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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Here's Some Cold Facts

- I found the article I referenced in the previous post (I'm good, eh? :-) regarding some backup detail on the Derby rules, particularly what we'll heretofore refer to as the Apollo rule regarding Derby horses that never started at two. It was written by Bill Finley in 2005, and is worth reading in its entirety. But we'll concentrate on the Apollo rule here:

No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without having started as a 2-year-old. Since 1955, horses who have not started at 2 are 0-for-40 in the Derby, but most were longshots. Neither have any run second.

Notable failures include the mighty Forego, Air Forbes Won, the favorite in 1982 who finished seventh, and Pulpit.

Greeley's Galaxy is the lone horse in [the 2005] field who did not race as a 2-year-old. [ESPN.com]
Finley was pretty good too to come up with this, and the other interesting facts in his article. The qualifier is that he only went as far back as 1955 (slacker!). It comes out to less than one entrant over the 50 years covered in the sample, and includes two pretty notable examples in Air Forbes Won and Pulpit. Forego, as I recall, was not a major contender at the time.

I suppose the conclusion is that it's inconclusive, though I think that just the fact that not many have even made it to the Derby has to mean something too.

7 Comments:

Anonymous said...

"It's nearly impossible to make a case for Giacomo" oops. Interesting article however. Thanks for researching it. byanose

T.O. said...

Interesting article, but I think Finley missed Strodes Creek, the one horse since 1955 who didn't run at two and finished second in the Derby (to Go for Gin in 1994). Coaltown falls outside of this time frame, but he was also a strong second to Citation in 1948 after getting a late start to his Hall of Fame career.

robin said...

With such scant evidence, it is wrong rule out Curlin on the basis of his not having raced at 2. This article says most were longshots anyway. How many exhibited his form and performance, whether or not they raced at 2 years old? Probably none. I'd rather throw out Street Sense for trying to push Calvin Bo-rail over to it.

Lenny said...

Curlin also only has 3 lifetime starts. Regret is the last horse to win off only 3 lifetime starts in 1915. Combine this stat with no juvenile campaign and you have a horse with very litte foundation. Maybe he is truely a freak and can overcome these historical trends, but I will pay to find out, he will not be on top any of my tickets.

Lenny

jeff said...

i agree with lenny. this is not a case of an arbitrary trend without a rationale, like picking a derby winner with three syllables in his name. there is, presumably, some value in having a strong foundation, in having banged heads with some decent horses in decent-sized fields as preparation.

the only reason i'd give even the slightest thought to supporting Curlin is because absolutely no one in this field leaps out to me as a standout. Street Sense looked poised to blow them away in the stretch, and if he had done so he'd have been my horse. so while i'm still inclined to treat Curlin as a bet-against, i sure would feel a lot better about it if there were an alternative that i could get excited about.

robin said...

Jeff, you just illustrated the arbitrariness of the no racing at 2 rule. Not racing at 2 is NOT the same as not banging heads with good horses. They are two different things. Curlin happens to be an example of both, and the latter, that is Curlin's easy competition thus far IS a good reason to chuck him.

But, like you, I do not see a standout. I think that if CQ and Hard Spun had raced again, they might have been the standouts, but absent more info, who knows how much conditioning they will get in 6 or 8 weeks. I will toss CQ due to the Velazquez factor. The last time I bet on his mount in a Breeders Cup or Triple Crown race was BC 2005, where he was winless, as he has been in those events ever since. I believe in Hard Spun and perhaps Scat Daddy because I do not think there will be enough pace to throw the race to the closers. And because of that, if Curlin gets lucky, he will do well also.

Anonymous said...

Robin, Derby's without enough pace are few and far between, and if you feel strongly about it then you should play the presumed front runner a la War Emblem.

Don't think this will be the fastest pace in history, but it should be quick enough for HS and SD.

Good to see the JV rule gathering steam, he is so overrated.

Has Todd had more than 50 starts? If so there is just as much reason to toss all of his charges as there is to toss Curlin.