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Reader Q&A: Can TrueNicks Be Used in Thoroughbred Handicapping?

Question from Tony: I realize that TrueNicks is primarily a tool for breeders but does your group envision developing any tools for handicappers as way to measure the potential of lightly raced horses? 

Byron's reply:  Tony, thanks for the email. The short answer is "yes," the long answer is that it is going to take time to develop and certainly be rigorously tested before any release.

Anecdotally, Alan and I have seen a number of occasions where horses that are highly rated by TrueNicks end up winning first time out, and ultimately develop into stakes horses. A while ago we posted about a horse named Sebring after he had broken his maiden in Australia at first time asking. He was an A+ TrueNicks rated horse prior to his maiden victory and went on to win the Golden Slipper Stakes (Aus-I) and be named champion 2-year-old colt in Australia. More recently we made comment about Candy Ride's son Capt. Candyman Can after his debut at Saratoga. He was an A++ rated horse prior to his first stakes win also.

We see this a lot with first-season sires in particular where their best horse ends up being highly rated by TrueNicks. One project we are going to run shortly is to rate complete 2-year-old crops of a couple of select stallions and track their performances over their 2- and 3-year-old seasons, looking at their TrueNicks rating before they raced, their rating at the end of their 2-year-old campaign, and their rating at the end of their 3-year-old year. This project will sort of have a dual purpose: prove that highly rated horses end up as stakes winners more often than their lower-rated counterparts, and also show how ratings change over time, but probably not as much as you would think. At the moment I am thinking of using Giant's Causeway, Roman Ruler, Johannesburg, and Maria's Mon. They have about 600 live foals between them that are rising 2-year-olds now so I would think that they should prove an interesting study.  

This, I believe, is slightly different to your intention though. From what I read you want to know if horses rated highly by TrueNicks win races first time out when compared to other horses in the field that they are racing against and then go on to stakes success. This is an angle that we hope to investigate over the summer of 2009.  What we have planned to do is run TrueNicks ratings on Maiden Special Weight races in North America prior to their running and track the performance of the horses within the race themselves, and their subsequent performance on the racetrack over the year. If we feel that a product can be developed to assist handicappers, and an easy explanation on how to use the data for a handicapping edge, then we would look to develop this in the final quarter of 2009. Obviously, given our partners in TrueNicks (Blood Horse Publications) and our data providers (The Jockey Club Information Systems) any product that we do develop has to be thoroughly tested (TrueNicks itself was developed off 100,000 horses) so whatever comes out you know it is going to withstand scrutiny!

Thanks again for the email. If you have anything else that you want to suggest we would be glad to hear from you.

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