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The Breeders’ Cup Classic — Part 2
Dr. Z’s Mathematics of Gambling
by William Ziemba

Last month, I discussed the analysis of pace and speed internal fraction numbers of Equiform (www.equiform.com). Their numbers for the main contenders in the Classic were:

Golden Missile 79- 80- 75+ 81 80- 76 73" 81
  62 80 78 76 74 72 68 77
Lemon Drop Kid 78- 76- 82- 81" 79" 79" 76" 78-
  68 77 76 71 72 72 77 74
Albert the Great 81 78" 79 65 77" 75- 76 76-
  71 88 67 82 75 76 75 85
Fusaichi Pegasus 81" 79- 81- 80+ 76- 77- 73+ 74-
  85 76 75 80 77 78 75 78
Captain Steve 80- 79 77" 78- 76" 79- 75 77-
  72 81 72 72 76 74 79 69
Tiznow 80- 79+ 78 76+ 75 74- 72+ 71
  73 73 79 71 78 76 68 72
Cat Thief 71+ 80- 75" 79- 75+ 78 75 77"
  79 79 72 74 75 79 70 73


The bottom number is the pace number, and represents adjusted, four-furlong velocity. The top number reflects adjusted final time. A (-) is minus a quarter point, (+) is plus a quarter point and (") is a half point.

The favorite at 6-5 was Fusaichi Pegasus, who had won the Kentucky Derby and was recently sold to Ireland’s Coolmore Stud for a reputed 60–70 million. He was rested after losing to the fresh Red Bullet in the Preakness. He returned with an authoritative win in the Jerome Handicap, but missed the Jockey Club Gold Cup, his intended final prep race, due to a minor injury, and was coming into the Classic off a seven-week layoff. In his absence, three-year-old Albert The Great, romped to a six length score in the JCGC. Amongst the older horses, Golden Missile and Lemon Drop Kid had risen to the top of the handicap division earlier in 2000, but their races, especially the Kid’s, leading into the Classic were lackluster and well below their competitors’ recent form. Defending Breeders’ Cup winner, Cat Thief, had not won a race since his 19/1 upset a year earlier at Gulfstream Park. The other older horses were simply outclassed.

In the final major prep race in California the three-year-olds, Tiznow and Captain Steve finished one-two in the Goodwood Handicap. From Europe came Giant’s Causeway, an impeccably bred three-year-old son of Storm Cat, who had won four Grade I races against older horses.

Given the Fusaichi Pegasus hype, his real chance of winning would likely be overestimated by the public. He was the horse to beat. But comparing him to the other contenders, I was led to Tiznow. Although he had not run quite as fast final numbers as Fusaichi Pegasus, Tiznow had never taken a backward step, culminating with a 79¾ in the Goodwood. If he continued to develop, he could win.

The race preceding the Classic provided another clue. The 1½ mile Breeders Cup Turf was won by the four-year-old Irish bred Kalanisi. Owned by the Aga Khan, he overcame a slow early pace to win a thrilling four horse photo finish. If Kalanisi could beat the best grass horses in the world, then Giant’s Causeway, who had twice defeated Kalinisi and had nine wins and three seconds in twelve races, a serious contender in the Classic.

Albert the Great exhibits a lucrative pattern Equiform has discovered. When a horse runs a lifetime best four-furlong number accompanied by a final number below his best, an improvement in the final number is likely in the near future, often at a generous mutuel. Coming off the 82 pace move in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, he improved to a 79 final in the Travers, losing a photo while running on a dead rail. Two races later, he moved forward to an 88 pace number. Then in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he was able to set a comfortable pace (71) and won by six lengths at nearly 8/1. But now, coming off a lifetime best final number, and probably facing more pace pressure, he was vulnerable.

Fusaichi Pegasus also exhibited a strong pattern, but the layoff was of some concern. Having run an 85 pace number in his previous race, he rated to run well but his strong final numbers coupled with his notoriety precluded obtaining any wagering value.

As post time neared, the odds on Fusaichi Pegasus were 6/5 (we estimated his real chances as 5/2). Captain Steve was an appealing 13/1, and Albert the Great was 9/1. A wager on either of those two would have been acceptable. But at 7/1, I thought Giant’s Causeway was not being given the proper respect (partly because he had never run on dirt before—even though he was bred to handle it nicely). Tiznow at 9/1 was too much price for an animal that with his normal improvement would be right there at the finish.

I bet on both Giant’s Causeway and Tiznow using across the board tickets on both and boxing the two of them in the exacta. That was a terrific payoff and a fun race to watch when at the quarter pole, Tiznow and Giant’s Causway pulled away from Albert the Great and went on to a thrilling finish. I lost a small Dr. Z show bet on Fusaichi Pegasus that I lowered because he was over bet to win. Tiznow, with Chris McCarron aboard, won by a neck. Captain Steve rallied to finish third ahead of Albert, who was followed by the Kid, Fusaichi Pegasus and Cat Thief. Golden Misslewas thirteenth and last. In another sense, I was not so lucky: had I boxed the trifecta and superfecta in the big exotics, I would have collected a $1678 tri and a $6121 super for each $2 bet.

Maybe next time!

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