clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Big A

While watching the card from Aqueduct this morning I noticed that the fractions for early races on the main track seemed incredibly slow, especially the two year-old races where I generally expect to see a quick early pace. So following the last race I decided to throw a little spread sheet together to see if there was anything that stuck out to me. For comparisons sake, I also took the fractions from last Saturday (11/21) and compared it to today. Both tables are below.

Aqueduct, Saturday, November 28th:

Race

Type

Length

1/4

1/2

3/4

Mile

Final

Winner

1

Clm15 NY 3up(f)

6.0

:23.23

:47.32

1:12.27

Midpack

2

MdSpWt 2yo

8.0

:23.40

:46.90

1:12.59

1:39.15

Closer

3

MdSpWt 2yo

8.5 (T)

:23.78

:49.55

1:14.82

1:45.92

Midpack

4

AlwOC NY 3up

8.0

:23.87

:47.23

1:12.20

1:37.95

Wire

5

MdSpWt NY 2yo

8.5 (T)

:23.63

:49.72

1:16.18

1:41:15

1:47.20

Closer

6

G2 2yo(f)

9.0

:23.59

:49.35

1:15.11

1:40.48

1:53.09

Stalker

7

G2, 2yo

9.0

:24.01

:48.18

1:13.23

1:39.46

1:52.95

Stalker

8

G1, 3yo(f)

9.0

:24.24

:48.73

1:12.90

1:37.75

1:50.94

Wire

9

G1 Open

8.0

:23.69

:46.80

1:11.54

1:35.57

Stalker

10

Alw Open

8.5 (T)

:24.29

:49.89

1:15.11

1:39.37

1:45.36

Wire

Aqueduct, Saturday, November 21st:

Race

Type

Length

1/4

1/2

3/4

Mile

Final

Winner

1

Clm22N2L 3up

6.0

:22.89

:46.17

1:10.18

Wire

2

MdSpWt 2yo(f)

6.0

:22.83

:47.07

1:12.04

Stalk

3

MdClm20 NY 3yo

6.5

23.79

:47.40

1:12.66

1:19.45

Stalk

4

MdSpWt NY 3yo

8.0

:23.85

:47.71

1:12.81

1:38.42

Mid/Stalk

5

Clm7500 3up

6.0

:22.75

:46.60

1:12.01

Mid/Stalk

6

MdSpWt 2yo

5.5

:21.75

:45.29

1:04.47

Stalk

7

AlwOCN2X 3up

8.5

:25.60

:52.58

1:18.15

1:42.65

1:48.76

Midpack

8

G3 3yo

9.0

:24.25

:48.84

1:13.46

1:37.51

1:50.10

Stalk

9

MdSpWt

8.0 (T)

:25.04

:50.67

1:16.26

1:40.34

Wire

These two days from Aqueduct are a prime example of the usefulness of speed figures in order to compare the relative speed of a track surface on a given day. Last Saturday (11/21), Aqueduct sent forth a card comprising almost entirely of sprint races while today there was only a single race carded at less than a mile. The fractions on the 21st were, across the board, much quicker with several races coming up with sub :23.0 opening quarters. Today? Nothing under :23.0 for the opening quarter with half mile times generally in the :47 to :48 range. And while we can attribute some of that discrepancy to the different types of races (sprint vs. route) there still seems to be a general slowness to the times today. Also throw in the fact that the quality of racing today was much higher than last Saturday (four graded stakes and only one claiming race).

I don't follow Aqueduct on a daily basis which was the reason I initially started to perform this analysis - because to my eyes watching the races live I thought that the track was playing slow but I didn't know "how" slow. At a minimum, I now know that today was a much slower day than last Saturday.

Another thought about today's Aqueduct surface: when I initially saw the slow splits the first question that popped into my head was "is this track tiring or just slow?" That's generally a question that you have to wait until some races have been run in order to answer. Had I seen race after race with slow fractions combined with winning closers I would have come to the conclusion that the track was tiring. But look at the winner's running style today on the main track as indicated in the last column; we saw all types of winners at the Big A – front runners, stalkers, closers and midpack runners. If anything, the track seemed to play fair, even though the times were slow. On the other hand, last Saturday almost all the winners up close early without even a sniff of a true closer. (And if you dig into the results charts you'll see that deep closers weren't even getting up for the minor prizes, either.)

The determination as to whether a track is slow or tiring is an important distinction; an adept handicapper that can correctly identify a tiring surface will likely end up going home with a lot of green in his wallet.