It's always an exciting day when a 2 year old is doing everything right and our breaking/prepping trainer says he is ready to go to our racing trainer, Gary Scherer. Today our last Minnesota Bred horse, (actually bred in Kentucky at Winstar to Sidney's Candy but foaled out of BJ's Angel in Minnesota at The Osborne Farm), ships up to Canterbury Park in Minnesota.
We are going to run him in Minnesota since being foaled counts as being bred in Minnesota and he gets to run against just Minnesota horses in restricted company for reasonable purses. For example, he gets to run against just Minnesota breds for near $36,000 in MSW races. If he ran at say Belterra, the MSW purse is only $18,000 and he has to beat all state's horses. He could run for more, like $100,000 in MSW races at Churchill or in Arkansas or New York for example but, those are some of the best 2 year olds in the country.
Thanks to Kevin Fletcher in Columbia, KY for prepping him so well, and Alan Bassett for getting him up to Canterbury. Now we can only wait and hope our last Minnesota bred, "Caramel Angel", develops well at the track.
It's that time of the year again when Derby questions come flooding in and some folks have asked me what I mean when I mention fractional time handicapping.
I've had some pretty fair luck handicapping the Derby over the last few years and always recommend folks consider fractional times whenever they are trying to handicap races where horses have not gone the distance. Of course, the Derby is exactly one of those races since none of the three year-olds have ever gone a mile and quarter (the Derby distance).
The illustrated and busy graph contains a solid line representing the fractional speed each of the illustrated Derby contenders ran in their last race. The dotted lines are the mathematical logarithmic trend lines for each horse, with the farthest point on the right representing their estimated last furlong speed in the Derby. I consider this to be the most important unknown when handicapping the Derby.
The three horses my math tells me to pay attention to are Maximum Security, Code of Honor and Cutting Humor. For example, Maximum Security averaged 12.1 seconds per furlong in the first 6 furlongs in his last race, the Florida Derby. He actually averaged slightly less than that for his last 3 furlongs in that race! That fractional pattern produces an expectation that he will get the Derby distance without losing much of his speed.
Of course, pace, weather post position and other factors that have not yet been determined will matter in the final handicapping process but in a year where there is no clear cut Triple Crown contender in my opinion, and the odds will be fairly high on many horses that have a chance, the fractions tell me that certain horses should get attention, while others should be dropped from my process.
I hope this helps explain fractional time handicapping, and with Omaha Beach and Roadster likely going the favorites at 7/2 or so, my top 3 are 6/1, 18/1 and 60/1, a few exotics seem to be in order this year.
My recent blogs and posts regarding racing safety and surfaces, have drawn enough interest to have some of the racing reporters who do not exist as shills for the industry, asking tougher questions. You see, American racing has said forever that safety is paramount while ignoring clear cut actions that can reduce equine fatalities. This shell game just isn't going to cut it anymore with consumers of the sporting/entertainment product. It's gratifying to see data, rather than short sighted profit oriented opinions, winning the day.
I have also been hit with many questions. For example, there are folks who think the racing surface debate is new. It is not! In fact American racing has possessed absolutely clear cut data regarding the safety of synthetics for many years.
After a brief search, since the California Santa Anita equine deaths have caused the current uproar, I thought my readers would find the DECADE OLD linked article very interesting! Here's the link.
I was asked about my recent blog wherein I said American racing has not been honest about how to save equine lives because they have continued to run races on dirt racetracks rather than transitioning to synthetic material. To show how obvious this conclusion is, the illustrated graph reflects the exact year by year percentage difference, and higher death rate, experienced on dirt versus synthetics. Yes, more than 1500 Thoroughbred lives could have been saved over the last decade had we only run on turf or synthetics.
How long will American racing stick their heads in the dirt (Pun Intended), while pretending that Thoroughbred and rider safety is paramount? When is enough enough?
After publishing yesterday's blog, which strongly suggested all American dirt racing needs to be replaced with synthetic surface racing, the 23rd Santa Anita racing season fatality occurred. The following CBS link contains the video of the accident and you will notice the fall occurred when the horse crossed into the main dirt track (that's how the turf course is set up at Santa Anita).
It's hard to watch for horse lovers but unfortunately just more of the same in American racing. Notice near the end of the video when the fan they interviewed says his family left the track and they just don't want to be a part of it.
American racing should never wonder why consumers continue to abandon their entertainment product when drug use, medication, racing surfaces and several other factors are distasteful to consumers. Inflation adjusted American racing industry pari-mutuel revenue has dropped 50% over the last two decades, and still the industry struggles to take baby steps toward correction.
Like I said weeks ago, "Enough is Enough".
CBS Santa Anita Video
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.