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Blog - GAMBLING

Woodbine photo courtesy of Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

A race from a chilly Wednesday night in mid-November at Woodbine is not often the subject of an “Inside the Trip” blog, but it certainly suffices this week given the amazing numbers that emerged from an otherwise typical race.

Typical? Well, maybe not.

Is traveling around the middle of the course, through three turns, really the preferred path to take with a 2-to-1 favorite? While a horse is less likely to encounter a blocked path when racing wide and in the clear, one has to at least ponder the damage an incredibly wide run does to one’s chances.

Wednesday’s eighth race at Woodbine hosted a field of nine in a starter allowance race at the rarely run distance of 1 ½ miles on the Polytrack surface. For the purposes of this particular blog, any details relative to traditional handicapping are to be ignored. Forget pace, class, or any perceived bias. The public made No. 9 Seawatch, ridden by Luis Contreras, the 2-to-1 favorite, just narrowly, over No. 6 Village Drive with Matt Moore.

No. 2 Bare Is Best, a 45.80-to-1 outsider, saved all the ground en route to a win over third-choice No. 5 Pegu and the aforementioned Seawatch by 4 ½ and five lengths, respectively.

Watch the race below, focusing specifically on those four horses, courtesy of Woodbine’s Youtube replay channel. It was a drubbing.

Coming into the 1 ½-mile affair, Bare Is Best was 20-to-1 on the morning line, and had two lifetime wins, the last being a $7,500 claiming score at Fort Erie going 1 1/16 miles on the grass. He was a winner of a maiden race last November at Woodbine, in Ontario-bred company, and it was one of just four times he had been in the first three across 21 lifetime starts prior to Wednesday’s race. In the nine starts since his Fort Erie win, Bare Is Best was beaten by a combined margin of 136 ½ lengths, with just one in-the-money finish, a third in a 1 1/8-mile race one start after his win. Interestingly, the son of Godolphin’s Group 1 winner Best of the Bests has never been medicated with Lasix. Creative punters could find a way to use him, but on a cursory review of his form, the 45-to-1 price was not outrageous.

Jockey David Moran had the rail draw on Bare Is Best, and stayed there throughout the entire race, not yielding the plum position in a race that offers plenty of opportunity to cover extra ground. Contreras was drawn widest on Seawatch, and made no attempt to change position at all during the 157 seconds of the race. Second favorite at 2.10-to-1, Village Drive was inside through much of the first turn under Matt Moore, who then angled outside leaving the first turn and remained wide throughout the rest of the race. While saving 28 feet of ground relative to Seawatch through the first quarter-mile, Village Drive proceeded to cover the same number of feet as Seawatch in the final 1 ¼ miles of the race.

At some point, there must be a diminishing benefit from traveling wide and free over such a long distance of ground.

Take a look at the data below, highlighting the total ground coverage relative to the inside-running winner, Bare Is Best, after the first two furlongs, first mile, and at the finish, compared with the second-, third-, and fifth-place finishers, who attracted more than 70% of the total bets in the win pool.

Difference in ground coverage after…

Finish

Horse

First 2F

First 8F

Finish

1st

Bare Is Best

-

-

-

2nd

Pegu

+28

+69

+96

3rd

Seawatch

+41

+95

+132

5th

Village Drive

+13

+70

+104


Bare Is Best not only covered the shortest trip, but in fact traveled 96, 132, and 104 feet less than the second-, third-, and fifth-place finishers, respectively. Converted to lengths, this suggests Bare Is Best traveled approximately 11 ¼, 15 ½, and 12 ¼ lengths less than these three horses behind him. Would Bare Is Best have been 20-to-1 on the morning line, or 45-to-1 at post time, if you (anyone) projected, or knew, that he would get the equivalent of a 15-length allowance from the favorite?

Take a look at the two charts below, compiled using speed indicators recorded by Trakus. Below, we first identify the average speeds recorded for the four horses through the first turn of the race (the first two furlongs), the first mile, and then at the finish (Bare Is Best averaged the same speed at each of these points). That is followed by the actual average speed recorded within selected sixteenth-of-a-mile segments in the race. What is noteworthy in the second chart is how fast the three extra ground-covering horses are running at various points relative to the rail-plastered Bare Is Best. The winner was going slowest of the four horses in the sixteenth-mile segments that ended after the first quarter and three-quarter points. Bare Is Best was never more than two lengths from the lead, and yet was able to run slower than most of his competitors in the early portions of the race given how much ground they covered on the first two turns.

Average MPH through

Finish

Horse

First 2F

First 8F

Finish

1st

Bare Is Best

34.7

34.7

34.7

2nd

Pegu

35.2

35.1

34.9

3rd

Seawatch

35.8

35.3

35.1

5th

Village Drive

34.3

35.2

34.8

 

Actual speed within 1/16th-mile segment ending with…

Finish

Horse

1/4 Mile

3/4 Mile

1 1/4 M

FINISH

1st

Bare Is Best

35.6

33.4

35.7

30.9

2nd

Pegu

37.0

34.2

34.7

31.1

3rd

Seawatch

36.7

33.6

36.3

29.6

5th

Village Drive

36.9

34.2

36.7

30.2

This blog has offered plenty of data tidbits over our last 55 submissions, but we honestly cannot recall such a spread in any race. This is data to the power of gaudy. Ad nauseam (to some), we have preached about “ground loss mattering” in some fashion (determining specifically how much it matters is a Sisyphean task). No one is going to use a starter allowance at a rarely run distance to prove a case, but the novel nature of this race intensifies the intrigue to quantifying wide trips. 

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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