A postmortem, and a look to Saturday

A thrilling ride through the first 2 rounds, only to see it crash and burn like your worst roller coaster nightmare. OK, someone’s worst.
From the ESPN (composite, official) bracket:
http://games.espn.go.com/tournament-challenge-bracket/2014/en/entry?entryID=24567
27 wins in the Round of 64
10 wins in the round of 32
3 wins in the Sweet Sixteen
1 win in the Elite Eight.
Total of 41 wins, with 1 more to come if Wisconsin wins in the Final 4.
You’ll notice the perfect West division I predicted. Maybe Warren Buffett can spare $5,000?
From CBS Sports I went 24/8/2/1 for a total of 33 wins, plus 2 if Wisconsin wins out.
http://freebracketchallenge.1.mayhem.cbssports.com/brackets/1/cblue456

From .FOX Sports I went 25/9/3/1, 38 wins, and this is busted.
http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/collegebasketball/tourney/entry/?entry=956539

And for Sports Illustated: 23/10/4/0 = 37 wins, busted
http://sportsillustrated.collegehoops.upickem.net/collegebasketball/brackets/printbracket.asp?userid={28F9D17D-0AEA-47F4-A880-B76D72D02770}&affiliateguid={24864C91-D513-4858-98B4-0E62CC56A5A3
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Also in horses: I did wager on these 3 horses as I surmised from Friday in the future wager: California Chrome, Ring Weekend, We Miss Artie, in wins and exactas. I also involved the field selections.

So much happening between all horses on the trail that it’s challenging to figure who has the best chance of getting enough points to be in the big show.

On Saturday I plan to give you my analysis of the Wood Memorial (Samraat, Social Inclusion, Uncle Sigh) and the Santa Anita Derby (California Chrome, Bayern, Hoppertunity, Candy Boy, The Admiral are contenders), along with the historic Grand National at Aintree. Mind you, I don’t know much about ‘chasers, and I haven’t scored yet in wagering on this event but I’m excited to see this one. While I have it in mind, I truly would like the fences at Aintree, which average 4’10” in height, higher than its companion National Hunt fences, to be at the same level, for the sake of safety of all concerned. Aintree has seen it’s share of tragedy at the track, and this has to be curtailed.

A word about golf, in noting the new standards set by the World Golf Hall of Fame: The sport really should be co-ed. The HOF is co-ed, so why not the competition? I’m all for women playing at private clubs. Let’s take it a step or 3 further, and let’s engulf the LPGA into the PGA or vice versa, so there’s a large rota of courses and championships.

IndyCar/NASCAR prediction for 3/30/14

IndyCar begins its season today in St. Petersburg FL, with the Firestone Grand Prix. Here I’ll examine how the active drivers for the race have done on this old street course in the past.
Starts/Wins: Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon have raced all 9 IndyCar events. Amazingly, neither have a victory, nor does Marco Andretti with 8. James Hinchcliffe managed a win in 2 starts, and Helio Castroneves 3 in 8 tries.

Top 5: Kanaan is 7-9m Helio 6-8, Hinchcliffe 2-2. Scott Dixon is 4-9.

Most laps without victory: Dixon 833, Kanaan 814, Marco 602. Fewest: Hinchcliffe, 210.

Most laps led without victory: Dixon 94, Justin Wilson 70. Everyone else has under 30.Notably, Graham Rahal led 19 laps total toward his lone victory here.

Best gain in position per race, 3 race minimum: Charlie Kimball averages 5.6.

Running at finish: Graham Rahal, Wilson and Dixon all are perfect through 6 races.
Lead lap finish: Justin Wilson is perfect through 6.

Predicting the top 5:
1 Kanaan
2 polesitter Takuma Sato
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay
4 Carlos Munoz
5 Will Power
Now to Martinsville for the NASCAR Sprint Cup:

Jeff Gordon, starting in row 3, leads active drivers with his 43rd start here today. Joe Nemech, starting last, makes start number 38. Nemechek is still waiting on win #1 here. Also: Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle are 0-22, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth 0-28, Kasey Kahne 0-20.
Gordon is 8-42 here, with Jimmie Johnson an impressive 8-24, and Denny Hamlin a more impressive 4-16, Tony Stewart is 3-29.
Top 5: These drivers score in this category over 50% of the time: Gordon 27-42, Jimmie 17-24, Hamlin 9-16. Nemechek is 0-37, Biffle 0-22, Casey Mears 0-21
Top 10: More over 50%: Gordon 34-42, Jimmie 21-24, Tony Stewart 15-29, Dale Jr 15-28, Hamlin 13-16, McMurray 12-22, Clint Bowyer 10-16, Kyle Busch 9-18, Brad Keselowski 5-8. David Gilliland 0-15; Travis Kvapil 0-16; David Reutimann 0-14, Reed Sorenson 0-12, Paul Menard 0-13.

Laps turned without victory: Nemechek 14224, followed by Kenseth 13901, Dale Jr 13877, Biffle 10804, McMurray 10378.

Most laps led without victory: Dale Jr, 868, Kyle Busch 465, Kenseth 371, Bowyer 307, McMurray 117, Nemechek 116.
Best average gain in position per race, 3 race minimum:
Keselowski leads here, with a 6.7 gain. Jimmie is 5.7 , Kenseth 5.3

Running at finish: Gordon is perfect through 42. Biffle is next with 22, Carl Edwards with 19.
Lead lap finishes: Jimmie is 23-24. Keselowski is 7-8. Hamlin and Bowyer 14-16,
Top 10 prediction:
1 Jimmie
2 Hamln
3 Kenseth
4 Kyle Busch
5 Gordon
6 Logano
7 Edwards
8 Keselowski
9 Stewart
10 Bowyer

SONY Open men’s singles final prediction

I can’t say I ever heard of a double walkover. But it happened. Ken Nishikori and Tomas Berdych pulled out of their semifinal matches in the SONY Open. Was the fix in? What I recall from watching ESPN3 is that Berdych had something at dinner that didn’t agree, feeling drained of energy the next morning. Nishikori suffered a groin injury.

Just for fun, let’s look at the biorhythms of both to see if this sudden event was due:

Here’s Berdych:

Bingo. Physical critical day, always a trigger for some sort of illness, giving the sense that one doesn’t know one’s strength or weakness. Mental cycle at nadir didn’t help.

As for Nishikori:

And there you have it. Similar cycles, tho Ken’s got his mental game pretty sharp. He was coming into a triple high, but couldn’t make it through the physical cycle unscathed.

So we’re left with Rafal/Djokovic for the final. Not bad! With 39 matches to investigate, and a rather close record (Nadaleads 22-17 in matches), I decided to focus on surface. Djokovic leads here, 10-5, easily his best true advantage in this classic rivalry. I decided to focus on Rafa and see what he has to do to win. Here are his better stats vs Djokovic during losses, just focusing on outdoor hardcourt matches:
Miami 2007: 74% 1st serve, 70% 1st serve points won.
Montreal 2007: 69% 1st serve
Cincinnati 2008: 58% 1st serve, 73% 1st serve points won.
Indian Wells 2011: 57% 2nd serve points won.
Miami 2011: 60% 1st serve, 70% 1st serve points won, 50% break points converted.
US Open 2011: 68% 1st serve, 205 KPH fastest serve, 43% break point conversion, 76% net approaches.
Aussie Open 2012: 67% 1st serve, 204 KPH fastest serve, 67% break point conversion, 84% net approaches.
For the opposite view, here’s how Novak does when Rafa is the victor on hardcourt, focusing on Novak’s better stats in the loss:
Indian Wells 2007: 77% 1st serve points won
US Open 2010: 188 KPH average 1st serve speed, 75% break points converted.
US Open 2013: 68% 1st serve, +4 in aces/double faults, 204 KPH fastest serve, 180 KPH average 1st serve.
Here’s video of that finale:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXLuReKFF08
So it appears that Novak would need to get the first serve in at least 68% of the time, and maintain a 180 KPH average on 1st serve. For Rafa, he’s got more to learn from. The patterns are these: 66% first serve, 70% 1st serve points won, 53% break point conversion, and win 80% at the net.

Now for the cycles, Nadal first:

Well, not much to say here. Nadal certainly will be aware of his strength here but a long uphill battle on all fronts. Not a good outlook in the slighest.

Truly a tale of two tennis players. Sure, the cycles are on the downswing, but his ability to outsmart his opponent will be at its peak.

Via Wikipedia there is reference to their 2012 Aussie Open match as the ‘greatest of all time’ by players and experts alike. What were the cycles then, you ask? Here’s how they looked, Rafa first:

And Novak:

2014 Florida/Louisiana Derby analysis

Looks like no scratches or changes for the big races today..so here’s my look at the top 3 for the Louisiana Derby first:

To win: RISE UP: Racing since June 2013, winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot (Grade 3), has the best jockey/trainer combo of the field (Melancon 9% with Amoss 28%), 3 works at Fair Grouds since her 7th place finish in the G2 Risen Star, all very fast and breezing, one a bullet. Fastest runs have come from an outside post, where he is today in post 9. I am predicting a bounce back to form as suggested by the works despite the addition of a half-furlong.

2nd: IN TROUBLE won maiden debut, won the Futurity at Belmont, 3rd in the Gothem, scoring at each NY track. This is one of two horses to win at Grade 2. Paired 98 and 99 in the stake races above the maiden debut, and there’s every reason he can equal this mark. I’ve measured this stalker as the fastest of the field. Very good trip in the Gotham too which boosts his chances.

3rd: INTENSE HOLIDAY won the Risen Star that Rise Up couldn’t, preceded by competitive runs in 4 other Graded events, only in the money in the Holy Bull. Only horse in field to run at 9 furlongs prior. The 99 Brisnet last out is just past his 2YO best, and a sharp gain, so it could be a bounce here or a matching quick run.

8-9-1 my predicted order of finish.

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Now for the Florida Derby:

to win: WILDCAT RED: Undefeated save a loss by a head in the Gulfstream Park Derby in January. Won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, a true horse for course at Gulfstream, working and racing exclusively there. In 10 races over the last 2 years, trainer Jose Garoffalo has ROI of +12.80 in Graded races, winning and placing at 30%. Ideal pace progression with his 100 Brisnet in the FOY just ahead of his maiden debut, a sterling 99. Fastest of the field for certain and on the rail. Liked the dueling effort last out as well and seems very strong with the rail post.

2nd: CAIRO PRINCE has the best performance at 9 furlongs of these, 2nd in the Remsen (Grade 2). In the Holy Bull he registered a 98, just ahead of his 95 while winning the Nashua. 3 wins and a 2nd lifetime. Possibly best with the middle post.
3rd: GENERAL a ROD 1st or 2nd in 4 lifetime, winning the GP Derby (ungraded). Like the pedigree a lot, dam being Dynamite Eyes, out of Dynaforfmer. Grandsire is Fusaichi Pegasus. Here’s the other horse to match success at Gulfstream, with a 100 Brisnet figure, and 2nd place finish in the FOY. 3 works at GP, last 2 quite fast. Also should benefit from middle post
1-3-6 the predicted order of finish.

 

PS: Scored in the Dubai World Cup with the win bet on African Story!  Did not cash in the UAE Derby tho.

Li vs Williams, SONY Open tennis final

Li Na and Serena Williams for the WTA SONY Open tennis title at 1pm today in Miami.

Serena leads the head-to-head matchup 10 games to 1, with Li’s lone win coming in 3 sets, in a 4th round matchup in Stuttgart Germany in 2008. She also won a 2nd due to a retirement by Serena in their lone clay court battle in 2012. I’ll focus on what stats she managed to have an edge in, so we can see where she may gain advantage.
Li had dropped 16 straight sets to her counterpart before winning the opener in their last matchup, at Istanbul in 2013. The indoor hardcourt seems to balance out the stats just a bit, while Serena excels on standard hardcourt. In that match, Li has the edge in 2nd service points won, at 38%.
At last year’s US Open, she was ahead on net approaches, 68%.
2013 Cincinnati: 83% conversion of break points.
2012 Istanbul: 62% 1st serve, 50% conversion of break points
2010 Wimbledon: 69% 1st serve.
2010 Australian Open: 69% 1st serve, 25% break points converted.
2009 Stanford: 65% 1st serve
2009 Miami: 62% 1st serve
2008 Stuttgart, another indoor hardcourt setting, Li’s lone win on court. Serena manages to get edge in 1st service points won, 69%, and return points won (42%) but that is all. Highlights of that match right here:

First meeting at the 2006 Australian Open: Li with 71% first serve and 86% approach success at net.
So it appears that Li’s best feature mainly comes from serving and at the net, but not much in between otherwise. And if only they were playing indoors!
Here are Serena’s cycles:

Today we’ll see a rerun of the best of Serena…..strong physicality, emotions highly charged, maybe over the top considering the emotional critical day. Mentally she’s made more than her share of errors and that keeps her game rather average today. Still feel like the passion, the drive is gaining momentum for her.
And for Li:


Li’s in the opposite direction, with plummeting cycles, and is feeling the effect of a double critical both physically and emotionally. She might think rings outside Serena and get crafty at the net and will have to rely on that mental game to have any chance, more yin than yang.

Serena in straight sets, again, to keep the head-to-head one-sided.

2014 Dubai World Cup/UAE Derby analysis

This post focuses on 2 races on the Dubai World Cup card; the UAE Derby, and the World Cup itself.
Handicapping the races is rather challenging without the benefit of full past performances. The information received through various sources don’t really add up altogether. I’m missing info such as post position, points of call, and solid lifetime stats, some of the real nuts and bolts of my analysis. But I have enough to make a somewhat educated decision. Lets’ proceed.

UAE Derby runs 9.5 furlongs on the Meydan all-weather course. As with all races on this card, there isa ton of international stardom on track with top qualtiy connections alongside. Here’s my top 3 in detail:
LONG JOHN won the UAE 2000 Guineas last time out at Meydan, in his 4YO debut. He’s won multiple races at the top level in Australia. He’s running a tripled-up series of high pace numbers (Equibase overall pace numbers from the last 3 range from 104 to 109). The 104 from the 2000 Guineas is the best winning score from this track of this field, along with the all-weather. I’ve measured him as the fastest of the field and the one to beat.

Asmar is based in Ireland, with 4 printed starts at Meydan, and has the best average winning distance from his immediate pedigree. Cape Cross, also from Ireland is a multiple top stakes winner in Europe. Asmar ran 5th to Long John in the aforementioned 2000 Guineas. Last time out in the Al Bastakia he won going away, and ran a 101 per Equibase, sharp spike up in his pace stats

Paximidia is the value pick of my top 3 here. Also racing in Australia, he has the top personnel aboard: jockey Silvestre De Sousa and trainer Saeed bin Suroor have been leading jockey and trainer for the Meydan meet. Equibase number of 90 in the 2000 Guineas last time, way down from his 104 in a Grade 2 race back home, and a 98 prior to that…so there’s reason to think he can bounce back.

4-9-2 my picks here.

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The World Cup itself is 16 horses strong, running the classic 10 furlong distance, with no American horse in the mix.
RULER OF THE WORLD was rather busy facing top Graded company from May to September last year in France and England. Winner of the famed Epsom Darby, he’s primed to pull an unprecedented double with a win here today. Paired up last two races via pace. Overall he appears fastest of these.

AFRICAN STORY can hit here at a price. The 7YO has run several meets at Meydan and also has the De Sousa/bin Suroor connection. bin Suroor in fact had reclaimed him just for the current meet, with mixed results that include a win at a mile but not at longer routes. Still bears watching in a race with so many contenders but not many combinators of factors for me.

Vancouverite also appears to have what it takes to compete. The British horse has raced completely before age 4, forging a lifetime best just weeks ago in a win at Meydan. His trip last time out was relatively free of issues and not wide at all, unlike most of his competition today.

12-6-3 my picks for the Dubai World Cup.

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Later, once scratches are announced I’ll post my top 3 for the Florida and Louisiana Derbies. Also, patterns are holding for the future wager. Keep watch on Twitter (idealisticstats) for updates.

NASCAR Auto 400 analysis

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series returns to California and the Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400. It’s the 5th race scheduled for 400 miles. Kyle Busch aims to get his 3rd victory at this track, and just the 2nd for Toyota. Kyle’s race last year saw just 17 lead changes, fewest of any competition here for a full race.

Starts: Jeff Gordon makes his 25th start, most among actives. Next up are Joe Nemechek in his 24th, Tony Stewart his 23rd.
Wins: All 10 active drivers with at least 1 win are in the field. Jimmie Johnson is 5-19, tremendous show of dominance at Fontanta. Also notable: Jeff Gordon 3-24, Matt Kenseth 3-21, Kyle Busch 2-16, Carl Edwards 1-16. Nemechek, starting 42nd, still looking for win #1. Also winless: Dale Earnhardt Jr 0-21, Ryan Newman 0-19.
Top 5: Jimmie is 12-19 here, very strong numbers. Also around 50%: Carl Edwards 8-16, Kyle 7-16. Casey Mears is 0-17 here, David Gilliland 0-12.

Top 10: JJ again, 14-19. Also over 50%: Kenseth 14-21 (pole), Carl Edwards 13-16, best % of the field; Tony Stewart 12-22, Kyle Busch 11-16, Kurt Busch 10-20, Kasey Kahne 10-17, Clint Bowyer 7-13. Among those still seeking a top-10 finish: Gilliland 0-12, Travis Kvapil 0-11.

Laps without win: Dale Jr has gone 4601 laps without victory. Also up on this list: Newman 4104, Jamie McMurray 4072, Nemechek 4053.
Laps led: JJ’s 851 laps led led this category. Kevin Harvick’s 61 laps is the smallest amount leading to a victory. Nemechek has 92 laps led without victory, Denny Hamlin 76, McMurray 57, Brian Vickers 45.
Best gain in position per race, 3 race minimum: Kenseth gains 9.5 spots per race, Edwards 10.4, David Ragan 6.3, Gilliland 5.1, Kvapil 6.1
Running at finish: Jeff Gordon 22-24. Perfect scores: Kenseth through 21, Kurt Busch through 20, Jimmie through 19, McMurray through 18.
Lead lap finish: Jimmie is perfect through 19, only driver with perfect record here. Kenseth is 19-21. No one else is truly consistent as these two.

Top 10 prediction:
1 Kenseth
2 Edwards
3 Jimmie
4 Harvick
5 Bowyer
6 Gordon
7 Keselowski
8 Stewart
9 Logano
10 Kyle Larson