Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why A Six Week Break Between Derby Preps is A Bad Thing

In today's racing, everyone is worrying about the "bounce" effect with their horses. This leads to a culture of big efforts and big layoffs, all to keep up winning percentages and avoid scrutiny. But for the Kentucky Derby, is this strategy a bad thing? The chart below shows the horses in the last ten years who have had a gap of 40 days or more in between the penultimate and final Derby prep.

22 horses have run in the Derby in the last ten years under the criteria. The average finish for these horses is tenth, with the average odds being just a shade under 29-1. Horses who fit this criteria (based on the average odds) should hit the board about 4% of the time. So far, given the small sample, the record for these horses is 22-1-1-1. This group has hit the board almost 14% of the time so far, with the shortest and longest prices hitting the board.

Four horses this year fall into this category, each likely to fall beneath the average odds. Those four are Alpha, Hansen, I'll Have Another and Take Charge Indy. Among the five lowest horses in the odds on the chart, the average finish is nearly 9th while the average odds is 11.60-1, though the one winner is among this group. With only 22 horses in the past 10 years that fit the angle, it is hard to make a concrete stand on whether this angle is viable or not. Based on the limited data, it looks like it is a negative, but a few more year's data will answer whether it is or not.

Even though the data is more limited, with just five horses in the last ten years, this blog feels that the stat shown in blue is worth using at this point. That stat shows the average of horses odds & finish who had just two preps. The numbers are worse than the full chart. I'll Have Another and Take Charge Indy both fit that category. Both will be lower odds than any of the previous runners listed, so this year's race will be a stern test of it.

Time will tell whether the early data of this obscure stat will pan out into something usable to take a stand on against a horse in the Derby. Good luck this weekend folks.

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