Indy 500 selections and musings

First some apprecation of racing/motorsport history: I have enjoyed following auto racing, in all its expressions, since my youngest years. I don’t have a favorite track or driver…it’s all good. Over time I have given respect to those drivers that dominate over a period of years, and same respect due to tracks that stage the most competitive situations.  This level of respect I apply to other sports as well. I root for the dynasties, the kings (and queens) of mountains, and the ability to stay on the mountain and defy all-comers before the next one eventually unseats him/her/it.  

I was inspired by a group of stats in Wikipedia  that list the most notable of tracks that stage the most prestigious races, along with championship series.  Specifically pointing to the drivers that have won across different endurance races and racing series, I posit that these drivers are truly the best were/are the best in the world.  Put them in any sort of race, and they (and crew) will do just what it takes.

Musing on this list a bit, 3 drivers immediately stand out as being the best ever: Andretti, Foyt, Hill. There was a period of time, 1967-1972, where all 3 were competing vs each other over a number of the racing series.  I was curious to see just who won out…here are the results:
*Indy 500: in 1967, Foyt won, while Andretti and Hill retired very early onward.  In 1968, Hill barely outraced Foyt, but neither were a factor, while Andretti was last. In 1969 and onward, Hill had focused on other racing series, while Andretti maintained a good advantage on Foyt for the most part.
*For the F1 championship: Hill dominated 1967-70, tho Andretti did get very competitive from then on. Foyt did not participate. 
*Monaco GP: Within F1. Hill was toward the end of his historic dominance of this track, winning in ‘68 and ‘69. Andretti never successfully qualified for a race in the period, and Foyt never entered.
*24 Hours of Le Mans: Foyt won in ‘67 ahead of Andretti (24th).
*12 Hours of Sebring: Andretti shows his dominance, winning in 3 years.  1967: Andretti and Foyt finished 1-2.  
*24 Hours of Daytona: Foyt and Andretti were DNF in 1967.  
*Daytona 500: 1967 saw Andretti win, with Foyt out early, finishing 37th.

No conclusion to be drawn just yet from this study.

Meanwhile, there’s a compelling group of drivers that are active with fewer wins across racing series that certainly command attention, and a number of them are racing at Indy this year (noted by an asterisk):
Juan Pablo Montoya is probably the most accomplished of the list, but not running at Indy this year…instead is at NASCAR. He has twice won the 24 of Daytona, and already a winner at Indy and Monaco.
*Scott Dixon won 24 of Daytona in ‘06, and Indy in ‘08.
*Dario Franchitti won Indy in ‘07, then 24 of Daytona in ‘08
Buddy Rice won Indy in 2004, then 24 of Daytona last year.  Buddy is not at Indy..he apparently is off the racing scene.
Jacques Villenueve won Indy back in 1995, and also won the F1 title in 1997. Still pursuing F1 driver opportunity, and intends to race the 24 of Le Mans until he wins it.
*Dan Wheldon won Indy in 2005, and 24 of Daytona in 2006.

 Finally a look at who are best suited to win, based on biorhythms.  Taking the stance that the best drivers are those who have positive cycles pointing upward or peaking….I focused on the drivers with the most number of cycles in this direction, subtracting those with negative cycles pointing down. 
Here are the top drivers, best to worst:
Dario Franchitti is on a physical and emotional high, plus high marks in the ‘passion’ cycle, giving him the motivation and drive to finish the grueling 500 miles.

Ryan Briscoe is on an emotional high, and is in peak position for his passion and wisdom cycles, the latter measuring his ability to make crucial decisions:

Scott Dixon is on physical high plus highs in mastery (pure athletic potential) and passion.

Those are my top 3. Here are 2 others that should also do well:

Justin Wilson is positive emotionally and peaking in the passion cycle as well:

Mike Conway has positive cycles all around and at his best on the physical/passion levels:

One great handicapping note is that there are 9 starting positions that have never won the big race.  #29, Sarah Fisher, and #33, Tony Kanaan, have the best chance of these.

Those that I predict will fall from grace and have some tough goings include this list:
Davey Hamilton, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, Will Power (starting at #2), Townsend Bell, and Alex Lloyd.  


Preakness Stakes selections

After a rather successful selective process in determining this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, time to focus on the Preakness Stakes. I’m carrying forward my big-race process of using 2 handicapping systems, adding the variable of dosage and eliminating the jockey/trainer trends. And, I’m pretty confident there won’t be an off track for Saturday.
Here’s how I see the race from several vantage points:

DOSAGE: Matching the typical 2009 Pimlico-winning horse to the dosage profile of each contender for Saturday, the top 4 horses that best fit are: Aikenite, First Dude, Schoolyard Dreams, and Super Saver.
TRACK: None of these horses have run at Pimlico
DISTANCE: 5 horses have at least run the 1-3/16 mile distance, all having appeared in the KY Derby: Super Saver, Paddy O’Prado, Lookin At Lucky, Dublin, and Jackson Bend.
WORKS: Top workouts since prior race have all come from these: Yawanna Twist (4 works in last 3 weeks), Northern Giant (3 works, last was ranked in top 10), and Caracortado (3 works, 2 sharp long ones)
PACE is going to be interesting, and is still a toy I’m toying with. What I’m doing is combining a horse’s trends along with ther relative general post position success. This way we’ll see who excels near the rail, in the middle, and on the outside.  Equibase neatly does the work in determining a horse’s run style, be it front-runner, pacesetter, stalker, or some combo thereof. Let’s go horse-by-horse:

AILENITE is the horse most suited for Pimlico, as its dosage profile closely resembles those that win there. It likes to take charge toward the latter stage of a race, and lately has run quicker speeds early on…with not much left over for the stretch.  It probably will run as it did in the Blue Grass Stakes, should contend for lead early on but I doubt will fire at the turn. With the rail and inside posts, Aikenite has done as well as contend, with no wins but no bad trips here either. Really dark horse for a win, but not an absolute throwout.
SCHOOLYARD DREAMS will take up the pace somewhere in the backstretch. Ranks 3rd in the dosage of this field. The workouts show some promise of a good run.  As for pace, he’s just too slow for this field, but might challenge at the far turn…and with no traffic and relatively good pace, might surprise in the stretch. Definitely a test of stamina here.  Has never tackled a field this big either. Done well with inside posts, winning and placing.  If it weren’t a graded stakes, this horse would be very strong.  
PLEASANT PRINCE looks like the slowpoke of the field, and whose best race was a 46k maiden. This stalker frankly is running more towards the front as of late, and might contend very early but will not be a factor. 
NORTHERN GIANT isn’t very quicker. A late-pace type, this one is definitely not going to outrun anyone unless the trip is very good toward the stretch.  Not much in the way of class; best race was at 36k. Likely to have similar trip as it had in the AK Derby. 
YAWANNA TWIST will be handling the early and mid-race pace. In fact he looks quite likely to have the stamina to contend and fly at the finish. I’ve ranked him 3rd overall in pace. Has the best workout tab of this field.  #5 position suits him well; already won and placed both times he’s had a middle post.
JACKSON BEND is another with middle race speed. Weakest of those who contended in the KY Derby.  Has won twice in middle posts but inconsistent otherwise. He should actually show good early speed and help press the pace but will not fire late.
LOOKIN AT LUCKY has a favorable dosage profile, and its run in the KY Derby shows he will take to the Preakness distance without much issue. He’s won and contended in a middle post. No workouts since Derby Day, which is concerning.  I think he will contend at the turn and in the stretch. Might be a bit too slow for a win.
SUPER SAVER doesn’t have anything left to prove. Having won the big race 2 weeks ago, plus great dosage, he will be contending and either in or near the lead for most of this race.  With a good trip, he will be OK in the stretch. This is your winner.
CARACORTADO isn’t a Pimlico type…will be trailing the field early but will build up speed toward the turn. He’s winning from well off pace, and that will be his only chance. Has a great stretch kick. He won his first two lifetime starts from the extreme outside posts, and contended in the G2 San Felipe from outside as well. Dangerous horse. 
PADDY O’PRADO is expected to lead the field early on as well as along the backstretch, duking it out with SUPER SAVER.  Unlike it’s rival, it will be somewhat slower and have nothing left in the Pimlico stretch. I can’t see it running like it did in the KY Derby (didn’t see that coming). This track doesn’t suit him well. Might be hurt with the outside post too.
FIRST DUDE is the one true speed horse up front, will tire towards the far turn. I think he will take to this track very well tho. Never had an outside post position before.  Truly an enigma, this one.  I’m guessing it will finish midpack, 6th.
DUBLIN is the one stalker in the field, yet is lately using up a lot of its speed early on. I feel he will handle the distance fine. He is the only other in the field to have defeated top horses (2YO Hopeful), but has yet to repeat his early successes.  Inconsistent with outside post position. 

Here’s my projected order of finish:
Super Saver, Dublin, Yawanna Twist, Caracortado, Lookin At Lucky, First Dude, Schoolyard Dreams, Aikenite, Jackson Bend, Paddy O’Prado, Northern Giant, and Pleasant Prince.
Dublin might be bet up in price, and Caracortado should be bet down. Yawanna Twist I think will be very strong and command good value.
Final betting choices and selections coming Saturday