RSS Feed for this Blog

Monday, November 06, 2006

To Bias Or Not To Bias

- no golden rail Alan,just sour grapes, writes reader David Rex. And a fellow TBA blogger opined in an email that it was just a coincidence.

For one thing, the only sour grapes on my part is that I prominently mentioned three of the winners from the rail, but blew the exotics, and only cashed a couple of saver win tickets. Damn, I really suck.

But back to the question at hand. The Churchill track superintendent Butch Lehr said of the apparent bias: "I was dumbfounded....I don't know what to say." [Courier-Journal] Pletcher said: "There seemed to be an obvious inside bias," while Kiaran McLaughlin said, "I thought it was coincidence more than anything."

Well, we're only talking about five races, and I always criticize those who jump to track bias conclusions based on small samples, so it's worth taking a closer look at. Street Sense and Round Pond had almost identical trips. Though the colt was further back in his race, they both hugged the rail except for briefly allowing a tiring horse, Principle Secret (who was dead on the board and even dead-er on the track) in the case of the Juvenile, to drop back inside of them.

The overhead shot on ESPN showed just how fortuitous Calvin Borel was on the winner, as Stormello drifted out to allow him through just as he arrived; and I imagine if ESPN had showed that shot after the Distaff, we would have seen the same for Round Pond. So you can certainly argue that those wins were more a case of trips than bias.

Thor's Echo broke from the rail and stayed there for part of the backstretch. But he eased out approaching the turn, and swept by Attila's Storm and Bordonaro while three wide on the turn. Dreaming of Anna may have just been much the best in the Juvie Fillies. And Invasor was wide throughout, but, he's Een-va-sor!

The two races on the undercard were on the main track too. In the first race, Maryfield moved to the fore on the inside and led from the half mile pole to the wire. In the second, It's No Joke, according to the chart, vied for the lead while wide. But the 1 horse, Irene's Mon, at 20-1, took the inside route around the turn and finished second by a head. (I haven't actually seen these races, since Churchill does not allow Cal Racing to show their races, instead referring web visitors to the paid section of Race Replays, thank you very much.)

So, I suppose you could make the case either way. The rail certainly wasn't dead, I think we can agree on that. But remember, Street Sense ran almost 50 feet farther than Circular Quay in the Breeders Futurity, and they finished virtually even. If you figure that Circular Quay may have run 50 feet more than Street Sense in this race, does a 100 feet distance explain 10 lengths?

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

In an effort to turn the sour grapes into wine:

There is all kinds of advice given out in advance of Breeders Cup day, often at a co$t. Lots of "experts" providing endless commentary on how they expect the races to unfold. Meanwhile, here at our little old "Left at the Gate" blog, where our host generously spends countless hours sharing his insights for free, we read compelling cases made for Thor's Echo, Street Sense, and Round Pond, all high priced winners on Saturday. Maybe you didn't cash the trifecta or pick 3 tickets you deserved to cash, Alan, but on this day you sure didn't suck. And more than that, you have the gratitude of those of us who benefitted from your time and effort, whether we cashed or not.