Wednesday, April 29, 2009

20-20 Derby Vision - Part 3

For those who missed Part 1 and Part 2, this series of posts deals outlining the factors included in my Derby 20-20 statistical system. It assigns points to each Derby entrant based on how they fit into statistical criteria. Some say statistics with the Derby are outdated and useless, my contention is that they are merely misunderstood. You can decide for yourself how valuable this information is and how you may want to use it.

It is worth noting that 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. So lets get back to the actual factors. Remember all stats quoted are from 1996 to the present unless otherwise stated.

#13 The entrant must have at least one prep race at nine furlongs.
This factor deals with the entrant’s experience. Could a horse stay 10f without having prepped at 9f? Sure they could, they are merely not as tested and generally less likely. Derby entrants need a good solid 9f prep race. Horses who did not prep at 9f went 17-0-1-0 in the Derby.

Friesan Fire like his stablemate Eight Belles last year is the only contender that failed to satisfy this criteria.

#14 The entrant must have faced a field size of 10 or more as a three year old, or the entrant must have done so at least twice as a two year old. The Derby has large fields and the entrants need to have experience with traffic and such. I prefer that the experience come in stakes races as a 3yo but a horse cannot control who is entered against them. I require two races of 10 or more as a 2yo because most maidens have large fields, yet many of them are won wire to wire so the entrant would not have necessarily gained much experience. Getting bumped and blocked is commonplace in the Derby, those who tried to win the Derby without sufficient experience in large fields went 36-0-4-3.

No one is affected by this factor this year, all have them seem to have sufficient experience in large fields.

#15 Highest Lifetime Beyer must be achieved in a two turn race. This is a pretty straightforward measurement of suitability to the Derby conditions. We don't want sprinters in the Derby, a quality distance horse will be faster in longer races than they were at short distances. 17 horses entered the Derby with this factor going against them and just one of them (Proud Citizen) managed to do himself any credit with a second place finish (19-0-1-0)

All the entrants in this years Derby managed to earn higher two turn figures than one turn figures except of course for the Godolphin pair who were once again exempt from this factor.

#16 The entrants sire or broodmare sire must show a progeny average stakes winning distance of 8.00f or more. Only North American stakes races are included in this measurement of AWD. This is the only aspect of breeding I consider. Dosage is misleading but this factor looks directly at how the sire and broodmare sires best runners have fared in stakes races. If they are predominantly sprinters the average will show less than 8f and a sprinters pedigree is not ideal for winning the Derby. Horses whose sire and broodmare sire have less than 5 stakes runners are not included and therefore those horses are given a pass. The cumulative record of non-qualifiers is 24-0-1-1. Horses like Street Sense and Monarchos were given passes because of insufficient data on their sires at the time.

West Side Bernie unfortunately does not have a pedigree that suggests distance. Neither does Musket Man but he narrowly evades a strike against because there really is insufficient data on Yonaguska. However I think that with the passage of time his sire will prove to be of little influence in the stamina department.

So there you have it, the complete Derby 20-20 system. You can see how these combined factors scored the past 13 Derby's by clicking this link. Hopefully the results are in line with the systems predictions this year because it’s good to keep in mind that although something sounds great and works well in the past it is only useful if it works well going forward. Hopefully over the next 3-5 years we’ll be able to get a picture of how it holds up.

Observations based on the 20-20 system
I consider Speed, Fitness and Form to be the most important of the 7 factors. Those 3 make up 10 of the 16 factors and thus give those areas slightly more weight than Class, Experience, Suitability and Breeding.

Horses running on all weather surfaces once again struggled to measure up to the speed standards and this is perhaps more proof of the fact that Beyer Speed Figures seem lower than their equivalents on dirt. I suspect that horses like Pioneerof the Nile, Chocolate Candy and Hold Me Back are faster than the numbers suggest but even if they are they might not be fast enough to win.

The top horses according to the system are I Want Revenge and Papa Clem. Both are perfect qualifiers. Personally I'm a bit shocked to see Papa Clem rated so highly, he is not a horse that has caught my fancy but many of the perfect qualifiers were at longer odds and did manage to perform admirably.

Nowhere to Hide should have stayed in the barn.

Advice is the worst winner of a major prep race.

There is a large group of horses with no strikes or just one against them. 7 horses in all, it may be useful to have those 7 among your wagers. 1999 was the last time we had so many horses with so few strikes against them. From a statistical profile standpoint this is a very strong Derby.

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