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2012 Year in Review: Part IV - Putting It All Together

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A final review at the 2012 year in racing with a look at the top performances within each division.

Wise Dan winning the 2012 Breeders' Cup Mile over Animal Kingdom,
Wise Dan winning the 2012 Breeders' Cup Mile over Animal Kingdom,
Harry How

This is the fourth and final installment of my 2012 Year in Review. If you're just joining us, you can catch up by reading Part I, Part II and Part III.

I'm going to dispense with recapping the final three months of the 2012 racing season since we all probably remember exactly what happened, especially with the Breeders' Cup. As a results, the last of our Year in Review posts takes a look at the final Graded Stakes & Divisional Standing, and the conclusion of the first year of this little project to try and develop a way of rating and ranking performances.

You can find the results of all the 2012 Graded Stakes and standings at the link below via Google Drive.

Final 2012 Graded Stakes Results & Divisional Standings

I've calculated the "Winner's Bonus" for all 2012 graded stakes races and applied said bonus to each horses within each division. The Winner's Bonus is calculated by indexing four different speed figures (Beyer, Bris, Equibase and PF's) for the winner of each race within the division and then basing the bonus off of the top performance. For example, Fort Larned's Whitney ranked as the top race in the Classic division, a distinction that earned him 50 bonus points for that race. His Breeders' Cup Classic victory ranked as the second highest race and earned him an additional 49.19 bonus points. Fifty bonus points are awarded for the top effort in each division, with each race ranking below the top effort reduced based on the "rate". (Rate = Total of all speed figure ranks / top horses total of speed figure ranks).

Below are the top races in each division for 2012 after the calculation of the speed figure index for each winner:

Classic: Whitney - Saratoga (Fort Larned)
Distaff: Fleur de Lis - Churchill Downs (Royal Delta)
Turf Classic: Pan American - Gulfstream Park (Newsdad)
Turf Fillies: Ballston Spa - Saratoga (Zagora (FR))
Turf Mile: Fourstardave - Saratoga (Wise Dan)
Turf Mile Fillies: Distaff Turf Mile - Churchill Downs (Hungry Island)
Dirt Mile: Met Mile - Belmont (Shackleford)
Dirt Mile Fillies: Sabin - Gulfstream Park (Awesome Maria)
Dirt Sprint: Forego - Saratoga (Emcee)
Dirt Sprint Fillies: Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Groupie Doll)
Turf Sprint: Daytona - Santa Anita (Caracortado)
3YO Colts: Haskell - Monmouth Park (Paynter)
3YO Colts Turf: Commonwealth Turf - Churchill Downs (Lea)
3YO Fillies: Alabama - Saratoga (Questing (GB))
3YO Fillies Turf: Mrs. Revere - Churchill Downs (Centre Court)
2YO Colts: Remsen - Aqueduct (Overanalyze)
2YO Fillies: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies - Santa Anita (Beholder)

Beginning in 2013, I'll be making a change to the way the bonus points are awarded. Instead of assigning 50 points to the top race in each division, I'll instead use the following procedure:

  1. All of the top three finishers will be included in the bonus calculation, not just the winner.
  2. Instead of basing the bonus off of the top effort, the points will be based off of a comparison to the median performance in the division. The median race will receive a 25 point bonus and all other performance bonuses will be calculated based on their comparison to the median or "par".
  3. I will no longer assign points based on the grade of the race and instead will determine the strength of each race based on the performance of the top three finishers (in a similar manner as the bonus points) and then assign a "race strength" bonus. I'm implementing this change to do away with the retro-looking and often times misleading tag of "Grade 1" or "Grade 2" for determining the quality of a race. All Grade 1s are not alike; the race strength points will attempt to quantify the quality of the race beyond in the current year, not in prior years.

    I'll be breaking the races into two categories: turf and main track (I still don't know what to do with synthetics so I'll toss them into "dirt" for now even though I don't like it). Every race on each surface will be ranked against each other, regardless of age, distance, condition etc.

The complete Top 10 standing for each division are listed under the "Final 2012 Standings" tab of the linked Google Drive document. Below is a summary of the top ranked horse in each category based on graded stakes wins and a win bonus.

Classic: Game On Dude
Distaff: Royal Delta
Turf Classic: Point of Entry
Turf Fillies: Zagora (FR)
Turf Mile: Wise Dan
Turf Mile Fillies: Tapitsfly
Dirt Mile: Shackleford
Dirt Mile Fillies: Include Me Out
Dirt Sprint: Caixa Electronica
Dirt Sprint Fillies: Groupie Doll
Turf Sprint: Bridgetown
3YO Colts: I'll Have Another
3YO Colts Turf: Silver Max
3YO Fillies: Grace Hall
3YO Fillies Turf: Centre Court
2YO Colts: Shanghai Bobby
2YO Fillies: Executiveprivilege

As I've pointined out before, these standings/rankings hurt horses that don't run in a lot of graded stakes and/or run in the top 3 but fail to win. As a result, there are a few divisions where I would modify the rankings if I was slotting the horses on personal opinion. For example, Executiveprivilege has all the points in the 2YO Fillies category but, for my money, Beholder is the clear champion of that division. And the Dirt Sprint category is a complete mess this year. Caixa Electronica ended up with the most points but that's only because I make a distinction between races for 3YOs and older horses; BC Sprint champ Trinniberg didn't have as many opportunities to run against older this season. Additionally, I think Questing (GB) should probably be the top 3YO Filly ahead of Grace Hall, but that division is also a bit muddled this season.

While I have quibbles with the results in a couple of the divisions, there are a few that are right on the money, in my opinion. Groupie Doll is not just the overwhelming winner of the Dirt Sprint Fillies division, she essentially had no rivals. Royal Delta dominated the Distaff division, while Wise Dan made a mockery of the Turf Mile competition.

The Turf Sprint division is a mess since A) there isn't that many graded turf sprints on the calendar, and B) I didn't include races for fillies and mares in the category for 2012. I might tweak that category going forward but, ultimately, I don't think there are enough races in the division to really compile any kind of meaningful rankings.