Thursday, April 10, 2008

Workout Spacing

I have to credit a post in the TBC forum as the inspiration for this weeks peek at statistics.

The observation was made that it has now been twelve days since Big Brown raced and he still has no published works. Is this a problem or concern? At what point does it become a concern?

Here is a look at all the Derby winners this decade and the spacing between their last prep race and their next published work.

Street Sense - 10 days
Barbaro - 12 days
Giacomo - 16 days
Smarty Jones - 14 days
Funny Cide - 10 days
War Emblem - 12 days
Monarchos - 13 days
Fusaichi Pegasus - 15 days

I only included horses from the year 2000 and onward because training methods have changed dramatically over the years. For instance in 1996 there were only two horses who had more than ten days spacing between their last prep and their first time back to work. Now you find nearly the converse.

In fact since 2000 there has been only 33 Derby entrants (from 148) that had less than ten days off after their last prep. Interestingly enough those horses who had so called "short rest" went 33-0-1-2 in the Derby. The vast majority of those horses had nine days off, the seven horses who came back to work even sooner than nine days all flopped badly in the Derby.

Does this mean anything? Well for me it seems to indicate that the trend is towards more rest, a fact which is evident at all levels of the game. Fresh horses do seem to be outperforming those who are asked to work harder and I expect that to continue. Largely because more and more horses are getting lengthier rests.

At what point does rest become a negative? There were no horses in the Derby without a recorded work within twenty days of their last prep unless they were foreign. I would be keeping a close eye on Big Brown's work tab after the two week mark but wouldn't be worried until three weeks have elapsed. It's possible that his feet won't allow him to work but it's also likely that Dutrow doesn't want him to work back quickly.

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