Wednesday, November 28, 2007

TCR Accountability - Part 1

For those of you who don't know the TCR (Thoroughbred Championship Rankings) is a project I've been working on for three years now. The stated goal is to "accurately assess the accomplishments of horses and assemble them into rankings that could be used as a sort of pro-tem standings that fans could easily follow during the year." You can see how the TCR has performed since 1999 by clicking on this link or visiting the ever present link on the sidebar.

One could say it's sort of like a speed figure. A speed figure tries to take all the factors in a particular race and boil them down to one number that you can compare universally. The TCR tries to take the accomplishments of a given horse and make it into one number that can be compared with others. Accomplishments should not be the sole determinant of year end awards just like the highest speed figure does not make a horse the definite race winner but I do believe that they should form a large part of the consideration. Once the year is over Kennedy's Corridor will once again host the TCR Awards where the rankings and votes are given 50% weight in determining the final outcome. Your votes will be much appreciated.

The emphasis I've tried to put on this system is one of accuracy. I suppose I'm kind of a perfectionist so accuracy is important to me. When your goal is accuracy it becomes necessary to evaluate your work to see if the goal is being realized. I don't do it often in open, written, form like this but I'm going to try and evaluate the accuracy and performance of the TCR this year.

The TCR takes more factors into account than simply placings in graded stakes. Earnings, weight given, ungraded races and winning streaks are part of the equation that leads to the final number. One of the real strengths of the system is that all divisions can be compared side by side because of the reduction scale that is in place. A G-1 for older males is worth more than a G-1 for 2yo females. Those divisions are the high and low ends of the scale and every division is reduced somewhere between those levels. All of these factors are not exclusive to American racing so from time to time you'll see some rankings from Canada and Europe, as data and my free time allow.

Divisional breakdowns

2yo Female
Indian Blessing - 125.14
Pure Clan - 62.78
Proud Spell - 56.55
Rated Fiesty - 44.24
Country Star - 38.88

I think the top 5 ranked horses in this division represent an accurate interpretation. Rated Fiesty stays on the list thanks to her early stakes wins and the undefeated bonus. The undefeated bonus is something I'm looking at altering for next year. I think it is valuable to include but I have thought about reducing the bonus by the same percentage that the races for this division are reduced. In other words an undefeated season as a 2yo Female should not count for as much as an undefeated season for an Older Male because the latter accomplishment is far more difficult. If the bonus were to be altered as suggested Rated Fiesty would still be in the top 5 but less than a point above Set Play, Cry And Catch Me and A To The Croft in 6th, 7th and 8th. Country Star would move to 4th and Proud Spell would overtake Pure Clan for second. That order I think would still be viewed as generally accurate, perhaps more so. The TCR gets an A in this division.

2yo Male
War Pass - 167.22
Kodiak Kowboy - 84.41
Salute The Sarge - 76.02
Wicked Style - 71.08
Pyro - 61.65

The undefeated bonus does not really make a difference to this division at all. War Pass takes it in a romp no matter what and is the second highest rated 2yo since 1999. Only Johannesburg managed a higher rating as a juvenile. Many people would put Court Vision (51.59, 7th ranked) in the top 5 and horses like Salute the Sarge and Wicked Style could be dropped without any outcry but running in G-1 events is key for 2yo's where very few races are actually contested. Making the most from your limited starts is necessary and some unheralded horses will make the list if they consistently run and place in high quality races. I'd give the TCR a B grade in this division.

3yo Female
Rags To Riches - 232.30
Octave - 177.50
Panty Raid - 152.46
Lady Joanne - 122.20
Dream Rush - 118.30

I think this division is 100% accurate at this present time. Not only are the top 5 all there but I think they're in the specific order they should be in. A+

3yo Male
Curlin - 460.20
Street Sense - 311.08
Hard Spun - 292.08
Nobiz Like Showbiz - 191.86
Tiago - 190.08

Curlin and Street Sense were in direct competition all year long for this title and the overall lead. Street Sense held it until the Belmont then he regained it over the summer and held a slight advantage going into the Breeders Cup. The gap between them looks wide now because Street Sense did not earn any points in the BC while for Curlin it was the biggest race of his career. Hard Spun was behind those two all year and only really closed the gap on Street Sense in the Breeders Cup. Nobiz Like Showbiz and Tiago were the best of the rest with Any Given Saturday (166.02) in 6th. Once again I think this is basically accurate. A-

Female Sprinter
River's Prayer - 137.02
Dream Rush - 118.30
Maryfield - 105.78
Pussycat Doll - 100.68
Oprah Winney - 87.94

Here is where we might get some controversy. The undefeated bonus comes into play again and helps propel River's Prayer to the top of this division. Even with a reduced bonus she would still be on top. But the biggest determinant is the fact that the BC Filly and Mare Sprint was not a G-1 and was not given Championship status by the TCR. So essentially it was graded like a listed stakes race. The Graded Stakes committee also thought it was a listed stakes race because they refused to give it a grade. However functionally it was sort of a championship race, however the other two new BC races effectively weren't. So perhaps this is more a problem with the AGSC and the Breeders Cup rather than the TCR. I follow their lead and for this year it may or may not mean skewed results. River's Prayer did actually have a great year. C

Male Sprinter
Midnight Lute - 213.90
Idiot Proof - 141.11
Greg's Gold - 123.52
Talent Search - 122.80
Smokey Stover - 116.62

For a division that took so long to take shape I think it worked out very well. For so long there was no clear leader in this division and no one seemed to be running good consistent races at a high level, so it was won by just two instances of brilliance from Midnight Lute. That was enough to carry the day for him and I think rightly so. A+

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