Number One with a Bullet

There’s something about big races — the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders’ Cup events — that brings out the expert in everybody. Suddenly, Joe Q. Public, who just last week, was picking superfecta combinations based on the birth dates of his kids, is extolling the virtues of a four-furlong breeze by the favorite in the BC Classic.

And if it isn’t Mr. Public assessing workout times, it’s a bunch of media types, who show up like disgruntled neighbors in “The Purge,” dispensing their insights like alcohol at a college frat party.

According to all these experts, it’s not the time of the workout that counts, but, rather, how said workout was accomplished that counts. Some trainers work their horses like they’re timing them with a sundial we’re told, while others work their stock so fast you’d think they were attempting to qualify for the All-American Futurity.

Nonetheless, unless you want to pay oodles and oodles of cash for a workout report that may or may not be worth the paper it’s printed on, it seems to me that time is the only quantifiable factor we non-“experts” have to work with.

Hence, I thought it might be helpful to scour my database of past Breeders’ Cup races (1997-2016) for horses that recorded both “fast” and “slow” workouts immediately prior to the big event.

I considered a workout fast if the average split time was less than 11-4/5 seconds per furlong; it was considered slow if the average split time was 12-3/5 seconds per furlong or greater.

The results were eye-opening to say the least:

FAST LAST WORKOUT
Races (number): 155 (439)
Wins (rate): 56 (36.1%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $2.50 (+24.94%)
IV: 1.64
OBIV: 1.11

SLOW LAST WORKOUT
Races (number): 119 (268)
Wins (rate): 14 (11.7%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $1.06 (-47.05%)
IV: 0.70
OBIV: 0.65

And look at the digits when a BC entrant records a fast workout over today’s racetrack:

FAST LAST WORKOUT OVER TODAY’S RACETRACK
Races (number): 87 (134)
Wins (rate): 22 (25.3%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $3.47 (+73.28%)
IV: 1.87
OBIV: 1.28

It’s enough to make one want to become an expert.

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Breeders’ Cup Jockey Study Produces Startling Results!

By Derek Simon
Originally posted on October 24, 2017

Recently, my colleague, Noel Michaels, wrote a piece for US Racing detailing how jockeys matter when handicapping the Breeders’ Cup races. In fact, that was the title of his article — “Jockeys Matter When Handicapping the Breeders’ Cup.”

And while I found the piece very insightful, it reminded me of that old Lay’s potato chips commercial claiming that “no one can eat just one.” In other words, I wanted more!

So, I dug into my database of Breeders’ Cup races run from 1997 to 2016 to get the real story on jockeys in the Breeders’ Cup. Here’s what I found out.

Breeders’ Cup entrants with…

Same jockey as last race

Races (number): 215 (1,492)
Wins (rate): 139 (64.6%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $1.61 (-19.58%)
IV: 1.07
OBIV: 0.80

Different jockey than last race

Races (number): 211 (976)
Wins (rate): 77 (36.5%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $2.34 (+17.16%)
IV: 0.92
OBIV: 0.91

Jockey who has no previous wins on horse

Races (number): 213 (978)
Wins (rate): 65 (30.5%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $1.81 (-9.61%)
IV: 0.78
OBIV: 0.84

Jockey who has at least one previous win on horse

Races (number): 215 (1,490)
Wins (rate): 151 (70.2%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $1.81 (-9.61%)
IV: 1.16
OBIV: 0.84

Same jockey as last race & today’s jockey has at least one previous win on horse

Races (number): 215 (1,279)
Wins (rate): 130 (60.5%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $1.72 (-13.82%)
IV: 1.16
OBIV: 0.82

Different jockey than last race & today’s jockey has at least one previous win on horse

Races (number): 133 (211)
Wins (rate): 21 (15.8%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $3.38 (+69.19%)
IV: 1.13
OBIV: 0.99

Same jockey as last race & today’s jockey rode at least one other entrant in its last start

Races (number): 131 (190)
Wins (rate): 25 (19.1%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $2.01 (+0.50%)
IV: 1.55
OBIV: 0.84

Same jockey as last race & today’s jockey rode at least two other entrants in their last starts

Races (number): 18 (18)
Wins (rate): 6 (33.3%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $3.98 (+98.89%)
IV: 4.16
OBIV: 1.83

Different jockey than last race & today’s jockey rode at least one other entrant in its last start

Races (number): 74 (97)
Wins (rate): 9 (12.2%)
$2 Net Return (ROI): $2.02 (+1.24%)*
IV: 1.12
OBIV: 0.96

*Place ROI of +33.66% and show ROI of 33.40%.

OBIV Key

***

Does Class Matter in the Breeders’ Cup?

By Derek Simon
Originally published on October 22, 2017

Of all the horseracing discussions, i.e. bitter arguments, that I see on social media, perhaps none makes me want to sniff glue as much as the “who’d he/she beat” debate. Back when I was younger and more optimistic, i.e. dumber, I used to try to quell these quarrels.

“Show me a horse than can run 10 furlongs in 1:58 and change and I don’t care if it ran against mules,” I’d say. Of course, that opened up a whole new debate as to who the best racing mules were — and who they beat to be considered so.

Bring on the epoxy!

Not surprisingly (at least to me), the Breeders’ Cup races give lie to the fact that company lines matter when one is evaluating the best of the best. Although horses that last raced in Group I or Grade I company certainly hold their own in the BC, they lose money as a whole — whereas horses that most recently competed against lesser foes actually show a profit (albeit a very slight one).

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following statistics from Breeders’ Cup races run from 1997 to 2016:

LastRace

Derek Simon
Derek Simon is the Senior Editor and Handicapper at US Racing.