Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Solving The Sprint Problem

I don't know for sure but it looks like we're set to witness another travesty at the Eclipse Awards. I may be in the minority in this regard but I think Midnight Lute should absolutely not win the Male Sprinter Eclipse Award.

The emotion evoked from his repeat win in the Breeders' Cup Sprint probably makes him the leading contender for the Sprint Award. Everywhere I look I see sentiment in this division shifting towards him. But does Midnight Lute really deserve the award?

I strongly believe that our year end awards should be grounded in accomplishment. Brilliance ought to be what separates similarly accomplished individuals, it should not be the preeminent factor.

I think if we look at Midnight Lute's accomplishments there is no question that he doesn't measure up. Even if we look at his accomplishments and brilliance he still falls short of divisional leadership. Let's be honest the main reason for the ground swell of support is the fact that he won last year. You think there would have been any chance that Touch Tone could have won the Eclipse in 2002 if he won the Sprint? Most of you will have to consult Google to even recall who Touch Tone was. In 2002 he came into the Breeders' Cup Sprint with a slightly better current season record than the Lute. They both had one start but Touch Tone managed to run third in his effort. Had he won do you think that anyone would support his claims for top Sprinter? Breeders' Cup Sprint winners Cajun Beat, Silver Train and Elmhurst all failed to win the Eclipse and they even had other stakes wins. Touch Tone would not have been considered because he lacked name recognition.

Year End Awards are supposed to be based on what a horse accomplished within that year. Midnight Lute, or a horse with his identical record, would maybe be third in this division without the benefit of a big reputation earned in a previous season. Should we ever reward such an abbreviated season and laud that horse as an example of a champion? In my opinion the answer is clearly, no.

So who does deserve the award? I think the answer is either Benny The Bull or Street Boss. They had the best blend of accomplishments and brilliance over the course of the season. Incidentally Street Boss is the #1 ranked TCR sprinter, Benny The Bull is a close second and Midnight Lute is 5th. Power Rankings, which attempt to measure brilliance, show Benny The Bull in the #1 spot with Midnight Lute #2 and Street Boss 4th.

If you equalize the TCR and the TC Power Rankings the Male Sprinter standings would look like this.

Benny The Bull - 505.01
Street Boss - 414.67
Midnight Lute - 371.00

These are only the conclusions drawn by my in house numbers but realistically anyone could come up with the same conclusion if they just looked at the Past Performances without the names at the top.

Benny the Bull was undefeated in 4 starts over 4 different tracks in Florida New York and Dubai. Street Boss had a solid 9 race campaign with 6 wins and no out of the money finishes. He was the only dual G-1 winner in the division. Midnight Lute had just two starts, a total flop and a big win. The win in the Sprint should count for more than any other single race but does it really count for more than 3 stakes wins at the G-1 and G-2 level?

Midnight Lute is not the deserving Sprint champion. I hope justice is served and the Eclipse voters don't get caught up in the hype.


Kevin said...

If a horse like Midnite Lute wins the Sprint Championship we should do away with the Eclipse awards and simply award end of year championships in the BC winners circle.

Jim said...

Hi Ian,

Touch Tone, in fact, finished ninth in the 2002 B.C. Sprint. Orientate, Thunderello, and Crafty T.C. ran 1-2-3, respectively.


Kennedy said...

I know Touch Tone finished 9th in the BC sprint. In my post I said he finished 3rd in his effort prior to the BC as opposed to Midnight Lute who finished nowhere. So going into the race Touch Tone had a better current season record. But had he won he would never have been given serious consideration.

I'm not sure who Ian is but thanks for the comment.

peeptoad said...

I may be in the minority in this regard but I think Midnight Lute should absolutely not win the Male Sprinter Eclipse Award.

I'm with you whole-heartedly. I would vastly prefer to see Street Boss get the award, even though Benny the Bully outscored him and Lute will sway the voters emotionally. Street Boss ran a full campaign, no injuries, won multiple stakes races, and as you said was never out of the money. Though he ran 3rd in the BC he ran admirably and is the most solid contender for the award imo.

I truly wish that the powers that be would institute a rule stating that a horse must run two races minimum in NA to be eligible. This would effectively eliminate situations like Lute's, and Euros repeatedly winning the turf awards with only one start in NA. I have nothing against the Euros, but I think it's possible that a new rule may promote horses running fuller campaigns (at least during the 2nd half of the year).

Jim said...

Hi again,

I misread your post about Touch Tone, but the comparison with Midnight Lute -- I think -- is far-fetched because Touch Tone wasn't the defending Breeders' Cup Sprint champion.

Granted, I agree that Midnight Lute doesn't deserve the Eclipse Award this year based solely on one win in the Breeders' Cup. But I'm guessing that your post was fueled by speculation that Midnight Lute might be awarded the Eclipse honor a second straight year because of his awesome performances in 2007.

I think the comparison is unfounded because Touch Tone wasn't a defending B.C. Sprint champ and had no reputation to speak of.

Jim said...

Just wanted to make sure you got my followup post. Thanks.

Kennedy said...

"Touch Tone wasn't the defending Breeders' Cup Sprint champion."

That's the point, Eclipse Awards are supposed to be about the current year only. It shouldn't matter if Touch Tone, Midnight Lute or anyone was a champion in a previous year. It's supposed to be based on THIS year.

Jim said...

Like I said, Midnight Lute doesn't deserve an Eclipse award. Mentioning Touch Tone in your blog is pointless. We get your point: Midnight Lute doesn't deserve an Eclipse award off one win.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked to hear there's even a possibility of this, and I'm a big Lute fan. Found this blog a while back when searching for some info on him, in fact.
I'd personally vote for Benny the Bull, but in any case Lute simply didn't do anywhere near enough to deserve the honor.