Rocket Fuel
Please provide a valid email address.
Close

Blog - GAMBLING

Dynamic Sky came up just short in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (above) to Falling Sky, but with a better trip he could be dangerous at a nice price in the Blue Grass Stakes. (Photo courtesy of Tom Cooley Photography)

This Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course has a field of 14 and there is every reason to think that some will end up with horrid trips and sordid tales. Jockeys have the power to dictate where their mounts end up in the early going, and few would have estimated that last weekend’s Central Bank Ashland winner, Emollient, drawn in gate 13, would clear the field in the first furlong and proceed to cover what was essentially the shortest trip in the field en route to a powerful 9-length victory (more on that race later). 

Three horses in this year’s Blue Grass hold interesting data that is worth reviewing in advance.

Dynamic Sky has been an enigma to the Trakus data followers, especially since he ran a fast-and-green second in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last autumn. As we’ve noted in several blogs since, Dynamic Sky covered 77 feet more than rail-riding winner Joha, but was beaten only a length. After a victorious seasonal debut at Tampa Bay Downs, he covered another wide trip in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, going 51 feet more than Falling Sky, losing by just a neck. In both of these highlighted races, Dynamic Sky’s margin of defeat was mitigated away by the extra ground the son of Sky Mesa covered. In more technical parlance, his Trakus Adjusted Margins from both races (taking his actual margin of defeat minus the number of feet traveled more/less relative to the winner converted to lengths) are significantly negative. This suggests that based on the trips alone, Dynamic Sky was roughly eight and six lengths better than the winners in the Breeders’ Futurity and Sam F. Davis, respectively.

The Mark Casse trainee gets all the more interesting when we saw he drew the rail in the Blue Grass. In his last start, the Tampa Bay Derby, Dynamic Sky broke from gate five, but ended up prompting the pace of eventual winner Verrazano, and faded a bit in the stretch when getting another wide journey despite breaking inside of the horses he was tracking. Surely jockey Joel Rosario, winning nearly a third of his mounts at Keeneland this meet, learned something from his first partnership with Dynamic Sky at Tampa, and will yield a better trip from the lucrative rail draw. As cited in this blog previously, winners on the Polytrack at Keeneland cover the shortest trip. Ground loss does matter, and Dynamic Sky remains monumentally interesting given his likely ground-saving trip.

Trakus records data from a host of Kentucky Derby prep races, including those at Gulfstream, Tampa Bay Downs, and Santa Anita. While the data does not yet encompass Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, or Oaklawn, there are some superlatives worth recognizing on the data trail of Derby prep data. Java’s War, the second-choice on Mike Battaglia’s Blue Grass Stakes morning line, was a more-than-respectable second in the Tampa Bay Derby, closing from well off the pace, and of all the Derby points races tracked this season, his final quarter-mile was one of the fastest. The son of War Pass, partnered with Julien Leparoux for Saturday’s race, completed his final quarter-mile in the Tampa Bay Derby in 25.02 seconds, which was 0.20 seconds faster than Verrazano, and the second-fastest final quarter Trakus has recorded in a Derby points race this year (Flashback’s final quarter in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita was the only one faster).

JAVA'S WAR WINNING AT LOUISIANA DOWNS

Java 's -War

Photo courtesy of Lou Hodges Photography/Louisiana Downs

There were many gaudy data stories out of the Breeders’ Futurity, and mentioning only Dynamic Sky’s data would be a mistake. Java’s War was beaten less than two lengths, but covered 36 feet more than winner Joha, equating to roughly 4 ¼ lengths of extra ground. More than a month later at Churchill, Java’s War was sixth beaten five lengths in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, and traveled 42 feet more than winner Uncaptured. That added ground is just about equal to his margin of defeat. While he hasn’t been saddled with wide draws in these races where he plotted wider courses relative to the winners, Java’s War has had a way of covering extra ground, and he has another fairly plum spot in stall four to propel his Blue Grass chances.

For as much attention as the widely-drawn Rydilluc has received, unbeaten and well-clear in three turf starts, the second-home behind him in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream, Charming Kitten, has had several troubled trips tracked by Trakus. In his lone Polytrack start at Keeneland, Charming Kitten was an even ninth in the Breeders’ Futurity, covering 54 feet (about 6 ¼ lengths) more than Joha, but was beaten just 4 ¼ lengths. This Todd Pletcher trainee was second at even-money in the Dania Beach Stakes when covering 50 feet (about 5 ¾ lengths) more than 16-1 winner Mystic Love, but beaten just a length. He bounced back with a win in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes and then covered roughly the same amount of extra ground relative to his final margin in the Palm Beach. Having been sent off as the favorite in five of his six starts, this much is clear: Charming Kitten will be the best price of his life in the bulky Blue Grass field, and an improved trip could increase his chances at scoring the upset.

So we come down to Rydilluc, an impressive son of Medaglia d’Oro who has won his last three starts, all on grass, by a total of almost 14 lengths. On paper, plenty of horses seem interested in assuming a forward racing position in the early going of the Blue Grass, and it seems all but a given that he will have to cover extra ground in the effort. How many will compare his task in the Blue Grass to that faced by Emollient in the Ashland? The chances of Rydilluc breaking on top and clearing the field going to the first turn are slim to none. One way or another, the post-race data might tell the tale on just how good the Gary Contessa trainee might be.

$750,000 Blue Grass Stakes

Keeneland Race Course, Saturday, Race 10, 5:40 p.m. ET

3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Odds

1

Dynamic Sky

Joel Rosario

Mark Casse

10-1

2

My Name is Michael

Shaun Bridgmohan

William Mott

15-1

3

Undrafted

Corey Nakatani

Wesley Ward

10-1

4

Java’s War

Julien Leparoux

Ken McPeek

4-1

5

Palace Malice

Garrett Gomez

Todd Pletcher

8-1

6

Channel Isle

Joseph Rocco, Jr.

D. Wayne Lukas

30-1

7

Uncaptured

Miguel Mena

Mark Casse

7-2

8

Charming Kitten

Joe Bravo

Todd Pletcher

10-1

9

Tesseron

Alan Garcia

Josie Carroll

50-1

10

Footbridge

Corey Lanerie

Eoin Harty

20-1

11

Balance the Books

Javier Castellano

Chad Brown

15-1

12

West Hills Giant

Jose Espinoza

John Terranova

20-1

13

Rydilluc

Edgar Prado

Gary Contessa

4-1

14

Fear the Kitten

Rosie Napravnik

Michael Maker

30-1

AE-15

Divine Ambition

James Graham

Darrin Miller

50-1

All horses will carry 123 pounds

Theory Worth Following

Wave Theory caught the attention of the data hounds when finishing fourth in the Ashland. The Chad Brown trainee, making her first start away from grass, ran the fastest final quarter-mile of the race and did so after plotting a wide trip. While the aforementioned winner Emollient broke from gate 13 and did all the running from the front in what was a masterpiece by jockey Mike Smith, Wave Theory was planted wide from the jump.

Overall, the daughter of Smart Strike covered 62 feet more than Emollient, who broke one stall to her outside, and was doing her best running late. In the final sixteenth of a mile alone, Wave Theory was 0.17 seconds faster than Emollient. Over the course of the race, Emollient averaged 37.2 m.p.h. while Wave Theory, beaten more than ten lengths, averaged 37.0 m.p.h. over the course of the 1 1/16-mile contest. The extra ground Wave Theory covered equates to approximately 7 ¼ lengths. There should be little doubt that she will be a threat going forward wherever she appears, provided she gets a better trip.

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.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Sponsors & Partners

  • FoxSports1
  • NBC Sports
  • Logo 6
  • Saratoga
  • Santa Anita
  • CBS Sports
  • Monmouth
  • Keeneland
  • Gulfstream Park
  • Del Mar
  • Belmont Park
  • Arlington Park
  • OwnerView