Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Post: American Pedigree Witnessed from Abroad

--Mark Cramer

   When a horse named Slow Pace is the front runner, something strange is happening
   For one thing to change, something else needs to stay the same. Either American breeding is getting better or European racing is becoming more Americanized. I suspect it’s the latter.
Horses bred in the USA are regularly running “better than their odds” in France. Let’s look at two consecutive racing days at Deauville, the Del Mar of France.
   In the first race on Monday, Aug. 26, Shepherd Gate (Kitten’s Joy) finished second by a neck at 10-1. That was a fibresand sprint and the Americans are supposed to excel in both those categories, so perhaps it should not be a surprise. On to the fifth race, Great George (Gulch) was only a head from the victory, beating out 14 other horses for the second prize, at 14-1 odds! This was still on fibresand, but it was the Euro classic distance of a mile and a half.
   The sixth race was a flat mile on grass and another Kitten’s Joy, Shirley’s Kitten, finished third at 21-1. Finally, in the seventh race, Auditor (Kingmambo) was second at 3/1 as third favorite in a six-horse field.
   None of these USA-breds won, but using the odds as an indicator, they had all over-performed. Quite a return on the show (placé) parlay!
   The day before, Aug. 25, was not as clear at first sight, but still showed that horses bred in the USA had a positive impact value, partaking in more than their fair share of the pie. Two of the American-breds on that card provide the player with a significant profit if we just play them blindly in all their starts.
   One of them is New Outlook (Awesome Again), who defeated 15 others in the third race on the grass at a mile and a quarter, paying off at 20-1. If you had invested an equal amount on this horse in his 21 career races, you’d make the most aggressive hedge-fund operator blush, producing more than a 100% return on investment.
   The same day, in the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville, Slow Pace (that’s the name of the horse), helped along by Olivier Peslier, finished third on the grass at 1 9/16 miles. Euro surface, Euro distance, but American breeding (Slow pace is by Distorted Humor out a Seattle Slew mare). An equal amount bet on all of Slow Pace’s races would have yielded nearly a 100% profit.
   What I think is happening may be originating in France, where the pace of racing seems to have quickened considerably over the last decade. Slow Pace has an apt name for a horse that led the field all the way, putting away the likes of Cirrus des Aigles, and getting caught in the last 20 yards. If he had been 9-5, we might argue that he had hung at the wire. But at 20-1, you could say that the result was beyond expectations.  
   I recall years back when Ken Ramsey spoke of taking Kitten’s Joy to race in the Arc de Triomphe, only to be forced to back off when his charge had health problems. Within the next five or six years, we could see an American owner and trainer coming to France on the first Sunday of October and winning the Arc.
   In the meantime, if you just come over here to enjoy the racing without much time to handicap, my tip is to play the American-breds. 

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