Track Profiling

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I collect old horse racing magazines – some go back as far as 1898. One of my favorites is from 1925 called A Crystallized Manual by M. P. Walter & Co. Actually, there’s still a lot of pertinent information in that little manual. Every section of the manual has a silk type divider with a nifty axiom like “Confidence is the Result of the ‘Actual How’.

 Of course there are people who drift through life, never knowing what is going on around them. The field of turf speculation will always have it ‘submerged nine-tenths.” Well, I suppose we should make sure we’re part of the one-tenth group. Anyway, the author of the little manual could have used some advise from Hemingway because the guy was stuck in verbiage diarrhea Victorian era style. An Ernie succinct style would have made the thing a bit more enjoyable to read. But still, there’s some good stuff.

Right now I’m re-reading past issues of American Turf Monthly; some of those go back to the 1940s. So today I want to briefly address Doc Sartin’s August ‘96 article Profiling for Profit .

I’ll just give you the gist of the article and spare you the, well, verbiage: Sartin gave a few examples to demonstrate that the track profile of Santa Anita at the time came out in favor of off pace types – those horses were winning in the profile set so those types of horses were the ones we should be looking for in the future at that particular track, at least until the profile changed, you see. Could we trust it? With all due respect to Doc Sartin, I don’t think so.

Here are the fraction examples from the article:

Sprint A – 22 1/5 – 45 2/5 – 1:11 3/5
Route B – 46 4/5 -1:11 – 1:49
Route C -45 4/5 -1:10 4/5 – 1:35 4/5
Route D -47 1/5 -1:10 4/5 – 1:40 2/5
And here’s my take on the fraction examples:

Sprint A earned a pace of the race velocity figure of Fast 5
Route B earned a pace of the race velocity figure of Fast 5
Route C earned a pace of the race velocity figure of Par
Route D earned a pace of the race velocity figure of Fast 2

(Pure pace of the race pace shapes can only number three: Average/Average – Fast/Slow – Slow/Fast)
What does this tell us? Well, it tells us that one race was Average/Average, which is neutral and favors no particular running style. But it also tells us that the Pace Shapes were Fast/Slow in the other three races. Those Fast/Slow pace shapes favor off pace running styles typically. And there’s the most likely reason for the late pace track profile, at least from those examples. Plus, the article and examples did not take into consideration the effects of pace pressure if there was any, which is best expressed by the number of early pace horses vying for early position (the results charts gives us that information for the profile time frame). Crowded environments cause adrenaline surges that can cause premature fatigue, which limits available energy for stretch drives. That is not the optimum scenario for early pace horses, of course. Naturally, off pace horses would have the advantage in those situations.

I see that every race is different. A different dynamic is at work every time. Pace match-ups are different. Pace of the race velocity is different. Mishaps occur. So track profiles tell us what happened yesterday, I think. They can’t help us with today’s races. The biggest problem with track profiling, though, is this: trend-lines cannot be drawn across independent events. But that’s another story for another time.

February 4, 2010 • Posted in: Articles

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