Lockdown Rambling 3

Have horses really got faster?

Its been said many times that horses these days at HRP are all much faster than they used to be so i thought that i would take a little look at the facts, (as i see them).

I am going to start in 2008 and look not at stakes racing at this stage but at a random selection of races from high to free. I am going to chose one mile races to give us a ‘middle of the road’ view. All the works are rounded up or down

13th Jan 2008 free track one mile dirt maiden. The last 5 furlong works of each runner was as follows:

1.01H
1.07B
1.05H
1.03H
1.04B
1.07H
1.09H

28th March 2020 free track one mile and 70 dirt maiden. The last 5 furlong works for each runner was as follows:

1.02H
1.00B
0.59H
0.59H
0.59H

On this evidence alone the difference is plain to see but what about the pay side how does that compare, for this we are jumping forward a year as i didnt have enough pay runners in 2008 to judge. This time its a $12.50 claimer at TUP over a mile and sixteenth.

24th March 2009, for this i am doing the last 5 or 6 furlong work

1.15H
1.03H
1.16B
1.02H
1.02H
1.01H

14th March 2020, a nine furlong $3 claimer at TUP

1.12H
0.59H
1.12B
1.00B

Again the evidence suggests that horses at low level claiming level have got significantly faster over the past 11 years.

OK so we can see where this is going so lets skip ahead to a stakes race. Lets look at this weekends Wood Memorial

Starting off with the 2008 running that saw Misterkatesmith win for Calia Stable. The last 5 or 6 furlong works were as follows:

1.11 and 2 H
59 and 2 H
59 and 2 H
1.12 H
59 and 3 H
1.13 and 1 H
58 and 1 H
58 H

Now compare that to Mb’s win last year with Apples and Oranges

1.11H
1.10 and 2H
1.10 and 3H
1.10 and 3H
1.10 and 3H
57 and 4H
1.10 and 3H
1.10 and 3H
1.11B
1.10 and 3H
1.10 and 4H
1.11H
1.11 and 1H
1.11H

So clearly this trend is repeated in a stakes race but the difference is less between the best couple in 2008 and the 2019 field but much the same as our findings between the worse runner in 2008 and the worse runner in 2019.

So what does that information tell us?

Well it tells us that the best horses of the generation were not much different than today but the worst horses were much worse. Just look at the spread in work times between the fastest and the slowest

In recent years our study shows us the fastest 5 furlong work was 57 and 4H by a grade one winner and the slowest being a free track runner at 1.02H.

In the past however the fastest 5 furlong work was 58 H seconds whilst the slowest was 1.09H at the free track.

The difference is very obvious and leads us to the conclusion that the best horses havent got much faster but the worst ones have. So why is this? Well there are a few possibilities but these can only be opinions as i do not have the data to support them. Firstly as players have played the game they have learned the work times required to win at each level, horses that dont reach these marks are killed off thus making each race more competitive. As time went on the marks went down as people tried to keep ahead of each other to the point where we have a much smaller spread of work times.

The second theory is that players have played a numbers game. That is, lets say, that they buy 1000 horses (bred or bought) and only keep those that can work 1.00H or less. Then they buy or breed another 1000 and repeat the process. These stables are then left with a large group of horses that are working within very small parameters. In order to compete other stables start to do the same on a large or small scale and we are left with generations of horses with very narrow work time differences.

The third of the theories is that HRP itself has narrowed the difference between best and worst in order to make the racing competitive.

The final theory is that because we play with a very small group of bloodlines and sires the horses being bred are very similar. Breeding wasnt around in 2008 so horses were being randomly produced however in 2020 99% of horses are being produced through a fairly small group of bloodlines.

So which do you think it is?

Well its too hard for me to work out but what i will say is this.

Due to this narrowing of abilities for whatever reason we see ourselves in a situation where races and results have little to do with the actual horse. We see a class system that is non existent where a $5 claimer is headed by stakes winners whose EPR get them the best jockeys regardless of their current ability. We see stakes races with horses working the same times as allowances at TUP and we see a horse unable to win a claimer but winning a stakes race next out.
This rather sad state of affairs has been caused by one of the 4 lsited reasons above and it is probably one of the most disappointing things i find in the game at the moment.
Having said that of course we all know how great this game is as a racing Sim…..but there’s nothing wrong with wishing something was better.



Categories: Editorial, Racing Information

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