Friday, October 31, 2008

HOTY Numbers Game

Many years ago, I would religiously balance my checkbook. The difference between $47.52 and $47.95 could be 4 dime draws at the Cave Inn on Tuesday nights, with $45.03 leftover for "general living expenses". But over the years, grinding numbers turned into mundane minutiae; I had a general knowledge of the amounts of deposits and debits, so a quick glance at my monthly bank statement would suffice.

The same could be said for horse races that have that mysterious minus-negative-six-feet-under-and-pushing-up-daisies Show Pools. I don’t understand them. I don’t even try. It only matters if I'm holding a winning ticket on that race.

Additionally, the numbers crunched for points in the TBA Standings get similar attention. I have glanced at them on occasion and they appear to reflect what’s happening in horse racing. Father-and-Inventor of the TBA, Patrick, implemented standings that dishes out points in conjunction with graded stakes. Or something to that effect. A worthwhile idea, as I had pondered a couple of years ago, but not without its pitfalls. And the horse with the highest number of points would be crowned TBA Horse of the Year. And according to the TBA Standings, the 2008 TBA HOTY is Zenyatta.

Zenyatta? Huh?!?

Turf writer and good friend to Post Parade, Gary West of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, sums it up with one word:

"Flapdoodle," proclaims the Professor.

Gary West goes on to write in his blog,
[Zenyatta] was unbeaten in seven races, but except for the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park she raced exclusively in California. She earned $2,090,580 this year, and among her victories were four Grade I stakes, in which she defeated a total of 21 starters.

Curlin...[won] the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. And then he traveled from Kentucky to New York to California, running in major events all along the journey. He won five of seven, his only losses coming on turf and faux dirt. He won four of his six Grade I stakes, where he defeated a total of 46 horses. And he earned $5,399,000 this year, pushing his career earnings beyond $10 million, to become the richest horse ever to race in North America.

Clearly, their accomplishments are not comparable. Curlin earned more than twice as much money and beat more than twice as many top horses as Zenyatta.

Yes, something looks amiss in the TBA standings.

However, Kennedy’s Corridor maintains its own Thoroughbred Championship Rankings. The industrious horseplayer/blogger uses a complex algorithm that uses deductions and bonuses and decimals that has me reaching for a Michelob just to get through the instructions. As you can see by the displayed rankings, there’s a remarkable difference between Kennedy’s Championship Rankings and the TBA Standings, and (I hate to say this) Kennedy’s appear to be supportive of what actually occurred in horse racing in 2008.

Anyway, in the end, the Eclipse will be decided by votes from a group of scotch-swilling-cigar-smoking turf writers, not by algorithms, calculations, nor the quadratic equation. And Old Friends will gladly accept the TBA’s charitable contribution regardless if the TBA HOTY is Zenyatta, Curlin, Big Brown, or Tres Borrachos.


Winston...not really said...

There is nothing wrong with a scotch-swilling-cigar-smoking, anything.

Handride said...

Thanks for the links! The TBA standings are just a hypothesis that standings can work. They are bare bones, the Gr I Apple Blossom worth the same as the Dubai World Cup. Some tinkering is sure to make them better, as F&M races should count less than open company, and 2yo races should count less than 3yo only races etc etc. But i think everyone agrees it's a close year.

SaratogaSpa said...

The HOTY vote is like the Baseball Hall of Fame vote. Both are voted on by writers and both are usually controversial.

But that is not such a bad makes for good publicity