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Monday, February 24, 2014

Speed Rules, Again

There were six races run on the main track at Gulfstream on Saturday. Take a look at the result charts – in only one case did the finish position for the horses that were 1-2-3 at the stretch call change at the finish; and that was a horse who rallied to get third, some six lengths behind the winner.  It was a big race day and, as we’ve seen so often, speed was king. Even in the 5th race – an absolutely horrible, awful maiden race that took 40 seconds to run the last 3/8ths (nearly 14 seconds for the final furlong) and which was painful to watch – nobody could gain ground late.

This continues the curious phenomenon of speed biases on big race days. They obviously don’t just happen organically.  Can’t just be a coincidence. Somebody has to be doing something, and I’ve never understood the appeal of fast raw times (not even the case across the board on Saturday), and why track superintendents or management or whomever would want their races on these days to be so uncompetitive in the late stages. You’d think that Frank Stronach in particular would be sensitive to the issue. Horseplayers blasted Santa Anita’s surface after Breeders’ Cup Friday to the point where major effort was put into making the track play fairer the next day.  Yet, it was more of the same at his Gulfstream folly on Saturday. I just don’t get it.

Well, if there’s one good thing to come out of it, we should sure have an honest pace for the Kentucky Derby!  Wildcat Red ($11) and General a Rod alternated in the 1-2 spots from start to finish in the Fountain of Youth, and thereby earned themselves spots in the starting gate at Churchill.  You can bet they’ll be around early that day; and I’d be willing to bet right now that neither will be around late. As we discussed in our FOY preview, General a Rod is the better suited of the two pedigree-wise for the longer distances.  But, after dueling to a half mile in 46 1/5, these two decelerated from there, and were there for the taking.  I’m thinking they’ll be taked at a mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May, joined up front early on no doubt by other speedy types who take advantage of speed biases on their big prep race days.  For their efforts, each colt earned TFUS speed figures of 103.  As Craig points out:

[Please continue reading at the TimeformUS blog...]


Figless said...

From your advanced figs at TimeformUSA are you able to quantify for certain, based on variant (or your equivalent thereof) how much these tracks are juiced on big race days?

For instance, does an open MSW race go one full second faster on a big race Saturday?

An explanation of why these tracks favor front runners when juiced is a more difficult question I suspect.

I suppose I am asking what exactly they are doing to create the front running fast track?

I believe the bias is real, just seeking some hard facts to back it up.

Figless said...

Found it interesting that Top Billing is co- ML favorite in this weekends Future Wager, while the two horses that finished well in front of him are considerably longer priced.

Clearly no one is fooled (if in fact Top Billing is as good as his hype).

I wonder how Top Billing's race would have been reported 50 years ago?

As a disappointment, with the newspaper reported typing furiously about the incredible performance of the front running victor while chomping on his cigar?

Or were they not as naïve back then as we suspect?