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Old 03-30-2019, 01:10 PM   #1
Gakiss2
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Question Judging Horse Fitness by race and workout data

I am trying to find a way to score a horse's fitness level based on the pattern of Races and workouts it has had in the past 90 days. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter. I have basically been going by bits of wisdom and advice I've heard from various sources and would like to hear more points of view.

I start with a table showing whether an activity is a Race or a Workout, the distance, and the days since the race I am looking at. I also make a chart so I can get a visual sense of the pattern of 'work'. It is attached. I could easily add speed of the race or work and am open to ways to use that additional data in this endeavor.

90 days: Seems history beyond that wouldn't matter much to today's race. On the other hand maybe 60 or even 40 days makes more sense.

I've always heard that a race less than 9 days back is bad, the horse can't recover that fast.

And the above does not apply to a work out? In fact we often see well meant horses with a workout just a few days back.

It is necessary to 'maintain' a horses' fitness. its not enough to have raced them or worked them recently, you also need to work them with one or the other every = fill in the blank= days. I've been going by every 15 days but am not put off much if there is a regular pattern closer to every 30 days. And how much of a factor is this pattern?

I am also interested in the relative general worth of a race vs. a work out in the above calculations.

I've heard a horses last race either improved the horse's fitness or degraded it. Great advice only I don't have much to go on as to which it is. I would imagine a contentious pace battle might be the latter while a boring merry-go-round trip near the back of the field still has some benefit.

I am trying to eventually get to a useful algorithm.

All input / advice welcome.

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Old 03-30-2019, 03:49 PM   #2
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That sounds great.

It's tough to do, and the information isn't complete.
Not only is it incomplete, trainer styles and data can be very trainer-specific. There's a horse today in the 11th race @ Gulfstream, #5, who's training data speed has changed dramatically (significantly slower), but the horse is in fact thriving, and the major factor is actually trainer change.

Some barns publish consistent data and run a bunch of horses predictably.

The Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown coverage alos offers a window for a glimpse of how top horses are prepared for racing. (walks, gallops, gate-schooling, works, etc...)

DRF Formulator is a must have. Ability to play around with statistics such as layoffs between races.


I think it's a great idea, interested in how it moves forward and your presentation of the fitness.
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Old 03-30-2019, 06:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the input. I had always been leary of making much of workout time since I suspect they can run the horse pretty much at whatever speed they like and sometimes it is better for them to hide form.

One thing I have always wondered about and am hoping maybe you or someone can answer. It is legal / allowed for a trainer to run a horse on a private course and not make that public? The cynic in me would suspect some would to that as well to hide form. Any info is appreciated.

so far my model is very basic.

3 pts for a race within 15 days, 2pts for a race within 21 days, 1 for a race within 28 days and 0.5 pts for less than 38 days then -1 for longer than that.

2 pts for a 7 day pattern, 1 for a 14 day pattern and 0.5 for a 21 day pattern. -1 point for no pattern. I consider a pattern at least 3 recent 'events' (race or WO) with gaps less than 30 days.

Then there are large demerits for a race less than 9 days or 3 races in the last month. I am taking these on faith based on something I read, somewhere.

I see lots of situations where a horse hasn't raced in a couple months but the trainer has run them through a pattern of workouts such as described above. I can't help but think that is less valuable toward fitness than the horse that has actually raced a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand I don't think the lack of the recent race (given a reasonable work program) would cause me to count that horse out of the win on that alone. I am hoping to learn how to 'measure' these situations.

On a more positive note this project has already helped my bottom line! I have spent so much time fiddling with Excel that I didn't place as many losing bets as usual
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Old 03-30-2019, 06:26 PM   #4
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Good Call on GS #11

I had to go back to check on the horse you mentioned and sure enough it won. Luckily he is the first leg of a Pick 3. 5 / 3 / 1, 4, 7, 8, 9
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Old 03-30-2019, 09:59 PM   #5
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Judging Horse Fitness by race and workout data

We are somewhat on the same wavelength in attempting to use race & workout data (which I call the "form cycle") to judge horse fitness. Attached is an extract of an info graphic for the horse you cited from today's 11th at GP (Restoring Hope) that I've designed to give me a quick overview of the horses training and racing history, to the extent they can be seen.

In comparing the training methods between Baffert & Servis, you couldn't have happened upon a more extreme example, which the info graphic helps to point out.

What helps me most is, after viewing these by the 1000s, I have a good idea of the trainer patterns leading up to their winning races. What can be seen from the Restoring Hope form cycle example, Bafferts training vs. Servis' training, are entirely consistent with their usual methods for getting their horses ready to win.

But, as you have referenced, Servis trains extensively off tracks at the farm, and, I suspect, is not reporting all workouts done there to Equibase. There were 241 days between RH's last race on 6/9/18 and it's first published WO on 2/5/19 at PMM. From that point it worked 4 more times at PMM in slow 3 & 4Fs up to today's win, as can be seen from the graphic. I suspect RH was worked up to racing fitness somewhere else before the first published work on 2/5, which was followed by maintenance WOs for relaxation purposes after that up to today's victory.

I do another calculation of a horse's #F worked & raced per day for the form cycle leading up to the race I am handicapping. The graphic shows that calculation to be 0.3 F per day for RH starting from the 2/5/19 date of it first published work after the 241 day layoff. This #, 0.3 F per day is very low for a horse that wins. Most often its in the 0.4 - 0.7 range. If this record was for any other trainer, I'd consider it to be a negative indicator, but not for Servis's horses.

There are about 300 tracks and off-track training centers, so it would be impossible for Equibase to know who is and isn't reporting completely or correctly. In doing some research I talked to a Florida-based trainer whose workouts were being reported from an off-track training center as being over a track labeled as "Gd" 100% of the time, even during periods of drought in the region. He told me he thought the "Gd" label meant that his training location was "a nice place to train", like a "Gd" cup of coffee. Either he was playing dumb or was. Equibase could have/should have observed the same pattern I observed and done something about it for the sake of the integrity of its published information. Based on our conversation, this trainer has changed his WO reporting to accurately state the track's condition.

Such is the depressing state of the integrity of data supplied to the entire industry.

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Old 03-31-2019, 03:05 PM   #6
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I try to limit my bets on horses that are in the top tiers in class and pace/speed if they are racing fit.

I can see when the horse ran, the class of races the horse ran in. and the speed it showed.

Even if workouts are shown, are some missing, miss-timed, with a light or heavy weight jockey. And of course we don't know if between workouts the horse was only hot walked or galloped every few days between official workouts.

Not knowing if a horse off a lay off is fit is my biggest challenge because of lack of knowledge of what I don't see. or know.

I will lose races to horse with class and speed off a two month layoff with on or two 3f workouts thinking the trainer is giving the horse a "training" race for the next race.

Even trainers like Jason Servis who's lay off horses always lack workouts where I know his horses are as fit as any in the race, I still don't know for sure IF they are fit if I saw more info.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Example race-- Oaklawn Thursday 9/28 Race 5
6f $10 claiming nw3
Serengeti (6-1 ML) last raced 12/18/18
workouts 3/22 3f 2/26 4f(a month ago)
Trainer Chris Hartman 90+days away 74 races 16% Very acceptable. This trainer usually shows work on these typed=s of layoff horses--why not this one?

The ten races showed one stake Best Pal 8/12/17, one stake, turf sprint, 5 allowance races, on $50k claiming race and maiden special race.

I ignored it since I didn't know if it was in racing fitness, though it was a standout with it's class and speed from it's past races, and that's what got it home wire-to-wire @ 2-1 if I remember.
Even if I did expect it to tire in the lane.

Some of you, and I know some at my track, that ignore workouts, assuming that all horses are fit or it wouldn't be entered, would've had that horse.

I couldn't trust it, because I've seen too many slower and less classy horse beat horse who tired in the stretch.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

In the olden days this was a non concern for me. Horses ran every 2-4 weeks, mostly because there were more claiming races, and horses were more fit and we could follow their form cycles.

Very few horses today race often enough to HAVE form cycles.

I realize we have to speculate when we use our class, speed and form judgements, the speed number was set in the previous races, and we have to project if the class, speed and form from the past will defeat the numbers from the competition today.

If a race is filled with horses with recent races, fitness is not the question but by where are the horses in their cycles?

I still hate guessing if my horse off a layoff is fit.
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Old 03-31-2019, 10:58 PM   #7
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Thank You for the feedback - Some responses

Quote:
Originally Posted by eqitec View Post
We are somewhat on the same wavelength in attempting to use race & workout data (which I call the "form cycle") to judge horse fitness. Attached is an extract of an info graphic for the horse you cited from today's 11th at GP (Restoring Hope) that I've designed to give me a quick overview of the horses training and racing history, to the extent they can be seen.

In comparing the training methods between Baffert & Servis, you couldn't have happened upon a more extreme example, which the info graphic helps to point out.

What helps me most is, after viewing these by the 1000s, I have a good idea of the trainer patterns leading up to their winning races. What can be seen from the Restoring Hope form cycle example, Bafferts training vs. Servis' training, are entirely consistent with their usual methods for getting their horses ready to win.

But, as you have referenced, Servis trains extensively off tracks at the farm, and, I suspect, is not reporting all workouts done there to Equibase. There were 241 days between RH's last race on 6/9/18 and it's first published WO on 2/5/19 at PMM. From that point it worked 4 more times at PMM in slow 3 & 4Fs up to today's win, as can be seen from the graphic. I suspect RH was worked up to racing fitness somewhere else before the first published work on 2/5, which was followed by maintenance WOs for relaxation purposes after that up to today's victory.

##
Yes, I had suspected that some trainers do that. Thank You for confirming. Of course there are other fitness maintenance activities besides Workouts I assume (because I do NOT have a horse training background and have no idea). But those other activities could explain SOME of that but I agree, not all.

##


I do another calculation of a horse's #F worked & raced per day for the form cycle leading up to the race I am handicapping. The graphic shows that calculation to be 0.3 F per day for RH starting from the 2/5/19 date of it first published work after the 241 day layoff. This #, 0.3 F per day is very low for a horse that wins. Most often its in the 0.4 - 0.7 range. If this record was for any other trainer, I'd consider it to be a negative indicator, but not for Servis's horses.
##

I hadn't thought of #F per day. I think I will add that to my view.

##


There are about 300 tracks and off-track training centers, so it would be impossible for Equibase to know who is and isn't reporting completely or correctly. In doing some research I talked to a Florida-based trainer whose workouts were being reported from an off-track training center as being over a track labeled as "Gd" 100% of the time, even during periods of drought in the region. He told me he thought the "Gd" label meant that his training location was "a nice place to train", like a "Gd" cup of coffee. Either he was playing dumb or was. Equibase could have/should have observed the same pattern I observed and done something about it for the sake of the integrity of its published information. Based on our conversation, this trainer has changed his WO reporting to accurately state the track's condition.

Such is the depressing state of the integrity of data supplied to the entire industry.

##

I made a couple comments above where you see ##. As I mentioned above I do NOT have a horse training background. I live less than 5 miles from the Keeneland track but so far have only experienced the 'Fan' / 'Bettor' side of the business. I suppose that is why I have so many questions.

So one question I'd like to raise relative to your approach. Just how far back does it make sense to go. I am thinking that a horse that underwent excellent conditioning a year ago has lost all that mojo so that it matters ,only or at least much much more, what has he done Lately. I ask out of ignorance. I have been using a 8 week window but that time frame is a guess. Do you think that window makes sense? Too long, too short. Does it make sense that the works that were further away are worth 'less' to the horse?

Thank You again for the feedback
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Old 03-31-2019, 11:14 PM   #8
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Thank you for the feedback

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGalt1 View Post
I try to limit my bets on horses that are in the top tiers in class and pace/speed if they are racing fit.

I can see when the horse ran, the class of races the horse ran in. and the speed it showed.

Even if workouts are shown, are some missing, miss-timed, with a light or heavy weight jockey. And of course we don't know if between workouts the horse was only hot walked or galloped every few days between official workouts.

Not knowing if a horse off a lay off is fit is my biggest challenge because of lack of knowledge of what I don't see. or know.

I will lose races to horse with class and speed off a two month layoff with on or two 3f workouts thinking the trainer is giving the horse a "training" race for the next race.

##

I have the same frustration. Also, among the horses that seem to be contenders, I think if I can detect a horse that has gotten the short straw w.r.t fitness either because the trainer was not good or too busy with Sea Biscuit, then I can start trimming down my pool of real contenders. This is really valuable for Horizontal (P3,P5) bets as I am sure you know.


##

Even trainers like Jason Servis who's lay off horses always lack workouts where I know his horses are as fit as any in the race, I still don't know for sure IF they are fit if I saw more info.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Example race-- Oaklawn Thursday 9/28 Race 5
6f $10 claiming nw3
Serengeti (6-1 ML) last raced 12/18/18
workouts 3/22 3f 2/26 4f(a month ago)
Trainer Chris Hartman 90+days away 74 races 16% Very acceptable. This trainer usually shows work on these typed=s of layoff horses--why not this one?

The ten races showed one stake Best Pal 8/12/17, one stake, turf sprint, 5 allowance races, on $50k claiming race and maiden special race.

I ignored it since I didn't know if it was in racing fitness, though it was a standout with it's class and speed from it's past races, and that's what got it home wire-to-wire @ 2-1 if I remember.
Even if I did expect it to tire in the lane.

Some of you, and I know some at my track, that ignore workouts, assuming that all horses are fit or it wouldn't be entered, would've had that horse.

##

That doesn't make sense to me because I see race after race where it is clear the horse is there primarily as a part of the trainers plan to get it ready for another race in the near future. You see horses that haven't run less then 7 1/2 F in the last 8 months suddenly in a 5 1/2 F race. Sometimes you can catch one of these rare sprints in their PPs from 8 months ago and they did miserably.

##

I couldn't trust it, because I've seen too many slower and less classy horse beat horse who tired in the stretch.



&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

In the olden days this was a non concern for me. Horses ran every 2-4 weeks, mostly because there were more claiming races, and horses were more fit and we could follow their form cycles.

Very few horses today race often enough to HAVE form cycles.

I realize we have to speculate when we use our class, speed and form judgements, the speed number was set in the previous races, and we have to project if the class, speed and form from the past will defeat the numbers from the competition today.

##

You mention class. If a horse is underclass but shows very high early pace numbers then, naturally, you'd worry he would run in front of the other classier horses possibly making it to the beginning of the last turn before being nothing more than in the way. If you had good confidence the horse was very very fit then you might have found a good price.

Sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

##
If a race is filled with horses with recent races, fitness is not the question but by where are the horses in their cycles?

I still hate guessing if my horse off a layoff is fit.

##
Hoping I can make some progress on this subject. I'll share what I find.
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Old 04-01-2019, 11:11 AM   #9
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New thought - question

When judging if a layoff horse can score first out we look at past performance where the horse has been in a similar situation. If a horse came out swinging from a 50 day layoff a year ago but now has a different trainer, can we count on a similar performance?

In other words, is the ability to win off of a layoff have more to do with the horse or the trainer????
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:44 PM   #10
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I used to ignore European turf shippers because of no posted workouts like those that show up for Breeder's Cup races figuring that the 5f workouts for American horses showed they were fit and Eros were an unknown.

I read in many handicapping books and articles that we should assume all horses in stakes races are fit. So all Euro shippers should also be assumed to be racing fit.

This I now do.

Class of horse and race can sometimes overcome this.

My example above on the did show a much classier horse, and even if I did not bet it to win, could and maybe should've used in horizontals. And if I thought it could've beat my two win bets, maybe passing would be the prudent choice, even if my lower class horses that had recent races would've won.
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Old 04-02-2019, 10:41 AM   #11
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Judging Horse Fitness by race and workout data

I'm mostly interested in a horse's current form cycle and pretty much discount its previous cycles as irrelevant to today's race.

I look for "break" dates in the horses races and workouts histories in an attempt to see the beginning date of its current form cycle. Usually these break dates are easy to see, such as in the example posted below.

The break date could have been 4 weeks ago or 4 months ago. I don't set any arbitrary cut off date parameter. I want to see how the horse has raced and trained since the break point. My seconds per furlong calculation takes the data from the horse's last break point forward to get a result.

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Old 04-02-2019, 10:46 AM   #12
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Judging Horse Fitness by race and workout data

In my opinion, it's much more the trainer and much less so the horse, maybe 95% trainer and 5% horse.
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Old 04-02-2019, 10:50 AM   #13
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Stakes Races

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGalt1 View Post
I used to ignore European turf shippers because of no posted workouts like those that show up for Breeder's Cup races figuring that the 5f workouts for American horses showed they were fit and Eros were an unknown.

I read in many handicapping books and articles that we should assume all horses in stakes races are fit. So all Euro shippers should also be assumed to be racing fit.

This I now do.

Class of horse and race can sometimes overcome this.

My example above on the did show a much classier horse, and even if I did not bet it to win, could and maybe should've used in horizontals. And if I thought it could've beat my two win bets, maybe passing would be the prudent choice, even if my lower class horses that had recent races would've won.
I do hate to make assumptions but on a practical level that one makes a LOT of sense. It would be difficult to imagine someone dull enough to spend the money shipping an unfit horse to the US to run in a Stakes Race.

From another thread someone added a thought to this from the other end of the spectrum and that is Low Claiming races where it could be that the horse could perform poorly by being overworked.

Its a tough puzzle to be sure. On one level it is basically a box to check to prevent betting heavily on questionable horses. I am hoping to get to a point that I can start to use some methods to pick apart borderline contenders from non-contenders. A borderline OK horse with really good fitness pattern may be a good price. A horse that just barely makes the contender list and ALSO shows a poor fitness pattern. maybe just drop him off the contender list completely.

I like to do horizontal bets and like to find that horse that just fits into the contender list but does have a realistic chance of winning.
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:47 AM   #14
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There's a few items I'll address from this thread.

Not all 2k mi+ plane shipments are equal.
West to east is easy. South to north is easy.
The east to west and north to south are tough. I like to see five weeks acclimation time for those. Might be the reason the east coast runners don't win when the cup is held at SA. It makes runners like Improbable and Omaha Beach coming up plays against on the double ship most of the time. Must verify who went west before heading east again.

Layoff runners aren't equal. You're onto something when looking for competent long break trainers. Also look for what stage of their career they're in. Improvement happens a lot from 2 to 3 and 3 to 4. Less often from 4 to 5. 5 and up it's washy.

Workout spacing is every bit as important as workout speed. A lone fast drill in a vacuum has less value than a weekly schedule of slow ones. Also short drills often mean less. Signals more often are found at 5f+.

My $0.02
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Old 04-03-2019, 11:54 AM   #15
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Hi GAKISS, you may find some useful info from Joe Takach who is into horse physicality, form and if a horse is fit by appearance. Here is his link: http://www.joe-takach.com/
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