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Homeracing

Using Speed, Class, & Potter Stewart to Define a Great Performance

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

December 17th, 2014

Palace MaliceTo most race fans, a great performance can be hard to define with words, but as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said regarding obscenity, “I know when I see it.”

From a personal eye test perspective, Shared Belief winning the Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar was the single most breathtaking performance this year with honorable mentions going to Game On Dude’s Santa Anita Handicap and California Chrome’s Santa Anita Derby. Yes, it was a good year for Southern California.

But Brisnet.com does not watch races, it merely crunches their numbers and attempts to quantify them. Two of the more powerful tools are Speed and Class Ratings. Speed measures how fast a horse ran, and Class measures a horse’s performance relative to its competition in that race, and the numbers are computed separately.

The Speed and Class Ratings (along with a host of other proprietary data such as PRIME POWER and Pace Ratings) are available in the Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances that TwinSpires.com players get free when they wager.

I think a fair definition of performance of the year is the fastest race against the best competition and used the Brisned.com Speed and Class Ratings to find the first horse to cross certain thresholds.

This year it was Palace Malice who was the only horse with a Speed Rating of at least 110 who also registered a Class Rating of at least 125. So while Taris was faster (115 Speed Rating when winning the Lexus Raven Run Stakes), and Close Hatches may have beaten more accomplished runners (125.8 Class Rating when winning the Personal Ensign Stakes), Palace Malice was the one who best put it together.

Interestingly enough, Palace Malice’s 2014 New Orleans Handicap win looks to be the worst best performance in a single year for as long as Brisnet.com has been producing these numbers. No one has had a lower Speed Rating and only Rachel Alexandra’s Class Rating was lower (though she did earn a pair of 125+ Class Ratings during her Horse of the Year campaign, those wins both registered a 111 Speed Rating, so we called her Haskell the Performance of the Year as her 116 Speed Rating there was tops all season).

This is the first year Brisnet.com has declared a Performance of the Year, but the system for determining the “winner” makes it easy to figure out who would have won historically, so the below chart lists the performance of the year going back as far as we’ve produced the ratings (1990).

Some interesting notes:

1. This chart illustrates the importance of defeating open company especially in the scope of a Horse of the Year campaign, as only Rachel Alexanra and Point Given registered Performances of the Year in an age-restricted race (both went on to win Horse of the Year, though Rachel Alexandra did defeat her elders in the Woodward while Point Given only raced against three-year-olds in 2001).

2. The last time a Breeders’ Cup race appears was 2007, and this also happens to be the last time the Classic winner was named Horse of the Year. Both droughts look to continue this year.

3. Shirocco is the only horse to earn Performance of the Year on turf, though Kotashaan during his Horse of the Year campaign in 1993 was close.

4. Curlin is the only two-time winner, though Ghostzapper came close, as his lone start in 2005—a scintillating win in the Metropolitan Mile Handicap—ranked second behind the aforementioned Shirocco.

5. Big Drama and Preporant are the only Performance of the Year in a pure sprint race, though mile races are decently represented.

6. The only females to win Performance of the Year are Rachel Alexandra, Sharp Cat, and Inside Information.

7. The aforementioned Preporant is the only horse to earn Performance of the Year outside of the graded stakes program for his 14 ½-length victory in the Hudson Handicap.

Year

Horse

Race

Speed

Class

2014

Palace Malice

New Orleans Handicap

113

125.1

2013

Fort Larned

Stephen Foster Handicap

114

125.5

2012

Flat Out

Jockey Club Gold Cup

117

125.1

2011

Big Drama

Mr. Prospector Handicap

117

126.0

2010

Quality Road

Donn Handicap

116

126.2

2009

Rachel Alexandra

Haskell Invitational

116

124.7

2008

Curlin

Jockey Club Gold Cup

117

126.9

2007

Curlin

Breeders’ Cup Classic

121

129.3

2006

Invasor

Breeders’ Cup Classic

116

126.9

2005

Shirocco

Breeders’ Cup Turf

121

129.1

2004

Ghostzapper

Breeders’ Cup Classic

116

128.7

2003

Pleasantly Perfect

Breeders’ Cup Classic

117

128.6

2002

Congaree

Cigar Mile Handicap

118

126.0

2001

Point Given

Belmont Stakes

114

128.0

2000

Albert the Great

Jockey Club Gold Cup

117

125.6

1999

Cat Thief

Breeders’ Cup Classic

115

125.4

1998

Sharp Cat

Beldame Stakes

114

127.6

1997

Formal Gold

Woodward Stakes

117

128.4

1996

Star Standard

Pimlico Special Handicap

114

129.6

1995

Inside Information

Breeders’ Cup Distaff

118

127.0

1994

Cigar

NYRA Mile Handicap

117

125.5

1993

Preporant

Hudson Handicap

118

125.6

1992

Pleasant Tap

Jockey Club Gold Cup

116

126.4

1991

In Excess

Suburban Handicap

121

126.7

1990

Criminal Type

Metropolitan Mile H.

120

127.4

 

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