Graded Stakes And Divisional Standings

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 05: Drosselmeyer, ridden by Mike Smith, crosses the finish line to win the Breeders' Cup Classic during the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 5, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

A happy Monday to everyone. I hope your weekend was enjoyable and, if you were playing the races, profitable. As we start to move deeper into the 2012 racing calendar I've decided to add a new feature to the site: a periodic look at divisional standings based on graded stakes results. There are several sites that put together divisional rankings, either through a point system, voting, or some other combination. A key point to the standings that I'm going to formulate is that they are divisional in nature, and not designed for a division-to-division comparison (like for Horse of the Year). As a result, the standings are meant to provide a snap-shot to a horse's performance compared to others in similar conditions. This is a slight difference from the Eclipse Awards where some categories combine conditions, such as the turf category where you'll have milers and classic horses mixed in.

The system I've decided to use is based on points earned in graded stakes races. The points assigned are based on the stakes level (G1, G2, G3, Breeders' Cup) and the corresponding finish in those races. I've organized the point structure as follows:

Race Win Place Show
Breeders' Cup 55 45 35
Grade 1 45 35 25
Grade 2 35 25 15
Grade 3 25 15 5

As you can see, there is a tier effect between the levels; Breeders' Cup races counting for the most points, then Grade 1, and so on. The point values are a bit of a "gut feeling" to start off with and attempted to describe a particular relationship between grades. Based on the current chart, a win in a Grade 3 is equal to a place in a Grade 2 or a show in a Grade 1. While that may or may not be true on the track, this seemed like a good place to start.

I allocated the most points to Breeders' Cup races due to the fact that, typically, a Breeders' Cup race will be the deepest, most competitive field of the year in a particular division. But at the same time, I didn't want the Breeders' Cup races to overshadow points earned in all other levels, so the step-up from Grade 1 to the Breeders' Cup follows the same pattern as the other races.

I did not differentiate between races restricted by age or sex because those differences will be accounted for in the divisional standings (which I outline below). A horse earns points not due to their specific characteristics (age or sex), but the races they run in. For example, a 3YO colt earns points in the Classic division for running in races under those conditions. That same colt would earn points in the 3YO division for running in races restricted to 3yos.

I've added one more element to the points system in order to try and account for exceptional performances throughout the year, and that a speed figure bonus. This bonus is based upon a speed figure analysis at the conclusion of all graded stakes for the year and assigning additional points to horses that achieved a speed figure in a specified percentage of all races in the division. I'm included the speed figures from Beyer, Bris, and Equibase, all of which will be ranked and compared at the end of the season.

I'm using three different speed figure systems for a couple of reasons. First, by averaging the ranking among three systems, I hope to eliminate the impact of a single big figure under one method. A horse needs to rank well on all three methods in order to get the bonus points. Second, since speed figures are as much art as they are science, including multiple methods is probably a better way to capture the "big picture" than simply relying on one set of numbers.

The chart below summarizes the speed figure bonus points:

Speed Figure Avg. Bonus
Top 5% 15
6% to 15% 10
16% - 25% 5

I added the speed figure bonus in an attempt to add a "quality" component to the points system; if a horse wins a Grade 3 race, it would acquire 25 points. But if that performance ranked in the top 5% of all stakes races in that division, then the horse would receive a 15 point bonus.

The speed figure bonus only applies to winners, not horses in the place or show spot - although I may revise that later if I find it easy to add that information. Figures for winners are much easier to find for all three systems than those for the entire field.

I've broken out the divisions into 14 groups that loosely align to the Eclipse categories, with the exception of splitting the turf categories into races at nine furlongs and above, those around a mile, and sprints (anything less than 7.5 furlongs). Most divisions are separated between colts and fillies, with the exception of Turf Sprints, in which I'm just going to follows the colts since there aren't a ton of female turf sprints at the graded stakes level.

Divisions Condition
Classic 3up, ≥9.0f
Distaff 3up, f&m, ≥7.5f
2yo Colt 2yo
2yo Fillies 2yo, f
Dirt Mile 3up, ≥7.5, <9.0
Dirt Sprint 3up, ≤7.0f
Dirt Sprint Fillies 3up, f&m, ≤7.0f
Turf Sprint 3up, ≤7.0f
Turf Classic 3up, ≥9.0f
Turf Mile 3up, ≥7.5, <9.0
Turf Fillies 3up, f&m, ≥9.0f
Turf Fillies Mile 3up, f&m, ≥7.5, <9.0
3yo Colts 3yo
3yo Fillies 3yo, f

So that's the outline and basis of the divisional standings that you'll see on the site from this point forward. These standings are a bit of a work in progress; I expect to tweak some of the variables in the future once the data starts to accumulate. In the future, you can find the current divisional standing and graded stakes results at the link below (via Google Docs). There are three worksheets within that file: Graded Stakes Results, Divisional Standings, and Legend.

Divisional Leaders

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