Trip Alert: A horse can only run so fast

UPDATE: The fractional times for the Woodbine Mile are currently under video review, calling the entire point of this post into question.

Half-way into Saturday’s Woodbine Mile, Lord Glitters was a full 10 lengths behind leader and eventual winner Oscar Performance.  By the time the race was over, Lord Glitters had managed to cut that gap to less than four lengths.  At first glance, one might say Lord Glitters closed nicely but just didn’t have enough ability to make up the necessary ground.  I would take it a step further and say no horse on Earth could have caught Oscar Performance from that far back given the speed at which Oscar Performance was able to come home.  Let’s dig deeper.

Oscar Performance took control of the Woodbine Mile at the start and cruised through an opening half-mile in :48.78.  In a one mile race at the Grade 1 level on a firm turf course, that’s about as slow as a horse can be expected to go on the lead.  By comparison, in the Canadian Stakes one race later, the opening half-mile was more than three seconds faster, and that race was a furlong longer.  So by any reasonable measure, Oscar Performance was able to set insanely slow early fractions all by himself.  And in the case of Lord Glitters, Oscar Performance had a 10-length head start half-way through the race.

The second half of the race was run in :44.34.  So, depending on whether or not you subscribe to the belief that one length equals :0.2 seconds (one second equals five lengths), you could argue that Lord Glitters would have had to have closed the final half-mile in well under :43.  So, again depending on your assessment of how many lengths a horse goes on a firm turf course in one second at that point in a race, you are looking at a required final half-mile for Lord Glitters of, I dunno….:42.50 to :42.80 in order for him to catch Oscar Performance.  If there is a horse in training today that can do that after already having run for four furlongs, I’d like to know his or her name.

The Woodbine Mile was over after the first half-mile if not the first quarter-mile.  Given Oscar Performance’s inherent ability, there is no way anyone was catching him.  Certainly not a horse coming from 10 lengths back.  And I don’t make this proclamation as someone who bet on Lord Glitters, which I did.  I make it based on math.

My hope is that Lord Glitters will give the Breeders’ Cup Mile a try.  He may or may not end up being my pick in there.  But he came home very fast in the Woodbine Mile and I think he’s got a lot of ability.  Just not enough ability to catch Oscar Performance yesterday.  And what is more, there will undoubtedly be horses better than Lord Glitters who come over for the Breeders’ Cup.  If I may make a prediction this far out, we may be looking at a European sweep of the BC grass races given what I perceive to be a very week batch of American turf horses in all divisions… long as Americans aren’t allowed to crawl early.  See: Glorious Empire.


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