Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Admin » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:15 am

I read the harbinger part the same way as Ridan and don't see why it's a problem for her to respond to it. I disagree with her that a trainer telling her that he didn't run on steroids is proof that he didn't. Maybe he did race without them, but if he did, that's something a trainer will take to his grave. The only person I've seen who was crazy enough to admit to an illegal or controversial drug usage was Doc Harthill about Northern Dancer, but he wasn't the trainer or owner so had no reputation he had to protect from taint. If anything, it was the opposite with him, wanting the credit for his part in the horse winning the Derby.

All this brings me to a point regarding the drop off you're discussing. Trainers who have been in the sport for decades will tell you that for all the talk about drugs in today's racing, that the sport has never been cleaner than it is today. Basically, they assume that all the past greats were running on something, from the famed arsenic tonics to cocaine to steroids and everything else and inbetween. Today, you will get busted for all those things. There may still be people pushing the envelope with new drugs, but overall it's far cleaner today than decades ago.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Insane Crazy » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:25 am

Admin wrote:I read the harbinger part the same way as Ridan and don't see why it's a problem for her to respond to it.

There was nothing wrong at all with responding to it. It's the continued arguing after Tessa presented her side and continual underminding of the thread's purpose that started to be ridiculous.

I'm always trying to explain to non-racing fans about the drugs thing, so it's nice to hear your take on it -- I might snag some of your wording! Outlining something like lasix and bute and their various policies, vs. snake venom and steroids, seems to be something that is hard to convey appropriately. And I think it's right to note that at some point we have to acknowledge that previous generations of horses raced on "stuff" and it is going to have some impact on numbers and historical perspective.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby stark » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:29 am

Tessablue wrote:I've spent three years working on this.



I may have missed it in the beginning, what the objective was and what you hope to have when its a finished project?
thanks
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby stark » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:31 am

Admin wrote:All this brings me to a point regarding the drop off you're discussing. Trainers who have been in the sport for decades will tell you that for all the talk about drugs in today's racing, that the sport has never been cleaner than it is today. Basically, they assume that all the past greats were running on something, from the famed arsenic tonics to cocaine to steroids and everything else and inbetween. Today, you will get busted for all those things. There may still be people pushing the envelope with new drugs, but overall it's far cleaner today than decades ago.


BINGO!
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Treve » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:08 am

Insane Crazy wrote:
Admin wrote:I read the harbinger part the same way as Ridan and don't see why it's a problem for her to respond to it.

There was nothing wrong at all with responding to it. It's the continued arguing after Tessa presented her side and continual underminding of the thread's purpose that started to be ridiculous.

I'm always trying to explain to non-racing fans about the drugs thing, so it's nice to hear your take on it -- I might snag some of your wording! Outlining something like lasix and bute and their various policies, vs. snake venom and steroids, seems to be something that is hard to convey appropriately. And I think it's right to note that at some point we have to acknowledge that previous generations of horses raced on "stuff" and it is going to have some impact on numbers and historical perspective.


All of this.
Besides, if everyone else was doing it, all it did was level the playing field. It becomes less about pointing the finger at specific horses or connections and more how the overall numbers of a given era compare to another.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Admin » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:27 am

i don't think we could call it a level playing field though. Those who are first to use a substance, like Northern Dancer in the Derby, are going to have a benefit the others don't have if the drug in question truly has a performance enhancing properties. The same is true of the early steroid users, but even after it became commonplace, we know of at least 2 other cases where it was proven that not all used steroids. That's the case of Larry Jones who'd said that Hard Spun and none of his horses raced on steroids, and then that was proven in Eight Belles' necropsy. As an aside, he believed they weren't beneficial. He believed with his feeding program, he could get them to eat up, so he didn't want anything which made them aggressive and difficult to manage. And he'll point out that his horses can go directly from training to the shed and catch the first time.

I know of trainers who were milkshaking, others who were shockwaving the morning of a horse's race, etc. these and others weren't or aren't cases where "everyone does it" making for a level playing field. The playing field has been and remains unlevel, but maybe it's harder to be the first to use a drug these days that also doesn't make horses keel over dead or cause rare liver diseases.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Treve » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:53 am

Admin wrote:i don't think we could call it a level playing field though. Those who are first to use a substance, like Northern Dancer in the Derby, are going to have a benefit the others don't have if the drug in question truly has a performance enhancing properties. The same is true of the early steroid users, but even after it became commonplace, we know of at least 2 other cases where it was proven that not all used steroids. That's the case of Larry Jones who'd said that Hard Spun and none of his horses raced on steroids, and then that was proven in Eight Belles' necropsy. As an aside, he believed they weren't beneficial. He believed with his feeding program, he could get them to eat up, so he didn't want anything which made them aggressive and difficult to manage. And he'll point out that his horses can go directly from training to the shed and catch the first time.

I know of trainers who were milkshaking, others who were shockwaving the morning of a horse's race, etc. these and others weren't or aren't cases where "everyone does it" making for a level playing field. The playing field has been and remains unlevel, but maybe it's harder to be the first to use a drug these days that also doesn't make horses keel over dead or cause rare liver diseases.


I meant it in the context of averages. Not everyone uses Lasix today but on average, most people do. Not everyone uses bute, but on average most people do. Like a bell curve of sorts.
Since the original comment that segued into this discussion was about the differences in Derby Rankings from one decade to the next - it's the overall/averages, not a statement that every single horse in X decade was running on Y type of drug, I probably should have worded that better.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby bare it all » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:48 pm

tb - this is amazing work. Thank you so much for the time and thought you obviously spent putting into this. I wish I could produce something half as interesting!

Thoughts from reviewing the lineup...

Way to go, Big Brown!
Wait, Monarchos is way up here.. and War Emblem? (rewatch races) Ok those were pretty awesome performances
Barbaro was a beast
Wow, was Alysheba's Derby worse than Giacomo's??
Sunday Silence last??
I can't believe Nyquist made the top 20.
I'm surprised to see the Bid so far down at 8.
Mine That Bird was on par with Affirmed? (rewatches both...) meh. Ok.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Tessablue » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:28 pm

Admin wrote:All this brings me to a point regarding the drop off you're discussing. Trainers who have been in the sport for decades will tell you that for all the talk about drugs in today's racing, that the sport has never been cleaner than it is today. Basically, they assume that all the past greats were running on something, from the famed arsenic tonics to cocaine to steroids and everything else and inbetween. Today, you will get busted for all those things. There may still be people pushing the envelope with new drugs, but overall it's far cleaner today than decades ago.

This is fascinating to hear, although it sort of confirms what I've suspected. There's an arms race between drug detection and development in most sports, I'd imagine, but I know that in my world (life sciences), technology pretty well outpaces pharmacy at this point. Combined with the ease of communication across fans and racing jurisdictions (how many people would have learned about Baffert's dead horses just a few decades ago?) and the steady increase of public pressure, it does seem like you'd produce an environment that is relatively hostile towards the development and use of new drugs. That tumultuous, hidden history is another reason why I just ignore the question when I'm evaluating historical horses.

One other, (slightly) less controversial factor I'm considering is actually the points system. The sample is very small so far, but four Derbys have been run under this system and three of the four were slower than average. An unfortunate characteristic of speed figures is the fact that they are pace-dependent: a fast pace is more likely to result in a high number than a slow one. The 2013 pace was very fast but the race was contested over a sticky tiring track. 2014 and 2015 were rather slow, especially relative to the pace meltdowns of the early 00's, likely in part because of the exclusion of precocious juveniles and no-hope sprinters. It's still far too early to judge and last year's race was more in line with those of years previous, but I'm looking forward to seeing whether this trend holds up in the oncoming years.

Somnambulist wrote:I like the amadygdala driven description. It's so accurate.
Social media has made beasts out of people.

Regardless the SI articles are so fun. Primary documents are my favorite reading.

Amygdala-driven is a wonderful phrase that I am totally using from now on. And racing primary documents are the best. The sport could be renamed Competitive Complaining and nothing would change. I love it. Wish I could find a digitized version of a Bloodhorse article from around 1955 in which the writer complains about how the starting gate ruined the beauty of the sport. In the meantime, here's a terribly-transcribed article describing how Bid was booed during his walkover. It reads like something straight off of a message board! https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/110320620/

"They're not booing him," answered a regular. "They're booing his connections. Teresa Meyerhoff, one of Bid's owners, said, "I was disappointed in the crowd's reaction. It's not the horse's fault nobody ran against him."
bare it all wrote:tb - this is amazing work. Thank you so much for the time and thought you obviously spent putting into this. I wish I could produce something half as interesting!

Thoughts from reviewing the lineup...

Way to go, Big Brown!
Wait, Monarchos is way up here.. and War Emblem? (rewatch races) Ok those were pretty awesome performances
Barbaro was a beast
Wow, was Alysheba's Derby worse than Giacomo's??
Sunday Silence last??
I can't believe Nyquist made the top 20.
I'm surprised to see the Bid so far down at 8.
Mine That Bird was on par with Affirmed? (rewatches both...) meh. Ok.

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I too was surprised by Alysheba's figure, but he was still immature at the time and he did have that nasty stumble in deep stretch. That race also had a high degree of field compression at the finish, about equal with Giacomo's (a sign that it wasn't just due to a slow track). However, I personally wouldn't go that far- it's a pretty ungenerous method of evaluating his race, because I don't have a rough trip correction! Sunday Silence's race was one of those too-slow-to-be-true performances, probably a combination of the track surface and his drunken wanderings in the stretch. I do enjoy jumping back in time to imagine how disappointed people were by that anticlimactic showdown. I'm sure we all would have been... then the Preakness happened.

Mine that Bird remains an enigma. He's one of the biggest "disagreements" on that list, but I oddly feel a lot better about his figure than, say, Animal Kingdom (who benefited from a completely aberrant pace setup and probably should have a lower figure). Whether from the track conditions or the high altitude training (as peep mentioned), or likely as a result of both, he absolutely freaked that day. His final quarter was astonishingly fast (the only horse since Secretariat to break that sub-24 threshold, as measured by the traditional 5 lengths = 1 second method), and his time was extraordinary for a wet-track Derby. I don't know how to compare that effort to Affirmed's defeat of a far better field of horses, but uncovering these bizarre (and sometimes blasphemous) points of comparison was one of the most enjoyable parts of this process.

Another one I was surprised by is Fusaichi Pegasus. Re-watching that race and remembering how I felt at the time, it's kind of amazing that he dropped out racing consciousness so quickly. He was really, really good for those first few months of 2000.
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Re: Ranking the Derbys: A Quantitative Analysis

Postby Treve » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:31 pm

I laughed at "competitive complaining" :lol: reminds me of the people grumbling in football/soccer about goal line technology being introduced a few years back.

About Mine That Bird, it definitely was a perfect storm but I re-watched his Derby yesterday and it's still astonishing. Not the fact he was a 50-1 long shot winning, but how he did it. It still feels like it shouldn't have been possible. Especially after taking all that mud to the face and likely inhaling a fair bit.
Even rewatching his Preakness I'm impressed.

I don't know what the poor horse did to deserve D Wayne Lukas after his Belmont, at worst he couldn't make up for rider error.
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Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


And a Queen named Beholder
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