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Blog - GAMBLING

Orb (far outside) with Will Take Charge just to his inside (all white silks) were making their moves together in the 2013 Kentucky Derby before Will Take Charge was blocked behind a tiring rival. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

Barring something stunning the last few days of the year, the 2013 racing season is home and hosed. We thought it appropriate to look back at the top five “data moments” from the year that was. After each situation is identified, we re-publish the appropriate portion of the Trakus blog in its original form, followed by the italicized aftermath showing the eventual impact of the data.

#5 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap
Situation: Animal Kingdom’s middle move

Opinions raged wild in the aftermath of Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, where Point of Entry bested 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Take a gander at the sectional timing data from the race, run at 1 1/8 miles on grass.

Pos.

Horse

1/4

1/2

3/4

1 Mile

Finish

Final 3/8

1st

Point of Entry

25.30

25.42

22.60

22.39

11.29

33.68

2nd

Animal Kingdom

25.71

25.28

22.28

22.45

11.49

33.94

3rd

Unbridled Command

25.51

25.36

22.83

22.31

11.37

33.68

4th

Salto

25.07

25.75

22.42

22.82

12.35

35.17

5th

Where's the Baby

25.85

25.43

23.17

22.57

11.63

34.20

6th

Film Making

25.44

25.54

22.92

23.37

12.64

36.01


After crawling through the first half-mile, jockey Joel Rosario pushed the button on Animal Kingdom, sending him through a third sectional in 22.28 seconds, the fastest split of any horse in the race, and an uncharacteristic early move in such a race. Whether or not that move cost him the race is in some question – undoing it and rerunning the race would yield a different result (at least different sectional times).  While “the move” might not have been what anyone planned or requested in pre-race instruction, it happened.

Aftermath: While the prep for Animal Kingdom did not unfold the way Graham Motion would have wanted, it showed that the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner was sharp with that 22.28-second internal quarter. Middle move or not, Joel Rosario settled the colt well when he went to Dubai, and proved that an American-trained runner can win the world’s richest race on their all-weather surface. More than a decade of American domination in the race was temporarily halted from 2010 onward, but Motion, Rosario, and Animal Kingdom got the job done.

ANIMAL KINGDOM WINNING DUBAI WORLD CUP

AKEclipseHero

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

#4 Awesome Again Stakes
Situation: Mucho Macho Man rolls off wide trip

While the Awesome Again Stakes might be named for the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, there should be little doubt the name was befitting the man who rode the winner in this year’s event –  Gary Stevens. Sure, he’s already enshrined as a Hall of Fame jockey, a winner of multiple Kentucky Derbies, Breeders’ Cup races, and Dubai World Cup events. Stevens is awesome, again, and his weekend of rides at Santa Anita exhibited a little bit of everything from his arsenal.

Mucho Macho Man was a much-the-best winner of the Awesome Again, and actually covered the most ground under a patient Stevens. Despite the extra ground covered, Mucho Macho Man still ran the last quarter of the Awesome Again almost two-fifths of a second faster than the next-fastest in the race. Second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, and with a now proven affinity for the California life, Mucho Macho Man is a very legitimate threat in the big race once again. Note the race data below.

Santa Anita - Awesome Again Stakes

Finish

Horse

Feet    Traveled

Fin 1/4

1st

Mucho Macho Man

6045

24.58

2nd

Paynter

-20

24.96

3rd

Soi Phet

-19

25.51

4th

Golden Ticket

-47

25.77

5th

Chief Havoc

-32

26.34

6th

Liaison

-8

25.74

7th

Summer Hit

-54

26.55

8th

You Know I Know

-22

25.62

9th

Jeranimo

-57

24.90

10th

Take Control

-41

26.60


In his 2012 Classic duel with Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man covered 25 feet more than Fort Larned, which equates to roughly three lengths of extra ground. He was beaten just a half-length.

Aftermath: Mucho Macho Man may have covered extra ground and still finished the Awesome Again fastest of all, but he did it easy, reaffirming how much he loves Santa Anita, and how in-form he was prior to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It wasn’t near as easy in the Classic stretch when faced with Will Take Charge and a stubborn Declaration of War, whose performance should go down as one of the best of the year, but it was enough.

MUCHO MACHO MAN (inside) HOLDS ON IN CLASSIC

BC-Classic -Inside -2

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

#3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Situation: New Year’s Day saves all the ground

Martin Garcia earned his first Breeders’ Cup victory with a ground-saving trip on New Year’s Day in the Juvenile. Wide trips impacting finishing places seemed relatively limited this year, but the performances of Havana, Strong Mandate, and Tap It Rich are exceptions.

Breaking from gate six, second-time starter Tap It Rich had no interest in cornering, and was very far out into the course on the first turn and down the backstretch. Below, take note of the data from the first-five finishers in the Juvenile. The data columns include the feet each horse traveled, their average speed during the race, the official margin, the difference in extra/fewer feet traveled converted to lengths, and then the TAM (Trakus-adjusted margin). The TAM is a raw calculation taking the official margin minus the “feet-to-lengths” conversion.

While it is impossible to suggest if a horse like Tap It Rich was really nearly 3 ½ lengths better than New Year’s Day, we know he averaged a higher speed (using more energy than the winner), and covered a distance of ground well in excess of his margin of defeat. Second-place finisher Havana has similar, but not as gaudy, data, while Strong Mandate was masterful in getting a ground-saving trip around the second turn after breaking from fourteen.

Finish

HORSE

Feet Trav.

Avg MPH

Official Margin

Feet to Lengths

TAM

1st

New Year's Day

5692

37.5

-1.25

-

-

2nd

Havana

25

37.6

1.25

2.9

-1.65

3rd

Strong Mandate

18

37.4

2

2.1

-0.1

4th

Bond Holder

-6

37.2

3.25

-0.7

3.95

5th

Tap It Rich

57

37.6

3.25

6.7

-3.45


Aftermath: Well, this was more a recap of a particular race, and the aftermath is still “to be determined.” Tap It Rich is a confirmed quirky runner after coming back in the CashCall Futurity and running wide again, almost refusing to corner. Havana and Strong Mandate should be more highly regarded than they may be otherwise, running well from outside draws and covering more ground relative to New Year’s Day. Shared Belief’s dominating wins, including his cruising in the CashCall Futurity, could earn him more votes for the top juvenile male, especially in light of New Year’s Day’s garden trip in what is otherwise viewed as the championship spot on the calendar.

NEW YEAR'S DAY WINNING JUVENILE

New Year 's Day -Inside

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

#2 Gulfstream Park Handicap
Situation: Fort Larned freaks – without a jockey

A collective gasp came from the American racing community when 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned stumbled and parted ways with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. at the start of Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Handicap. Making his 2013 debut, the Ian Wilkes trainee gathered himself, free of a 125-pound impost, and took off. It is incredibly fortunate we can take a look at the data from his rider-less performance knowing both horse and rider walked away without significant injury.  

Tough to see in the initial video of the race, Fort Larned bursts through the small field and runs off, opening a massive gap to the remainder of the field, and leaving Gulfstream track announcer Larry Collmus incredulous at what he was witnessing.

“That whole area deep in the one mile chute is blocked by trees so it is difficult to make out the gate break,” Collmus recalled. “Racecallers study the horses based on silks, so I had to look to the program [as the red colors of owner Janis Whitham were left at the gate with Hernandez] and see that number three was Fort Larned, and thought to myself ‘OK, wow, this is the story.’ ”

Once Fort Larned realized he was free, he burst through the pack and soared to the front.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse go through a pack that fast,” Collmus marveled, a significant admission considering he has called races for the better part of three decades. “Watching him run was one of the most amazing things to see. You could tell he was absolutely flying, and by the time they turned for home, he was close to a sixteenth of a mile in front of the field.”

So how fast, and how far in front, was Fort Larned? With Trakus, we have an answer.

While Fort Larned was removed from the chicklet view and official timing display once visually identified as running without a jockey, data continues to accrue, and it is displayed below, offering unique insight to the performance. Below, find each point of call beginning seven furlongs from the finish, the cumulative time Fort Larned recorded, the sectional time for each sixteenth-mile segment after the first furlong, and then the margin to the actual leader of the race.  As the data shows, Fort Larned was three lengths from leader Fort Loudon after the first furlong before aggressively shooting through the pack to take a two-length lead just a sixteenth later.

POC

Cumulative Time

Sectional Time

Margin to "Leader"

1/8

:13.00

-

-3

3/16

:18.14

5.14

2

1/4

:23.19

5.05

6

5/16

:28.27

5.08

9.25

3/8

:33.49

5.22

12.25

7/16

:38.80

5.31

15.75

1/2

:44.29

5.49

19.25

9/16

:49.27

4.98

22

5/8

:55.89

6.62

24.25

11/16

1:01.92

6.03

25.25

3/4

1:08.04

6.12

24.5

13/16

1:14.27

6.23

22.25

7/8

1:20.59

6.32

19.25

15/16

1:27.08

6.49

14

1 Mile

1:33.89

6.81

8.5


Yes, Fort Larned led Discreet Dancer and the rest of the field by more than 25 lengths around the far turn. He ran a riderless six furlongs in 1:08.04 – the track record at that specific distance is 1:08.12, set by Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Big Drama in 2011. As the far turn ended, Fort Larned clocked 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.27, 0.17 seconds faster than Forest Danger’s 2005 record at that distance. Slowing in the stretch after his monumental and eventful sprint, the son of E Dubai ran seven furlongs in 1:20.59 – just 0.14 seconds slower than the 2011 record set by Hilda’s Passion. His final “time” for the mile came in 0.18 seconds slower than Commentator’s 2008 mark. 

RIDERLESS FORT LARNED ROLLS

Fort Larned -Hero

Photo courtesy Bob Coglianese Photos/Eleanor Gustafson 

After countless hours reviewing data, we cannot recall a time where we saw a horse run a sub five-second sixteenth, as Fort Larned did just before hitting the far turn. Then again, no one had ever seen a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner run riderless and carefree, 25 lengths in front of an accomplished group. Take note of the comparison to Fort Larned’s times and those of the leader at each main point of call.

 

1/4

1/2

3/4

7/8

Finish

Fort Larned

:23.19

:44.29

1:08.04

1:20.59

1:33.89

Gulfstream Park Hcp

:24.00

:47.26

1:11.68

1:23.37

1:35.17

Difference

0.81

2.97

3.64

2.78

1.28


Lest we forget, Discreet Dancer won the race.

Aftermath: While everything that happened in the Gulfstream Park Handicap technically didn’t matter when it came to the form line for Fort Larned, you cannot un-ring the bell, so to speak. He DID run that fast, and it surely took something out of him. Next time out, he was incredibly dull in the Oaklawn Handicap, beaten 10 ½ lengths as the 1-to-2 favorite. But a win in the Stephen Foster Handicap was followed by a decent performance in the Whitney Handicap, a Homecoming Classic win back at Churchill, and a relatively forgotten, but creditable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Fort Larned might go down in recent American racing history as one of the least respected big-race performers, winning three key two-turn dirt Grade 1 races in his career (Whitney, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Stephen Foster). For what it’s worth, Discreet Dancer was 0-for-3 in subsequent starts, potentially worn down from the grueling pace he chased, and retired with a tendon injury in August.

#1 Kentucky Derby
Situation: Will Take Charge redefines bad Derby ‘luck’

Will Take Charge was making the same move as Orb around the far turn of the big race. Just to the inside of the eventual winner, Will Take Charge actually recorded the fastest sixteenth from the five-sixteenths pole to the quarter pole. And then Will Take Charge ran into the one thing any Derby horse making a big move cannot afford to face – a tiring horse, directly in front of him. Below, take note of the two sixteenth-mile segments, first from the five-sixteenths to the quarter pole, and then from the quarter pole to the three-sixteenths. The five-fastest individual performances from that last portion of the far turn are noted on the left, in order, with Will Take Charge’s time being just slightly faster than Orb, with eventual second Golden Soul being third-fastest at that point, then third-placer Revolutionary being fourth-fastest and fifth-home Mylute.

Then look at the first sixteenth-mile segment in the home stretch on the right - Will Take Charge ran up on the heels of Verrazano.  How much does that hurt your chances of a better finish? Within a sixteenth of a mile, Will Take Charge went from running the fastest segment to the fourth-slowest.

#

Horse

Rank

5/16 to 1/4

1/4 to 3/16

Rank

17

Will Take Charge

1st

6.37

6.98

16th

16

Orb

2nd

6.40

6.23

1st

4

Golden Soul

3rd

6.43

6.31

4th

3

Revolutionary

4th

6.49

6.26

2nd

6

Mylute

5th

6.52

6.26

2nd


Frac Daddy, who was 17th at the end of the segment listed above as “1/4 to 3/16,” and finished 16th overall, ran faster during that small but crucial portion of the race than Will Take Charge, recording a time of 6.92 seconds. Will Take Charge, who finished seventh, and was previously fifth when running the fastest sixteenth a segment earlier, was hampered to such a degree that even a horse who did little more than fade steadily throughout the running was going faster than Will Take Charge at the point of his obstruction.  

Aftermath: Will Take Charge had it in him all along and is almost a certainty to be named America’s champion 3-year-old male. He could even be Horse of the Year. The stats in this blog haunted us all year – it was crystal clear this colt had a superb run in the Derby, but it was never respected until much later in the year. Taking the blinkers off midway through his unusually long season, Will Take Charge was a new horse, and that explosiveness went from being occasional to consistent. If he was a sliver better than Mucho Macho Man, the son of Unbridled’s Song seems a shoe-in for the top Eclipse Award, so it doesn’t seem to make much sense to keep it back from him because he wasn’t that necessary inch better in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He followed his near miss at Santa Anita with a win in the Clark Handicap at Churchill, reaffirming his ability to get over that strip despite the Derby fiasco.

All the best to you and yours this holiday season from all of us at Trakus!

WILL TAKE CHARGE WINNING CLARK HANDICAP

WTCInside

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire


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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