A number of comments were submitted to this website about champion mare Igugu’s defeat in the Group 2 Balanchine over 1800m on turf at Meydan in Dubai on Thursday night.
We’ve decided not to publish these letters as most of their writers took not-so-friendly swipes at jockey Christophe Soumillon, blaming the Frenchman for Igugu’s defeat amidst other arguably more significant aspects surrounding her comeback run.
Aside from Mike’s explanatory comments about Igugu’s natural lack of match-fitness, the revolutionary Trakus Network (www.trakus.com) highlighted the influence of the exceptionally fast fractional times set in the Balanchine. They gave the mare a glowing post-race report on the evidence of their processed race statistics.
Trakus employs a wireless radio frequency tracking system and a proprietary processing technique called multi-lateration to closely track horses during the parade, the live race and the cooldown. They use small small radio antennas situated around the perimeter of the track and ultra-lightweight tags that fit into the saddlecloths.
The information from Trakus’s assessment of the Balanchine, as published below, will be an eye-opener to a large proportion of racing enthusiasts, including veterans of the game and astute handicappers. The benefits of this technology will have a telling impact on the way form students of the future weigh up form variables in their assessment of respective thoroughbred contests.
Igugu was all the talk before Thursday’s meeting at Meydan, and she was all the talk after this year’s renewal of the Balanchine (G2), finishing third as the 1-5 favourite on the international tote. Say nothing of her 13-month layoff and long, gruelling quarantine, or that Mike de Kock runners are now a combined 2-for-22 when first-up this season, but this was as good a losing performance as you will ever see.
Finding the right superlatives to quantify Igugu’s performance is a challenge. On the surface, the final time was a new course record set by the absolutely deserving Sajjhaa, clocked in 1:48.58.
While almost the entire domestic (non-Carnival) season is contested on the all-weather track at six different distances, turf races are run over varying lanes, and at eight distances with two of those being approximated due to the rail settings (2,400m, 2,410m, 2,435m, 2,800m, 2,810m, etc).
In other words, there are too few races to get a meaningful sample size for comparable statistics in turf races at Meydan. That being said, four annual group-level stakes are run at 1,800 meters, and we can at least view some measure of equivalent comparison from this admittedly very small sample.
Below, find the leader’s sectional time at each of the first three points of call in those races:
*Yellow highlight indicates that race winner was leader at the sectional point of call
*Green highlight indicates leader sectional times set by Igugu (her 1200m time was 1:11:68)
For perspective, Igugu showed the way through the first 800 meters of Thursday’s race 0.53 seconds faster than the next-fastest 800-meter point of call in the three group level stakes at 1,800 meters each season at Meydan.
That race, the 2011 Balanchine won by River Jetez, saw the first three sectionals set by longshot Tinaar, who finished the race last of eleven, at least some 38 lengths behind the winner – the official designation was “distanced.”
This year, Godolphin’s Dark Orchid made the running with Igugu as well, racing just off Igugu through the first 800 meters, and drawing even heading into the 1200-meter point of call. Dark Orchid finished sixth, 19 ¼ lengths behind Sajjhaa, and 15 lengths behind Igugu.
The now third-fastest first 800 meters in the above-listed group-level stakes at 1,800 meters was last year’s Gr 1 Dubai Duty Free, won by Cityscape. The time of 48.64 seconds was set last Thursday by another De Kock runner Await The Dawn, contesting a handicap over 2000m. In the mentioned 2012 Dubai Duty Free, Await The Dawn finished last, beaten at least 35 lengths in a performance otherwise rated as “distanced.”
So, just to clarify, the two horses who led through the fastest first 800 meters in group level stakes at 1,800 meters on grass at Thursday’s race, each finished last, with an official margin of “distanced.” Igugu, in turn, finished third. She was beaten 4 ¼ lengths behind a new course record, a remarkable performance!
Trakus is a privately held company based in Massachusetts specializing in tracking systems and related technology services for sports and media.