Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Afraid Of The Freak

Trainers these days seem pretty conscious of the fact that they shouldn't have their charge run their best race prior to the Breeders' Cup. They want to be sure they save something. Here are some recent comments to that effect made in the DRF by Dutrow.

Big Brown could work as many as five times before the Classic. Meanwhile, Dutrow will sit back and wait for Sept. 27 to watch Curlin run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont and others prep in the Goodwood at Santa Anita the same day.

"I hope a couple of them freak on the 27th," Dutrow said. "Coming back [in four weeks] is a little too quick if you freak."

Obviously a comment like this makes one wonder if it is statistically supported. The problem comes in trying to quantify a "freak" performance. I decided to use a new Beyer high in their last race prior to the Breeders' Cup. But the new Beyer high has to be at least 5 points better than their previous best career effort.

So here are the figures for every Breeders' Cup entrant from 1996 to the present who won their last prep race within 4 weeks of the Breeders' Cup achieving a new career high Beyer besting their old mark by at least 5 points.

Sharp Cat - 2nd
Banshee Breeze - 2nd
Miss Linda - 6th
Jostle - 9th
Whiskey Wisdom - 4th
Arch - 9th
Albert The Great - 4th
Dust On The Bottle - 11th
Aptitude - 8th
Swept Overboard - 4th
Elusive Jazz - 5th
Val Royal - 1st
Funfair - DNF
Insight - 11th
Collect The Cash - 11th
Riskaverse - 7th

Overall Record: 16-1-2-0

I omitted the juvenile races because dropping horses who ran big new tops would be illogical when the juveniles are all at a time in their careers where they should be improving leaps and bounds in every start. The record is not all that flattering and many of these horses were "hot" on the board. Dutrow may indeed be onto something.

These figures show only the horses who set a new top while winning but if you also isolated those who set new Beyer tops by 5 points or more while losing and then ran back in less than 4 weeks in the Breeders' Cup the results are pretty similar.

Minister's Melody - 5th
Top Secret - 5th
Harlans Holiday - 9th
Lodge Hill - 8th
Ethan Man - 10th
Thor's Echo - 1st
Forefathers - 10th

Overall Record: 7-1-0-0

Thor's Echo was the only horse who ran even remotely well although many of these horses were still longshots in the Breeders' Cup.

Combined the statistics show that "freaks" (as I've chosen to define them) do indeed have a difficult time coming back into the Breeders' Cup on less than 4 weeks rest. They're 23-2-2-0 overall.

Something to keep an eye out for.

1 comment:

Winston...not really said...

I guess it's just another way of saying bounce. I don't expect Curlin to come close to his best while beating a lackluster JCGC field.