OPINION: So You Like Mendelssohn in the G1 Cigar Mile on Saturday? Do Stats Matter?

(Mendelssohn before this year’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

So you like the 3YO Mendelssohn in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday?

You think that the son of Scat Daddy is primed for a huge performance?

You think that his 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, or runner-up second in the G1 Travers should catapult this one to bigger, better, greater things today?

Well, I will give you this. He did win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar about 13 months ago, and he was a runaway winner by nearly 20 lengths in the UAE Derby back in the Spring of this year.


Since his last win in Dubai, Mendelssohn has been anything but a masterpiece or a master composer. About the only thing that he has been is a master disappointment.

My question is this:

Do statistics matter? Do you consider them in your handicapping? Do you think that they should be relevant?

If so, let me leave you with a thought or two before you plunk down your money on this European invader who has been in the U.S. so much this year that he ought to pay taxes:

  1. Over the last five years, what do you think is the record for the world-acclaimed trainer Aidan O’Brien when he ships horses to the United States and North America. Got a guess? Well, over the last five years, O’Brien runners are 9-for-96. That factors out to a win percentage of .094%. Still interested in betting on Mendelssohn?
  2. Over the last year, what do you think is the record for O’Brien horses when he ships them to the U.S. and N.A.? Well, over the last year, O’Brien runners are 1-for-28. That, my friends, factors out to a win percentage of .036%. Wow. Still interested in betting on Mendelssohn?
  3. In his U.S. and N.A. racing career, when saddling a horse for a dirt event, what do you think is O’Brien’s record? Well, in his career on dirt here, O’Brien runners are 1-for-57. That factors out to a win percentage of .018%. Less than 2% of the time. Wow. Wow. Are you still interested?
  4. Who is O’Brien’s only horse to win over the dirt in the U.S.? It was Johannesburg, a son of Hennessy, who did win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2001. That is a long time between drinks of water and/or Irish Whiskey.

(I want to thank my great friend, Ed DeRosa, the Director of Marketing at Brisnet.com, for supplying me with the information as to my inquiries about O’Brien’s record.)

So, as you get lined up at that bettor’s window or you pause for just a second before you hit that submit button on your TwinSpires.com account, will you reflect on statistics? And, will you go ahead and bet on that horse who has gone 20th, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the last five starts?

After all, he was the third betting choice in the Derby, and nearly second. He was the favorite in the Dwyer Stakes. He was the 7th betting choice in the Travers, even behind the filly Wonder Gadot. He was the second betting choice in the Jockey Club Gold Cup behind the odds-on Diversify. And, he was the 6th betting choice in the Classic.

The only two times he ran better than his odds indicated was the Travers, and, just barely, in the Classic.

Today, Mendelssohn has been made the 8-5 Morning Live favorite by many experts. Does he warrant those kind of odds? Does he merit that kind of favoritism? Has he earned that kind of respect, and your hard-earned money in support?

For me, I look elsewhere.

For me, I bet elsewhere.



The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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