Analyzing Turf Races

hello-race-fans_01Ed DeRosa commented on my recent blog post titled, ‘Bits and Pieces on Horse Racing.’ He wrote,

“Thanks for reading Hello Race Fans, though I’m a big [sic] miffed you took my quote out of context.” The ellipses you use to lead into my statement, “[H]orses typically do not exert themselves…” noted that I was discussing synthetic and turf races in this instances.

“I absolutely agree that in most dirt races most horses (even closers) go faster early than late, but that’s not the case on turf.” (Emphasis mine.)

I have quoted his comment verbatim, grammatical errors included. In the interests of accuracy, I am also including the entire sentence from which I quoted Mr. DeRosa here:

“In a similar vein, turf (and to a lesser extent some synthetic) racing presents challenges to figure makers, because horses typically do not exert themselves until the final stages of the race.”

So, yes I did quote him out of context as I was trying make a point about the illusions we have about horse races. In all fairness, Mr. DeRosa’s statement is correct. In turf races, the winning horse does often run its final fraction faster that its first, but, in my experience, typically by no more than one-fifth of a second, as most turf winners run fairly even races, despite what the race caller would have you believe.

In the third race at Betfair Hollywood Park on 16 Jun 2013, the following fractional times were recorded for the one mile event on the turf: 23.78; 47.35; 1:11.69; 1:23.94; 1:35.85. Rounded to the nearest one-fifth second for the sake of those who do not know how to more accurately calculate the running time of a horse, the first split for the winner, Bio Pro, was 24 1/5. The final split for the winner was 24. So, in this instance, the final fraction was run in a slightly faster time than the first. What is important to note is that Bio Pro did not suddenly burst into action during the stretch drive as the chart caller would have you believe: “BIO PRO stalked inside then a bit off the rail, split horses on the second turn, came out in upper stretch, rallied under urging to gain the lead outside rivals a sixteenth out and proved best.” The term ‘rallied’ would lead most people to believe Bio Pro accelerated rapidly during the last bit of the race, when, in fact, he did not.

In the seventh race, same track, same day, the following fractional times were posted for the one and one-sixteenth mile race on the turf: 23.26; 46.31; 1:10.15; 1:35.07; 1:41.64. The winner, Somethings Unusual, ran fractions of 24 1/5, 24 3/5, and 25 4/5 for the first six furlongs, and 31 flat for the final two and one-quarter furlongs. This suggests Somethings Unusual did indeed close with a rush, running marginally faster during the final stages of the race than he did during the first two furlongs.

The third race at Golden Gate Fields, same day, one and one-sixteenth miles on the turf, had the following fractional times: 24.82; 50.21; 1:14.59; 1:39.56; 1:45.73. The winner, Unremitting, ran fractions of 25 3/5, 26 4/5, 25 1/5, for the first six furlongs and 31 for the final two and one-quarter furlongs. His final time for the final sixteenth was roughly 6 seconds, suggesting he was indeed running faster during the latter portion of the race than he did during the first two furlongs. (Note: The fractional times for the lead horse, San Sebastian, were 24.82; 25:39; 24:38; 24:97; 6:17. All of the horses in the race ran the second two furlongs much slower than the first. It was a brilliant ride by Juan Hernandez on the lead, slowing the pace to a crawl, saving his horse for the stretch drive, but he still lost by a nose.)

It has been years, a decade or more, since I last did an in-depth study of turf races, and I have forgotten a lot about what I have learned over the years as I no longer handicap races in a traditional fashion, so I will leave it to you to do your own research.Horse_50x50

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