Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rebel Recap

Rebel Stakes - Recap

The Factor
Caleb’s Posse

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Saragtoga Red, J.W. Blue, Sway Away, J.P’s Gusto, Picko’s Pride, Bluegrass Jam

Scratched – Alternation, Glint, Dreaminofthewin, Elite Alex

I rarely talk about strategy in horse racing, however the Rebel Stakes provided an interesting look at choices that Trainers and Jockeys made in this race.

One bit of strategy is to avoid the race altogether – Glint, Dreaminofthewin, and Elite Alex were all pulled by their Trainers most likely because they didn’t like their chances of making enough stakes money in this race to help them get into the Kentucky Derby.

Their thinking may be: “Why struggle to make $9000 coming in 5th against great horses, when I can wait another week – maybe run in the Louisiana Derby and win or come in second against lackluster horses – and also make around $60k to $30k ??”

We’ll see which of these scratchers show up in Louisiana next week.

Alternation was scratched by the vetinarian – let’s hope he’s okay and that he was only hungover from St. Patrick’s Day.

A different look at racing strategy is the race itself – The Factor makes a bold, and correct decision – in taking the lead, avoiding any and all traffic, and making a wire to wire run. They could have let another horse (most likely Saratoga Red) lead the way and stalk his should – as The Factor has done in previous races, but in this case they risked wearing out The Factor early but keeping him out of the log jam in the final turn.

His 46.77 ½ mile is significant as he may try this again in the Kentucky Derby. However we’re still just running 1 1/16 mile races – so they may change things up when they go to the next distance.

I wrote last week that I thought Archarcharch would get buried in the traffic early – however with so many horses scratched, and his post moved from the #1 spot to really the #3 spot – I’m not surprised he was able to fare much better in this race than I originally thought he would. This is a talented horse – however I think he’ll do much better at smaller derbies than any of the really big races.

Caleb’s Posse puts himself in the perfect position as they go into the final turn. He has the outside spot and is clear for takeoff when they hit the final stretch – excellent decision for this horse. Caleb’s Posse looks like a horse with a promising future, but I don’t think he belongs in the discussion with The Factor or Uncle Mo right now. They made the right move but they still finished 5 lengths back.

Now let’s discuss failed strategy –

First of all Trackmaster gave you three horses and none of them even finished in the Top 3.

To be fair I thought this race (with all the horses included) could go in several different directions, but I’ll enjoy the small victory of my horses faring slightly better than theirs.

Trackmaster almost had me convinced that J.P. Gusto was better than what I had previously seen – after all they picked this horse to win. At the end of the race J.P. Gusto still looks like a horse incapable of pulling off victories without it being either a mile long or less...or against weaker California competition.
As you watch the race it seems that the strategy for Sway Away was to keep him close to the rail and then “hope” for an opening on the inside (middle horse in the back three, 1:32 on Youtube), unlike Caleb’s Posse who decided to take the wide angle and suffer a tough turn but a clear path.

Sway Away’s decision clearly doesn’t pan out. The inside never opens up – so they bounce towards the outside cutting off Picko’s Pride and then as they attempt to pick up that late freight train momentum – they bump into J.P. Gusto (1:45 on Youtube - one more reason to dislike J.P. Gusto) – and at that point the late rally is over. It’s just the risk you run with those late rally horses.

I’ll be very curious to see where they ship Sway Away or if they’re going to stay in Arkansas for the Arkansas Derby. I really like this horse and I’d like to see him in a race without “The Factor”. I’m thinking take a crack at the Illinois Derby which will give him the distance, and a less competitive field.

In closing – The Factor is picking up a number of fans who are saying he’s the rightful challenger to Uncle Mo – my guess is we’ll see The Factor again in the Arkansas Derby. Things are shaping up for a great three or four months of horse racing!

Video attached below:

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