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Blog - GAMBLING

Little Mike made the most of a fantastic trip and showed the ability to ration his speed in winning the Breeders' Cup Turf on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

Fifteen races, a diverse set of results, and some remarkable Trakus data – so goes the weekend that was the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita. In this voluminous blog, significantly longer than our normal contributions, we review notable data accumulated the amazing weekend. As usual, a primer below for those that may not have read an interpretation of Trakus data in the past.

We receive wildly divergent comments, mostly via Twitter, that the ground-loss statistics we offer are either fantastic or meaningless. Of course, we believe it depends, and the truth is probably in the middle. Some horses can lose ground and it does not impact their final finishing position or their ability to perform at peak conditions, while others struggle in such a setting. Some pundits claim that the energy expended by horses racing in tight quarters while saving ground is more damaging to a horse’s chances than racing in the clear, even though they lose ground. Regardless, there is no arguing that the shortest way around IS on the inside.

Through the Trakus-Adjusted Margins (TAMs), we extract a single variable (ground coverage in running) and identify the differences between horses based only on that variable. Thus, if a horse X covers 30 feet more than horse Y, and lost by only a half-length, we convert the number of extra feet covered to lengths and subtract that number from the true margin to arrive at the TAM. We readily recognize that the story is significantly more complex, but refute the criticism that such data is insignificant or irrelevant. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and racing data is up for interpretation by each handicapper/fan/analyst.

We offer various data below on from selected Breeders’ Cup races in no particular order.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)

JuvBattleNear

Shanghai Bobby (inside, above) looked to be coasting and flying away when passing the midpoint of the far turn, but as 2-year-olds are inclined to do, he waffled alone on the lead.  Trakus records the average miles per hour traveled by a horse within each segment (1/16th of a mile). Below, we offer that data for the first three horses home in the thrilling Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. 

Breeders' Cup Juvenile - Average mph per Segment

5/16

1/4

3/16

1/8

1/16

FINISH

1st – Shanghai Bobby

35.8

34.3

32.5

31.5

33.7

33.1

2nd - He's Had Enough

34.5

32.7

33.6

33.4

33.5

33.4

3rd - Capo Bastone

35.8

35.4

33.5

33.8

33.1

32.7


From the point of the three-sixteenths pole to the eighth pole, second- and third-place finishers He’s Had Enough and Capo Bastone went 1.9 and 2.3 mph faster than Shanghai Bobby, respectively. Jockey Rosie Napravnik implored focus and finish from her Harlan’s Holiday colt, getting him to respond and his average speed increased 2.2 mph faster from the eighth pole to the sixteenth pole. Over the trip from the five-sixteenths pole to the eighth pole, Shanghai Bobby’s average mph dropped by a gaudy 4.3 mph, while second-place finishing longshot He’s Had Enough dropped only 1.1 mph over the same distance. How this will impact the 2013 Kentucky Derby field is a different story, but the data is fascinating.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1)

Ground loss matters, and it when it doesn’t, we’ll happily acknowledge it. Ryan Moore simply navigated the best trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf aboard George Vancouver, covering the least amount of ground in the full field of 14. As the chart below shows (see “TA Margin”), the second-, third-, fourth-, and seventh-place finishers (Noble Tune, Balance the Books, Dundonnell, and Lines of Battle) all covered more ground than their margins of defeat. 

Moore plotted an inside path and got the splits on George Vancouver, covering the trip in 5,313 feet and winning by 1.25 lengths.  The aforementioned competition covered 34, 26, 42, and 76 feet more than the winner, with Balance the Books clocking the second-fastest ¾-mile split, and the fastest final quarter and eighth splits in the race.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) - Nov 3, 2012 - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita

HORSE

1/4

1/2

3/4

-

FINISH

FIN 1/8

Distance (ft)

Ft to
Len

Actual
Margin

TA Margin

1st

7

GEORGE VANCOUVER

23.69

22.96

23.86

-

23.26

11.43

 

5313

-

(1.25)

 

2nd

8

NOBLE TUNE

23.83

23.14

23.72

-

23.31

11.54

 

34

4.0

1.25

-2.8

3rd

6

BALANCE THE BOOKS

23.96

23.35

23.58

-

23.14

11.37

 

26

3.1

1.5

-1.6

4th

9

DUNDONNELL

23.92

22.91

23.66

-

23.87

11.95

 

42

4.9

2.75

-2.2

5th

11

GERVINHO

23.52

22.80

24.04

-

24.00

11.99

 

17

2.0

2.75

0.8

6th

3

ARTIGIANO

23.45

23.80

23.57

-

24.01

12.46

 

3

0.4

5.75

5.4

7th

14

LINES OF BATTLE

24.56

21.99

24.01

-

24.35

12.23

 

76

8.9

6

-2.9

8th

12

JOHA

23.81

22.93

23.84

-

24.50

12.24

 

53

6.2

6.75

0.5

9th

5

BROWN ALMIGHTY

23.59

22.84

23.87

-

24.93

12.70

 

36

4.2

7.5

3.3

10th

1

FANTASTIC MOON

23.97

23.36

23.92

-

24.18

11.97

 

74

8.7

8.75

0.0

11th

4

DRY SUMMER

23.74

23.40

23.92

-

24.59

12.41

 

51

6.0

9.75

3.8

12th

15

SUMMIT COUNTY

23.87

22.40

24.10

-

25.51

13.24

 

5

0.6

11

10.4

13th

13

KNOW MORE

23.65

23.43

23.92

-

25.25

12.78

 

87

10.2

12.75

2.5

14th

10

I'MBOUNDTOSCORE

24.20

22.11

24.73

-

25.23

12.73

 

39

4.6

13

8.4

Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G3)

Marathon2

The wild singing and subsequent party from the Argentina-based connections of Calidoscopio (above, pulling away) was a Breeders’ Cup memory that will last forever. From a data standpoint, Calidoscopio proved what it takes to win the Marathon – a plodding, even tempo spread across the entire journey. Take note of the times provided for the finishing horses. 

The horses are listed in their finishing order, along with the times for their first six furlongs and their last six furlongs, followed by the differential between the two. Calidoscopio did not quicken, he just slowed significantly less than the competition.  Specifically, his last six furlongs were timed by Trakus in 1:16.91, which was 2.08 seconds faster than the next-fastest horse in the race (second-place finsher Grassy). More dramatically, Calidoscopio’s first six furlongs were only 1.33 seconds faster than his last six furlongs – 3.70 seconds faster than the second-fastest (Not Abroad – 5th) and 4.05 seconds faster than second-place finisher Grassy.

Breeders' Cup Marathon (G3) - Nov 2, 2012 - 1 3/4 Miles (Dirt) - Santa Anita

First 6F

Last 6F

Differential

1st

6

CALIDOSCOPIO

1:15.58

1:16.91

1.33

2nd

4

GRASSY

1:13.61

1:18.99

5.38

3rd

1

ATIGUN

1:12.80

1:19.97

7.17

4th

14

JUNIPER PASS

1:13.08

1:20.40

7.32

5th

7

NOT ABROAD

1:14.76

1:19.79

5.03

6th

3

BALLADRY

1:13.58

1:20.57

6.99

7th

10

ELDAAFER

1:14.07

1:20.54

6.47

8th

8

ROMP

1:14.06

1:20.83

6.77

9th

11

COMMANDER

1:12.50

1:27

14.50

10th

9

ALMUDENA

1:14.42

1:26.26

11.84

11th

5

JAYCITO

1:12.46

1:27.99

15.53

12th

13

SENSE OF PURPOSE

Distanced

13th

2

FAME AND GLORY

Distanced

Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)

Wise Dan established a new course mark in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, lowering the record set by Atticus in 1997, and carrying 126 pounds in the effort (Atticus carried 117). There is no doubting, this was a remarkable performance. We look to the individual sectional times of the remainder of the field. Animal Kingdom, well off the early gallop, ran a dazzling second quarter-mile of 22.30 seconds (which was only the third-fastest such sectional in the race after Moonlight Cloud’s borderline frantic 21.93 seconds). Blocked for room when closing in on the main pack, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner ran a final two furlongs in 22.54 seconds (fastest in the race by 0.20 seconds) and a final furlong in 11.29 seconds (fastest by 0.11 seconds). 

It is also worth noting that Aidan O’Brien trainee Excelebration covered 20 feet more than Wise Dan, but lost by just two lengths.  That extra ground coverage equates to roughly 2.4 lengths, less than his margin of defeat. 

Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) - Nov 3, 2012 - 1 Mile (Turf) - Santa Anita

HORSE

1/4

1/2

3/4

-

FINISH

FIN 1/8

Distance (ft)

Ft to
Len

Actual
Margin

TA Margin

1st

2

WISE DAN

23.75

22.56

22.69

-

22.77

11.40

 

5316

-

(1.5)

 

2nd

5

ANIMAL KINGDOM

24.41

22.30

22.83

-

22.54

11.29

 

5

0.6

1.5

0.9

3rd

3

OBVIOUSLY

23.48

22.60

22.71

-

23.40

11.86

 

15

1.8

2

0.2

4th

6

EXCELEBRATION

23.89

22.54

22.83

-

22.85

11.48

 

20

2.4

2

-0.4

5th

1

MR. COMMONS

24.02

22.49

22.74

-

23.05

11.68

 

-8

-0.9

3

3.9

6th

4

JERANIMO

24.89

22.63

22.59

-

22.74

11.63

 

2

0.2

4.5

4.3

7th

8

SUGGESTIVE BOY

23.62

22.56

22.83

-

23.84

12.15

 

35

4.1

5.75

1.6

8th

9

MOONLIGHT CLOUD

24.52

21.93

23.09

-

23.34

11.89

 

36

4.2

6.25

2.0

9th

7

WILLCOX INN

24.28

22.22

22.83

-

23.61

11.92

 

35

4.1

6.5

2.4

Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)

Classic-RazorSharpFinish

Fort Larned (abobe, inside) went to the front and stayed on all the way, holding Mucho Macho Man by the slightest of margins. Ground coverage in the Classic was certainly of interest, and also had us harkening back to the Trakus Jockey Efficiency Ratings posted in this blog from Del Mar’s 2011 season and 2012 season. Mike Smith partnered Mucho Macho Man to a second-place finish, covering 31 feet more than Fort Larned. Breaking from post 11, it was conceivable that the Hall of Fame rider was going to get stuck wide for some portion of the journey. While there is no arguing that keeping his charge out of trouble was important, we note that Mucho Macho Man ran the equivalent of roughly 3.6 lengths more than the winner, the only horse in the race to sport a negative TAM.

Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) - Nov 3, 2012 - 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt) - Santa Anita

HORSE

Distance (ft)

Ft to Len

Actual Margin

TA Margin

1st

4

FORT LARNED

 

6663

-

(0.5)

 

2nd

11

MUCHO MACHO MAN

 

31

3.6

0.5

-3.1

3rd

2

FLAT OUT

 

38

4.5

7

2.5

4th

10

RON THE GREEK

 

13

1.5

7.75

6.2

5th

9

RICHARD'S KID

 

13

1.5

8

6.5

6th

8

NONIOS

 

53

6.2

10.75

4.5

7th

5

GAME ON DUDE

 

45

5.3

15

9.7

8th

1

POOL PLAY

 

39

4.6

17.5

12.9

9th

7

HANDSOME MIKE

 

20

2.4

20.75

18.4

10th

12

TO HONOR AND SERVE

 

47

5.5

35.25

29.7

11th

6

BRILLIANT SPEED

 

32

3.8

37.5

33.7

12th

3

ALPHA

 

0

0.0

44.75

44.8

Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)

Little Mike was brilliant … and consistent. Through six two-furlong segments of the 1 ½ mile-trip, Ramon Dominguez guided his mount through fractions that were within one second of each other. His fastest two-furlong segment came running down the hill, the second overall sectional, in 23.14 seconds and he finished the race with almost the exact same sectional time (23.20). Each two-furlong segment was no more than 0.98 seconds slower than Little Mike’s fastest sectional. No other horse in the race can claim such consistency, with the closest coming from Trailblazer, whose spread from his slowest sectional to his fastest was 1.46 seconds.

You will also notice below that Little Mike saved ground relative to the third-, fourth-, and fifth-place finishers, who each traveled 36, 47, and 44 feet more than the winner, and each of their final margins was less than the impact of their extra ground coverage. Only Point of Entry covered a trip shorter than the winner. Lost in the shuffle is that Little Mike’s stable companion Dullahan may have finished ninth beaten seven lengths, but he endured an overland journey which saw him cover 61 feet more than the winner. While these comparisons are always approximate, it is worth noting that 61 feet is roughly 7.2 lengths – just slightly more than his margin of defeat.

Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) - Nov 3, 2012 - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Santa Anita

HORSE

1/4

1/2

3/4

1M

1 1/4M

FINISH

FIN 1/8

Distance (ft)

Ft to Len

Actual
Margin

TA Margin

1st

7

LITTLE MIKE

24.00

23.14

24.07

24.12

24.10

23.20

11.71

 

8009

-

(1.5)

 

2nd

1

POINT OF ENTRY

25.04

23.06

24.18

23.93

23.63

22.92

11.37

 

-12

-1.4

1.5

2.9

3rd

3

ST. NICHOLAS ABBEY

24.92

22.94

24.24

23.92

23.70

23.14

11.54

 

36

4.2

1.25

-3.0

4th

12

TRAILBLAZER

24.49

23.03

24.21

24.01

23.95

23.38

11.97

 

47

5.5

2.25

-3.3

5th

5

SHARETA

25.15

22.92

24.30

23.89

23.72

23.09

11.37

 

44

5.2

2.5

-2.7

6th

8

KINDERGARDEN KID

25.35

23.26

24.30

23.87

23.49

23.26

11.63

 

37

4.4

4.75

0.4

7th

6

COGITO

25.35

22.97

24.24

23.84

23.66

23.47

11.80

 

15

1.8

4.75

3.0

8th

11

SLIM SHADEY

24.67

22.59

24.21

24.07

24.21

23.98

12.09

 

37

4.4

5.5

1.1

9th

9

DULLAHAN

25.12

23.26

24.25

23.86

23.66

23.84

11.97

 

61

7.2

7

-0.2

10th

4

TREASURE BEACH

24.71

23.09

24.18

23.93

23.78

24.44

12.38

 

-10

-1.2

7.5

8.7

11th

10

OPTIMIZER

23.91

23.03

24.10

24.04

24.41

24.73

12.49

 

51

6.0

8

2.0

12th

2

TURBO COMPRESSOR

23.69

22.94

24.18

24.13

24.44

25.37

13.13

 

35

4.1

11.25

7.1

Overall Dirt Track Performance at Santa Anita

There was some immediate discussion across the press box on course, social media, and surely your conversations with fellow horseplayers, about how difficult passing seemed to be over the Santa Anita dirt track, especially on the outside. Was there a significant, noticeable bias? Conventional short-term memory has us thinking immediately to the front-running scores from Royal Delta and Fort Larned in the big races to suggest that speed and ground-saving was a massive factor, but that would be ignoring the performances of Groupie Doll (the only horse to win on dirt all weekend while covering the highest or second-highest trip in their respective race), Tapizar, and Shanghai Bobby. 

While the Juvenile winner did run most of the stretch on the rail, he lost ground on both turns and was seemingly in danger of blowing the far turn at one point before a Rosie Napravnik adjustment. Fifty percent (9/18) of the top two finishers in the nine dirt races over the two days covered either the shortest or second-shortest trip in their respective races. Seventy-seven percent of top two finishers (14/18) in those races fell in the shorter half of total ground coverage from their respective races. The aforementioned outliers were joined by The Lumber Guy, who covered the tenth-widest trip in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). One weekend of nine dirt races is hardly a confirmed trend or signifier that the track was particularly “biased.” The topic is one we will continue to study. 

As we say too often (to some): ground loss matters. The degrees of its impact vary, and the early indication is that working out a shorter trip does benefit at “The Great Race Place.” There is plenty of time between now and the next Breeders’ Cup in California to ponder it.

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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