By Art Parker
(Reprinted with permission from our friends at A Game of Skill)
Keeneland Spring and Fall (past 4 meets)
It is a sensible and accepted practice to review historical data before making investments. If you ever purchased shares of a mutual fund from a securities representative, you were probably drowned with information about the great past performance of the fund, which is the best weapon the representative has to sell you on the quality of the investment. Naturally, among all of the investment warnings and small legal fine print, you are warned that past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
The same is true in thoroughbred racing. Those of us who frequent the races know that past performance is no guarantee of future results. But just like in the financial world, we are better equipped to make good decisions about the future when we have an abundance of reliable information about the past.
Few horse players pay attention to trainers and what they actually do. Most players try to turn their brain into computer mode as they throw themselves into the details of the running lines found in past performances. They crunch numbers and inhale speed and pace figures as if there is no tomorrow, and all of that is important. Many players worry about jockeys and for some reason view these diminutive athletes as race car drivers. Many players believe jockeys are solely responsible for the performance of their horses in races, and this logic is very, very weak. The best horse players will tell you that when it comes to the human factor in thoroughbred racing, it is the trainer that plays the most critical role.
Trainers are business people that manage employees and have fiduciary responsibilities since they are also managing the assets of thoroughbred owners. The best trainers are successful because they are excellent managers of anything to do with their business. They have to plan and execute to be successful. In addition to business talent they must know thoroughbreds and know as much about them as possible. A trainer is not only a conditioner but is part veterinarian. And when the trainer is not taking good physical care of his horses then he tries to be an equine psychologist and figure out what makes a horse tick upstairs. And, on top of all that, the trainer needs to be a good handicapper if he wants to succeed. They have to know how to place their horses in the right spots.
Being human, trainers are creatures of habit and it often shows in preparing a horse for a race. Becoming familiar with trainers and what they do to win is just as important as understanding all of the information in the running lines.
When one makes a list of the few special horse tracks in the world, Keeneland is bound to be on the list, maybe even at the top of it. The Lexington, Kentucky track is open for racing a few weeks in the spring and a few weeks in the fall. Both Keeneland meetings immediately precede the spring and fall meetings of Churchill Downs in Louisville. In addition to excellent timing, Keeneland also offers race meetings rich with quality and high purses.
Keeneland is one of the great challenges for horse players. The meetings are short and horses ship from many locations. The best way to describe playing Keeneland can be found in one word: Tough. Something else that makes Keeneland a great challenge is the quality of the horseplayers. The racing is tough to handicap and the pari-mutuel competition is tough as well. A player that wants to win needs all the help available when Keeneland is the chosen battleground.
Now, let’s put trainers, Keeneland, and the past four meetings together to try and have the best results possible in 2012. Our concentration will be the trainers that do more than show up and win a race. We have detailed the trainers in the last four meetings that were multiple winning trainers. In other words, a trainer had to collect at least two victories to be recognized.
How good were the multiple winning trainers? Here are a few facts that validate the importance of these few trainers.
Keeneland held 690 thoroughbred races collectively in the Spring and Fall meetings of 2010 and the Spring and Fall meetings of 2011.
Trainers winning at least 2 races totaled 79.
The 79 multiple winners won a total of 602 races collectively or 87% of all races.
Of the 79 multiple winners, 26 trainers won at least 7 races.
Those 26 trainers collected a total of 443 wins or 64% of all races.
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