of every one of the four quarters in the opening mile of the Fountain of Youth is run on one of the long, gently-sweeping turns at Gulfstream. The times at Tampa from the Sam Davis, all set by Falling Sky, came in an even mix of straightaway and turn. There is certainly no judgment as to which is better – it is just a measure of how the courses are constructed, and how the pace developed in these respective races. The general logic, however, would suggest that horses are likely to run faster on a straightaway. The fastest sectional in the Fountain of Youth, the second quarter-mile, has the most straightaway.

Dirt racing in America typically sees faster early sectionals and slower later sectionals, and to superlative degrees, the faster the early sectionals, typically the slower the later sectionals get. The early sectional times for the Fountain of Youth were swift, resulting in a slow final five-sixteenths. Comparatively, just two races earlier, the Davona Dale, won by Live Lively, was run just 0.06 seconds slower at the finish (1:42.30 v. 1:42.24), but ran a faster sectional split time at only one point of the race.

Sectional 

Davona Dale

Fountain of Youth

Delta

1/4

23.54

23.11

-0.43

1/2

23.23

22.34

-0.89

3/4

23.44

23.40

-0.04

1 Mile

25.16

26.52

1.36

Finish

6.93

6.87

-0.06


Live Lively’s ability to make all the running and finish less than a tenth of a second slower was a function of significantly more balanced early sectionals. While the Davona Dale has straightaway/turn percentages very similar to the Fountain of Youth being run over the same trip, you’ll notice that the slowest of the three opening quarters for the Davona Dale came in the first two furlongs, the sectional that was mostly run around the first turn.  Take note of the variance within the sectionals from the first four finishers in the Fountain of Youth.

Position

Horse

1/4

1/2

3/4

1 Mile

Finish

1st

Orb

24.12

22.42

23.17

25.66

6.87

2nd

Violence

23.25

22.60

23.09

26.46

6.95

3rd

Speak Logistics

23.95

22.60

23.32

26.43

7.22

4th

Majestic Hussar

23.11

22.34

23.40

27.16

7.79

 

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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