Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Three Weeks Rest

This is the last major weekend for Breeders' Cup prep races and a sentiment I'm hearing through quotes of trainers and racing secretaries is that three weeks rest is far from ideal for Breeders' Cup preparation. Most prefer four weeks or more and are a bit wary of bringing horses in off a "short rest".

Anytime people raise questions like this I'm always drawn back to the stats. Do they support this notion? What, if anything, do the numbers suggest?

The notion that 3 weeks is suddenly "short rest" is fairly new so I only looked at the results of the last 5 Breeders' Cups. Incidentally it takes us back to the last time Santa Anita hosted the event. From 2003 to the present 145 horses have entered the Breeders' Cup on three weeks rest or less. They compiled a record of 145-8-13-10 in 43 Breeders' Cup races. Many of the winners like Intercontinental, Singletary and Pleasant Home were healthy prices as well.

It'll become a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy and in some ways it already has. Even in the last five years we've many of the major prep races moved further away from the Breeders' Cup. Trainers want more time and racetracks want the good horses so they move the races further back to accommodate them. But I think it's notable that as of right now there seems to be no disadvantage to running three weeks prior. All three juvenile race winners in 2007 prepped within three weeks.

The conclusion I'm drawing is that three weeks is no automatic disadvantage. If you like a horse coming out of one of the preps this weekend the rest issue shouldn't dissuade you at all. It certainly won't dissuade me.

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