Tonight our Samstar runs again in the 9th race, after finishing 4th in his last race. This time, he gets to go two turns for the first time in a mile MSW. Last race, he ran as expected and I picked the winner, Bold Entry. (I always TRY to gamble with my head, not my heart.) This time, I’m a bit more excited about seeing Samstar go the two turns based on the performance of personally bred Stormy Business horses with similar lines.
Though AWD’s are no indicator of him possibly being better at two turns, fractional times may indicate his two turn proclivity. Based on replays and estimates, I had him finishing his last half furlong in the previous 5 ½ furlong race, in 6.6 seconds. Macho Storm finished his in 6.6 seconds also while Tahkodha Royale did a 6.0. Steviefromstanley and Ghazablanca also did 6.8’s. FYI, Hummin Through has the best long distance breeding.
With only one race each to look at and the age of the horses, anything is possible in their 2nd out. Biehler is the best trainer at 2nd outs with 18% wins (watch out for Lockedupforever), but Tony (Samstar) is the 2nd best trainer with a 10% 2nd out win percentage. Based on the pace of the previous races, and Samstar’s early pace being slower than the others, Macho Storm is my pick but it’s anybody’s race.
If I hear one more "expert" offer asinine analysis about American Pharoah I think I'll go crazy. If they can't even analyze a race properly after it's run, how can they possibly analyze a race before it's run!!!
First, most of these same experts failed to see American Pharoah as the clear Derby pick because they couldn't evaluate his leisurely win in the Arkansas Derby, and his other earlier races. Then after a complete 5 wide trip in the Derby, most of these "experts" never even mentioned the fact that he ran between 80 to 100 feet farther than horses like Dortmund in the Derby. In other words, proper analysis made his Derby performance dominant against one of the best Derby fields in years. It was also obvious that Espinoza was told to keep him "in the clear" throughout the Derby because the connections knew he was by far the best. They knew he could handle the "extra" distance and still win!
Then Saturday he dominated the Preakness field so easily it was amazing. He was barely touched with the whip (I think he may have been touched once based on the replays) and was only slightly shaken up with the reins. However, I hear the same "experts" say he was lucky it rained. They actually think Pharoah went to the front to secure a big advantage because horses hate having sloppy track mud getting kicked in their face.
THE RAIN WAS ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT. He was going to go to the front no matter what. Espinoza wanted to keep him clear (again) throughout, since he was easily the best horse in the race. Pharoah didn't need any advantage to win that race or beat those horses. Pharoah would have run the exact same way had the track been faster than spit, and would have won just as easily.
So what does this mean? It means, Pharoah has the very best chance in the last 37 years to win the Triple Crown. The other 13 who tried since 1978 were no where as good as him. I say this not because he has won but, and here's the secret, IT'S HOW HE WINS! This is why some gamblers win at the track, or in sport gaming for that matter, and others don't. They analyze the crap out of the sports by watching the replays. They then properly gleen "correct" information that the common gambler will never find in the Past Performance data. It's also why so many people are so poor at prediction. They only analyze the available data results, never the effort required to produce those results. Oh well, such is life.
Now the only question is this. Can American Pharoah overcome breeding that includes a sire whose Average Winning Distance was 7.4 furlongs, and a mare's sire who had an Average Winning Distance of 6.3 furlongs? There are good horses entering the Belmont with averages between 1 to 2 furlongs longer than Pharoah's, and The Belmont 1 & 1/2 mile distance is extraordinarily long for these young 3 year olds so distance breeding matters. This is the same issue Smarty Jones, Chrome and others faced. It's also why Birdstone, Tonalist and others were such good long shot bets in their respective Belmont wins.
The difference this time with Pharoah is that his fractions seem to indicate that his substantive speed fade point has not yet been found. (FYI, all horses fade to some degree.) More importantly, "how he has won" indicates that he is an anomaly beyond the other first two leg Triple Crown winners seen in times past. Don't believe me? Study normalized fractions, watch the replays and even look back at Affirmed or Seattle Slew. Watch the races and understand what you are watching! You'll be happy you did.
Opening night at Canterbury was great, even though our Samstar ran 4th. He will do much better once they write two turn MN Bred Maiden races.
It was a good handicapping night with great company. The kids, Bri, Nick and Alessa, joined in with us, plus the Osbornes, Tom Lindquist and a few others who dropped by.
I also finally got to meet Facebook friend Scott Ehlers who visited with us at our table. He is in town from Texas for the weekend. Scott is a great guy and top handicapper for the Daily Racing Form, and writes the skinny on Canterbury in the form.
We made a little money and saw the top current Minnesota bred horse Bourbon County win another nice stakes race for Scott Rake. Dean Butler also rode 5 winners on the 8 race card. (Marijo Norman, you would have made a fortune on Dean last night!)
Lastly, Rick and Joyce Osborne got me a hilarious gift off Ebay. It's a 1973 Mattel Electronics horse race analyzer. This was before Beyer speed ratings and before most people used home calculators. Amazingly it still works, only requiring 50 data inputs per horse per race (oh my) so watch out. I used it on the Preakness, so be sure to bet American Pharoah on top regardless of the odds. Oh boy, the analyzer just said, "Losing is not Winning".....so there you go. Haha.
Partner Tom Lindquist and I joined with Jay Thesing and Andy Rachuy at the racetrack this morning to watch workouts and talk about the real work that goes into getting horses to actually run a race. Our guests reflected on the fact that the social aspects of the backside may be as important as the racing elements, since we visited with so many folks.
We met a few new jockey agents, as well as catching up with a few of old friends like Chuck Costanzo and Richard Grunder. We also visited with the many jockeys and trainers that have now arrived at Canterbury, gave our guests a brief training overview at Gary Scherer's barn and also said hello to Shelly Bensen as she was busy doing her job for Canterbury Park.
Most importantly, we were up at 5 AM to make sure we had a chance to watch Victory Ice get her first official work in 37.40 for 3 furlongs, 4th out of 24 that worked that distance. She's a two year old filly and we were pretty happy with her first workout and the way she did it.
Unlike some, as a breeder and owner we support having our main trainer (Gary Scherer), x-ray all 2 year olds to make sure their growth plates support working at speed. Some people believe in absolutes, like "never run a two year old" or "always run a two year old". We don't because we know variation exists in all things, including horses.
After seeing the Victory Ice x-rays, I wonder if all Brave Victory sired horses, or foals out of the mare Halfkarat, will mature as quickly? That's how a gambler thinks about information. Maybe I better go shopping at The Osborne Farm again this year, before others beat me there this time. Right Rick and Joyce?
See you all at the track.
Well I just returned from Canterbury and the entries for Friday night are in. Our Stormy Business sired Samstar which we have partnered with Russ & Curtis Sampson on, helps kick off the season in the first race at 6:40 PM. He will come from the 5 post in a 5 1/2 furlong, $30,000 maiden claimer.
Another Stormy Business sired horse, Smart Business, is in the last race of the night and will be coming from the 8 hole in a Maiden Special Weight, $32,500 purse 5 1/2 furlong race. We sold Smart Business a few years ago as a yearling for $15,500 at the MTA sale. We retain the breeding rights and value after a sale, so it's nice to see his workouts indicating he's healthy and ready to run. Good luck to both the fine trainer and owner, Larry Donlin and Jim Thares.
While hoping for these two Stormys break their maidens, the 7th race feature is the 10,000 Lakes. It's a $60,000 purse and includes a top Minnesota bred in Scott Rake's Bourbon County. Bourbon should go the favorite I believe, though there are some other nice Minnesota Breds in the race.
Should be a great evening for racing and I hope to see some of you there.
With opening night racing kicking off Friday at 6:30, expect jockey agents, trainers and owners to be cramming the backside racing office with entries tomorrow morning.
It's nice to see such excitement building for the new racing season. I believe our first entry will be Samstar, who we co-bred and co-own with Curtis Sampson.
Good luck and good racing to all this season.
Though I slept late our horses didn't, as a few of our sire's (Stormy Business) horses spent the morning working out at Canterbury. They start racing at Canterbury this weekend so don't miss it.
Minnie Soda Nice (Stormy Business--Gazette) worked 3f in 37.2 on 05/10 @ CBY
P J's Angel (Stormy Business--Astar for Dina) worked 3f in 37.8 on 05/10 @ CBY
Samstar (Stormy Business--L'Etoile Jolie) worked 5f in 1:04.2 on 05/10 @ CBY
Jumpin Jimineys (Stormy Business--Gazette) worked 4f in 50.4 on 05/10 @ CBY
Rick Osborne (a true horseman) and I had another nice meeting with some business leaders, prospective owners and new young fans yesterday in Prescott Wisconsin.
We love to talk about our favorite subjects, build interest in the sport and discuss how statistical variation applies to the science of understanding just about anything, including horse racing.
It always amazes me how interested people really are in our sport, but how poorly it is represented and marketed. Oh well, at least some people in Prescott are now looking forward to visiting Canterbury this season.
Next I'm off to the High School to show them how much fun statistics can be by letting them predict race results, and then showing them the actual races. (Think I'll leave Rick home for this one....Haha Rick.)
It was a busy morning as partner Tom Lindquist and I watched our trainer Gary Scherer's stable of horses get out on the track at Canterbury. We watched our two year olds run down the lane for the first time. They looked great and one was even called a Ferrari by a rider, which made Tom and I smile for obvious reasons. Our 5 year old stakes winning BJ's Angel also got on the track for her first workout since having minor surgery in January. She was so excited to finally get to run at speed again that she ran the bullet 3 furlong workout in 35.80. I had to check that time and found it was the fastest work by some margin since the track opened for works 5 days ago. Boy she loves to run just like her mama Demiparfait did.
Beside Gary and several of his returning staff, it was also nice to see a few other friendly faces out there. Denny Velazquez, who ranked 6th in the jockey standings in Earnings Per Start at Canterbury among those with 100 starts last year, worked many of our horses. Only a few other jockeys have arrived. I also had a chance to see a few trainers including Tony Rengstorf. Tony trains Samstar, a 3 year old which we co-own with Curtis Sampson. Samstar has already worked 4 furlongs with a time that ranked 3rd out of 16 a couple days ago so we are hoping for a nice 3 year old season from him.
Of course, workout times mean little unless you double check the times and visually observe the effort required to attain the time. This is something many owners and handicappers fail to understand. Nevertheless, it's nice to see everybody healthy and going well with opening day just around the corner.
To answer messages after the American Pharoah win, he was easily the best because he had to expend great energy to angle in early from the 18th post, and then ran the race very wide throughout. This was smart since they knew he was much the best horse and Espinoza wanted to keep him in the clear for a full unimpeded run. This also means that Pharoah traveled near 85 feet farther than Dortmund to get to the finish line, and 35 feet farther than Firing Line. This is not an opinion but a simple geometric fact based on the paths I studied related to the race.
And yes, he will likely win the Preakness if healthy and have a much shorter path to the finish line. We'll talk about his ability to get the 1 & 1/2 mile Belmont later. Again, fractional times and sire's AWD's are more valuable than a dosage number in determining this though there is a proven dosage correlation.
Lastly, here's an excerpt from an article on The Handicapping Page on this website if you want to understand more.
"So here’s another lesson, if you do not understand random variation and probabilities, stupid myths and emotions will always infect your intelligence. Yes I meant infect, not affect. People have been infected by immeasurable BS in this world. Is it any wonder that some people will believe almost anything? Many accepted beliefs are nothing more than unproven myths. Many people now deploy statistical sciences, related to variation and normalized studies, to dispel myths. That’s exactly what applies to racing, and the lone speed myth previously described.
Assuming a few of you understand common racing beliefs, do horses really bounce or is a bounce just a component of common variation? Are washed out horses in the pre-race paddock bad bets, or are they always washed out anyway? Is nicking a key to good breeding, or is it less important than a mare’s racing class or foal birth order? Are fractional times more important to determining distance capability than dosage? Do speed ratings really tell you how hard a horse had to run to achieve that speed rating? Do some handicappers throw out hundreds of pieces of irrelevant information that their gambling competitors consider critical?"
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.