Each week, TimeformUS Chief Figure Maker Craig Milkowski takes a look back at the weekend performances that earned the top TimeformUS Speed Figures.
NOTE: The TimeformUS Speed Figure scale has been upgraded to better align with the Timeform Global Rating scale. >Please read a detailed explanation here.
This week’s post will be dedicated to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. Before diving into those races in more detail, a note about TimeformUS Speed Figures. In addition to some new upgrades in both performance and functionality, the figures have been adjusted to better align with Timeform. More detail (same link as above): http://timeformusblog.com/2015/05/05/timeformus-speed-figure-scale-alignment/ Churchill Downs G1 Kentucky Derby Dirt 1 1/4 miles 3yo Pace Figure For Leader at each point of call: ¼ 132 ½ 132 ¾ 132 1m 130 Final 126 The 2015 Kentucky Derby did not resemble the race people have come to expect from this annual contest. The horses running 1-2-3 early finished 3-2-1. The immediate reaction by many on television and in social media was a near unanimous declaration that the pace was anywhere from slow to very slow to “a joke.” The numbers above, however, tell a different story. These were not slow fractions for a mile and a quarter race on dirt. Most of the time, the Derby features a faster pace, but a faster pace than what we saw Saturday is not sustainable for horses on or near the lead. What happened this year is pretty simple…the best horses set a reasonable pace instead of a crazy one, had something left for the stretch, and inferior horses were unable to catch them. The top three on TimeformUS Speed Figures finished that way, the horse rated fourth had an impossible trip and still ran well, and the rest were simply outgunned. Horses of note: 1st American Pharoah – 127 TimeformUS Speed Figure There isn’t much doubt the winner was the best horse in the race. Not only did he earn the best TimeformUS Speed Figure in the field (the winner doesn’t always get the best rating), he did so while wide on both turns. He covered more distance in the race than any horse with the exception of Frosted. He has good tactical speed and rates nicely. 2nd Firing Line – 126 This was a very game effort in defeat for the runner-up. He stalked Dortmund, a horse that had defeated him twice previously, took the lead only to be engaged by American Pharoah, and fought all the way to the wire while second best. 3rd Dortmund – 124 The second choice in the wagering led for the first mile but was unable to match the top two through the lane. It was a good effort, nearly matching his career best of 125, but it simply wasn’t good enough this day. 4th Frosted – 122 Second consecutive career top for this one after a 115 taking the Wood Memorial in his last start. He also covered the most ground in the race according to Trakus. Frosted will be a horse to deal with as he progresses this year and would relish a fast pace. 6th Materiality – 116 Of all the horses in the field of 18, Materiality had by far the most adventurous trip. This one clearly ran better than his finishing position would suggest. He ran a 119 TimeformUS Speed Figure in his prior start while winning the Florida Derby, and should be expected to run at least that and possibly much better in the near future. G1 Kentucky Oaks Dirt 1 1/4 miles 3yo F Pace Figure For Leader at each point of call: ¼ 140 ½ 138 ¾ 1321 m 118 Final 110 The 2015 Kentucky Oaks featured a pace more like those usually associated with the Derby. It was not just fast, but very fast. All the fractions after the opening quarter mile will be denoted in red by TimeformUS to indicate a very fast pace for the group. Even with the fast pace, the winner was able to stay close to the dueling leaders and win easily. The runner-up was likewise in striking position early. A fast pace, especially on dirt, does not always lead to a closing-style winner. Horses of note: 1st Lovely Maria – 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure Impressive performance tracking the fast pace and still having plenty left to take over and draw clear. This was a career best performance and she clearly peaked on the biggest day. Her speed figures in 2015 gradually increased each time out --- 96, 102, 104, 115. Three-year-olds with improving figures like this are always candidates to run a big race and this one did not disappoint. 2nd Shook Up – 113 This is another improving filly and while no match for the winner, she ran very well. She tracked the fast pace and was able to hold off the two favorites that were running late. This was only her sixth career start. 3rd I’m a Chatterbox – 108 Stablemate of the winner; dropped well back behind the fast pace early. She has proven very versatile this year. She has won wire to wire as well as last to first. Given the hot pace, being well back would seem to make sense tactically, but she never looked like a possible winner throughout the race. 6th Angela Renee – 112 Prompted the taxing pace set by Condo Commando while three wide and took over briefly after six furlongs. She had little left but fought on gamely until very late. This was a good effort and despite the sixth place finish, she earned the third best TimeformUS Speed Figure in the race. 9th Condo Commando – 110 Entered the race on a tear, having won five of her six career starts, all of the wins in easy fashion. She set a fast pace and yielded pretty easily. She was probably overrated by many before the Kentucky Oaks, but it is worth noting she ran better than the finish makes it look and will be dangerous any time she is left alone on the front end.
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