Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Todd Squad - BC Clues

As we approach the Breeders Cup every gambler will have to make the same decision. What do you do with Todd Pletcher? He had an amazing 17 runners in last years Breeders Cup and most likely he'll have more than 10 again this year.

Many people seem to want to make Todd the brunt of jokes when it comes to his BC record. 2 for 41 is not exactly spectacular performance but I think there is value to be derived from looking inside the numbers.

His official BC record is 41-2-5-6. I think there are two main reasons why he only has two wins. The first is that he, like Bobby Frankel, are most effective when they are allowed to pick the timetable. They get the horse in shape then campaign them in spots that fit the best. With the Breeders Cup you have to work off the schedule the organizers set. You can't give your horse an extra week to be in top form. You have to run when they're hosting the race. Some trainers struggle a bit when having to point for specific spots. Although I think the biggest reason his record has looked bad is that his horses have not really been that good.

You may say "hold on a minute, Pletcher has the most expensive stock in the nation" and that is true. The value of his stable is impressive but the Breeders Cup is a championship day and Todd Pletcher has had many more expensive horses that were just average than true champions.

Many of the poor finishes by his runners were not a matter of under performance at all, it was simply all they were capable of at that level. Pletcher has had 4 favorites in BC races and all of them hit the frame aside from Fleet Indian who was injured in running. An approximate gauge I use to isolate longshots is what their price was in their last prep race. Horses who were greater than 10/1 in their last prep usually had to outperform just to make the BC. The odds of them stepping up again and winning it are slim. Pletcher's horses who were 10/1 or more in their last start went 8-0-0-0 in the BC. Clearly he is tossing in some horses who don't have a great shot but perhaps the owner really wants to run.

Another thing that savvy bettors may have noted about Todd Pletcher is that he is surprisingly good at getting top efforts from horses who were a disappointment in their last race. He's had 41 BC starters and the vast majority of them came into the race off improving Beyer Speed Figures. 32 of the 41 received a higher BSF in their last prep than they did in their second last prep. However those horses went 32-0-3-5. Surprisingly horses who did not improve their figures went 9-2-2-1. Both Ashado and Speightstown, his two winners, did not run a great last prep.

In contrast those who won their last prep for Pletcher and improved their BSF while doing so went 11-0-0-3 in the BC.

Among his juveniles it might also be a good idea to look for horses who did not achieve their career high BSF in their last race prior to the BC. Those who came into the BC off a career high went 5-0-1-0 while those who didn't went 6-0-1-3. He has not had a juvenile race winner yet but clearly the best performing subset are those who did not have their highest career Beyer just before the BC.

Todd clearly has the ability to get his horses to bounce back after a poor effort. You may say he's better at that than he is at sustaining a horse who is on a hot streak.

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