I don't want to dismiss workout times at all.I do want to evaluate them in context. Training methods vary.The time will mean something very different coming from the Baffert barn than the identical time from a Shug McGaughey colt. A Baffert trainee had damn well better be spitting bullets before breakfast, or something is wrong. Ho-hum, today is Tuesday, and it still ends in the letter "y." But a young developing McGaughey colt who does the same thing will make me stop and say "Wud-Da-Holy-Fork!!!"
There was a trainer on the SoCal circuit in about the 1990s (IIRC) who always had one work at the unusual distance of 7 furlongs about ten days before debuting a maiden, and a bunch of others. The bunch of others meant diddly-squat for predictive value. But when that obscure 7f time was over 1:26 they were nowhere near getting their picture taken in the afternoon, but when near or sub 1:25 I could back up the truck at the window and watch them win by open lengths. Always. Every time. And his stock putting up a spectacular 7f morning time like 1:243
or something wouldn't have a "bullet" in the Form drawing attention to them, because of that eccentric distance. So they paid. He died suddenly while still quite young, and I'm sure those close to him were almost
as saddened by that tragedy as I was.
I'm aware of how they're clocked (as well as some inconsistencies in that - and even deliberate monkey bidness among some clockers at some tracks). My observation on gate works often (not always) producing faster times at a given distance from the same animal is strictly empirical, what I've observed from thousands of them over a 43 year period. If you're sure you observe something different, fine, go with that.
I don't know the reason for the possibly counter-intuitive result of the works I've tracked, only some theories. My foremost pet theory, among others that may be at play, is somewhat similar to the difference that occurs when working in company; breaking out of the gate may induce something closer to max effort than 'breaking off" from a warm up in response to the rider's urging to "pick it up now."
But that's nothing more than one pet theory. I don't have a why. But I've seen it too many times. In any case, gate works are a different thing, whether one sees them as naturally tending to be faster or slower, and they tend to be used to accomplish a different purpose. So in general, I prefer comparing gate works to gate works, as their own thing, considering their meaning first for what they may tell me about trainer intent (obviously not speaking of this horse in this race where that was not at issue), and fitness (I think much more relevant here for this horse in this race at this moment) as opposed to a barometer of speed, and competence at breaking effectively in response to the startling fright-inducing stimuli of the gate. That last is no small thing for young thoroughbreds, of course.
I see that yesterday at Santa Anita there were 18 regular works and 2 gate works that were recorded as three furlong workouts. The two 3f gate works produced times that were faster than all of the others, and also a full second faster than the quickest recorded work that was not from the gate. There were 68 that were judged (it is often a clocker's judgement call) to be four furlong works, including two from the gate. The 4f gate works were not the fastest of the day, but both were in the top 30% at the distance yesterday. There were no gate works on 4/17 at any distance that were below average or median time, or even near it; all were timed among quickest 1/3 of SA works. All of which proves absolutely nothing, being a little snapshot that amounts to no more than an anecdote. Each of us will consider it through the prism of our own experience and accumulated information, as we should.
Last edited by: DrawingDead on Apr 18, 2017