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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:15 am 
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Allowance Winner

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So, I just read Steve Haskin’s blog about the concerns surrounding American Pharoah’s possible participation in the Travers. With regard to Saratoga’s legacy as ‘graveyard of favorites’, I decided to analyze some data I have on race results. My database was compiled from data pulled from the Racing Post website, and covers racing from April 2007 through mid-July 2015, for North American thoroughbred tracks. My dataset contains the results of about 8,000 races where there was an identifiable favorite and the field size was at least 5.

I found 8,150 post time favorites in this dataset, and the overall percentage of winning favorites was 35.77%. This is the percentage of race favorites who actually finished first. With entries and co-favorites, the actual # of winners was 7,996.

The interesting data (to me, at least): Saratoga’s winning favorites’ percentage was higher than the overall, at 36.66%. This means that favorites won more often at Saratoga than at all other NA tracks combined. This was for over 400 races in my dataset.

The second interesting thing was focusing on the major synthetic tracks: Keeneland (up until the Fall of last year, it was Polytrack), Arlington and Woodbine. {I know there are other synthetic tracks in NA, like PID-GG-TP, but they do not host major race meets, IMO.}. The favorites’ winning percentage at the three major synthetic tracks was 31.69%. This covered over 1,400 races.

All other tracks in NA (Belmont, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Monmouth, etc. etc.) showed a favorites’ winning percentage of 36.64%. This covered over 6,100 races.

So, according to my analysis, Saratoga should no longer be labeled the graveyard of favorites … Statistically, their win pct was not significantly different than other (non-synthetic) tracks around the country.

FWIW :)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 1:36 pm 
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Hi Aug,
You're taking Saratoga's nickname too literally. It has nothing to do with the percentage of favorites that have won at the meet, but the improbable Champions that have been beaten at very low odds in prestigious Graded Stakes races. Saratoga got that name in 1919, when the great Man O' War was defeated by Upset, then Gallant Man being beaten by Jim Dandy and the icing on the cake, when Secretariat lost to Onion to name the top 3:>) Such improbable upsets is why the name has stuck all these years and will never be forgotten. Hopefully it won't rear it's ugly head IF AP decides to take the challenge and run in the Travers. We'll find out Bafferts decision tomorrow after AP breezes at Del Mar. Here's a little video Harvey Pack put together years ago about the "Graveyard of Favorites". TJ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qQdcxQ6awA


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 12:30 am 
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hi TJ,

Yes, I know the back story ... but that's ancient history, as they say. Recent data shows Saratoga is not that much different than any other track.
I found 94 Grade 1 Stakes in my dataset where the favorite was 1-2 or less, of which 14 were at Saratoga.
Of the 14 SAR G1 heavy favs, 9 won, for a W% of 64.3%.
Of the 80 G1s with heavy favs not at SAR, 54 won, for a W% of 67.5%.

I guess it falls under the rubric of 'an urban myth', given the Man O'War and Secretariat history, and how improbable their losses were.
One of the more notable ones in recent history was Princess of Sylmar losing the Delaware Handicap last year at 1-5.
Of course, we should never forget these extreme results, but I believe my more recent history shows that heavy favorites in G1s tend to run to their odds, regardless of the racing surface or location.

Here's the complete list, in case anyone is interested. It is probably not complete, given that I pulled down the data by hand from a UK site and it (or me) may be inaccurate:

RACECOURSE DATE STAKES FAVORITE ODDS FINISH WINNER
Aqueduct 11/24/2007 CIGAR MILE HANDICAP MIDNIGHT LUTE 1/2F 2 DAAHER
Aqueduct 4/4/2009 WOOD MEMORIAL STAKES I WANT REVENGE 1/2F 1 I WANT REVENGE
Aqueduct 4/3/2010 WOOD MEMORIAL STAKES ESKENDEREYA 1/2F 1 ESKENDEREYA
Arlington Park 8/21/2010 SECRETARIAT STAKES PADDY O'PRADO 1/2F 1 PADDY O'PRADO
Belmont Park 7/21/2007 COACHING CLUB AMERICAN OAKS OCTAVE 1/2F 1 OCTAVE
Belmont Park 9/30/2007 JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC INVITATIONAL STAKES ENGLISH CHANNEL 2/5F 1 ENGLISH CHANNEL
Belmont Park 6/7/2008 BELMONT STAKES BIG BROWN 30/100F 9 DA' TARA
Belmont Park 6/14/2008 OGDEN PHIPPS HANDICAP GINGER PUNCH 1/2F 1 GINGER PUNCH
Belmont Park 7/12/2008 MAN O'WAR STAKES CURLIN 9/20F 2 RED ROCKS
Belmont Park 7/19/2008 COACHING CLUB AMERICAN OAKS LITTLE BELLE 7/20F 2 MUSIC NOTE
Belmont Park 7/19/2008 COACHING CLUB AMERICAN OAKS MUSIC NOTE 7/20F 1 MUSIC NOTE
Belmont Park 9/27/2008 JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP CURLIN 2/5F 1 CURLIN
Belmont Park 6/13/2009 OGDEN PHIPPS HANDICAP MUSIC NOTE 7/20F 5 SEATTLE SMOOTH
Belmont Park 6/13/2009 OGDEN PHIPPS HANDICAP SEA CHANTER 7/20F 3 SEATTLE SMOOTH
Belmont Park 6/13/2009 OGDEN PHIPPS HANDICAP SEVENTH STREET 7/20F 2 SEATTLE SMOOTH
Belmont Park 9/12/2009 GARDEN CITY HANDICAP GOZZIP GIRL 2/5F 4 MISS WORLD
Belmont Park 9/12/2009 RUFFIAN HANDICAP SKYLIGHTER 30/100J 4 SWIFT TEMPER
Belmont Park 9/12/2009 RUFFIAN HANDICAP SEVENTH STREET 30/100J 2 SWIFT TEMPER
Belmont Park 10/3/2009 BELDAME STAKES MUSIC NOTE 1/4F 1 MUSIC NOTE
Belmont Park 5/31/2010 METROPOLITAN HANDICAP QUALITY ROAD 1/4F 1 QUALITY ROAD
Belmont Park 7/10/2010 MAN O'WAR STAKES GIO PONTI 2/5F 1 GIO PONTI
Belmont Park 10/9/2010 CHAMPAGNE STAKES UNCLE MO 1/5F 1 UNCLE MO
Belmont Park 10/1/2011 BELDAME STAKES HAVRE DE GRACE 9/20F 1 HAVRE DE GRACE
Belmont Park 10/1/2011 FLOWER BOWL INVITATIONAL STAKES STACELITA 1/2F 1 STACELITA
Belmont Park 6/23/2012 MOTHER GOOSE STAKES CONTESTED 1/2F 5 ZO IMPRESSIVE
Belmont Park 6/22/2013 MOTHER GOOSE STAKES DREAMING OF JULIA 1/5F 2 CLOSE HATCHES
Belmont Park 9/28/2013 BELDAME STAKES ROYAL DELTA 30/100F 2 PRINCESS OF SYLMAR
Belmont Park 6/28/2014 MOTHER GOOSE STAKES UNTAPABLE 1/20F 1 UNTAPABLE
Churchill Downs 6/14/2008 STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP CURLIN 2/5F 1 CURLIN
Churchill Downs 5/1/2009 KENTUCKY OAKS RACHEL ALEXANDRA 30/100F 1 RACHEL ALEXANDRA
Churchill Downs 5/3/2014 TURF CLASSIC WISE DAN 1/2F 1 WISE DAN
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 8/7/2009 BING CROSBY HANDICAP ZENSATIONAL 2/5F 1 ZENSATIONAL
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 8/8/2009 CLEMENT L HIRSCH HANDICAP ZENYATTA 1/5F 1 ZENYATTA
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 9/6/2009 PAT O'BRIEN HANDICAP ZENSATIONAL 30/100F 1 ZENSATIONAL
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 7/21/2012 EDDIE READ HANDICAP ACCLAMATION 1/2F 1 ACCLAMATION
Delaware Park 7/20/2013 DELAWARE HANDICAP ROYAL DELTA 2/5F 1 ROYAL DELTA
Delaware Park 7/12/2014 DELAWARE HANDICAP PRINCESS OF SYLMAR 1/5F 2 BELLE GALLANTEY
Gulfstream Park 2/6/2010 DONN HANDICAP QUALITY ROAD 2/5F 1 QUALITY ROAD
Gulfstream Park 3/31/2012 FLORIDA DERBY UNION RAGS 2/5F 3 TAKE CHARGE INDY
Hollywood Park 7/5/2008 VANITY INVITATIONAL HANDICAP ZENYATTA 30/100F 1 ZENYATTA
Hollywood Park 6/27/2009 VANITY HANDICAP ZENYATTA 30/100F 1 ZENYATTA
Hollywood Park 12/19/2009 HOLLYWOOD FUTURITY LOOKIN AT LUCKY 30/100F 1 LOOKIN AT LUCKY
Hollywood Park 6/29/2013 SHOEMAKER MILE STAKES OBVIOUSLY 30/100F 1 OBVIOUSLY
Keeneland 4/9/2009 MADISON STAKES VENTURA 2/5F 2 INFORMED DECISION
Keeneland 4/12/2013 MAKER'S MARK MILE WISE DAN 2/5F 1 WISE DAN
Keeneland 10/5/2013 SHADWELL TURF MILE STAKES WISE DAN 1/2F 2 SILVER MAX
Keeneland 4/11/2014 MAKER'S MARK MILE WISE DAN 2/5F 1 WISE DAN
Keeneland 4/4/2015 Blue Grass Stakes CARPE DIEM 2/5F 1 CARPE DIEM
Monmouth Park 8/3/2008 HASKELL INVITATIONAL HANDICAP BIG BROWN 1/5F 1 BIG BROWN
Monmouth Park 8/2/2009 HASKELL INVITATIONAL HANDICAP RACHEL ALEXANDRA 1/2F 1 RACHEL ALEXANDRA
Oaklawn Park 4/5/2008 APPLE BLOSSOM HANDICAP GINGER PUNCH 2/5F 3 ZENYATTA
Oaklawn Park 4/4/2009 APPLE BLOSSOM HANDICAP ACOMA 2/5F 3 SEVENTH STREET
Oaklawn Park 4/10/2015 Apple Blossom Handicap UNTAPABLE 1/5F 1 UNTAPABLE
Philadelphia Park 9/20/2014 COTILLION HANDICAP UNTAPABLE 1/2F 1 UNTAPABLE
Pimlico 5/17/2008 PREAKNESS STAKES BIG BROWN 1/5F 1 BIG BROWN
Pimlico 5/17/2014 PREAKNESS STAKES CALIFORNIA CHROME 1/2F 1 CALIFORNIA CHROME
Santa Anita Park 2/2/2008 SANTA MONICA HANDICAP HYSTERICALADY 30/100F 4 INTANGAROO
Santa Anita Park 3/9/2008 SANTA MARGARITA INVITATIONAL HANDICAP NASHOBA'S KEY 1/2F 1 NASHOBA'S KEY
Santa Anita Park 10/24/2008 BREEDERS' CUP LADIES CLASSIC ZENYATTA 1/2F 1 ZENYATTA
Santa Anita Park 1/31/2009 SANTA MONICA HANDICAP VENTURA 30/100F 1 VENTURA
Santa Anita Park 2/7/2009 LAS VIRGENES STAKES STARDOM BOUND 2/5F 1 STARDOM BOUND
Santa Anita Park 3/7/2009 SANTA ANITA OAKS STARDOM BOUND 2/5F 1 STARDOM BOUND
Santa Anita Park 10/10/2009 LADY'S SECRET STAKES ZENYATTA 2/5F 1 ZENYATTA
Santa Anita Park 2/13/2010 LAS VIRGENES STAKES BLIND LUCK 1/5F 1 BLIND LUCK
Santa Anita Park 3/6/2010 SANTA ANITA OAKS BLIND LUCK 1/2F 3 CRISP
Santa Anita Park 3/13/2010 SANTA MARGARITA INVITATIONAL HANDICAP ZENYATTA 30/100F 1 ZENYATTA
Santa Anita Park 1/30/2011 SANTA MONICA HANDICAP SWITCH 30/100F 1 SWITCH
Santa Anita Park 2/5/2011 LAS VIRGENES STAKES TURBULENT DESCENT 2/5F 2 ZAZU
Santa Anita Park 10/2/2011 CLEMENT L HIRSCH MEMORIAL TURF CHAMPIONSHIP ACCLAMATION 2/5F 1 ACCLAMATION
Santa Anita Park 10/8/2011 ANCIENT TITLE STAKES THE FACTOR 2/5F 4 AMAZOMBIE
Santa Anita Park 3/31/2012 SANTA ANITA OAKS EDEN´S MOON 1/2F 3 WILLA B AWESOME
Santa Anita Park 9/29/2012 CHANDELIER STAKES (FORMERLY OAK LEAF) EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE 30/100F 1 EXECUTIVEPRIVILEGE
Santa Anita Park 12/26/2012 LA BREA STAKES MY MISS AURELIA 2/5F 3 BOOK REVIEW
Santa Anita Park 4/6/2013 SANTA ANITA OAKS BEHOLDER 30/100F 1 BEHOLDER
Santa Anita Park 9/27/2014 AWESOME AGAIN STAKES (FORMERLY GOODWOOD) SHARED BELIEF 1/5F 1 SHARED BELIEF
Santa Anita Park 9/27/2014 FRONTRUNNER STAKES (FORMERLY NORFOLK) AMERICAN PHAROAH 1/2F 1 AMERICAN PHAROAH
Santa Anita Park 9/27/2014 ZENYATTA STAKES (FORMERLY LADY'S SECRET) BEHOLDER 2/5F 1 BEHOLDER
Santa Anita Park 12/26/2014 MALIBU STAKES SHARED BELIEF 1/2F 1 SHARED BELIEF
Saratoga Race Course 8/25/2007 TRAVERS STAKES STREET SENSE 7/20F 1 STREET SENSE
Saratoga Race Course 7/26/2008 GO FOR WAND HANDICAP GINGER PUNCH 1/5F 1 GINGER PUNCH
Saratoga Race Course 8/2/2008 TEST STAKES INDIAN BLESSING 2/5F 1 INDIAN BLESSING
Saratoga Race Course 8/16/2008 ALABAMA STAKES LITTLE BELLE 9/20F 3 PROUD SPELL
Saratoga Race Course 8/16/2008 ALABAMA STAKES MUSIC NOTE 9/20F 2 PROUD SPELL
Saratoga Race Course 8/30/2008 WOODWARD STAKES CURLIN 7/20F 1 CURLIN
Saratoga Race Course 9/5/2009 WOODWARD STAKES RACHEL ALEXANDRA 30/100F 1 RACHEL ALEXANDRA
Saratoga Race Course 9/6/2009 SPINAWAY STAKES HOT DIXIE CHICK 30/100F 1 HOT DIXIE CHICK
Saratoga Race Course 8/7/2010 WHITNEY HANDICAP QUALITY ROAD 1/2F 2 BLAME
Saratoga Race Course 8/29/2010 PERSONAL ENSIGN HANDICAP RACHEL ALEXANDRA 9/20F 2 PERSISTENTLY
Saratoga Race Course 9/4/2010 WOODWARD STAKES QUALITY ROAD 30/100F 1 QUALITY ROAD
Saratoga Race Course 8/24/2012 BALLERINA STAKES TURBULENT DESCENT 9/20F 1 TURBULENT DESCENT
Saratoga Race Course 7/27/2013 PRIORESS STAKES KAUAI KATIE 9/20F 6 LIGHTHOUSE BAY
Saratoga Race Course 8/17/2013 ALABAMA STAKES PRINCESS OF SYLMAR 1/2F 1 PRINCESS OF SYLMAR
Woodbine 9/7/2008 WOODBINE MILE STAKES KIP DEVILLE 1/2F 5 RAHY'S ATTORNEY
Woodbine 9/15/2013 WOODBINE MILE STAKES WISE DAN 1/4F 1 WISE DAN


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:40 am 
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Breeder's Cup Winner

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Aug27

I believe the correct moniker for Saratoga is "Graveyard of Champions" and not "Graveyard of Favorites". Your data is, as Sgt. Schultz would say "very interesting" but what it does not account for is the dynamics of the races involved, meaning it does not consider the trip and if that bad start, poor position or track surface might have influenced the loss.

DDT


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:59 am 
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Darley line
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Hi Aug,
As I said before it has nothing to do with the number of favorites that win races at Saratoga and all the facts that you find will never change Saratoga's past history. It's simply about the number of champions that were upset at Saratoga. Whether the "Graveyard of Favorites" nickname is a myth or not, it is part of the allure of the oldest racecourse in America and those improbable defeats will stay forever etched in the minds of the fans, horsemen/women and in the Spa's history books. It's also been called "The August Place to Be", even though NYRA keeps extending this great meet from the end of July into the beginning of September. It's still the best racing in America and "The August Place to Be" for me is "The Graveyard of Favorites":>)
Yesterday's headline at Saratoga...."Embellish The Lace Upsets Alabama". TJ
http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/ ... ts-alabama


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:01 am 
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DDT wrote:
Aug27

I believe the correct moniker for Saratoga is "Graveyard of Champions" and not "Graveyard of Favorites". Your data is, as Sgt. Schultz would say "very interesting" but what it does not account for is the dynamics of the races involved, meaning it does not consider the trip and if that bad start, poor position or track surface might have influenced the loss.

DDT

Hi DDT,
Yes it was....but you can thank Harvey Pack for changing it:>) Look at the video I posted above.
Bill Heller's book was named "Graveyard of Champions". TJ


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:27 am 
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Well, I like reading your data, it makes me feel less superstitious about the Travers. I was worried before the Haskell, hearing all of the hype about TC winners losing their first time out after the Belmont... and AP proved them wrong. I am hoping beyond hope that the same happens on Saturday... looking at some workout pics today, he looks great, IMO... very fit, ears pricked and ready. :D Fingers, toes and limbs crossed!


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