Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trends and Hot Sires at Santa Anita

santa_anita_horse_racing_200603_apThe winter meet highlighting the new dirt track at Santa Anita is a week old and certain trends are forming. I’ve kept spreadsheets to determine which running styles are most prominent, which sires are getting the most winners, and if horses that breezed over the dirt had an advantage over those whose last work was on a synthetic surface.

Running Styles:
In the dirt sprint races, speed from the rail wins an overwhelming 45% of the races. 36% of the victories go to horses that press the pace or run just off of the pace. Races held at a mile or longer over the dirt are a bit more forgiving, with speed and off the pace runners each winning at a 38% clip while stalkers grab 25% of the races.
Only four turf sprints have been contested and they have been spit evenly between front runners and closers. Races at a mile or farther over the lawn have been won on the lead 63% of the time and pace pressers or mid-pack runners took the rest.
Conclusion: Speed holds well over both surfaces and one run closers are at a distinct disadvantage in dirt sprints and going long on the turf.

As to be expected, it doesn’t matter where the winner won its last race. There’s no surprise that the majority of winners last raced at Hollywood Park. Form transferring from synthetics to dirt isn’t an issue, but those who last work over the Santa Anita dirt versus the Hollywood Cushion Track have the upper hand. Horses whose last breeze came over the Santa Anita dirt won 30 of the 50 dirt races.

With the transfer to dirt, one would expect horses predominately dirt attributes in their pedigrees to take the lion’s share of the money. This is partially true. Over the last five years, the sires whose progeny have done best over the various synthetic surfaces have some turf attributes in their ancestry. Now there’s a new ballgame in town and it’s anyone’s guess on where the former synthetic track runners will show up. We may see an increase in turf racing at Santa Anita over the coming months as horses that formerly handled Polytrack have a dislike for dirt. Those who handled the Cushion Track should have no difficulty with the dirt surface as it’s been noted that the Cushion Track composition resembles dirt more than the other synthetic tracks do.
Candy Ride photo lanes end
Candy Ride - Photo: Lane's End
Offspring by Candy Ride are winning left and right. Candy Ride dominated over dirt and turf, so it is no surprise that of the nine Candy Ride offspring that have entered the starting gate, three have won and five have grabbed third place. Cee’z Tizzy, sire of the great Tiznow, is represented by a place and show from six representatives, while the aforementioned Tiznow has eclipsed his sire, with a second and third from three starters. Storm Cat’s son Sea of Secrets has three winners from three starters. Tapit continues his versatile ways, getting a winner and two seconds from five starters.
Momentum photo Robbi Knudson
Momentum - Photo: Robbi Knudson
Remember the turf sires I mentioned? When pedigree aficionados see the name Nureyev, they associate it with turf and might dismiss the offspring of his sons trying dirt for the first time. In the case of Unusual Heat they would be right. The top California sire had 13 starters, one winner, one second and two thirds, for an 8% win rate. But wait a second, when handicappers see a son of Nureyev as the sire in the past performances, that sire shouldn’t be dismissed as producers of turf runners. Momentum, a son of Nureyev out of a Foolish Pleasure mare raced over dirt and his offspring are enjoying the Santa Anita dirt. They’ve posted a win, place and two shows from six tries. Another son of Nureyev, Good Journey, is batting 1,000 with two winners from two starters.
Below are sires that had three or more runners on opening week. It’s too soon to tell if a particular sire’s offspring will love or loathe the dirt, but we should have a better picture midway through the meet. Pay special attention to the highlighted names as you make your way through the past performances.

Ancient Art (Storm Cat) 3-1-0-0
Atticus (Nureyev) 3-1-0-0
Benchmark (Alydar) 6-0-1-2
Bertrando (Skywalker) 3-0-0-2
Candy Ride (Ride The Rails) 9-3-0-5
Cee's Tizzy (Relaunch) 6-0-1-1
Chapel Royal (Montbrook) 3-0-0-0
Decarchy (Distant View) 7-0-0-0
Formal Gold (Black tie Affair) 4-0-0-1
Freespool (Geiger Counter) 5-0-1-0
Gotham City (Saint Ballado) 3-0-0-1
In Excess (Siberian Express) 4-0-0-2
Jackpot (Seeking the Gold) 3-0-0-0
Kafwain (Cherokee Run) 2-2-0-0
Lemon Drop Kid (Kingmambo) 3-0-1-0
Lit de Justice (El Gran Senior) 4-0-0-1
Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) 3-0-1-0
Marino Marini (Storm Cat) 5-0-1-0
Medaglio d'Oro (El Prado) 3-1-0-1
Momentum (Nureyev) 6-1-1-2
More Than Ready (Southern Halo) 4-0-1-1
Northern Afleet (Afleet) 3-0-1-0
Offlee Wild (Wild Again) 3-0-0-1
Old Topper (Gilded Time) 4-0-0-0
Pleasantly Perfect (Pleasant Colony) 3-1-0-1
Quiet American (Fappiano) 3-1-0-0
Redattore (Roi Normand) 5-0-1-0
Rio Verde (Nureyev) 3-0-0-0
Rockport Harbor (Unbridled’s Song) 4-0-2-2
Royal Cat (Storm Cat) 3-1-0-0
Sea of Secrets (Storm Cat) 3-3-0-0
Stephen Got Even (A.P. Indy) 3-0-0-1
Stormed (Storm Cat) 3-0-0-0
Swiss Yodeler (Eastern Echo) 4-0-0-1
Tapit (Pulpit) 5-1-2-0
Thunder Gulch (Gulch) 4-1-0-1
Tizbud (Cee's Tizzy) 3-0-0-1
Tiznow (Cee's Tizzy) 3-0-1-1
Unusual Heat (Nureyev) 13-1-1-2