05/05/2008 11:22PM



Life goes on:

--Big Brown received a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 winning the Kentucky Derby, which means that runner-up Eight Belles (beaten 4 3/4 lengths) received a 102 and third-place Denis of Cork (beaten 8 1/4) got a 97. The chart below shows how those stack up with the other Derby 1-2-3- finishers of this decade:

It was a slightly tricky figure to make because there was a strong headwind that horses had to race into twice in two-turn races, and the Derby horses did so for 3/16ths of a mile longer than the horses in the day's two other dirt routes, both at a mile and a sixteenth. Those who like to see speed figures adjusted for ground loss will further upgrade Big Brown's performance since he was wide on both turns. Big Brown fans will also point out that he did all this with seemingly disdainful ease in just his fourth career start.

--The decline in this year's Derby betting -- 3.2 percent on the main event and 2 percent on the overall Derby Day card -- involved a number of factors: the lack of signal and/or wagering through some account-wagering companies (though there were similar issues last year), a decline from 30 to 22 in the number of starters in the three stakes preceding the Derby -- and a single late scratch in the 11th race. As the chart two posts down illustrates, betting was up as much as 16 percent year-over-year early in the card, then began to slip on the three short-field stakes, and then fell off dramatically in the 11th race before rebounding in the finale. In the 11th, the late scratch of second choice Solemn Promise prompted massive refunds, causing year-over-year declines of 25 to 45 percent in the intrarace (exacta, tri and super) pools.

Also, nearly a third of the gross full-card decline was due to a drop in pick-six betting from $1.42 million to just over $676,000, probably a function of there having been a $300k carryover last year and none this year.

--Speaking of pick-sixes:

*That $676k invested on the Derby Day pick-6 did not include a correct 6-of-6 combination, so there's a $410,599 carryover when racing at Churchill resumes Wednesday. The lineup:

Race 4: 3+F AlwC/OC100k 6f (field of 7)
Race 5: 2yo MdSpWt (8, including 6 firsters)
Race 6: 3+F Clm50k 1 1/16m-Turf (8)
Race 7: 3+F Clm10k N2L 6f (10)
Race 8: 3+F Alw N2x 1m-Turf (7)
Race 9: 3+M MdClm15k 6f (12+4 AE's)

That full field of maiden claimers in the finale will be the decider of two big carryovers -- there's also $331,928 in the Super High Five pool, which went unhit on the Derby.

*Belmont's Sunday card included $23.40, $54.50 and $22.80 winners in the pick-six sequence, so there's a $48,557 carryover into Wednesday.

*At Hollywood Sunday, a $387,386 carryover attracted an additional $1,57 million and one heavy investor took it down for $1,262,507 on a $24,192 ticket purchased at Santa Anita. After withholding, the poor whale only got about 38-to-1 on his money -- or less, if that was only his main ticket. Or maybe just a backup.

--Z Humor scored a mild upset winning the Longest of the Long honor at the mutuel windows, going off as the biggest price in the field:

63.60-1 Z Humor (14th)
53.90-1 Anak Nakal (7th)
49.00-1 Recapture the Glory (5th)

If there had been trifecta betting on this curiosity, the payoff would be inflated due to the absence of Big Truck, the lone 50-1 shot on the morning line and a seeming cinch to be one of the three longest shots. Instead, the 18th-place finisher inexplicably went off at only 28.60-1, the 10th rather than 20th choice. The best theory I've heard is that some julep-swilling patrons got their Bigs mixed up and thought they were betting on Big Brown and not Big Truck.

Wayne C More than 1 year ago
"This is an example where the Beyer doesn't properly justify or measure the level of performance......." Silver Charm, No sophisticated handicapper looks at Beyer figures and stops his analysis there. Beyer himself has devoted an entire book to trip handicapping and relating trips to figures. Every experienced handicapper that uses Beyer figures knows that BB's effort was better than it looks because he lost so much groud. What they might disagree wih is objectively adding 7 lengths to his figure because of that ground loss. Many handicappers believe that not all ground loss is the same. If the front runners kill themselves in a duel and an outside closer loafs up to them while wide, that is a lot different than if they went slow early and he is straining to keep up with them on the turn while wide because the pace is just starting to pick up. In addition, some turns are tighter than others or banked differently. Sometimes the inside paths are not as fast as the outside paths or vice versa. IMO, it is easier to think of the trip as a seperate component of the performance than to try to combine it into 1 figure. IMO, the outside paths were not a huge disadvantage on Derby day. The rail was not "dead" per se, but lots of horses were rallying wide on the turn and doing just fine. So if you ask me, BB's performance was better than his Beyer, but not nearly a full 7 lengths better because of the ground loss.
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
so_close_today, Sorry, I never looked at willpays or whther they were available. Nice handicapping to use Adrhythm($20.80) and appellate ($29.00) to get that far, and three consos at $3065 apiece beats a poke in the ey with a sharp stick. steve_v, My "theory" isn't a matter of saving "some $" but to make an otherwise completely unaffordable play affordable by reducing the cost by a factor of 10 or more. Additionally, it allows you to go deeper than your maximum of four horses per race, which I would guess is why you "haven't been very successful." My experience has been that pick-six scores are made when you can go deeper than four in one or two spots, and the only cost-effective way to do that is by playing multiple tickets that open you up to those horses if you're right elsewhere. The problem with caveman tickets is that you're valuing every horse on your ticket equally and rooting for the longest shot you used in every race rather than recognizing that some horses you use are much likelier winners than others and leveraging that knowledge.
John Strongosky More than 1 year ago
Couldn't agree more with arcstats comments...Not to take anything away from Dutrow but how many times has he been suspended in NY?A friend of mine who owned cheap claimers ,when i asked him what does a trainer actually do, his reply was set the training regime check horses soundness, feed regiment,and most importantly find a good Vet and Chemist. The Demoted Private John
Steve V. More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve C., Is there a simple answer to this question: Why do you feel that playing Pk 6's w/ your A B C theory is clearly the way to play the bet. I am kinda new to playing them, and I love them. But, I would hate it if I had all the selections to a big score but didn't put them together on one single ticket to hit the bet. I'm sure you get this question a lot, but I haven't figured out the answer to it, other than it will save you some $ on your multiple plays. I usually play a "caveman" ticket where I try to find atleast 1 single and use between 2 and 4 horses in the other legs. I haven't been very successful, although I've been very close to some big scores- Please let me know your thoughts. BTW, I think we are going to the True North w/ Bustin Stones on the undercard in what should shape up to be one hell of a Belmont Day.
utah1100 More than 1 year ago
Keeneland, an unimportant 4 week meet.....If this is the stuff that gets through, I would pay to read the stuff you filter out..Also, listen up you braindead freaks, Cosmic will spoil Big Brown's shot at glory on the Big Sandy......
AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
hay_oats, Good point about the winning percentages for a Lukas or a Mott! The high percentage trainers have always happened but they tended to disappear... I owned a horse at Philly, and he won a race for us. He got claimed away and then claimed again. On the second claim, the horse suddenly started to climb the ladder while winning 4 or 5 races in a row in a very short period of time! On the next claim, the new trainer had to put the horse down because he was in such bad condition! Did that winning trainer (Keith Labarron) know something we didn't know, of course not!
so close today More than 1 year ago
Steve - By any chance do you know what the will pays were to number 2, 7 and 11 at Churchill on Wednesday. I was live to those and the 6 came in and paid 1.1 million. HRTV, Churchill Downs web site and my online betting service gave no information.
Arazi More than 1 year ago
don_reed, "Kudos to Todd, who now has run the Dead-Last Derby horse three years running .." Interesting insight.... If there was a bet to pick a horse to finish last, I would've been the winner as I bet Monba to win the derby. That finishing last hedge bet would've paid much much more than my primary bet ** sigh **
Arazi More than 1 year ago
RE: greg, cayman01 There're horses who have pre-cushion track dirt experience but then there are some who never ran on the dirt. Also, there are California trainers (Richard Mandella, John Sherrifs etc) and then trainers with multi-state operation (Todd Pletcher, Bobby Frankel). Trainers like Todd and Bobby has the great advantage of moving around their horses. So it would be unfair to label their horses as California-based horses such as Giant Gizmo or Ginger Punch who ran primarily in NY last year - that's just my opinion. What I find intriguing is how, in the future, full-time California-based horses will perform, especially in the route race. It's still to be seen as how SA Oaks will be looked at if it fail to produce a winner in next five runnings of Kentucky Oaks or SA Derby winner not winning the Kentucky Derby during the same period of time. Along the same lines, some other major and historical dirt stakes races of great stature I can list are Travers, Haskell, Alabama, JC Gold Cup, Whitney, Test and many others. In the past, California horses always shipped out to the east and won many of these prestigious races, how often will that happen now? We'll just have to wait and see. It may sound like I'm east coast biased but it's actually the other way around. I only started playing NY circuit three years ago. Before that, CA circuit was MY circuit. It saddened me to witness the demise of racing in California over the years and I believe state-mandated artificial surfaces is not an answer because it will, in the long run, bring the quality down. I remember Bob Baffert in the late 1990s saying about east and west coast horses: "They have the quantity, we have the quality". Guess it has changed now. It's still hard for me to figure out why CA dirt tracks couldn't be made safer like Belmont, CD or Saratoga? Is the track science different in CA than other states? If so many other major tracks can provide a safe running surface, why California tracks couldn't?
Reinier More than 1 year ago
Funny Cide faced tougher fields. You can't look at the fields Big Brown is facing and think...oh he is much better than Funny Cide was at his peak. Beating Eight Belles and Denis of Cork is very different than having Empire Maker breathing down your neck. Big Brown only looks good because no one else is this year.