All Eyes on Bob

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Sunday, May 16, 2021

One of the underlying themes of the Preakness stakes, although hushed, was how would MEDINA SPIRIT run after his positive test for bethamethasone. And not just MEDINA SPRIRT, but all of the horses from the suddenly turned controversial trainer's barn.

Many people are thinking about it, but few say anything out loud. To be sure, we aren't making any accusations, throwing out any innuendo or making any unsubstantiated claims. Bob Baffert has been overwhelmingly positive for horse racing, there is no debating that.

However, for better or worse, he is in the news now and horseplayers have to look at the performance of the Hall of Fame trainer's horses pre-MEDINA SPIRIT and after. Our gut says we'll find little difference other than the normal ups and downs of horse racing. So, let's see what the numbers say.

Baffert has raced nine horse since the bethamethasone news broke with two wins, three seconds a third and three ran out of the money. Prior to the above nine races, Baffert's 2021 line was 123 starts, 36 wins, 27 places and 15 shows. That translates to a 29.27% win rate and 63.4% in the money.

In the nine races since, Bob's win rate is 22.22% with 66.7% hitting the board. Admittedly, nine is a small sample size. Nonetheless, the results are similar.

The next step is to break it down horse by horse as measured by Equibase Speed figures. Here are the results using for the nine horses form their most recent starts compared to the speed figure they earned in the race prior.

Six out of nine had their speed figures drop. Again, nine is a small sample size and there are a host of potential reasons for the declines: troubled trips, pace setups, running at different tracks, different distances, track bias... That being said, different conditions should work to the advantage of horses sometimes and even out over time. That's just math.

A few races do not make a trend. We'll revisit this analysis before the Belmont Stakes to see if Bob Baffert's horses continue to see a decline in performance or, as we expect, nearly a 50/50 split between horses that take a step forward versus a step back from race-to-race post Kentucky Derby scrutiny.

If, on the other hand, the trend continues, horseplayers will need to adjust their handicapping to reflect the findings and use it accordingly in their analysis.


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