Thursday, April 12, 2012
Leave Luck Out of it
It’s about that time, Derby time, and allllllll that hard work put in my grooms, hot walkers, trainers, and of course the horses, will come to fruition. It started when the horses were two year olds and continued as they developed into what will hopefully be a very, very fast two minute-ten furlong horse.
I’d hate for dumb luck to get in the way. Dumb, foolish, stupid, invalid, stammering, dull, simple, imbecilic, dopey, dozy, half-baked luck. It will be on some sides and against others. I’d hate for the “No. 1 seeds” to get a bad draw, which is to say a bad post position.
Imagine all that hard work, the strain and stress of keeping Gemologist, Union Rags, Hansen, and I’ll Have Another sound through this mess we call the Triple Crown only have a double blind post position raffle ruin what was so deftly earned.
"I lost all chance at the post position draw when I drew the one," Baffert said USA Today back in 2010. "Since then, I haven't been able to really enjoy. Everything had been going so smooth and great, and then boom, right in the one hole."
Lookin At Lucky went off at 6-1, the most heavily bet horse since Harlan’s Holiday in 2002. Sometimes the best horse gets a great post. Barbaro drew for the chance to choose the 8 in 2006. Big Brown drew 20, exactly what trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. wanted.
So imagine a playoff scenario that puts an otherwise viable candidate, who has a legitimate shot at winning and have that shot in jeopardy due to chance. That’s the Kentucky Derby post draw and it needs to stop.
The horse with the best score, the best summed criteria would rightfully get first dibs on post. So, if Baffert had the first choice and he wanted Post 1, then it was his choice not the a roll of the dice. What if the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament were randomly assigned a high seed opponent in the early rounds? Who wants to see Duke-Carolina in the first round (Sure, this could happen, in theory, if the two schools were either on opposite ends of the rankings, say 1 and 64, or an 8 or 9 seed, but neither would be likely to happen. If they were 8 and 9, I doubt the selection committee would place them in the same region.)? It would invalidate the work teams and coaches sweat over for months and months only to have it come down to chance.
The criteria should be:
1. Points (TBD) for wins at:
Age 2 (less)
Age 3 (more)
2. Points (TBD) for wins at:
One turn (less)
Two turns (more)
3. Strength of Schedule
This last one is predicated on how other horses do with their scores for the first two criteria. These points don’t have to be added up until closer to the Derby because you can gauge who had stronger wins based on who wins the next race. If the horse you beat went out and one its next race, well, then you clearly beat a contender and should be rewarded so.
The incentive gives the horses with the most accomplishments, merits, and stripes the chance they deserve so as not to leave it … you guessed it … to chance.
Brendan O'Meara can be followed @BrendanOMeara.