Steve Haskin adds some much-needed insight and clarity into the Preakness Stakes telecast where Donna Brothers and Gary Stevens commented on Shackleford's nasty pre-race appearance.
There is no denying that NBC analysts Donna Brothers and Gary Stevens both became concerned by the way Shackleford was sweating and acting up before the Preakness. So the horse wins, still dripping sweat crossing the finish line, and everyone is in an uproar for being misled by the experts.Touche. These two "horse folk" added what they knew about horses, namely when they expend energy before a race, they can run worse than they look on paper. It does not mean they are going to lose, they will race worse, or finish 9th by 40, just that it is not an ideal situation before a race. It's one of many factors, and probably tantamount to saying that Shackleford's beyer in the Derby might have been a little light due to path bias, or his number in the Florida Derby might have been a little too high because of the speed bias.
Well, guess what? Brothers and Stevens are indeed experts and know how to look at a horse as well as anyone. They are getting paid to provide viewers with their observations and that’s all they did.
For touche number two in the piece, Haskin mentions Sway Away's appearance (which was totally washed out) and we know how he ran.
At betfair, where sharps from all over watch horses loading and act accordingly, this situation is illustrated each race day. You might see a horse rear at the gate, become agitated, or wash out. What happens is exactly what should happen - the odds adjust. But there is never a move from even money to 3 or 4-1 for such things, it is simply a move from a 50% to 45% or 42% chance. If the horse is a notorious bad actor, sometimes the odds never move. Even Life At Ten only moved from about 4-1 to 5-1 when it looked (in hindsight) like she had zero shot to win.
Geoff Hutson in "Watching Racehorses" did a massive study on myriad factors with pre-race appearance. The result was as advertised - there was a small correlation in finish and appearance. If a horse had two strappers, had neck sweat, bucked, swished a tail, or many other adverse reactions, it did not mean the horse lost, it just meant he did not quite win as much as expected.
One of 10,000 factors.
Brothers and Stevens were simply relaying it to the viewing audience, which is after all, what they are paid to do.
The Dan Patch last night was won by Giddy Up Lucky, the 9-5 chalk. The competitive FFA field at Hoosier drew over $113,000 of wagering, up from last year. The USTA had a targeted superfecta pool last evening which helped.
Big Jim got the job done in the NJ Classic last evening. He dominated the competition en route to a 51 score. I am sold Big Jim is the best of this bunch (from what we've seen so far), but I am not sold he is a solid 48-type pacer quite yet.
The Eiltlopp is this morning! Now I just have to find somewhere to watch it.