Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Breeders' Cup Power

As some readers may be aware one of the new and unique features of Kennedy's Corridor is the Thoroughbred Championship Power Rankings. Unlike traditional standings which are meant to quantify what a horse has accomplished Power Rankings are an attempt to identify which horses are better. Talent must, of course, be identified and defined by accomplishment but Power Rankings give no advantage to horses who make many starts like standings do.

Since it's an attempt to answer the question "who is better" it makes sense that power rankings ought to be a useful handicapping aid. I went about testing this hypothesis over the last 12 runnings of the Breeders' Cup and made some interesting discoveries.

We all know that the best horse does not always win the race. There are so many factors that go into picking a winner. Simply identifying the best horse will not always land you on the winner. One must always asses if the "best" horse earned their status running in races like the one they're in today. For instance Curlin was most certainly the "best" horse in the Man O'War but how much does that count for when the Man O'War was his first try on turf.

All those issues aside, after a little study I found that the TC Power Rankings actually work quite well in the Breeders' Cup races even if you ignore how the horses earned their ranking. But like any useful tool you can't just use it in it's most simple form and expect good results. From the last 93 Breeders' Cup races the top ranked horse won 20 times. You would have done better simply betting on the favorite.

I am one who subscribes to the theory that the absolute top number, figure or ranking means little on a given race day. Averages are always a better way to determine who belongs and who doesn't. It's how I use speed figures and just about any other number a horse can earn. You take the average of the entire field then use only those who were better than the field average.

482 of the 1098 Breeders' Cup starts since 1996 earned a Power Ranking that was better than the field average. That's 43.89% of the starters who accounted for 61 wins in the 93 races. That's a solid impact value of 1.49. In addition to the 61 winners you could have had 38 exacta's and 15 trifecta's from boxing all the qualifiers. Needless to say hitting the exacta in 40% of the races you play is pretty good even if you are using 5 horses on average per race.

Be sure to keep an eye on the TC Power Rankings as the Breeder's Cup approaches. Chances are the winner is somewhere among the 5 top ranked horses in each race.

Current Power Rankings for selected Breeders' Cup contenders

Curlin - 47.77
Big Brown - 38.84
Go Between - 24.00
Commentator - 23.63
Well Armed - 22.07

Ladies Classic
Zenyatta - 31.77
Ginger Punch - 27.31
Music Note - 20.54
Hystericalady - 17.71
Little Belle - 10.43

Bustin Stones - 23.50
Street Boss - 18.83
First Defence - 14.73
Rebellion - 12.14
In Summation - 11.33

Dancing Forever - 21.83
Champs Elysees - 17.63
Red Rocks - 16.38
Grand Couturier - 14.08
Spring House 12.83

Whatsthescript - 20.68
Ventura - 16.03
Daytona - 15.88
Kip Deville - 15.69
Monzante - 12.88

FM Turf
Mauralakana - 20.51
Black Mamba - 15.97
Pure Clan - 12.66
Wait A While - 12.52
Forever Together - 12.25

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