Handicap Weight Program - Breeders' Cup Finals: Modifications Implemented

Handicap Weight Program - Breeders' Cup Finals: Modifications Implemented

After three weeks of data, we implemented today some slight modifications in the Breeders' Cup final handicap weight program. In addition, please read my other post about race conditions and race classifications because the two threads will tie together.

Blue restricted tournaments (which are associated with a horse's birth speed rating) and red restricted tournaments (which is associated with a horse's limitation as to where he can enter based on previous trainer tournament races) will, by July 1, no longer be handicapped final races. I do not have the exact date - it all depends on the classification program we are implementing, which will be discussed in the other thread - but for now, we are estimating a July 1 date. More on that, again, in the other thread.

Handicap weight adjustments have been made based on several observations we have noticed. Though we personally do not believe that a few pounds here and there will really have any detrimental effect on any horse, we have seen in some cases younger horses specifically carrying weight above what they carried in the preliminaries appear to be hindered in the Breeders' Cup finals. Though we're not sure of this, based on the results we've seen, and some other observations, we are making some modifications. The handicap weights in the Breeders' Cup finals are not to try to make all horses equal. That is not the objective, under no circumstances. The handicap weights are just to assist the horses that have a lesser chance of winning. It still depends on them getting a perfect trip and being positioned in the right spot depending on the pace setup.

Looking through 60-something races handicapped by players, the favorites, in most cases the high-weighted horses, are winning at about 36-37%. This is very acceptable to us and in line with industry standards. When we see the number drop off is when the high-weighted horse carries substantially more weight than he did in the preliminary races, especially the younger horses. In this case, the winning percentage drops to about 29%. Though I admit that we still have not gathered a lot of data, we do feel there is something to these results.

With this said, here are the changes that are now in effect for Breeders' Cup final races handicapped by the players.

  • For 2-year-olds, the weight range is now 114 minimum to 120 maximum. This applies specifically to 2-year-old races. No 2-year-old will carry more than 120 pounds. No 2-year-old old will carry less than 114 pounds. This gives the handicappers a total range of 7 pounds when handicapping the final. In addition, we have a mandatory minimum of 4 pounds that must be used when separating the lowest and highest horse weights in the Breeders Cup final. So, for example, the handicapper has the full range of the 7-pound spread in the 2-year-old races but must allow at least one horse (or as many as he feels appropriate) to have a 4-pound weight advantage over the favorite
  • For 3-year-old horses, their new weight range is a minimum of 115 and a maximum of 123. No 3-year-old in a Breeders' Cup final will carry more than 123 pounds and no 3-year-old will carry less than 115 pounds. With this said, the handicapper does not have to give any horse in the race 115 or a 123 pounds assignment, but that is the weight range he has to work within. What he must do is, just like in the 2-year-old races, have a minimum/maximum weight spread of 4 pounds. In other words, the worst horse in the race must be given a 4-pound weight break from the best horse in the race. That is the minimum. The maximum spread is 9 pounds, therefore in no Breeders Cup final race for 3-year-old horses can there be a spread greater than 9 pounds. Just like we did for the 2-year-olds, we also lowered the max weight a 3-year-old can carry. It's been lowered from 127 to 123
  • For tournaments that contain older horses (4-year-olds and up), the weight variation is now 117 minimum weight and 125 maximum weight. This has also been lowered 2 pounds. Just like in 2 and 3-year-old tournaments, the minimum/maximum weight variation must be at least 4 pounds, but in a 4-year-old and up tournament, the maximum spread could be as much as 9 pounds
  • There is an exception here. Tournaments that consist of both 3-year-old and older horses could have a slightly wider weight range because 3-year-olds could carry a minimum of 115 and 4-year-olds and up could carry a maximum of 125, it is possible that a poor 3-year-old against older horses (4-year-olds and older) can be given an 11-pound maximum weight variation. That is the widest possible weight spread and it can only happen in a race that contains 3-year-olds and up and the 3-year-olds are at a significant disadvantage from a performance standpoint. I'm sure in most cases, that gap will not occur, but it is up to the handicapper.

To summarize, the maximum weight any horse can carry has been lowered. The minimum weight any horse can carry has been slightly increased. Basically, we've closed the gap a little bit between low and high weight. In all 2-year-old tournaments, the maximum weight spread can be 7 pounds and the minimum has to be 4. In 3-year-old only tournaments, the maximum weight spread if 9 pounds, but if the horses are very competitive, we're only requiring a 4-pound spread. The same goes for tournaments for 4-year-olds and up with the exception that if 3-year-olds are in a race (3-year-olds and up), they could receive a potential 2-pound additional advantage against the older horses, creating a maximum spread of a possible 11 pounds under any race scenario in the Breeders' Cup finals. This has now been lowered from the current 14-pound maximum spread.

We believe these changes, though not significant, address the one or two questions we have. It is important that the handicappers play a role, but it's also important that good horses are not penalized for being good. In the early days of our handicap program, we had spreads of up to 30 pounds. Obviously, those days are long gone. Contrary to some idiotic comments we read in the forums, we don't care who wins the tournaments. What we do care about is that our results emulate, as closely as we can, the real world of horse racing. With an approximate 37% win rate for favorites, we're pretty darn close. One other statistic that we find very interesting is that one of the top three handicapped horses in the Breeders' Cup finals is winning the Breeders' Cup finals at about 80%. This tells us that for the most part there is consistency and the handicappers are doing a good job and we're moving in the right direction.

- Puddles



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sassteve's picture

Mike

I think this will help a little with the questions been asked.
I would have added a little bit of a ladder structure to the weights maybe also.
ie no horse carries more than 2-3 lbs more than the next closest rival. Maybe? just a thought

jbcri09's picture

Thats sounds good.

Thats sounds good.

flyingdaaka's picture

Between a rock and a hard place

Good News: There won't be any 14-20 lb. spreads in races where the field is fairly even. The weight can effect a race with this spread.
Bad News: There was a collective fist pump amongst the small group of trainers who love to enter their high SR horses in low entry fee tournaments. They will be immune from anything more than an 8 lb. allowance.
Very difficult to come up with a solution here other than having some sort of class system.

~~ The Flyingdaaka stable: Low SR horses only ~~

ronwar's picture

Sounds good.

YES!!!!
***as he pumps fist*** lol

~~~~~~~~
May they all come home safely!!!

bhdcwt1's picture

Good Job

I absolutely love this!!! Daaka the new class system will solve that problem. You will see...I'll send you a p.m.

vasdef's picture

That's why I Love this game

Puddles, you are by far the best at Customer Service, than any person or operation I've ever been involved with, I mean that sincerely.
I worked at UPS for 20 years, been around plenty of business people.
You are the best, because you listen and take immediate action.
Continued success!

I will no longer slay your Newbs!

looseonthelead's picture

Non-Handicapped races?

I could just look this up myself but am too lazy after working 12 hours so please bear with me, but are there currently any races that are NOT handicapped? Not all races in real life are handicap races, and furthermore if everyone carried weight for age then there would not be all the hub bub over weights, the fastest horse would simply win! Although I believe there is a place for handicap races, not all need be do they? Anyway, just curious about this.

modgraphix's picture

Keeps getting better and as

Keeps getting better and as i said before we are definitely headed in the right direction. I also agree with Vas :D

-ModGraphix Stables-

bettowin98's picture

Works In Both Directions

This will also eliminate horses from having weights that were too light (15 + lbs) in the Breeders Cup G1 Finals from what they carried in the preliminary tournament races. These weight adjustments will work in both directions, keeping horses from being too light or too heavy. Keep up your great work, Mike. The attention and adjustment of these small details will certainly produce perfection.

bettowin98's picture

Agree, It Only Hurts Them And Their Horses

These trainers are only hurting themselves by doing this. The down side for those trainers who use high SR horses in low entry fee tournaments is that their better horses are earning lower points and smaller purses. They are also wasting opportunities in the quarterly rewards program and using up valuable tournaments. Most agree that this is a very unwise idea.


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