Archives for May 2016

PREAKNESS-DAY IMPRESSIONS

1. The Daily Racing Form‘s description of how the Preakness was run cogently depicts why Nyquist lost the first race of his career:

“Nyquist was sent hard from the gate to outrun Uncle Lino to his inside and Awesome Speed to his outside, but he and Uncle Lino sped the opening quarter in 22.38 seconds–the fastest opening quarter-mile in the race’s history–and Nyquist was in front after a half in 46.56 seconds and six furlongs in 1:11.97.  He was slowing down, and the others were gaining, most notably Exaggerator, who had saved ground from the start and was ready to pounce.”

Very few horses can set these kinds of fractions and win a race at 1 3/16 miles.  Why Nyquist was  “sent hard” is unclear, but it was likely miscalculation by his jockey.

2. Nyquist’s trainer, Doug O’Neil, was classy and gracious in congratulating the Exaggerator connections after the race and in not blaming the jockey for the ride he gave Nyquist.  This is how sportsmen take losses, unlike the unfortunate sore-loser display by one of California Chrome’s owners after the colt’s disappointing finish in the 2014 Belmont Stakes.

3. Sadly, two horses on Saturday’s Pimlico card perished.  Predictably, PETA and online posters quickly raised nefarious-oriented questions and made accusations, particularly about the possible causation of medication and even animal abuse.

One of the horses died soon after a race he won, probably of cardiac arrest.  This kind of death occasionally occurs among human and equine runners, so I don’t see it as unusual or suspicious.  The post-race blood sample will confirm one way or the other.

The other fatality occurred when a filly broke a leg during a race and was euthanized.  Her owners are Gretchen and Roy Jackson, who also owned the ill-fated Barbaro.  These folks are leaders in the ongoing campaign to rid horse racing of race-day medication and performance-enhancing drugs and they are apparently generous monetary contributors to veterinary research on horse injuries.  In other words, they are unlikely conspirators in doping or mistreating their animals.

Judging from many of the online comments I saw about the Jackson’s filly being euthanized, many people don’t understand that, unlike a human athlete who breaks a limb, a horse often can’t be immobilized while the break heals.

Horse racing should be made as safe as possible for horses and jockeys. To do so, a scientific and factual approach is required, which the horse-racing industry funds at major university centers.  Emotional finger-pointing diatribes don’t qualify as testable hypotheses.

4. The luckiest individual during the Triple Crown races has been trainer Dale Romans, whose horses finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness.  His luck has nothing to do with how his entries fared.  During the Preakness telecast, NBC showed a picture of the SUV Romans was driving after the Kentucky Derby when a driver ran a stop sign and broadsided Romans and his passengers.  It is thankfully a wonder that someone was not killed rather than badly injured.

5. What now for Nyquist?  The view here is the 1 ½ mile Belmont distance is not his niche.  Skipping the Belmont and planning a campaign around the Travers and the Breeders’ Cup Classic seems best.

Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business

PREAKNESS QUIZ

Test your knowledge of the history of the Preakness Stakes by answering ten questions plus an obscure bonus question. The answers are provided at the end of this post. No cheating by doing an Internet search.

1. What is the nickname for the Preakness?

a. Run for the Roses
b. Run for the Black-Eyed Susans
c. Run for the Carnations
d. Run at Old Hilltop
e. Run for the Woodlawn Vase

2.  At what distance is the Preakness currently run?

a. 1 mile
b. 1 1/16 miles
c. 1 1/8 miles
d. 1 3/16 miles
e. 1 ¼ miles

3. Who was the only Triple Crown champion to win the Preakness before he won the Kentucky Derby?

a. Sir Barton
b. Gallant Fox
c. Omaha
d. War Admiral
e. Count Fleet

4. The trainer with the record for most Preakness wins is Wyndham Walden with seven. Two trainers have the second most Preakness wins at six. Who are they?

a. Ben Jones and Max Hirsch
b. Max Hirsch and James Fitzsimmons
c. James Fitzsimmons and Elliott Burch
d. D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert
e. Bob Baffert and Woody Stevens

5. What jockey holds the record for most wins in the Preakness?

a. Oliver Lewis
b. Jimmy Winkfield
c. Eddie Arcaro
d. Bill Hartack
e. Pat Day

6. The owner with the record for most Preakness wins is?

a. King Ranch
b. Claiborne Farm
c. Calumet Farm
d. Harry Payne Whitney
e. Greentree Stable (Helen Hay Whitney)

7. The Preakness was run at what distance at its inaugural in 1873?

a. 1 1/16 miles
b. 1 1/8 miles
c. 1 ¼ miles
d. 1 ½ miles
e. 1 ¾ miles

8. The largest winning margin in the Preakness was 11 ½ lengths by what horse?

a. Survivor
b. Count Fleet
c. Secretariat
d. Funny Cide
e. Smarty Jones

9. What Preakness winner was the first 2-year-old ever to be voted Horse of the Year?

a. Native Dancer
b. Spectacular Bid
c. Alysheba
d. Secretariat
e. American Pharoah

10. Five fillies have won the Preakness. Which of the following is one of the five?

a. Silver Spoon
b. Ruffian
c. Genuine Risk
d. Winning Colors
e. Rachel Alexandra

Bonus Question

Besides Baltimore, Maryland, the Preakness has also been held in which city?

a. Stanton, Delaware
b. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
c. New York City, New York
d. Timonium, Maryland
e. Richmond, Virginia
__________________________________

9-10 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question= Preakness Scholar Summa Cum Laude
9-10 questions correct and missed the bonus question = A
8 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question = B+
8 questions correct and missed the bonus question = B
7 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question = C+
7 questions correct and missed the bonus question = C
6 questions correct and correctly answered the bonus question = Ladies’ or Gentlemen’s C-
6 or fewer questions correct and missed the bonus question = Remedial study required

Answers: 1b, 2d, 3b, 4d, 5c, 6c, 7d, 8e, 9d, 10e, bonus c

Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business

WHAT HISTORICAL WIN PERCENTAGES SAY ABOUT NYQUIST’S CHANCES

Beginning with the first American Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton in 1919, through 2015, there were 97 runnings each of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

Approximately ninety one of the Kentucky Derby winners contested the Preakness, while six did not owing to injury or bypassing the Preakness for other reasons.  For example, in 1985 the owners of Spend-a-Buck ran the colt in the Jersey Derby rather than the Preakness and in 1996 Grindstone was injured in the Kentucky Derby and never ran another race.

Thirty five Kentucky Derby winners since 1919 also won the Preakness, which equates to a 38.5% win percentage (35/91) for colts that actually ran.  Including the “no shows” from the Kentucky Derby the win percentage is 36.5% (35/96).

Twelve of the 35 colts that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness went on to win the Belmont and achieve the Triple Crown.  Of the 23 colts that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but not the Belmont, three did not contest the Belmont due to injury.  I’ll Have Another, for instance, in 2012 was scratched the day before the Belmont for lameness.  Therefore, the win percentage since 1919 in the Belmont for colts that have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness is 37.5% (12/32) or 34.3% (12/35) if the injured and scratched colts are included.

These historical metrics indicate that a Kentucky Derby winner has about a 14.4% chance of subsequently winning both the Preakness and Belmont and thereby completing the Triple Crown.  Once a Kentucky Derby winner follows up by taking the Preakness, his chance to win the Belmont rises to the aforementioned 37.5%.

Historical win percentages are merely guides to what might occur in the future, but they do show to what extent the odds are stacked against a Kentucky Derby winner to sweep the Preakness and Belmont.

None of the forgoing percentages, of course, take into account a horse’s inherent capabilities and the amount and quality of the competition he will face.

Copyright © 2016 Horse Racing Business