Tomorrow is the next big race of the year, the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes. After the race is over, you will hear announcers, trainers, jockeys, handicappers, anyone with a venue to express their opinions, spouting reasons why their horse/pick did not win the race. The groundwork for impending excuses are already being laid. Comments have already been made about post position draws, and the likelihood the track will be muddy.
So, allow me to tackle these two issues.
Tom Albertrani was not thrilled when Freedom Child drew the second post position, “We were hoping to get a little further toward the middle…” However, Albertrani also said, “If the track is muddy, it will benefit us for sure,”
Writer Larry Fine (Horse Racing Nation) wrote, regarding Kentucky Derby outcomes, “It was pretty evident that this horse (Overanalyze) didn’t care for the mud” and “Here’s another horse (Vyjack) that didn’t seem to like the mud very much either…”
Post Position: A 1986 study published in in Management Science concluded that post position is a meaningless variable. D. Wayne Lucas, renowned trainer of Oxbow, seems to agree, having been quoted recently as saying, “I think we over-analyze (the draw) a lot.”
Muddy Track: As for the belief held by many that some horses favor muddy racetracks, I believe it is speculative nonsense. I have seen no scientific studies regarding races held on muddy racetracks, so I can only relate my own experience. It has been my observation over the many decades I have been handicapping races that horses, when fit and ready to race, run their best race. When they are not fit, or if they wake up in the wrong corner of their stall on race day, they will not contest their race as well as they might have. The condition of the track matters little.