Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Synthetic-sizing" the Derby Data

Unable to catch a nap with the earlier May sunrise and still in the haze on a 530 a.m. NYC bus commute, I started doping out Kentucky Derby past performances (traditional DRF...none of this track-comments nonsense that can distract from my less-than-stellar brand of handicapping) and got through the first 15 entrants in the 20-horse field, jotting some terse notes along the way.

Mmm...Nothing like the
smell of recycled material
in the morning
Next to the 13 horse, Went the Day Well (20-to-1 morning line), I penned: "Connections the only thing preventing a 50-to-1 morning line."  See, John Velazquez is aboard for Graham Motion on a horse with a meager 92 top Beyer, but the combination has won 28% in a 58-race sample since 2011 as noted by DRF, and...wait a second...had last year's Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who paid $43.80 to win.

See, without any studying, I was already an idiot en route to missing the winner in the 2012 Run for the Roses, also considering my hair-brained logic that a back-to-back win would be impossible for just about anyone.  Oh, wait, there's that Calvin Borel guy...oops.

Instead, over lunch, NJ Horseplayer did some unscientific research on synthetic form translating to the Kentucky Derby, only to find that since Turfway Park became the first U.S. thoroughbred track to install a synthetic surface in 2005, five horses coming out of preps run on synthetic just before the Derby have finished in the top three (year, name, Kentucky Derby finish and site of prior prep race).
  • 2011: Animal Kingdom (1st, Turfway Park)
  • 2010: Paddy O'Prado (3rd, Keeneland)
  • 2009: Pioneer of the Nile (2nd, Santa Anita; synthetic until 2010, if memory serves)
  • 2008: No top-three synthetic finishers
  • 2007: Street Sense (1st, Keeneland), Hard Spun (2nd, Turfway)
    • The last year NJ Horseplayer hit a Derby, exacta and trifecta
(There were no Turfway Park prep-runners in the race prior to the Derby in 2005; a bunch of Keenleand runners, but Keeneland did not install synthetic until the summer of 2006.)

Perhaps some other more-credible, or accurate, source out there -- i.e. DRF, Equibase -- has already written about synthetic data, but in simple terms, a 33% in-the-money clip on horses coming off of preps on synthetic (with two Derby champions) is noteworthy in considering Kentucky Derby wagers.

So, before making bold predictions, and guiding the NJ Horseplayer community on shoe-in bests against (i.e. pick against anything we recommend), we're going to take another look at the likes of Went the Day Well and Daddy Nose Best (another at 15-to-1), which have lines across their numbers (i.e. throwaways) on our Derby past performances at present.

(Note to self: scribble in the margins of the PP in pencil, not pen.)

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