Wednesday, April 29, 2009

20-20 Derby Vision - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 be sure to check it out here: 20-20 Derby Vision - Part 1

Now on with more of the factors that make up the Derby 20-20 system.

#4 The entrants last two prep races must have been run around two turns. Two turn experience is vital for having a horse ready to go 10f in May. Horses with a single prep race around one turn (or less) are 18-1-0-0 in the Derby. Horses like Bellamy Road, Showing Up and Favorite Trick were all non-qualifiers. Big Brown defied this factor last year. He technically had two route preps but one of his route races was run around just one turn. It was the only thing that prevented him from being a perfect qualifier.

Both Regal Ransom and Desert Party have failed to have the required number of two turn preps. Officially Desert Party has never been around two turns and Regal Ransom only did once as a 2yo. The odd configuration of Nad al Sheba prevented that. Part of this factor is about experience and part of it is about fitness. The UAE Derby certainly provides the necessary fitness but a one turn mile like the UAE 2000 Guineas is suspect to me.

#5 The entrants finishing position must be no worse than their position at the 1/8th pole in both final preps. This is the second fitness factor. Derby winners rarely get passed in the stretch. They should be at least able to hold their position through the final 1/8th. The non-qualifiers for this factor were 65-1-3-3 in the Derby. Silver Charm managed to win the Derby after getting passed in the Santa Anita Derby but anyone who saw that race might give him a pass considering that he set blazing fractions and was only nosed out right at the wire.

Join The Dance, Atomic Rain, Mine That Bird and Flying Private all failed to hold their position in the stretch in one of their last two races.

#6 The entrant must have run the final 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8th’s faster than or equal to the fields average closing fractions in their last prep. In order to win the Derby you have to finish well. If you’re gasping for breath in the final stages of a 9f race you won’t handle the Derby distance as well. Since virtually the whole field has their last prep at 9f it is easy to compare closing fractions. If a Derby entrant fails to close out any of the final three time frames in less than the average time they’re given a strike. A horse must have run a 9f race to be included and any competitor who was beaten by more than 20 lengths is given a strike against but his fractions are not included in the average calculation. The change to this factor for this year is that dirt races and synthetic races are averaged separately and therefore not compared against each other. Horses that have failed to qualify with this angle are 119-1-7-5 in the Derby.

Here are the averages for the dirt races - 1/8 = :12.6, 1/4 = :25.2, 3/8 = :37.6
Here are the synthetic averages - 1/8 = :12.2, 1/4 = :24.2, 3/8 = :36.3

Pioneerof the Nile, Join The Dance, Flying Private, Advice, Nowhere To Hide, Mr. Hot Stuff and Mine That Bird all failed to qualify and Friesan Fire was given a pass because of the lack of a 9f prep race.

#7 The entrant must have finished in the money in their last prep. This one is an obvious way of judging form. A horse needs to show that they are in fine form and one of the most obvious ways they do that is to finish in the top 3 in their last race. The horses who failed to qualify for this factor were a cumulative 56-1-2-1 in the Derby. Giacomo, Invisible Ink, Bluegrass Cat and more recently Denis of Cork all rebounded from out of the money finishes to run well in the Derby.

Join The Dance, Atomic Rain, Mine That Bird, Nowhere To Hide and Flying Private finished out of the frame so they’re given a strike.

#8 The entrant must either win or finish within three lengths of the winner in their last prep. Seems nearly redundant after viewing factor #7 but there are a few reasons to add this factor. I like the fact that out of form horses are punished for it more than once and this is a far more precise measurement in my opinion. For instance a horse may have run a good race to be a close 4th, conversely some horses are beaten by 10 lengths in their last prep but they managed to be third simply because everyone else who they were facing ran worse. The horses who failed to qualify for this factor were a cumulative 91-0-4-2 in the Derby. The best non-qualified performers with this angle were Bluegrass Cat, Invisible Ink, Impeachment, Aptitude, Denis of Cork and Closing Argument.

For this years Derby it means the 20-20 whipping boys Join The Dance, Atomic Rain, Mine That Bird, Nowhere To Hide and Flying Private all lose another point.

#9 The entrant must have finished in the money in at least two races as a three year old. This value of this factor is two fold. First of all it tries to identify consistency among the entrants, but secondly it also means that a horse with two preps has very little wiggle room. The profile does not have any factor concerning the actual number of prep races. It only makes minimum requirement of what a horse must get from their prep races. In this case it effectively means that any horse with one prep is eliminated and also any horse with two preps who did not run well in both. Of course horses who do poorly over 3 or 4 preps can also be eliminated. The horses who failed to qualify for this factor were a cumulative 36-0-1-0 in the Derby. Proud Citizen was the only horse to overcome this factor and run with credit.

That could spell bad news for Mine That Bird and Nowhere To Hide.

#10 The entrants last Beyer Speed Figure cannot be worse than his previous two. This is the last measurement of form. I feel that a horses last three Derby prep races are really the only ones of importance and you don't want the horses worst race to be his most current. I don’t mind slight regression but I want the trend of the speed figures to be up overall. If a horse only had two prep races they can be exempt from this factor. However not all horses with two preps will be exempt. For instance if a horse only has two preps but runs a career high in his last prep race then it’s obvious that his latest figure would not worse than his previous two. The horses who failed to qualify for this factor were a cumulative 43-0-1-1 in the Derby. Bluegrass Cat and Imperialism were the only ones to overcome this and run in the frame.

Nowhere To Hide is the only non qualifier with this factor this year. Desert Party and Regal Ransom were given exemptions based on their lack of Beyer Speed Figures. Hold Me Back was also given an exemption. His last prep race did see him earn his lowest figure as a 3yo but he only had two preps. Had he been able to get another prep in he easily could have changed the sequence of his figures. Street Sense was in a similar position a few years back and of course he was also given an exemption from this factor.

#11 The entrant must be a stakes winner. This is the first measurement of class. Not only do we want them running in stakes races, we want them winning them as well. Now they do not have to be Graded Stakes races but I do want my Derby horses to have beaten more than maiden company. The cumulative record of horses who failed to qualify for this factor is 44-1-2-2. Giacomo of course was just a maiden winner, but the overwhelming majority of these horses ran poorly because most of them simply are not good enough.

Dunkirk may be an exception to the "not good enough" crowd but he still fails with this factor along with Summer Bird, Mr. Hot Stuff, Join The Dance, Atomic Rain, Nowhere To Hide and Flying Private

#12 The entrant must have either won or finished within three lengths of the winner in a Graded Main Track route race as a three year old. A further refinement of factor #11. We do want our Derby entrants to be stakes winner but we also prefer that their class be confirmed by good performances in route races on the Derby trail itself. A horse like Private Vow is case and point of what this factor eliminates. Horses who show some class as 2yo’s but as 3yo’s it is revealed that they no longer belong with the top tier. The cumulative record of horses who failed to qualify with this factor is 46-0-1-1.

Atomic Rain, Nowhere To Hide and Mine That Bird seem to lack the class to compete in the Derby.

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