Tuesday, April 29, 2008

20-20 Derby Vision 2008 - Part 1

Since the Derby is on everyones mind and my mission is to give out useful information I have decided to start sharing the key factors that are the components of my Derby 20-20 system. The whole intention and vision of the Derby 20-20 system is to identify key statistical factors and trends and compile them into a profile that could be used for more accurate and profitable wagering on the Derby. Like with the Breeders' Cup I do not advocate simply wagering blindly on a system like this. Common sense must always be applied. This is just a tool to help shape your view of the viability of each contender.

Not all statistics are valuable and certainly no statistic has any real value if used on its own. One can point to individual statistics but how do you use that information in this Derby? And how do you know that this is the one stat that has more value than all the others. Essentially what makes the two prep guideline more weighty than the layoff angle. The best way to use individual statistics is pooling them into a group and creating a profile that takes all factors into account but diminishes the significance of all single factors.

The Derby 20-20 profile has 16 statistical factors that I believe are keys to Derby success. The system has been revamped slightly since it’s debut on my blog last year. Scat Daddy was the main selection last year based on the stats but a closer look at the figures as well as bouncing some ideas off of a friend has produced a profile that makes more sense. The factors are now sorted by type and the whole system is more “narrow” meaning that it is more difficult for a horse to be a “perfect qualfier”. There has only been 18 in the last 12 years as opposed to 27 perfect qualfiers with the old system.

The system does not include any jinxes or curses and there are very few arbitrary lines drawn. For instance you will find no factor that specifically requires a certain amount of preps or even a pre-determined layoff length. All the factors have to do with speed, fitness, form, class, experience, suitability and breeding. The changes from last year to this were focused on removing the arbitrary lines such as “A horse must have a minimum of 5 career starts”. There is no law that says a horse cannot be good enough with less than 5 starts. What matters is what a horse has experienced in those starts not the number of starts. I am looking to remove as many arbitrary lines as possible.

The game really is changing, but at the same time some things don't change. Prep schedules may change but then things like minimum speed requirements don't. Unlike other Derby systems the focus is not on eliminating horses who can’t win the Derby. The focus is in trying to quantify the relative chances of each entrant. Each entrant is given a 20-20 score and graded based on that score. You can see the results this system would have produced over the last 12 runnings as well as tentative gradings for this years running by going to this link: Derby 20-20. All factors are grouped into 7 different sections that correspond to the 7 different essentials keys to winning the Derby – Speed, Fitness, Form, Class, Experience, Suitability and Breeding.

10 of the last 12 Derby winners had a perfect profile score and I think you'll notice that there does seem to be a real correlation between a high score and a good finish in the Derby. Even many of the horses who hit the frame on Derby day had strong profile scores. A flat bet equal to their profile score on each runner in the Derby would have netted you a 47.46% ROI over the last 12 years. Although 6 of those years would have been losers. Had you bet on every horse in the Derby in equal amounts you would have lost -15.56% and had just 3 winning years. Simply taking the 18 perfect scorers and betting on them over the last 12 years you have seen you make 548.89% with just one losing year. The system can be used in many ways, helping you to shape your view of the race, pick winners and even have the right horses for the exotics.

Remember all stats quoted are from 1996 to the present unless otherwise stated.

#1 The entrant must earn a Beyer Speed Figure around two turns as a three year old that is equal to or superior to the average two turn prep winning figure. In other words I take the winning Beyer figures from all the two turn stakes prep races represented in the Derby and then average them. Every Derby winner in the last 12 years qualified with this factor, even Giacomo. Horses who did not qualify with this factor were a cumulative 89-0-3-1 in the Derby.

This years average is 95. That means Adriano, Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, Monba, Bob Black Jack, Big Truck, Tale Of Ekati, Anak Nakal and Massive Drama are not fast enough.

#2 Last two Beyer figures achieved must total the average two turn prep winning figures times two minus five. Seems a bit mathematical but essentially this is an effort to weed out one time big figure horses. It demands consistent speed over the entrants last two races. So the average prep winning figure is multiplied by two. But we also recognize that these horses are improving and it is not necessary that a horse be "fast enough" to win the Derby 2 starts before the Derby itself. So we minus 5 Beyer points from the total to allow for this improvement. 5 is not an arbitrarily selected number. 5 is the average Beyer improvement shown by Derby winners during their prep races. Horses who did not qualify with this factor were a cumulative 115-1-5-4 in the Derby. Giacomo was the lone Derby winner who did not qualify.

So it means for this year that the entrants last two Beyer figures have to equal 185. This is another strike against all the horses affected by factor #1 but Colonel John, Behindatthebar, Z Fortune, Cool Coal Man, Visionaire, Smooth Air, Pyro, Proud Spell, Denis of Cork and Z Humor also get a strike against them. Cowboy Cal and Recapturetheglory get a pass on this factor because one of their last two races was not on the main track so it’s not equitable to include the figures.

#3 The entrant must have been first or second at the 1/8th pole in one of their final two prep races. This is a non-numerical measurement of speed. Plodders rarely win the Derby. Although the race is 10f it is often really just a race to the 1/8th pole. Most of the horses who are in front at the 1/8th pole are in front at the wire. We want a horse to have enough tactical speed to get them into a contending position when it matters. Horses who did not satisfy this criteria were a cumulative 61-0-3-3 in the Derby. Even Giacomo managed to show enough tactical speed in a prep race to qualify.

That is bad news for Court Vision, Denis Of Cork, Z Humor and Anak Nakal none of them appear to have the tactical speed to be in contention when it gets serious. Visionaire gets a pass on this factor because the fog in the Gotham denied us the opportunity to accurately plot where he was at the 1/8th pole.

For those keeping score you will have noticed that only Big Brown, Eight Belles and Gayego passed the 3 tests of speed.


Anonymous said...

How does the recent increase in "other than dirt" tracks affect your compliations. Some horses obviously "hate" the rubber,wax, etc. While turf races are rarely used as Derby preps, synthetic surfaces continue to grow. Any comment?

Kennedy said...

Synthetic tracks are the #1 "monkey wrench" in this whole process.

First off it causes form to vary widely. Some horses hate it so, like Pyro, they'll show a terrible running line that is not really representative of their form or ability.

It creates a completely different pace profile for the races. Virtually all races on synthetic tracks show fast closing fractions which gives a varied view of how well certain horses actually could close.

Even if horses seem to handle it well the speed figures are much lower and if you compare them directly to the dirt races the synthetic horses will always look slower.

Basically I'm not sure how synthetics will effect a system like this long term. The biggest areas of difficulty I see are the three mentioned here but we'll have to see how it works out over a few years. We really don't have much to go on right now aside from conjecture.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain how the points are tallied? I see 16 catigories. With Colonel John's numbers shouldn't his total add up to 15? Also, what do the blank spaces stand for?


Anonymous said...

I assume you'll have a redo if there are any defections and one or more of the lesser earners get in. I'm most interested in El Gato Malo as he's one of 5 who qualify on my raw class figures. I frankly believe 20 is too many for any race but it would still be a shame if he doesn't make it.
OK, that makes no sense. Sue me.
FWIW the other 4 I have ranked on top are Colonel John, Court Vision, Pyro and Z Fortune. Pyro is a toss for the win spot off his last, and ZF probably just isn't good enough.
And I plain don't like Court Vision.
So, If El Gato can't make the cut It's looking pretty damn easy.


Kennedy said...

"Can you explain how the points are tallied?"

Every category with a green cell earns the entrant +1, every red cell is worth -1. The cells that are left blank are worth 0.

Certain cells are blank if that stat is not applicable no that entrant. For instance Eight Belles did not have a prep at 9f so her closing fractions can't be compared with the rest of the field. You can't assume she closed fast enough but you also can't really fault her. You'll also notice that in past years the Europeans got a pass on the factors that had to do with Beyer Speed figures because they never earned any.