Saturday, October 01, 2016

Juvenile Finish Position Ratings

In horse-racing, 2yos are by definition the least exposed runners at the racetrack. In the context of handicapping 2yo races, we can create a simple model to generate race-specific ratings based solely on finishing positions and number of runners per race in each horse's past performances record. These ratings will guide our elimination process. Remember that, in handicapping, elimination of probable non-contenders is always preferred to the selection of possible contenders.
  • First, calculate "horses beaten" (n-f) and "horses beaten by" (f-1) from finishing positions (f) and number of runners (n) for each race in a horse's past performances. 
  • Then, sum across all races for wins (w=Σ(n-f)) and losses (l=Σ(f-1)) respectively.
  • Next, calculate a horse's posterior probability m=(w+α)/((w+α)+(l+β)). Prior wins (α) and losses (β) are derived from two full seasons of 2yo races and are equivalent to a horse finishing fourth of seven runners in a virtual race. Note that a first-time starter would automatically have a posterior probability of 0.50=(0+3)/((0+3)+(0+3))
  • Finally, convert probabilities to performance ratings (min:112=8-00, max:126=9-00) using the following formula: r=((a+(b-a))*((m-x)/(y-x))), where a=out.min, b=out.max, x=in.min, and y=in.max of all runners in the current race.
The final rank ordering of horses is important, not the absolute performance ratings.
In summary
, this finishing position rating system (fpr) does not take into account the strength of opposition, beaten lengths, weight carried, or finishing times; however, when it is based on a whole season of results, the fpr ranks correlate approximately 0.87 with the equivalent ranks from an Elo rating system.

As luck would have it, Sunday's Prix Marcel Boussac (Fillies' Group 1) - France's top 2yo fillies race - had a 0.92 correlation between fpr ranks and finishing positions, with the 10/1 winner (Wuheida) top-rated! Not scientific, nevertheless I get to keep the winnings.