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Blog - GAMBLING

Itsmyluckyday (outside) edged Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull Stakes in January. Photo courtesy Coglianese Photos/Eleanor Gustafson

The 139th Kentucky Derby is upon us, and it’s time to talk data. While it would be superb if Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Turfway Park installed Trakus, we simply do not have the data from these prep races to use the same quantitative Derby-prep comparisons we get from Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Keeneland Race Course, and Meydan. So in this week’s column, we will attempt to bridge the gap between some clear-cut data and some observations.

Orb’s three wins this season at Gulfstream Park have all been noteworthy, covering extra ground in each of them, and recording the fastest final quarter-mile from all three. The turns at Gulfstream are long and sweeping, and the son of Malibu Moon has a grinding style in which his various riders have kept him out of trouble, maintaining that powerful, consistent stride. The detriment to the wider trips has been that extra ground, which makes Orb’s success seem even more impressive than his final margins. If we adjusted those actual margins to account for the extra ground he covered, Orb’s three wins this season at Gulfstream would equate to 4 ½ (allowance), 4 (Fountain of Youth), and 5 (Florida Derby) lengths. On par, no horse in the Derby comes close to this level of consistent domination of his competition as a 3-year-old.

A closer analysis of the sectional times recorded by Orb in those three races suggests his style has been pace neutral – racing closer to the pace when the race is slower, and back in the pack when faster. Below, the sectional times from Orb’s wins at Gulfstream Park in 2013.

Date

Race

Distance

1/4

1/2

3/4

1M

FINISH

Final 1/4

1/26/2013

Allowance

1 1/8 M

24.99

24.50

24.19

24.01

13.36

25.51

2/23/2013

Fountain of Youth

1 1/16 M

24.12

22.42

23.17

25.66

6.87

26.32

3/30/2013

Florida Derby

1 1/8 M

25.13

23.86

24.16

24.85

12.87

25.28


That’s right, Orb ran two very swift internal fractions in the Fountain of Youth, which otherwise seemed a fairly slow race late. Off a slower pace, Orb came home almost as fast as his first quarter in the Florida Derby. Everyone in Kentucky is talking about this Shug McGaughey trainee, many as if he can’t lose. Granted, a draw in 16, where Orb will have to cover extra ground, is certainly familiar to him given his Florida experiences. If a case of bad Derby luck strikes, forcing Orb to check in the mix and throw off his sustained advance later in the race, it might be tough to regroup.

Itsmyluckyday caught our attention in his New Year’s Day romp in the Gulfstream Park Derby. The son of Lawyer Ron ran an internal quarter-mile in that one-turn affair in an eye-popping :21.93, and still lengthened on the field before checking in a near seven-length victor. With a decisive wet-track win at Calder, he can also be a player should there be an off-track.  He set a course record for 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream, defeating a still-healthy Shanghai Bobby in the Holy Bull Stakes, and was remarkably fast even in the closing stages. His final quarter-mile in :25.08 was easily the fastest in the field, and he covered plenty of extra ground under jockey Elvis Trujillo. While Itsmyluckyday won by just two lengths, he covered the equivalent of roughly 4 ½ lengths more than Shanghai Bobby, inflating his Trakus-adjusted margin of victory. That extra ground suggests he was roughly 6 ½ lengths better. Note his sectional times from the three races this season.

Itsmyluckyday

Date

Race

Distance

1/4

1/2

3/4

7/8 - 1M

FINISH

Final 1/4

1/1/2013

Gulfstream Park Derby

1 M

23.17

21.93

24.01

12.58

12.70

25.28

1/26/2013

Holy Bull

1 1/16 M

23.51

23.35

23.87

24.38

6.70

25.08

3/30/2013

Florida Derby

1 1/8 M

25.04

23.72

24.27

24.76

13.59

26.06

 

The performances from the Louisiana Derby must be framed in the context we would normally offer if data was available. The brief chart comment at the end of a past performance line tends to take the widest point where a horse was in running, but there is no underemphasizing the trips of Revolutionary, Mylute, and Golden Soul in the Louisiana Derby. Revolutionary, who will get Calvin Borel for the first time in the Derby, probably covered the most ground of any horse in the race. The son of War Pass was off the rail around the first turn and advanced wide, progressing no less than five wide around the duration of the far turn.

Mylute, who started seven times as a 2-year-old will make his third start of the season off a freshening in the Derby, actually had the lead late in the Louisiana Derby before Revolutionary came back. His wide running may have cost him some energy at the end of the race, but trainer Tom Amoss has clearly identified that the son of Midnight Lute can idle in front, and is still learning. Golden Soul settled last and on the rail before looping widest of all around the far turn and finishing fourth under Calvin Borel.

Goldencents is the only California-based contender in this year’s race, and a viable pace threat. While Falling Sky is viewed as a major element to the early gallop, Goldencents simply seems a faster horse. Two-turn races at Santa Anita often always come in faster than the deeper, sandier surface at Tampa Bay Downs, and the times Goldencents has tendered suggest he will be a significant front-end element. Compare the times from Falling Sky’s last three races with those of Goldencents (note that Falling Sky ran in the Arkansas Derby, not covered by Trakus – he was a half-length off the first quarter-mile time, other fractions are unavailable).

Goldencents

Date

Race

Distance

1/4

1/2

3/4

7/8 - 1M

FINISH

Final 1/4

1/5/2013

Sham

1 M

23.41

23.12

23.95

12.70

13.47

26.17

3/9/2013

San Felipe

1 1/16 M

23.34

22.66

23.95

26.06

6.89

26.60

4/6/2013

Santa Anita Derby

1 1/8 M

22.79

23.75

23.96

25.28

13.04

25.57

Falling Sky

Date

Race

Distance

1/4

1/2

3/4

7/8 - 1M

FINISH

Final 1/4

2/2/2013

Sam F. Davis

1 1/16 M

23.49

24.19

24.93

25.42

6.76

25.83

3/9/2013

Tampa Bay Derby

1 1/16 M

23.50

24.29

24.71

25.89

6.83

26.37

4/13/2013

Arkansas Derby**

1 1/8 M

23.32

24.32

24.93

26.65

**

**


Trakus has data on Verrazano from his Tampa Bay Derby win, and actually liked Java’s War in the Blue Grass as a horse who was doing his best running late in that race. As the distances have increased for Verrazano, he seems to get slower in the final stages, which provides cause for concern in the ten furlongs he faces on Saturday.

Java’s War, who ran the fastest final quarter in the Tampa Bay Derby, came back to score a last-to-first win in the Blue Grass. His final quarter of :24.01 was the second-slowest winner’s final quarter in the history of the race on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface, but was fastest in that race this year by 0.41 seconds. Java’s War covered 52 feet more than second-home Palace Malice, whose final quarter was only fourth-fastest in the race (:25.14). If adjusting Java’s War final margin of victory (a head) for the extra ground he traveled, the son of War Pass was six lengths better than Palice Malice. Charming Kitten, third in the Blue Grass, covered 12 feet more than Java’s War, enough to make up for his margin of defeat. If the son of Kitten’s Joy, out of a Wild Again mare, takes to dirt, he could potentially grab a slice of the late action.

Frac Daddy, second in the Arkansas Derby for trainer Kenny McPeek, was second in what is otherwise regarded as a slow edition of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes back in November. In that race, he covered 27 feet more than winner Uncaptured, losing by just a head. Adjusting his margin of defeat for the extra ground covered, Frac Daddy was almost three lengths better than Uncaptured. Java’s War covered 42 feet more than Frac Daddy when sixth in that race, and essentially negated his entire margin of defeat with the wide trip. Will Take Charge, a Derby longshot for D. Wayne Lukas, was last of 13 in the race, just one of several off races the son of Unbridled’s Song has encountered.

Are you intrigued by the dirt-friendly bloodlines emanating from Lines of Battle? His win at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates Derby was solid, but every step of it was slow. Take note of his sectional times below. The first quarter should have about two seconds removed to account for the fact there is no run-up, a distance between the gate and the official start of the race.

Date

Race

Distance

1/4

1/2

3/4

7/8 - 1M

FINISH

Final 1/4

3/30/2013

UAE Derby

A 1 3/16 M

27.06

25.86

25.25

24.21

19.67

25.61


In the history of races at the U.A.E. Derby distance at Meydan, Lines of Battle ran the second-slowest from 49 races. While there was much discussion centered on the belief the track at Meydan was slow that night, just an hour before the U.A.E. Derby, Alpha ran the first quarter and half-mile of the Godolphin Mile just about a fifth-of-a-second slower than the record sectional at that distance, and still hung on to finish fifth in the bulky field. Lines of Battle seems too slow to handle the quicker gallop on dirt, almost regardless of his pedigree.

Overall Derby Sentiments

Orb remains a massive threat off those characteristics as well, and is absolutely the likeliest winner, but fails to offer much value. Off the data, Itsmyluckyday and Goldencents combine elements of speed and success amidst extra ground coverage, factors often necessary to sustain the 20-horse test. Revolutionary probably will get the inside trip with Calvin Borel, and while saving ground matters in many spots (and has been a ticket to Borel’s Hall of Fame induction this August), it is often a breeding ground for trouble in this cluttered race. Longshot placing chances sit with Frac Daddy, Java’s War, Mylute, Golden Soul, and Charming Kitten – all horses who have endured extra ground and still run credibly.

Goldencents Hero

Goldencents with jockey Kevin Krigger aboard. Photo courtesy Beniot & Associates.

Enjoy the 139th Kentucky Derby!

2013 Kentucky Derby

Saturday, Churchill Downs, Race 11, 6:24 ET

3-year-olds, 1 1/4 miles

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Black Onyx Kelly Breen Joe Bravo 50-1
2 Oxbow D. Wayne Lukas Gary Stevens 30-1
3 Revolutionary Todd Pletcher Calvin Borel 10-1
4 Golden Soul Dallas Stewart Robby Albarado 50-1
5 Normandy Invasion Chad Brown Javier Castellano 12-1
6 Mylute Tom Amoss Rosie Napravnik 15-1
7 Giant Finish Tony Dutrow Jose Espinoza 50-1
8 Goldencents Doug O'Neill Kevin Krigger 5-1
9 Overanalyze Todd Pletcher Rafael Bejarano 15-1
10 Palace Malice Todd Pletcher Mike Smith 20-1
11 Lines of Battle Aidan O'Brien Ryan Moore 30-1
12 Itsmyluckyday Eddie Plesa Jr. Elvis Trujillo 15-1
13 Falling Sky John Terranova II Luis Saez 50-1
14 Verrazano Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 4-1
15 Charming Kitten Todd Pletcher Edgar Prado 20-1
16 Orb Shug McGaughey Joel Rosario 7-2
17 Will Take Charge D. Wayne Lukas Jon Court 20-1
18 Frac Daddy Kenny McPeek Victor Lebron 50-1
19 Java’s War Kenny McPeek Julien Leparoux 15-1
20 Vyjack Rudy Rodriguez Garrett Gomez 15-1
Image Description

Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the Director of Racing Information for Trakus. Based in Boston, Mass., Trakus provides full-field in-race tracking, instantaneous motion graphics, and real-time information to racetrack operators worldwide. Trakus is currently installed at racetracks in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Data analysis from Trakus appears on Twitter regularly @TrakusRacing.

Cummings also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. He has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007 and provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. He also is the North American correspondent for Al Adiyat, a Dubai-based weekly racing publication.

Prior to joining Trakus, he worked for seven years in the financial services industry, and has served the racing industry in various capacities since 1999.  Pat was the backup announcer at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) from 1999 to 2009, and also has called cards at Atlantic City Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park, Manor Downs, and Monmouth Park.

A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Pat earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and a BA from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

 

Image Description

Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the Director of Racing Information for Trakus. Based in Boston, Mass., Trakus provides full-field in-race tracking, instantaneous motion graphics, and real-time information to racetrack operators worldwide. Trakus is currently installed at racetracks in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Data analysis from Trakus appears on Twitter regularly @TrakusRacing.

Cummings also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. He has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007 and provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. He also is the North American correspondent for Al Adiyat, a Dubai-based weekly racing publication.

Prior to joining Trakus, he worked for seven years in the financial services industry, and has served the racing industry in various capacities since 1999.  Pat was the backup announcer at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) from 1999 to 2009, and also has called cards at Atlantic City Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park, Manor Downs, and Monmouth Park.

A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Pat earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and a BA from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

 

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