Not one of the 1,000 computer simulations Michael Calderone ran before the Belmont Stakes had Big Brown pulling up and finishing last.
"No horse wins 100 percent of the time," said Calderone, president of Las Vegas-based Horse Racing Simulation LLC, as he relived the dramatic failure of the Triple Crown favorite to take the title on Saturday.
"But we ran 1,000 simulations and Big Brown won 80 percent of the time," he said Monday. "That was the highest percentage we've ever seen in the history of the sim."
With those results, Calderone last week went out on a limb and, like outspoken trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., publicly predicted Big Brown would "easily" reprise his wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history.
Instead the previously undefeated horse had nothing left as jockey Kent Desormeaux turned him for home in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. He ended up last, beaten by eight other horses.
Calderone wasn't exactly eating crow Monday. After all, he gained some fame for his Sim2Win.com and HorseRaceGame.com Internet products. He calls them non-gambling tools that simulate upcoming races or allow fans to run legendary horses against each other in fantasy matchups. Think Seabiscuit against Secretariat, or War Admiral versus Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner in 1978.
But he did recall the bad feeling he got while watching the run-up to the race on Saturday.
"It was 90-something degrees, he was sweaty, he was uncomfortable," Calderone said of Big Brown. "In hindsight, who knows? It could have been a million things. That's the mysterious part about horse racing. Nothing's guaranteed."
The real-life race winner, Da'Tara, won just 4 percent of the simulated races run with programs Calderone said he's been working nine years to perfect. He offers a free Web download with offers of subscription upgrades of $29.95 for the horse racing fantasy simulation game and $2,495 for a yearly subscription to a menu of simulated upcoming stakes races.
"We use breeding, the horse's running style, acceleration, stride length, all the numbers related to the horse's ability," Calderone said. "But everything we do is in the math."
"We don't count for whether he had a bad night the night before, had a fever, or was fed a bad carrot," he added. "Sometimes the horse has a bad race."