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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Keith Pettyjohn — Unvarnished, here is how the major stakes held last weekend graded out, listed by ranking:

A+:    Kentucky Turf Cup   Turf Sprint
A-:  Ladies Turf
B+:    Del Mar Derby   Honorable Miss   Ladies Sprint
B:    Canadian Stakes
B-:    Hopeful Stakes
C+:    Longacres Mile
C-:    Del Mar Futurity
F:    Del Mar Debutante   Spinaway Stakes  

For greater detail and an explanation, visit where you will find these as well as ratings on every major North American stakes race run in 2020

Winner’s Class-Based Performance Figures, Sep. 6th – 13th
Arklow – 104

Imprimis – 104

Got Stormy – 100

Regal Glory – 98

Come Dancing – 94

Pixelate – 94

Jackie’s Warrior – 93

Rideforthecuase – 92

Anothertwistafate – 88

Vequist – 77

Dr. Schivel – 76

Princess Noor – 74

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17 Responses

  1. Keith, made an observation, tell me if I’m on the right track.

    I’ve noticed this summer that letter grades for juveniles are very low for the race and winners no matter how visually impressive the efforts might be.

    Is this because of the modern trend whereby trainers run more maidens, even first-time starters, in stakes and on balance these horses haven’t proven their “class?”

    1. Now, for Part #2
      In the past, trainers would take their horses thru various conditions before venturing into stakes company.
      From a Maiden winner to NW1X and maybe even on to NW2X and typically clearing that level before trying to jump to Stakes Company. Now trainers will break the maiden and then jump right to Stakes Company. For a lot of horses this is their second lifetime start. They are no where near as developed as they were in yester-year. But also, a lot of these 2-year old stakes fields are just plain awful. The horses are lightly raced, small fields and not very fast. A lot of the 2-yr old stakes races are nothing more than Allowance races.

      But let me say that, it’s not the fault of the owners or the trainers. They run their horses where there’s money to be made and a Graded Stakes win to be earned. The problem is just one of many in horse racing and one of many in the Graded Stakes Races system.

      So, Graded Stakes Races Committee let’s try this on for size…..
      1) No Graded Stakes Races for 2-year olds above a Grade 3 until the Breeder’s Cup

      2) And when they do run in the Breeder’s Cup, those races are Grade 2’s

      1. Mr Part 2 Keith. Agree that early season juvenile races should never receive a Grade 1 rating but the Hopeful, e.g., is more than a G3 most every year–not all, but most.

        But disagree with B Cup Juveniles. The turf events? G2 probably is most appropriate. The both Juveniles on dirt are intended to crown champions and deserve and require G1 status. Those events are open to the best 2-year-olds from anywhere in the world.

  2. Funny that you should mention “Visually Impressive”. I was just having a conversation with a figure maker from another service this past weekend and we were having this exact conversation. Here’s the problem with “visually impressive” as I was describing it to him.

    Let’s say that I have a Prize Fighter and he is in excellent physical condition….IMPRESSIVE
    (post parade)

    His record shows that he is 25 wins and 0 losses……Impressive.
    (his record)

    He’s won millions of dollars for his fights…..Impressive
    (his earnings)

    He’s knocked out ALL 25 fighters that he’s fought…..Impressive
    (winning record)

    He’s knocked out ALL 25 fighters in the first round…..Impressive
    (his speed)

    He’s knocked them all out in the first minute of the first round. No one has been able to go past the first round with this guy.
    (his pace)

    Now…the first question that comes to most people’s mind is…”Who did he beat?”
    And I respond by saying that he beat 82-year old women from the Senor Citizen’s Assisted Living Facility.
    (class of competition)

    Now, up until then his physicality, his record, his earnings, his speed and his pace looked VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE…but when you factor that information AGAINST the quality of competition that he has competed against….he doesn’t shine so brightly anymore. The same thing happens in horse racing. If we took a $25,000 claimer and placed him in a $10,000 Claiming Race…he’s going to dominate the field and look VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE. But not because he all of a sudden got better, but because the competition is so much weaker. He’ll end up running a HUGE speed and/or pace figure that’s about equal to a $35,000 claimer. He’ll move up in class next out to $30,000 and get beat. Speed Figure handicappers will tell you that he bounced…BULL!!! He was never a $30,000 claimer to begin with.

    His next out he’ll be dropped back down to the $25,000 claiming level and he’ll be competitive again.

    1. Boxing Gym. Yeah but ,did this guy ever get hit on the chin?Was he ever out jabbed with faster hands ? Did anyone ever test his legs ( guts,fortitude) ? Ridiculous comparisons! Stick to ( Fantasy) horseracing and make better picks ,,and comparisons if anyone is still interested in your failed shtick.1000 wasted words,indeed! Where’s the beef?

      1. Talk about “WASTED WORDS”…why bother posting such?
        Is your life really that bad that you had to logon to HRI this morning to just say this?
        You should really get out more….oh wait…maybe COVID-19 has you Sheltering-In-Place and you’re yet to learn how to do something much more productive with your time (the AHH-HA moment)

      2. And where’s your sophisticated reply or observation, Gym guy?

        Be respectful in your philosophical differences, make an intelligent contribution, or get lost if you can’t disagree with a modicum of sophistication that elevates, not detract.

        You know, your analogies were good. In fact, it conjured up the Derby. No one had been able to lay it on Tiz the Law’s chin until Authentic did in the Derby.

        BTW, the last contributions of Mr. Pettyjohn’s Class-Based figures gave where the Oaks runnerup and the Derby winner. What have you provided for this audience?

  3. In that case, Keith, Mike Tyson would have earned an F or a D until recording his first big knockout.

    IMO, “visually impressive” does not mean simply a dominating, margin win over equine tomato cans. With respect to juvenile stakes, if you’re beating other “NW-1 allowance types,” then it’s apples vs apples.

    Finally, not all trip handicappers are created equal. Pretty much anyone can see a dominating, margin victory or obvious trouble.

    But did the horse cross the wire first or did he run through the finish line? Did he gallop out well? Did the rider need the help of a pony to pull the winner up?

    Your class figures have validity because they are backed by the science–speed and pace calculations. But race watching, like handicapping itself, is more art than science.

    1. C’mon Johnny P….how dare you give Iron Mike an “F”.
      He’s one of the best of all times.

      Ok…enough about that. But you’re right. There’s many different ways to determine “visually impressive’ and not all trip handicappers are created equal. The point that I was getting at is that the “eye test” can be very deceiving. That’s where Class-Based Performance Ratings really tell the story. We can all think about the “BIG HORSE” that was visually impressive only to watch them go down in defeat when they faced better competition their next outing.

      Hidden Scroll
      Tiz The Law

      just a few that got huge amounts of press in the last year after their visually impressive wins yet Performance Ratings said “Hmmm, wait a minute…..I have a different story to tell.”

  4. Again Keith, I believe in the concept or it would not be posted on HRI. I remember you telling me about Hidden Scroll and Shancelot. But our readers know of the recent examples you gave on the site with Gamine and Tiz the Law and did project Authentic as the Derby winner.

    As for visual, yes, you had to be impressed with Tyson. But until he did the same thing in the title fight, which won the world over, the competition was not close to the that level. #TripHandicappingMatters

  5. Interesting conversation. Will you be doing a BC preview, listing the grades horses have gotten in their previous races this year?

  6. I’m extremely pleased to find this site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to check out new information on your web site.

  7. Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won’t disappoint me as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, but I really believed you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.

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