Value Wagering

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No Need for Speed?

With apologies to Ralph Waldo Emerson and old baseball fans, it was the “shock heard ‘round the world,” a victory so miraculous that even Al Michaels probably couldn’t believe it. With a crowd of 153,563 looking on — two of which had backed the winner — Mine That Bird slithered along the Churchill Downs’ rail like the featured act at a bachelor party to score a 6 3/4-length triumph in Kentucky Derby 135 — at odds of 50-1.

The victory was so unexpected that the gelding was three lengths in front of the 19-horse field by the time race caller Tom Durkin even recognized him.

“Down toward the inside, coming on through that is… uh… Mine That Bird, now, who’s coming on to take the lead,” Durkin stammered, adding, “as they come down to the finish in a spectacular, spectacular upset, Mine That Bird has won the Kentucky Derby, an impossible result here.”

Indeed. Not since Giacomo in 2005 had a Derby winner lit up the toteboard like the $9,500 yearling purchase that broke his maiden in a claiming affair and arrived at the home of the Twin Spires following an out-of-the-money finish in the Sunland Derby. Yet, of all the factors — and, obviously, there were many — that made Mine That Bird an outsider on the first Saturday in May 2009, one reigned supreme: frankly, the son of Birdstone simply didn’t look fast enough to win.

From 1992 (when Beyer speed figures first appeared in the Daily Racing Form) until last year, no horse had won the Derby without having earned a Beyer fig of 98 or better prior to competing in the big dance. Mine That Bird’s best Beyer before his romp for the roses was an 81, which he garnered in the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park. Thus, the question must be asked, “have speed ratings become irrelevant as a modern-day handicapping tool?”

Click HERE to read more.

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August 21, 2009 - Posted by | Horse Racing | , , , , , , , ,

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