Thursday, February 07, 2008

Juvenile Auguries?

We continue down the Derby trail looking for ways that statistics can help us. Since we're still early on many of the main contenders have not yet run as 3yo's so we're left to ponder their Derby abilities based mainly off of their 2yo form. In fact 12 of the 23 single wagering interests in the first Future Bet pool have yet to race in 2008.

So what are some signs that we can take from 2yo campaigns? In prior posts this year we already looked at Juveniles who ran a 100+ Beyer Speed Figure. They compiled a sturdy 27-5-2-2 record and showed a positive ROI.

Horses who did not run as 2yo's are a pretty shabby 44-0-1-2 going all the way back to 1955.

Until last year the Juvenile Jinx hung heavy over the most accomplished 2yo's but it never really had relevance as a jinx. I think there is perhaps something to the notion that 2yo G-1 winners sometimes struggle to be as good come Derby time but it was not limited to the Juvenile itself. Unfortunately the media seemed to love the juvenile jinx because it gave them something to talk about. The roses had barely wilted last year when some journalist mentioned that no second place finisher in the Juvenile has managed to win the Derby.

I think it's worth taking a closer look at that one especially with Pyro so highly regarded this year. Big shots like Point Given, Afleet Alex and Easy Goer all failed on Derby day after a runner up finish on BC day. Overall 2nd place juvenile finishers have gone 10-0-1-2, not unlike the record of BC Juvenile winners which is 14-1-0-2. Afleet Alex, Easy Goer and Blumin Affair managed to hit the frame in both the Juvenile and Derby. But like the Juvenile Jinx itself the Runner Up Jinx has little validity. Especially when you consider that two 3rd place Juvenile finishers have won the Derby (Alysheba, Spend A Buck).

I realize Alysheba and Spend a Buck were a long time ago but I took a look at how all Derby starters who finished in the frame in a G-1 fared and the results are more or less in line. In the last 12 years 40 Derby starters ran first, second or third in a G-1 as a Juvenile and they had a Derby record of 40-3-1-2. It is by no means a stellar record and is basically the type of numbers you get from just the Juvenile runners.

There is no jinx for juvenile winners or runner ups there is simply a principle that many horses who are good enough to win or run in the money in a G-1 as a 2yo are no longer superior to their peers to the point that they can win the Derby.

Obviously not all 2yo form should be thrown out the window and on the face of it these conclusions seem to contradict my post concerning fast juveniles. But of the 40 G-1 winners, or in the money finishers, only 14 of them ran 100+ Beyer Speed Figures. Those 14 compiled a record of 14-2-1-1 and another 5 of them finished among the top 5 in the Derby. So juvenile G-1 winners or in the money finishers who failed to run a 100+ Beyer went 26-1-0-1. Only Giacomo and Cat Thief managed to overcome that, and only one other (Prime Timber) of the 26 even cracked the top 5 in the Derby.

This angle would seem to suggest that Colonel John, Z Humor, Majestic Warrior, Georgie Boy and Into Mischief are slightly up against it.


peeptoad said...

Here's my current top 10 after this weekend's races:

1. War Pass
2. Pyro
3. Z Fortune
4. Crown of Thorns
5. Colonel John
6. Into Mischief
7. El gato Malo
8. Tale of Ekati
9. Court Vision

...subject to change at a moment's notice of course. The top 3 are pretty obvious at this point, and I'm choosing to rank horses who are currently active (in most cases) above those who have not yet run this year. Crown of Thorns looks like he could be a real contender and I hope we get to see him on dirt before the Derby. I'm hoping Into Mischief improves off his comeback race, but Mandella did say that he may be short for that one- San Felipe next. I like Tale of Ekati, but realistically, he's behind the 8-ball for the Derby. Tagg recently said that he's not where he wants him to be training-wise, and he's now slated for the LA Derby instead of a start in S.FL. With Tagg being as conservative as he is, this horse may not make quite the impact that I would have expected him to early on in his career.

Kennedy said...

I like this top 10, it's very similar to mine and it contains all the same horses just in a slightly different order. Horses like Colonel John and Court Vision have really gone cold in the public eye and I admit it's hard to remember the reasons why I like them but I'm holding out for just a few more weeks to give thme a chance to have their 3yo debuts.