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Old 04-13-2022, 05:32 PM   #1
Thomas Roulston
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Dosage Index and the Derby

Courtesy of Sports Central:

Dosage Index and the Derby
April 12, 2022 by ANTHONY BRANCATO

In 1981, the general public read, horseplayers became familiar with something that is known as the Dosage Index, a mathematical formula designed to predict a horse's likelihood to be able to successfully negotiate distances of a mile and a quarter, the distance of the Kentucky Derby, and longer.

Daily Racing Form columnist Leon Rasmussen spilled the proverbial beans in the run-up to that year's Derby, based on the findings of Dr. Steven Roman, who identified 120 "chefs-de-race" sires with exceptional influence on the breed (112 more of these have been added to the list since as of 2019). These sires are placed in one or two of five "aptitudinal groups" placing these sires on a continuum, in order of the distance preferences of their descendants, from shortest to longest: Brilliant, Intermediate, Classic, Solid, and Professional (in no case can any sire placed in two groups be in groups that are more than two apart in the scheme: Brilliant-Classic, Intermediate-Solid, and Classic-Professional are allowed, but not Brilliant-Solid, Intermediate-Professional, or Brilliant-Professional).

To calculate the Dosage Index, if a horse's sire is a chef-de-race, it counts as 16 points in the applicable group (or if the sire is in two groups, eight points each for both groups). A grandsire counts as 8 points (or if a grandsire is in two groups, 4 points in each group are awarded), a great-grandsire, 4 points (or two in each group if a great-grandsire is in two groups), and for a great-great-grandsire, 2 points (or 1 point apiece if the stallion is in two groups).

The sum of the number of points in the Brilliant and Intermediate groups, plus half the number of the points in the Classic group, is divided by the sum of the other half of the points in the Classic group, plus the number of points in the Solid and Professional groups. The result is the Dosage Index, generally expressed as a figure having two places to the right of the decimal point.

For example, Japanese-bred Crown Pride, who won the 1 3/16-mile United Arab Emirates Derby at the triangle-shaped Meydan Race Course (the former Nad al Sheba Race Course, which Meydan replaced and also in the UAE, was similarly shaped) on March 26, has a Dosage Profile of 5-0-7-2-0, yielding a Dosage Index of 1.55.

That race's runner-up, Summer is Tomorrow, like Crown Pride expected to be in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 7, has a Dosage Profile of 3-4-5-2-0, for a Dosage Index of 2.11.

Earlier on the same day, Epicenter won the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (this race and the UAE Derby are the longest prep races for the Kentucky Derby) in a time of 1 minute, 54 and 1/5 seconds, a new track record for that distance at the 184-year-old racecourse. Epicenter has a stamina-oriented Dosage Index of 0.60, due to his Dosage Profile of 0-0-9-1-2 (horses with no representation in either the Brilliant or Intermediate groups are very rarely encountered, at least on this side of the Atlantic anyway).

Still another probable Derby starter, Tiz the Bomb, who won the Jeff Ruby Steaks not a misspelling: Jeff Ruby, who is presumably no relation to Jack Ruby, owns seven upscale restaurants in southern Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, five of them steakhouses and the other two seafood-themed, and his chief claim to fame is when he turned away O.J. Simpson, who was in Louisville for the 2007 Kentucky Derby, prompting allegations of racism (the truth is more likely that Ruby is a latter-day Fiorello LaGuardia a political and ideological eccentric, as Donald Trump is also persona non grata at his establishments), at Turfway Park, formerly Latonia, on April 2, has a Dosage Profile of 3-5-10-2-0, earning him a Dosage Index of 1.86.

To get an idea of what these numbers mean, until Strike the Gold won the 1991 Kentucky Derby with a Dosage Index of 9.00, no horse having a Dosage Index of higher than 4.00 had won the Derby since at least 1929. Since then, however, Strike the Gold's sire, Alydar, was installed as a Classic chef-de-race, retroactively lowering Strike the Gold's Dosage Index to 2.60.

(In addition to the Dosage Index itself, the presence or absence of chef-de-race representation in the Solid and/or Professional aptitudinal groups has, at least historically, been a huge issue in the Derby: From 1940 through 1988, all inclusive, only 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed won the Derby without having any Solid or Professional chef-de-race influences; since then, such examples have become more frequent but only because breeding practices, especially in the United States, have emphasized breeding horses for speed over stamina far more than was formerly the case).

In addition to serving as a useful tool in figuring out which horses to bet on in the Derby, the Dosage Index can also serve as a useful tool in figuring out which horses not to bet on in the Derby and quite frequently, which horses will not even appear in the Derby field at all.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, still going strong at the age of 86, dared harbor Derby aspirations for his filly, Secret Oath until she weakened to finish third when facing colts in the Arkansas Derby on April 2. Secret Oath, Dosage Index of 8.60 and all, will now be pointed toward the shorter Kentucky Oaks.

Another pedigree-related casualty, so far as Derby contention is concerned, is Forbidden Kingdom: after making the early lead in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby, Forbidden Kingdom stopped colder than yesterday's pizza and finished last. Forbidden Kingdom's ultimate goal is now this autumn's Breeders' Cup Sprint to which his Dosage Index of 9.00 ideally suits him.

While Epicenter is the likely Derby favorite, Tiz the Bomb figures to be around 20-1, Crown Pride 50-1, and Summer is Tomorrow maybe even 99-1 (tote boards do not accommodate 100-1 or higher).

If that superfecta comes in, regardless of in what order, the return will be "big balloons," as the late Harvey Pack liked to say.
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Old 05-06-2022, 01:43 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting, and the resultant trip down memory lane. I know breeding doesn't hold a candle compared to pace and speed figures, but I'm still surprised how little info there is out online about the Derby. That used to be a HUGE factor 30 years ago, but began drying up after Strike the Gold won and Alydar got his dosage updated.

The Derby this year is very odd with the 2, 3 and 4 start entrants. Sure makes it tough on the confidence. What a tough puzzle.
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Old 05-07-2022, 09:57 AM   #3
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In the decade leading up to his retirement, I interacted with Steven Roman a decent amount for big race days, especially for the triple crown season. He was a nice man, but I never did meet him since he was in Costa Rica at that point (we chatted through email). The biggest takeaway from dosage was that the greatest performances of all time in the Classic races came from lower dosage horses, and in particular regarding the balance of the pedigree depending on which leg you were trying to win.

The reason why it fell out of favor in the latter years was because a) almost all horses who were even entered were bred for speed, b) huge fields became a norm making trip problems lead to a scenario favoring (again) winners who could run on the lead, and c) people didn't understand it wasn't a single handicapping tool or disqualifier (over 3 dosage, throw him out!).

Steve also had his own PFs which were quite good.

The fact remains, the greatest triple crown performances of all time, when they occurred, were by horses that had closest to the optimum DI.

If you're still out there Steve, thanks

Good luck to everyone today!

Last edited by LemonSoupKid; 05-07-2022 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 05-07-2022, 04:01 PM   #4
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Old Memories

I remember reading Leon Rasmussen's Bloodlines column before making my Derby selections for many years, beginning, as Thomas pointed out, in 1981.
His comment on Pleasant Colony: "The Classic shaped Dosage with the highest aptitudinal group in the center, the Aristocracy of the Breed. Horses with this shaped dosage generally outperform their chances in Classic and Distance Racing."
So I'm betting on his grandson, Smile Happy: 2-6-5-2-1 chefs in all five groups

Lemon Soup Kid, remember Dr. Roman's old Forum, the Kid took a lot of abuse on there, but vindicated himself with his Belmont triumph

Classic Dosage: Tiz the Bomb: 3-5-10-2-0

A big "Thank You" to Dr. Roman for all the knowledge hard work he passed on to us!

Last edited by Plain Steve; 05-07-2022 at 04:03 PM. Reason: adding
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Old 05-07-2022, 07:42 PM   #5
Thomas Roulston
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parkview_Pirate View Post
Thanks for posting, and the resultant trip down memory lane. I know breeding doesn't hold a candle compared to pace and speed figures, but I'm still surprised how little info there is out online about the Derby. That used to be a HUGE factor 30 years ago, but began drying up after Strike the Gold won and Alydar got his dosage updated.

The Derby this year is very odd with the 2, 3 and 4 start entrants. Sure makes it tough on the confidence. What a tough puzzle.



One "theory" is to use a horse's speed figures as he stretches out in distance: If those figures get better, from 1 mile to 1 1/16 miles to 1/8 miles, then chances are that he will be a good bet going 1 1/4 miles (in the Derby).
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