08 June 2014

Chrome Dome

Bald headed guys like Celko (and, nearly, Your 'Umble Servant) get called chrome dome in jest or anger. California Chrome's owner (well, one of them) has been ranting that the other owners of horses in the races, specifically the Belmont, were cowards. Chrome Dumb, in the view of "traditionalists". I hadn't given it any thought, since I follow horse racing not at all, having seen the nonsense at Suffolk Downs in the 70's. But the Triple Crown is made for casual fans.

As Coburn was ranting (I saw the first one live), it occurred to me that he may be right. That is, there was a time when horses did run all three races, and few if any just sat out some in favor of others. The issue this year was the number that sat out both. Since I'm not up on horse racing data (the full field from each race run by a Triple Crown winner), I let my fingers do the walking through the Google pages: some one of those touts had to have reviewed the history of Triple Crown winners, and the horses faced in all three races. Among the complaints from "traditionalists": the Triple Crown races have always been this way, so leave 'em alone. Not so, it turns out. So, changing the rule, as Coburn insists, that only those who run (enter?) the Derby can run the following races wouldn't be the first time the Triple Crown races have veered from previous structure. What about requiring that they run all races?

And so it was for the horses in the 70's.
There's nothing illegal or unethical about the losing Kentucky Derby horses who skipped the Preakness in order to take fresh aim at the Belmont. But the last three Triple Crown winners didn't face that kind of strategy from their top rivals.

Looks like history, at least the most recent, is on Coburn's side.

It ain't a lot of data, but it's still data.

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