A Look at Breeders’ Cup Run Backs: 2009-2013
By Dana Byerly
In our last post we examined how the 2013 Breeders’ Cup starters did in same year run backs. During that exercise we discovered that Breeders’ Cup starters made 60 post-Breeders’ Cup starts throughout the rest of the year. Was this a high number or on par with previous years? We’ve spent the last two weeks trying to figure that out, here’s what we discovered.
As suspected, 60 same year run backs for Breeders’ Cup starters was high. In fact it was the highest amount of run backs over the past five years. While run backs increased each year since 2010, the win percent for run backs has remained relatively fixed.
A Look at the Races
Let’s first look at how the run back starters over the five year period shake out by race. It should be noted that the Juvenile Sprint was only run in 2011 and 2012, but it produced more run backs in two years than the Distaff and Filly & Mare Turf did in the entire five year period. It should also be noted that the starts from 2009 to 2012 are U.S. starts only, since we tracked Breeders’ Cup runners closely in 2013 at Hello Race Fans we knew there were three International starts.
Over the five year period the Filly and Mare Sprint has produced the highest percentage of winners and the third highest ITM starts. The Classic and the Sprint tie for the highest ITM percentage.
How did 2013 stack up? The Classic wildly outperformed the 5 year average with a 75% win rate and a 100% ITM compared to 33% win and 67% ITM. The Marathon also outperformed on wins with a 50% win rate compared to the still notable 39% wins for the five year period. The Turf was another one that notably outperformed on wins with 34% in 2013 compared to 8% for the five year period. And finally, the 2013 Sprint was 83% ITM compared to 67% for the five year period.
While not a radical under performer, the Filly and Mare Spirt slightly underperformed in 2013 with 34% wins compared to 43% wins in the five year period. And the Dirt Mile, while not a great performer in the five year period with a 10% win rate had a 0% win rate in 2013.
Here’s another way to look at how Breeders’ Cup starters fared for the rest of the year on a per race basis over the five year period:
Overall 2013 is pretty much inline with the past five years in terms of the races producing the same year run back starters. In both 2013 and the five year period the Turf Sprint has produced the most same year run backs (13.3% in 2013 and 11.8% in the five year period) while the Filly and Mare Turf produced the least with only three starters in the five year period, one of which started in 2013. Here’s another way to look at the Breeders’ Cup races by percentage of starters over the five year period:
The chart starts with the Classic at 6.3% in blue at the top and follows the key clockwise to the Turf Sprint at 11.8%. Here are the percentages for the unmarked races: Distaff = 2.5% of starters, Filly and Mare Turf = 1.3% of starters, Juvenile Fillies Turf = 4.6% of starters and the Juvenile Sprint = 2.9% of starters.
A Look at the Starters
As we mentioned at the beginning, the win percentage for same year run back starters has remained relatively fixed despite the notable increase in run backs in the five year period. Here’s a look at the Breeders’ Cup starters who were same year run back winners between 2009 and 2013.
The five year period produced two two-time winners. Cloudy’s Knight won both of his post Breeders’ Cup Marathon run backs in 2009 (Valedictory Stakes, G2 W.L. McKnight) while Teddy’s Promise won a post Breeders’ Cup run back in 2012 (Kalookan Queen) and 2013 (Playa Del Rey).
Cut backs were the overwhelming distance move for winners in 2013 at 50% with same distance returns producing 35.7% winners but in the five year period runners who cut back in distance or remained at the same distance won equally.
While every Breeders’ Cup race has had a same year run back within the five year period (and in 2013), not all Breeders’ Cup races are represented by a same-year run back winner. The Distaff, Filly and Mare Turf and Juvenile Sprint produced no winners between 2009 and 2013. The Distaff did produce one show and the Juvenile Sprint produced a show and a place the Filly and Mare Turf has yet to hit the board.
Here’s another way to look at the races that produced same year run back winners between 2009 and 2013.
The chart starts with the Classic at 9.3% and follows the key clockwise to the Turf Sprint at 13%. Here are the percentages for the unmarked races: Dirt Mile = 10% of winners, Juvenile Fillies Turf = 9% of winners and the Turf = 9.9% of winners.
Other fun tidbits…
There were several Breeders’ Cup starters who ran in the money more than once in the five year period:
Game on Dude: 1st in 2012 G3 Native Diver, 2nd in 2013 G1 Clark
Flat Out : 3rd in 2011 G1 Clark, 1st in 2013 G1 Cigar
Great Hot: 3rd in 2011 G1 La Brea, 2012 3rd Kalookan Queen
Reneesgotzip: 1st 2012 Skillful Joy, 2nd G1 La Brea
Smiling Tiger: 2nd 2010 G1 Malibu, 1st G3 2012 Vernon O. Underwood
While no one ran in the money more than twice in the five year period, there were three three-time starters, and one of them made all three same year run backs in a single year!
Unbridled’s Note: 2012: 3rd G1 Malibu, 2013: 2nd Hollywood Turf Express, 1st G1 Malibu
Riveting Reason: 2010: 1st MSW, 5th G1 CashCall Futurity, 2nd Allowance
Optimizer: 2011: 4th G2 KYJC, 2012: 5th G3 River City, 3rd G2 Hollywood Turf Cup
With such a small sample size it’s hard to infer anything from this data, but it is interesting to note that in the recent past some Breeders’ Cup races are more reliable than others at producing same year run back winners (or even just same year run backs!). Is the steady uptick of run backs over the past five years a trend that will continue? Only time will tell, but let’s hope so!
This exercise also made us wonder why some races seem to reliably produce run back starters while others don’t. One factor could certainly be the amount of races available after the Breeders’ Cup for each type of runner, and we’ll do a follow up post on this in the coming weeks.