Track Bias: occurs when a racing surface favors a particular running style or position.
If you were watching any racing from Dubai last Saturday, you got a preview at what a significant track bias can do to affect the outcome of thoroughbred races. Early in the card, horses that secured the early lead were winning handily, despite their seeming inferiority on paper. When the Dubai World Cup prep race featuring Keen Ice was finally run, it seemed impossible that he could have a serious impact on the outcome based on the previous race results, despite the fact that he was sent off at even money. The track bias prevailed, and Keen Ice was nowhere near the winner Special Fighter as he crossed the line in front-running fashion.
If Dubai was the appetizer on “track bias Saturday”, then the Road to Kentucky contest track Aqueduct was the main course. Nearly every horse that secured the lead and inside position won over the Aqueduct main track, and horses that appeared poised to pounce from the outside could only spin their wheels and fall back. The rail was a virtual conveyor belt.
The maximum score last week was 2,621 points and the contest came down to selecting the winner of Race 6, a horse named Heady Creek. This horse rode the inside speed bias to a nose victory at 52-1 odds, and was worth 1,138 points or 43 percentof the maximum score. There’s no path to victory this week if you didn’t select that horse. Favored Shagaf won the Gotham Stakes at 6/5 odds, defeating Laoban who nearly pulled a 15-1 upset riding that golden speed rail but came up a length short.
I checked in with 783 points this week, and while Heady Creek was nowhere on my radar I was close to a nice score with Laoban in the feature. I had no idea the bias would be in play like it was but it would have been nice to stumble into a big one like that.
One other performance worth mentioning from the weekend was Songbird’s dominant win at Santa Anita. For the first time watching her, the comparison to Rachel Alexandra and her dominating 3 year old campaign of 2009 crossed my mind. Rachel Alexandra and Songbird are both by Medaglia D’Oro, and if songbird carries her current form into the Kentucky Oaks, I believe we will see another front-running procession like Rachel delivered seven years ago. Kathryn Sophia from Gulfstream Park looks very good, but Songbird looks really exceptional to me.
Bright and early this Saturday we are back at Tampa Bay Downs for the Tampa Bay Derby, with an additional bonus race at Santa Anita, the San Felipe. The San Felipe will feature Bob Baffert’s top 3-year-old Mor Spirit. Hope to see you at Canterbury Park!