Tuesday, April 28, 2009

20-20 Derby Vision - Part 1

This is one of my favorite features of this blog. I spend more time on the Derby and Breeders' Cup 20-20 systems than any other project I have and yet I only ever talk about them for maybe two weeks of the year combined.

The whole intention and vision of the Derby 20-20 system is to identify key statistical factors and trends and compile them into a profile that could be used for more accurate and profitable wagering on the Derby. Like with the Breeders' Cup I do not advocate simply wagering blindly on a system like this. Common sense must always be applied. This is just a tool to help shape your view of the viability of each contender.

Not all statistics are valuable and certainly no statistic has any real value if used on its own. One can point to individual statistics but how do you use that information in this Derby? And how do you know that this is the one stat that has more value than all the others? Essentially, what makes the two prep guideline more weighty than the layoff angle? The best way to use individual statistics is pooling them into a group and creating a profile that takes all factors into account but diminishes the significance of all factors as a single entity.

The Derby 20-20 profile has 16 statistical factors that I believe are keys to Derby success. The system has been only slightly tweaked from what was posted last year. Factor #6 is the only one that has been altered slightly in the way it's calculated. I'll explain why later on. The factors are sorted by type and the system is pretty “narrow” meaning that it is quite difficult for a horse to be a “perfect qualifier”. There has only been 18 in the last 13 years. There were no perfect qualifiers last year.

The system does not include any jinxes or curses and there are very few arbitrary lines drawn. For instance you will find no factor that specifically requires a certain amount of preps or even a pre-determined layoff length. All the factors have to do with speed, fitness, form, class, experience, suitability and breeding. There is no law that says a horse cannot be good enough with less than 5 starts. What matters is what a horse has experienced in those starts not the number of starts.

The game really is changing, but at the same time some things don't change. Prep schedules may change but then things like minimum speed requirements don't. Unlike other Derby systems the focus is not on eliminating horses who can’t win the Derby. The focus is in trying to quantify the relative chances of each entrant. Each entrant is given a 20-20 score and graded based on that score. You can see the results this system would have produced over the last 13 runnings as well as tentative gradings for this years running by going to this link: Derby 20-20. All factors are grouped into 7 different sections that correspond to the 7 different essentials keys to winning the Derby – Speed, Fitness, Form, Class, Experience, Suitability and Breeding.

10 of the last 13 Derby winners had a perfect profile score and I think you'll notice that there does seem to be a real correlation between a high score and a good finish in the Derby. Even many of the horses who hit the frame on Derby day had strong profile scores. A flat bet equal to their profile score on each runner in the Derby would have netted you a 38.06% ROI over the last 13 years. Although seven of those years would have been losers. Had you bet on every horse in the Derby in equal amounts you would have lost -21.56% and had just 3 winning years. Simply taking the 18 perfect scorers and betting on them over the last 13 years you have seen you make 548.89% with just one losing year.

The system can be used in many ways, helping you to shape your view of the race, pick winners and even have the right horses for the exotics. It's not intended to be bet blindly, hopefully by applying some judgment you can beat the results of this system.

Just a tip to help you read the spreadsheet: Every category with a green cell earns the entrant +1, every red cell is worth -1. The cells that are left blank are worth 0.

Certain cells are blank if that stat is not applicable to that entrant. For instance Friesan Fire did not have a prep at 9f so his closing fractions can't be compared with the rest of the field. You can't assume he closed fast enough but you also can't really fault him. You'll also notice that Desert Party and Regal Ransom got a pass on the factors that had to do with Beyer Speed figures because they haven't earned any that would be applicable.

Remember all stats quoted are from 1996 to the present unless otherwise stated.

#1 The entrant must earn a Beyer Speed Figure around two turns as a three year old that is equal to or superior to the average two turn prep winning figure. In other words I take the winning Beyer figures from all the two turn stakes prep races represented in the Derby and average them. Every Derby winner in the last 13 years qualified with this factor, even Giacomo. Horses who did not qualify with this factor were a cumulative 98-0-3-1 in the Derby.

This years average is a slower than expected 97. The defection of Quality Road definitely makes this race slower. Still it means that Chocolate Candy, Pioneerof the Nile, Advice, Mr. Hot Stuff, Join The Dance, Atomic Rain, Mine That Bird, Nowhere To Hide and Flying Private are not fast enough.

#2 Last two Beyer figures achieved must total the average two turn prep winning figures times two minus five. Seems a bit mathematical but essentially this is an effort to weed out one time big figure horses. It demands consistent speed over the entrants last two races. So the average prep winning figure is multiplied by two. But we also recognize that these horses are improving and it is not necessary that a horse be "fast enough" to win the Derby 2 starts before the Derby itself. So we minus 5 Beyer points from the total to allow for this improvement. 5 is not an arbitrarily selected number. 5 is the average Beyer improvement shown by Derby winners during their prep races. Horses who did not qualify with this factor were a cumulative 129-1-5-5 in the Derby. Giacomo was the lone Derby winner who did not qualify.

So it means for this year that the entrants last two Beyer figures have to equal 189. This is another strike against all the horses affected by factor #1 but General Quarters, Musket Man, Summer Bird, Nowhere To Hide and West Side Bernie also get a strike against them.

#3 The entrant must have been first or second at the 1/8th pole in one of their final two prep races. This is a non figure based measurement of speed. Plodders rarely win the Derby. Although the race is 10f it is often really just a race to the 1/8th pole. Most of the horses who are in front at the 1/8th pole are in front at the wire. We want a horse to have enough tactical speed to get them into a contending position when it matters. Horses who did not satisfy this criteria were a cumulative 65-0-3-4 in the Derby. Even Giacomo managed to show enough tactical speed in a prep race to qualify.

That is bad news for Hold Me Back, West Side Bernie, Advice, Mr. Hot Stuff, Nowhere To Hide and Flying Private none of them appear to have the tactical speed to be in contention when it gets serious. It is often said that late runners win hearts but not races.

For those keeping score you will have noticed that only I Want Revenge, Papa Clem, Dunkirk, Friesan Fire and Win Willy have passed all three speed tests. The Godolphin pair have not yet had a strike against them but factors that use Beyer Speed Figures were never going to give us a good line on them.

1 comment:

Mr Becker said...

This is quite impressive. I really enjoyed reading the first 3 factors, and the explanations of why you use the stats that you do. WIll you explain all 16?

Thanks,
Becker