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Old Yesterday, 02:38 AM   #31
dilanesp
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The best argument for Ruffian is she won all those races. It's hard to win a bunch of races in a row!

The problem is that she was beating up on New York 2 year old and 3 year old fillies race after race, and as is often the case in a situation like that, the competition wasn't that good. It's like what Zenyatta's record would be if she didn't have the BC Distaff, the 2 BC Classics (one of which she of course lost), and the 2 Apple Blossoms. Most of Zenyatta's non-BC races in California were beating up against awful competition over and over again. And Ruffian was even facing a narrower band, because she wasn't even meeting older horses.

As I said, part of the tragedy is that they really did plan to run her against tougher competition. The match race was the first step in that direction-- she also surely would have started meeting older horses, and I even saw one article that mentioned that Janney was interested in shipping her to California (which would have put her up against Tizna, who was quite good during that period and who would have been a real test for her). So she never got the chance to show us how good she was. She might not have ended up undefeated even if she beats Foolish Pleasure (which wasn't assured), but she surely would have continued to do quite well and could have had one of the great careers. It just didn't happen.
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Old Yesterday, 04:58 AM   #32
Spalding No!
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It isn't a one off.
By "one off" I meant an obscure horse setting a record without a prior or subsequent performance that validates the effort.

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Look at the track records at most tracks and the horses are obscure for most distances. Obviously the best horses set track records more than not very good horses.
Not sure if there's a typo here, but these 2 sentences clash. If the best horses set the track records then most track records should not list a bunch of obscure horses.

From a sample of 4 East Coast tracks (selected off the top of my head) it seems as though indeed the best horses--many of which are contemporary horses--set track records:

Monmouth (6f, 8f, 8.5f, 9f, 10f): Idiot Proof, Forty Niner, Sharp Azteca, Cyberknife, Carry Back

Belmont (5f, 6f, 6.5f, 7f, 7.5f, 8f, 9f, 10f, 12f): Kelly Kip, Artax, Bear Fan, Clearly Now, Commentator, Najran, Secretariat, In Excess, Secretariat

Gulfstream (6f, 6.5f, 7f, 8f, 8.5f, 9f, 9.5f): Big Drama, Forest Danger, Clearly Now, Normandy Invasion, Social Inclusion, Arrogate, Fort Larned

Saratoga (6f, 6.5f, 7f, 8f, 9f, 10f): Imperial Hint, Quality Road, Darby Creek Road, Key Contender, Lawyer Ron, Arrogate

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Obviously I'm too young to know that from personal experience, but I've heard it from multiple people I trust from different segments of the game. It is very hard for modern horses to break track records that have been around a long time for reasons that don't have a lot to do with the ability of the horses IMO.
That may or may not be accurate, but regardless, does that mean the corollary is true, that is was easy to break track records in past eras?

In the case of Ruffian, her records appeared to be exceptional:

Astoria - 1:02.8; broke the previous 5.5f mark by 4/5s; the only sub-1:03 performance in the history of the race both before & after

Sorority - 1:09 flat; broke the previous 6f mark by a full second; only 3 sub-1:10 performances subsequently, none faster than 1:09.6

Spinaway - 1:08.6; broke the previous 6f mark by over a second; only 3 sub-1:10 performances (never mind sub-1:09) later on before the race was extended to 7f

Comely - 1:21.2; broke the previous 7f mark by 2/5s; one of only 3 sub-1:22 performances when the race was run at 7f

Acorn - 1:34.4; broke the previous 8f mark by 1/5s set by Susan's Girl; at the time only the 3rd sub-1:35 performance in the race; it was also the last time the race was run at Aqueduct

Mother Goose - 1:47.8; broke the previous 9f mark by nearly 2 seconds but it was one of only 7 editions of the race run at Aqueduct

CCA Oaks - 2:27.8; tied the previous mark which were the only 2 sub-2:28 clockings when the race was run at 12 furlongs
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Old Yesterday, 11:06 AM   #33
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Maybe someone could ask a track superintendent that has been around a long time. From my memory, back in the 70s, NYRA used to post a chart with the track depth at various locations. I used to check it all the time trying to get some clue about whether the rail would be good or bad. I remember depths of 3, 3 1/4, 3 1/2 inches as the norm. In later years it was about an inch deeper. The composition of the tracks also appears to have changed. Changes like that have to be impacting both the paces and times and maybe even distance relationships.

I think that may explain why riders have become less aggressive on dirt over time and maybe also why we see fewer huge speed figures in sprint races. You need a very fast pace and a track thatís carrying that speed to get really fast times and big figures. We donít get that as often anymore.
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Old Yesterday, 11:21 AM   #34
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When Ruffian was running, I was just starting to get serious about racing. I still have a lot of old DRFs from the 70s, but none with her in them. I think the Ragozin folks say she wasn’t as fast as her reputation, but I vaguely remember the PPs of some of her opposition at 2. Some of the horses she was crushing were crushing other fields until they met her. To me, that’s a pretty good indication of just how ridiculously good she was. At 3, she was just as dominant, but I’m less sure about the quality of competition. I know she didn’t face Sarsar who was another pretty good filly at the time in the East. I think they might have had the same connections or were related in some way and they were kept apart.

She was so ridiculously fast and dominant I think she has to be on the short list of great fillies, but you never know if a horse that starts out that brilliantly will keep developing or plateau unless they keep running until at least 4 and take on the very best.
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Old Yesterday, 01:55 PM   #35
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When Ruffian was running, I was just starting to get serious about racing. I still have a lot of old DRFs from the 70s, but none with her in them. I think the Ragozin folks say she wasnít as fast as her reputation, but I vaguely remember the PPs of some of her opposition at 2. Some of the horses she was crushing were crushing other fields until they met her. To me, thatís a pretty good indication of just how ridiculously good she was. At 3, she was just as dominant, but Iím less sure about the quality of competition. I know she didnít face Sarsar who was another pretty good filly at the time in the East. I think they might have had the same connections or were related in some way and they were kept apart.

She was so ridiculously fast and dominant I think she has to be on the short list of great fillies, but you never know if a horse that starts out that brilliantly will keep developing or plateau unless they keep running until at least 4 and take on the very best.



She won races from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles, pretty impressive.
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Old Yesterday, 04:43 PM   #36
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She won races from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles, pretty impressive.
I'm with you and Spalding re Ruffian and also impressive victory distance ranges.

Forego won from 7f to 2 miles, often while carrying crazy amounts of weight by current standards. He was voted a championship sprinter and became one of the great weight-hauling handicap horses of all time.

Ruffian left us WAY too soon. I remember watching her - she was a once-in-a-generation type horse. I think some subsequent fillies didn't get their due because they weren't Ruffian - but were very, very good horses.
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Old Yesterday, 06:07 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Spalding No! View Post
By "one off" I meant an obscure horse setting a record without a prior or subsequent performance that validates the effort.


Not sure if there's a typo here, but these 2 sentences clash. If the best horses set the track records then most track records should not list a bunch of obscure horses.

From a sample of 4 East Coast tracks (selected off the top of my head) it seems as though indeed the best horses--many of which are contemporary horses--set track records:

Monmouth (6f, 8f, 8.5f, 9f, 10f): Idiot Proof, Forty Niner, Sharp Azteca, Cyberknife, Carry Back

Belmont (5f, 6f, 6.5f, 7f, 7.5f, 8f, 9f, 10f, 12f): Kelly Kip, Artax, Bear Fan, Clearly Now, Commentator, Najran, Secretariat, In Excess, Secretariat

Gulfstream (6f, 6.5f, 7f, 8f, 8.5f, 9f, 9.5f): Big Drama, Forest Danger, Clearly Now, Normandy Invasion, Social Inclusion, Arrogate, Fort Larned

Saratoga (6f, 6.5f, 7f, 8f, 9f, 10f): Imperial Hint, Quality Road, Darby Creek Road, Key Contender, Lawyer Ron, Arrogate


That may or may not be accurate, but regardless, does that mean the corollary is true, that is was easy to break track records in past eras?

In the case of Ruffian, her records appeared to be exceptional:

Astoria - 1:02.8; broke the previous 5.5f mark by 4/5s; the only sub-1:03 performance in the history of the race both before & after

Sorority - 1:09 flat; broke the previous 6f mark by a full second; only 3 sub-1:10 performances subsequently, none faster than 1:09.6

Spinaway - 1:08.6; broke the previous 6f mark by over a second; only 3 sub-1:10 performances (never mind sub-1:09) later on before the race was extended to 7f

Comely - 1:21.2; broke the previous 7f mark by 2/5s; one of only 3 sub-1:22 performances when the race was run at 7f

Acorn - 1:34.4; broke the previous 8f mark by 1/5s set by Susan's Girl; at the time only the 3rd sub-1:35 performance in the race; it was also the last time the race was run at Aqueduct

Mother Goose - 1:47.8; broke the previous 9f mark by nearly 2 seconds but it was one of only 7 editions of the race run at Aqueduct

CCA Oaks - 2:27.8; tied the previous mark which were the only 2 sub-2:28 clockings when the race was run at 12 furlongs
Was poorly worded, it was very late and I was a few drinks in.

The point was all things being equal, of course the best horses are going to set course records. But all things aren't usually equal, namely the tracks. Even on the lists you provide, I'd say very few of the track records were set by the best horse to run at the track and distance. There are a lot of very good to excellent horses in your lists that nobody would confuse for hall of famers.

Tracks change day to day, year to year, and decade to decade. The increase in awareness for horse safety has slowed racetracks in my opinion. Thus, I think it is tougher for horses to break track records now than it was 40 years ago.

I certainly wasn't throwing shade at Ruffian, just a more general discussion about using track records as an accomplishment. She was before my time but her record speaks for itself. The track records are just fluff on top.
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Old Yesterday, 06:31 PM   #38
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I certainly wasn't throwing shade at Ruffian, just a more general discussion about using track records as an accomplishment. She was before my time but her record speaks for itself. The track records are just fluff on top.
Track and world records meant something to us old timers - they were achieved before Beyer figures, let alone more advanced figures

Horses like Ruffian and Dr. Fager, for example, were other-wordly fast back in "the day". We'll hold aside Secretariat's Belmont, because that may have been the single greatest achievement we'll ever see.

I don't know what the "numbers" say re Ruffian, but my visual impression was that she was other-worldly fast. Maybe too fast for her own good, as it turned out.
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Old Yesterday, 08:39 PM   #39
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[QUOTE=cj;2843446]

Tracks change day to day, year to year, and decade to decade. The increase in awareness for horse safety has slowed racetracks in my opinion. Thus, I think it is tougher for horses to break track records now than it was 40 years ago.
QUOTE]


That is what I would have thought. I only looked up my home tracks from back in the day. Shockingly all the Santa Anita dirt sprint records were set in the 21st century except for the rarely run 3F distance. I thought there should have been quite a few set in the mid 80's when the track had periods of being lighting fast with the strongest speed biases I have ever seen.


On a quick look I could only find the synthetic track sprint records Hollywood Park.


At Delmar all dirt records up to 1 3/16 are 30+ years old except 5 & 5-1/2 those are owned by 2 year olds set in the last 6 years, looks like higher class older horses never ran that distance.
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Old Yesterday, 10:29 PM   #40
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Was poorly worded, it was very late and I was a few drinks in.

The point was all things being equal, of course the best horses are going to set course records. But all things aren't usually equal, namely the tracks. Even on the lists you provide, I'd say very few of the track records were set by the best horse to run at the track and distance. There are a lot of very good to excellent horses in your lists that nobody would confuse for hall of famers.

Tracks change day to day, year to year, and decade to decade. The increase in awareness for horse safety has slowed racetracks in my opinion. Thus, I think it is tougher for horses to break track records now than it was 40 years ago.

I certainly wasn't throwing shade at Ruffian, just a more general discussion about using track records as an accomplishment. She was before my time but her record speaks for itself. The track records are just fluff on top.
Fair enough; I think we are basically on the same page. I'm usually wary of track record performances, too, the exceptions being when top horses make a habit of beating the clock. That's my reason for emphasizing it in the case of Ruffian. Really only Secretariat, Spectacular Bid, and Swaps are other horses I can think of (I'm sure there are more) where IMO the raw times of their races rise above mere fluff and bolster their resumes.

Otherwise, in general even if a top class horse breaks a track record, there's a good chance the track was "glib" that day. When Monarchos went "as fast as Secretariat" in the Derby a 3yo filly on the undercard broke the 6.5f track record in a first condition allowance. In the modern era when track management orchestrates these big, multi-stakes weekends its not uncommon for the track surface to be adjusted. However, it would be too coincidental to think that Ruffian was lucky enough to run on nothing but "tailored" surfaces that many times, especially since those bloated race cards were not the standard back then as they are now.
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Old Yesterday, 11:07 PM   #41
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I used to hear on special card high dollar race days tracks would try to make the track extra fast for publicity of getting records set. No idea if that was true anywhere, just an old rumor.
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