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Old 04-19-2021, 12:11 PM   #1
mountainman
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The orthodoxy of race-watching

Since I play only one track during the winter, I watch lots of races I have no rooting interest in, and find that perspective more objective and illuminating.

Beyond individual trips, trends emerge that often defy conventional beliefs on race-flow. Tons of winners, for instance, come under hard rides, and even the whip, long before key rivals also present in the pan shot. Also, many, many winners travel rough, bobble, stayleft lead, short stride..etc. And don't EVEN get me started on how many winners overcome seemingly insurmountable "trouble."

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these winners are well-bet, leading inevitably to the conclusion that current form and or innate superiority trump trips, flow, and visual observation.

As a situational handicapper obsessed with the particulars of today's spot, and one who augments past performances with a visually-gleaned impression of horses and race-flow, I do find most of this mildly disconcerting.
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:22 PM   #2
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YEARLY, the WORST presentation of a horse race resides with NBC Sports. They obviously do not have a racing fan anywhere in the directorial chairs or they would know that cutting the race up in 40+ camera angles from start to finish, leaves the TV viewer completely lost as to the race evolution because you never have a consistent frame of reference for more than a few seconds before the "artsy craftsy" folks change it yet again.

I have written them many ay year to no avail stating :"JUST show us the race like the track does, with upper pan and lower pan on a split screen." CLUELESS
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Old 04-19-2021, 04:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainman View Post
Since I play only one track during the winter, I watch lots of races I have no rooting interest in, and find that perspective more objective and illuminating.

Beyond individual trips, trends emerge that often defy conventional beliefs on race-flow. Tons of winners, for instance, come under hard rides, and even the whip, long before key rivals also present in the pan shot. Also, many, many winners travel rough, bobble, stayleft lead, short stride..etc. And don't EVEN get me started on how many winners overcome seemingly insurmountable "trouble."

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these winners are well-bet, leading inevitably to the conclusion that current form and or innate superiority trump trips, flow, and visual observation.

As a situational handicapper obsessed with the particulars of today's spot, and one who augments past performances with a visually-gleaned impression of horses and race-flow, I do find most of this mildly disconcerting.
Based on your comments I would have to say that the one piece of objective information that not only “trumps trips” as well as the other subjective info mentioned is that you noticed that “most of these winners are well-bet”. Money is the name of the game!
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Old 04-19-2021, 06:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 46zilzal View Post
YEARLY, the WORST presentation of a horse race resides with NBC Sports. They obviously do not have a racing fan anywhere in the directorial chairs or they would know that cutting the race up in 40+ camera angles from start to finish, leaves the TV viewer completely lost as to the race evolution because you never have a consistent frame of reference for more than a few seconds before the "artsy craftsy" folks change it yet again.

I have written them many ay year to no avail stating :"JUST show us the race like the track does, with upper pan and lower pan on a split screen." CLUELESS
Every national broadcast television network that has ever carried horse racing has done this. Andy Beyer had to stay home from the Breeders' Cup one year and wrote a very entertaining column about it.

The basic problems are twofold:

1. The people who produce and direct horse racing coverage for broadcast networks are not specialists- they also produce and direct the other sports broadcasts. And in those sports, the style that has developed is a mixture of wide shots that show the action and close-ups of the participants. So, for instance, on baseball, Fox will show the pitch, and there will be a swing or a taken pitch, and then an immediate cut to the batter, then the pitcher, then the bench, then back to the pitcher, etc. We often don't notice all these cuts, they happen so quickly.

Or think of a NASCAR race, where they shift from a view of the entire field to a view from a stationary camera of the cars zooming past, to a shot of just the leaders.

But when they cover horse racing (or another sport that requires the sustained focus of a single camera angle), they often don't know how to do it, because they just apply the same techniques they use in other sports.

2. Ego. The last thing you want to do is tell a director at NBC, who makes $300,000+ a year and has won sports Emmys and other stuff, that the robot or lowly racetrack employee who produces the in-house feed has it correct and all you have to do is take that feed. That NBC director wants to put his stamp on it, and isn't going to listen to anyone who tells him not to. He wants something artistic.

A good example of an artistic "ego" shot we get almost every year is the shot from low on the outside rail at about the 7 furlong pole at Churchill Downs on Derby day, specifically produced so you have that artistic shot of the horses running beneath the Twin Spires. Almost every year, horses get in trouble on the first turn of the Derby with the 20 horse field, and almost every year, broadcast television viewers never see it.
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:11 PM   #5
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IMHO

What I think is really going on with trip is not some kind of cost in lengths or fifths of a second that you should adjust your figures with in the same way for every horse. It's about "energy consumption". The same exact trip will impact different horses by different amounts depending on how much extra energy was consumed and how much energy the horse had in reserve.
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mountainman View Post
Since I play only one track during the winter, I watch lots of races I have no rooting interest in, and find that perspective more objective and illuminating.

Beyond individual trips, trends emerge that often defy conventional beliefs on race-flow. Tons of winners, for instance, come under hard rides, and even the whip, long before key rivals also present in the pan shot. Also, many, many winners travel rough, bobble, stayleft lead, short stride..etc. And don't EVEN get me started on how many winners overcome seemingly insurmountable "trouble."

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these winners are well-bet, leading inevitably to the conclusion that current form and or innate superiority trump trips, flow, and visual observation.

As a situational handicapper obsessed with the particulars of today's spot, and one who augments past performances with a visually-gleaned impression of horses and race-flow, I do find most of this mildly disconcerting.
Have you attempted to ascertain any common elements among the horses that win under these circumstances? Are you talking about a multitude of different tracks? Dirt only I’m assuming?

I’m trying to figure out how from your post two subsequent offerings focused on camera angles, which had virtually nothing to do with what you said.
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Old 04-19-2021, 09:39 PM   #7
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IMO what gets overlooked a lot is the effort. If the horse fires its best effort that often wins regardless because in many races if you look at 'back' races each horse's best effort is usually good enough to either win or be right there.

I look at the trips to re-order the final positions but still keeping in mind that how ever good the race was it's only one effort. By that I mean if a horse is 3 lengths the best and did not have the easiest trip but the effort is 5 lengths better than it feels like running in 9 out of 10 starts then this effort doesn't make it the classier horse. You might say the horse has ability off of the quality of this one legit race but that's as far as it should go. There's class and there's an effort, for me anyway they don't always mix because consistent effort is class. Temperamental horses that run a lot of pure junk non-efforts mixed with effort, that = less class in my book.

These temperamental horses can be playable at nice odds or even be big plays against at lower odds when they'll be off the board in a seemingly favorable scenario because their head isn't always in the game.
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Old 04-19-2021, 10:34 PM   #8
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Have you attempted to ascertain any common elements among the horses that win under these circumstances? Are you talking about a multitude of different tracks? Dirt only I’m assuming?

I’m trying to figure out how from your post elicited two subsequent offerings focused on camera angles, which had virtually nothing to do with what you said.

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Old 04-19-2021, 10:53 PM   #9
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I spent 30 years trying to interpret trips in an objective manner that would produce consistent results. Everything...jockey pushing hard equals loss of pre-stretch energy, then looked for impressive stretch run despite...jockey needing little effort to maintain position or accelerate equals a car able to maintain speed while in neutral...widest horse on the turns has to have a better trip next time...etc.

Some years ago i came upon a database here documenting the expertise of the public even among small differences such as 3-1, 7-2, 4-1, etc. I became convinced of the comprehensive approach to the game, while still incorporating position on the straights and turns, and pace as critical factors.
I scarcely bother with intent watching of races anymore, and do a lot of inferring regarding pace and position from obvious published data. Mostly, I conform my judgements to the locked in percentages the public assigns. The favorite at 9-5 potentially loses roughly 70% of the time...I am viewing his previous trips negatively. The three odds ranked horses behind him win approximately 50% of the time cumulatively. I am interpreting their trips as positively as I can. The bottom of the field collectively wins the remaining 20% or so. If I can reject the favorite, then together with the favorite they still have a roughly 50% chance of winning.

I sat in many a grandstand long ago trying to judge the capability of horses based on their trips soon after the race was over. Had I known about the percentages in the game back then. That "winning favorites at the meet" percentage in the DRF masthead for that day's races never registered back then, and the idea of value rather than betting the "best horse" wasn't even a thought.
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Old 04-19-2021, 10:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainman View Post
Since I play only one track during the winter, I watch lots of races I have no rooting interest in, and find that perspective more objective and illuminating.

Beyond individual trips, trends emerge that often defy conventional beliefs on race-flow. Tons of winners, for instance, come under hard rides, and even the whip, long before key rivals also present in the pan shot. Also, many, many winners travel rough, bobble, stayleft lead, short stride..etc. And don't EVEN get me started on how many winners overcome seemingly insurmountable "trouble."

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these winners are well-bet, leading inevitably to the conclusion that current form and or innate superiority trump trips, flow, and visual observation.

As a situational handicapper obsessed with the particulars of today's spot, and one who augments past performances with a visually-gleaned impression of horses and race-flow, I do find most of this mildly disconcerting.
Sharp post, mountainman. What do you suggest we do, to compensate? What's your estimate for how often a winner overcomes these instances of insurmountable trouble vs. the ones who don't, 1 time out of 5?
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Old 04-19-2021, 11:29 PM   #11
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IMO what gets overlooked a lot is the effort. If the horse fires its best effort that often wins regardless because in many races if you look at 'back' races each horse's best effort is usually good enough to either win or be right there.

I look at the trips to re-order the final positions but still keeping in mind that how ever good the race was it's only one effort. By that I mean if a horse is 3 lengths the best and did not have the easiest trip but the effort is 5 lengths better than it feels like running in 9 out of 10 starts then this effort doesn't make it the classier horse. You might say the horse has ability off of the quality of this one legit race but that's as far as it should go. There's class and there's an effort, for me anyway they don't always mix because consistent effort is class. Temperamental horses that run a lot of pure junk non-efforts mixed with effort, that = less class in my book.

These temperamental horses can be playable at nice odds or even be big plays against at lower odds when they'll be off the board in a seemingly favorable scenario because their head isn't always in the game.
My views on "consistency" are a bit unorthodox and probably differ from yours, sir. But just to clarify my post, my impression isn't so much that the "beleagured" winners referenced are capitalizing on superior class as often as exploiting sharp form, that is transient, even momentary superiority.
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Old 04-19-2021, 11:51 PM   #12
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Sharp post, mountainman. What do you suggest we do, to compensate? What's your estimate for how often a winner overcomes these instances of insurmountable trouble vs. the ones who don't, 1 time out of 5?
Not to infer some mystical force at work, but watching lots of races I have no interest in has convinced me of strong, momentary dynamics in play. Dynamics that can nullify race-flow, trips, strategy, and even how horses travel. And I don't think it traces to class or should necessarily influence how we interpret performance.

We know less than we think we do about what happens and why during a horse race.
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Old 04-20-2021, 12:16 AM   #13
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Well, yeah. That's what makes it so great.
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Old 04-20-2021, 12:21 AM   #14
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We know less than we think we do about what happens and why during a horse race.
Who would know more about what happens and why in a horse race?
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Old 04-20-2021, 02:10 AM   #15
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There's class and there's an effort, for me anyway they don't always mix because consistent effort is class. Temperamental horses that run a lot of pure junk non-efforts mixed with effort, that = less class in my book.
I agree.

IMO multiple things are going on with consistency.

One is just the actual consistency of the horse’s form and it’s range of performances from race to race.

Another is how much energy the horse has in the tank relative to other horses in the field.

A horse with greater reserves of energy and stamina in the tank will overcome mildly disadvantageous trips and still run well. That’s why he’ll accumulate a more consistent record.

The inconsistent looking horses, the hangers etc.. are generally “cheaper” in that they can run fast with an easy trip or against a weaker field, but will fall apart more readily or badly when pushed hard.

The best horses are both consistent in their performances and have enough energy in reserve to overcome the occasional mildly bad trip and still win or at least finish really well at their current class level.
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