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by Tim Holland

NOVEMBER 10, 2005
Using dosage for lightly raced two-year-olds

One of the toughest challenges a horseplayer may face, but also one that can produce lucrative rewards, is trying to sort out a field of lightly raced, or unraced, two-year-olds. Often with little or no form lines at their disposal, handicappers must turn to pedigrees, trainer stats and workout patterns. While many astute followers of bloodlines are able, with a quick glance at the immediate pedigree, to sum up the potential "precociousness" of a particular horse, there are also tools available that can put this into number form. One such method is the sometimes controversial and often criticized "Dosage System."

Developed by Dr. Steven Roman, Dosage is a system that attempts to predict the distance potential of horses based on certain sires in the first four generations of their pedigree. Over the years, the main focus of this method has been to try to pinpoint the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, but another, and maybe more informative use for the horseplayer, is to get an indication of whether a lightly or unraced individual is racing at a distance at which he, or she, should excel.

To keep things simple one can look at the so called "Center of Distribution" or CD. Without going into a lengthy explanation, the CD is a figure that pinpoints the distance at which the individual is bred to perform at his or her best. To find the correlation between the Center of Distribution and preferred distance, one can look at the chart below and see, for example, that the average stakes winner (of any age) at six furlongs has an average CD of 0.90. The right column shows the desired CD range designed to take into account the added precociousness of two-year-olds. In a six-furlong race for two-year-olds, the individual needs to have a CD of between 0.90 and 1.10 to become a "qualifier."

Distance Average CD (stakes winners) 2YO CD range
6f 0.90 0.90-1.10
6 1/2f 0.85 0.85-1.05
7f 0.80 0.80-1.00
1m 0.70 0.70-0.90
1 1/16m 0.65 0.65-0.85

The November 5, 2005 card at Churchill Downs, when the whole program was devoted to two-year-olds and held over a fast main track with no apparent bias, provides a good study. In the nine dirt races, 32 juveniles fit the desired range, an average of 3.55 per race. Of these nine races, five were won by qualifiers.

Distance Horses in desired range Winners Win payouts
6f 15 3 $7.60, $11.60, $18.60
1m 17 2 $6, $18.20

A $2 win bet on each qualifier would have returned $62, a loss of 3 percent, and with a little handicapping, a healthy profit could have been achieved.

The 1ST race on the card was a decent example of how useful these figures can be. A full field of 12 maiden fillies were going six furlongs, with eight making their debut, and Cintarosa (Grand Slam) was the solid favorite. Trained by Steve Asmussen, she had already made two starts, contesting the pace in both before stopping. Favored in her most recent race, a seven-furlong heat at Keeneland, she had little apparent excuse for the loss, being on the inside through moderate fractions. However, Cintarosa's 1.17 CD indicated that she would have a hard time excelling at six furlongs, let alone the extra furlong she tried at Keeneland.

First timer Smart N Pretty (Elusive Quality) owned good works and was dispatched as the second favorite after taking a lot of late money. Trained by Dale Romans, she had more a desirable CD of 1.05. Another to see action at the windows was the Dallas Stewart-trained Brilliant Star (Storm Cat). She also sported good works, but her CD was out of the range for the distance at 0.82. The only other CD range qualifier was Sweetcarolinarose (Cape Canaveral) (0.97), who was cold on the tote board at more 20-1.

Slightly surprisingly, Cintarosa was not the early pacesetter. That role went to Brilliant Star who led for the first quarter until Morner (Broken Vow) (CD 0.35) took over, and she in turn was passed by Smart N Pretty, who went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Morner hung on well to finish second and her CD suggests that she will be more effective at longer distances. Cintarosa showed some speed to be well placed early but once again failed to finish well, winding up third.

Almost as important as finding horses to win today is spotting horses for future wagers. There were several horses on Churchill's card who may excel at slightly different distances including:

Race (distance) Horse (CD) Finish (odds) Preferred distance
1ST (6f) Brilliant Star (0.82) 4th (3.60) 7f+
1ST (6f) Morner (0.35) 2nd (9.30) 1 1/16m+ T?
3RD (1m) She's a Premium (0.29) 3rd (5.30) 1 1/16m+ T
5TH (6f) Lemons Forever (0.77) 9th (2.60) 1m+
7TH 6f Preacher Brown (0.20) 8th (3.50) 1 1/16m+ T?

The Center of Distribution figure can also be helpful in indicating a possible liking for the turf, a surface over which many of the better runners will have CDs of 0.40 or less. This may be the case with the previously mentioned Morner (CD 0.35). At first glance her pedigree, by Unbridled out of a Gilded Time mare, suggested dirt, but closer examination revealed that her second dam is by the influential turf stallion Blakeney. Another who may like the switch to the turf is She's a Premium (Point Given) (CD 0.29). She was somewhat one paced when finishing third over the mile, but her low CD and the fact that her dam is by Roberto suggest that turf is in her future.

There is no handicapping angle that can be used on its own and be expected to automatically produce massive profits at the window. The Center of Distribution figure is no exception, but when used as a guide, rather than a rule, it can be another important clue in the never ending search for high-priced winners.

Dosage and Center of Distribution numbers are available for all horses in the American Produce Records CD-ROM, available annually at

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