Tuesday, September 21, 2010

EASMAY: Leaving no stone unturned

Anyone who follows this blog is aware by now that significant attention has been paid the past couple of months to publicizing my selections from several juvenile sales this spring, and following the exploits of those horses as I try to prove that maybe I have a clue about what makes a good, young racehorse.

The longer I've followed my sales selections -- 187 horses from the February and April Ocala sales, Keeneland April, the Adena Springs sale at Ocala, and Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic sale in Timonium, Md. -- the more my brain endeavors to leave no stone unturned in examining whether my selections are a collective statistical success, failure, or merely average for the breed, the latter of which could have been accomplished by having a monkey point at pages in the catalog.

In light of, well, shedding light on the subject, I decided it was worthwhile to add an extensive slate of horses to the group I'm routinely following.

That is, every horse among the 405 originally catalogued for the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in Training, otherwise known as EASMAY (Eastern May 2-year-olds).

It is fair, I believe, to compare the performance of my 187 selections from all sales against the breed averages for percentages of starters, winners stakes winners and so forth.

But EASMAY was the first sale at which I was actually employed as a bloodstock advisor, specifically, in search of the most promising runners available among the sale's least expensive horses. And the more starts my selections from EASMAY have made, the more wins and paychecks they have collected, the more I wondered whether what seemed to be a successful beginning really was any better (or even worse) than the catalogued horses as a whole.

It turns out that, so far, so pretty good.

My new research project began Monday night by downloading the complete sales results spreadsheet from Fasig-Tipton's Web site, in Excel format. I deleted fields of information I didn't really need -- like broodmare sires -- and added others, for starts, wins, places, shows, earnings and a text rundown of stakes performances. The spreadsheet does much of the math for me, so long as I input the data correctly, and the results at this point are encouraging.

Of the 405 horses in the catalog, Fasig-Tipton reported that 273 were sold for $13,099,500 -- an average of $47,984. The median price according to Fasig-Tipton was $27,000. Those prices should include a handful of private sales, after the auction process failed to yield a sufficient bid. Another 39 went through the ring, but their reserve price was not attained, and they went home with their consignors.

Those figures suggest that 93 horses were "outs" at the sale; withdrawn for whatever reason. Two of those horses ended up being on the list of 48 potential bargains I prepared for my client, but they went through the breeze show, I saw them on the hoof at the barns, and they were only withdrawn day-of-sale -- one due to a sudden health problem and the other for reasons I don't happen to know. Many others on the "out" list never showed up and breezed at all. But a number of them are running, perhaps sold through the Barrett's ring out west, also in May, or having stayed with their owners or changed hands privately.

Finally, by way of full disclosure, the one horse with which I played role in the purchase, a filly now named Quiet Lorraine, was not on the original list of 48 horses compiled for my client. I am tracking her separately on the blog, and the statistics presented here detail the original 48 horses (which are numbered among the aforementioned 187).

Now that the background has been detailed, let's get down to brass tacks. How are my selections from EASMAY performing?

Better than average, say the early returns. In some cases considerably. And throughout these statistics that follow, recall that I was tasked to find the horses that would be worth owning among the very least expensive on the grounds; not to identify the most likely stars from all 312 animals that eventually passed through the auction ring.

As of statistics available via Brisnet on Monday night (and the Korean Stud Book, as several horses were purchased to race overseas) these are the early findings. Statistics compiled by my selections are included in the group, which actually, you might note, serve to elevate the group's performance in virtually every category.

Horses40548 (11.9% of catalogued)
Runners108 (26.7%)17 (35.4%)
Winners22 (5.4%)6 (12.5%)
Win Pct.11.3%16.7%
In the Money36%38%
Stakes Horses(Wnrs)4(1)1(0)

From these statistics -- admittedly quite early in their careers -- the horses I selected at EASMAY have sent a larger percentage of their number to the starting gate, are breaking maiden at a rate more than double the catalog as a whole (12.5 percent vs. 5.4 percent), are winning their starts at a rate nearly 50 percent higher than their peers, and despite being the cheaper horses at the sale, aren't running in cheaper company. At least, not if average earnings per start are an indicator, as those dollars are virtually equal.

I was a bit alarmed when I realized there were four stakes horses already out of this sale and only one of them (G3-placed Rough Sailing) appeared in my numbers. That was before I realized that every other stakes horse to emerge thus far from the EASMAY catalog, didn't actually go through the sale. Saratoga G3 turf winner SOLDAT, catalogued as Hip 218 at EASMAY, G3-placed dual winner Jordy Y (Hip 93) and Woodbine G3-placed More Than Real (Hip 240) all blew off the breeze show and sale. They simply weren't there for me to identify; though had they been, they still might not have ended up on my bargain-hunter list.

Edit (Wednesday, 9/22): In breaking down these statistics further, a struck upon perhaps an even better way to measure the performance of my selections vs. the horses in this sale: That is, to only compare horses that were in the sale.

This time I deleted from the Excel spreadsheet all horses that did not even make the breeze show; in other words, those that neither I nor anyone was able to review and consider for purchase. Then, I deleted my selections, leaving me a remainder that are all the horses I saw on the grounds -- at least in the under-tack show, if not in person (well more than a hundred of them) at their consignors' barns -- but declined. The following table shows the performance thus far of horses in the sale (including late "outs") that I selected for my bargain-conscious buyer, vs. all the horses I tabbed as ones we weren't after; passed-up either because I believed they weren't worth his money, or were horses too expensive for his budget. (And, trust me, some were both).

Viewed through this lens, the performance advantage thus far for my bargain-babies is even more stark.

Runners78 (28.2%)17 (35.4%)
Winners12 (4.3%)6 (12.5%)
Win Pct.8.3%16.7%
In the Money33.1%38%
Stakes Horses(Wnrs)0(0)1(0)
Avg. Buy/RNA $$49,992$24,196

Potentially, the horses in the column on the left might go on over the next three or four years to produce average statistics that equal or even exceed the horses I selected, whose early performance is measured on the right. But scanning down the columns suggests that right now, the horses I selected for my client are doing a bit more and -- bottom-line, in the last row of the chart -- were bought or RNA'd for less than half as much as the others.

Certainly there will be observers who believe that, over time, the expensive horses will prove their worth versus my more affordable selections. At least, I'm sure their buyers are hoping so.

In other curious statistics, of the four wins logged by EASMAY graduates who sold for $10,000 or less, two were posted by my selections (Grand Giana and Jitalian). Of the three victories posted by EASMAY grads who sold for between $10,001 and $20,000, two are by one horse -- my sales-pick Spring Jump, who is 2-for-3 and has earned $39,660 off a $19,000 purchase.

I realize touting these statistics now is sort of like knocking in a run with a double in the top of the second inning and pointing at the scoreboard. But the record-keeping needs to begin somewhere, and should be documented throughout, to keep myself (if no one else) abreast of the line score.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome comments, including criticism and debate. But jerks and the vulgar will not be tolerated.