Win Early At Saratoga


By Noel Michaels

The majority of the horses running at Saratoga will have run their most recent races at Belmont, and therefore it is important to know as much as possible about Belmont's recently concluded meet and the horses who ran there in order to capitalize on that knowledge at Saratoga.  The more information you have about the Belmont horses, the more chances you'll have to bet live Saratoga overlays while at the same time avoiding bad Saratoga underlays on the tote board.

Read onward for some key information from the recently concluded Belmont Spring/Summer meet, and how that information may impact racing and wagering at Saratoga.

Dirt Racing -Belmont to Saratoga

Inside posts clearly were the most desirable on the Belmont main track this season.  The inside four posts 1-4 won about 70% of the six furlong races run at the meet, while horses breaking from posts 8 through 14 in those six furlong won only about a combined percentage of 8%.

At one mile on the main track at Belmont, the story was more of the same, with a big bias for the two inside posts 1-2, which each won at about a 23% clip, which accounted for wins in nearly half of the races run at the distance this season.  Outside posts 7 through 11, when taken as a group, performed poorly with horses winning at combined percentage of about 10%.

There were a limited amount or dirt races longer than a mile run at the Belmont meet.  By far the most common longer route distance was 1 1/16 miles.  At that distance, the rail post 1 was dominant with wins with a win percentage of around 40% in the limited sample.  Posts 5 and outward won at a combined win percentage of just about 7%.

It will be important to know about the track biases that affected the recently concluded Belmont meet if you want to have success betting the races at Saratoga.  Please see the chart below for my observations of daily track bias from the recently concluded Belmont meet.  The biases varied throughout the meet, with the most notable bias taking place during the week of July 8-10, when the rail was dead.  Bet horses back from those days who had inside posts/trips when they show up for their next races at Saratoga.

Belmont Track Biases (Spring/Summer meet, 2011)
July 10 -Outside bias (only 4 dirt races)
July 9 -Outside bias on drying out track
July 8 -Strong outside bias in slop, dead rail
July 7 -One-two front runners made 7-of-8 exacta spots
July 4 -Outside advantage
June 26 -All winners on or close to pace
June 25 -Speed advantage
June 22 -All winners on or close to pace
June 18 -Most winners on or close to the pace
June 17 -Speed favoring races 3-7 after un-sealed, +speed bias when re-sealed races 8-9
June 16 -Helped to be on or close to the pace
June 11 -Front-end outside bias, all winners outside and close to the pace
June 3 -Speed good
May 27 -Advantage to pace horses, on or close
May 21 -Strong speed bias
May 12 -Inside speed bias, all winners on or close
May 7 -All winners on or close
May 5 -Outside closers bias on drying out track
May 4 -Outside bias, dead rail in slop


Turf Racing -Belmont to Saratoga

Now let's look at the turf season at the recently concluded Belmont 2011 Spring/Summer meet.  On the Belmont Widener main turf course this season, the story at one mile was a strong favoritism toward inside posts.  This season, posts 1 through 4 at a mile were dominant, and any post outside post 8 has had virtually no chance.

In turf routes between 1 1/16-miles and 1 1/8-miles, the inside post positions performed well for the most part, with the possible exception of the rail post itself, especially at 1 1/16 miles on the Widener.

On the inner turf course, meanwhile, the turf routes not surprisingly were strongly favoring the inside six or seven post positions, which accounted for nearly all the inner turf route wins this season. Outside posts 7 through 12 on the inner turf combined earned a win percentage of just about 4%.


Trainer Trends to Watch -Belmont to Saratoga

This season's Belmont trainer trends lacked a big story big story like last year's Belmont emergence of jockey-turned-trainer Rudy Rodriguez, or last winter's local emergence of Chris Englehart, who were each moving horses up dramatically in ability and winning at huge percentages when they were hot items. Rodriguez (19% win percentage) and Englehart (4-for-29, 14%) were both still around and having solid meets at Belmont, especially with recent claims, both neither have recently been the overwhelming forces they had been at other times during the past year.

Not surprisingly, Todd Pletcher, led the Belmont trainer standings a big 28% win percentage.  He's dangerous in every kind of race from maidens to stakes, and at all distances and on both surfaces, particularly when teamed up with his go-to rider John Velazquez.

Among the most pleasant surprises in the training ranks this past season at Belmont were guys who quietly put together hot meets like Bobby Barbara (38% wins and 77% ITM), Angel Penna Jr. (36% wins), and Alan Goldberg (50% wins and 70% ITM with his first five Belmont starters).

Other hot barns to watch early in the Saratoga meet also include Carlos Martin (31% wins, 57% ITM at Belmont), Chad Brown (27% wins, 53% ITM), Shug McGaughey (32% wins), and H. James Bond (33% wins, 61% ITM).  Jimmy Toner also was hot (29% wins and 76% ITM).  Two other sleeper trainers to watch with barns that are loaded for Saratoga are David Fawkes and George Weaver.

On the complete other side of the ledger, the long list of cold trainers to avoid right now is led by several guys who had terrible Belmont meets and can expect more of the same at Saratoga like Joe Imperio, Michael Tannuzzo, John Hertler, and Frank Martin Sr.

Having a bad meet at Belmont is not always a bad thing when you are trying to determine who the hot trainers will be at Saratoga.  Often, it can work exactly the opposite.  Trainers who didn't win a lot at Belmont often have just been getting their barns geared up for big Saratoga meets all along.  Many times trainers who had slow Belmont meets benefit from the mishap at Saratoga simply because they have a lot of horses who will be able to be placed in winning spots at the Spa because they haven't run through all their conditions with wins at Belmont.

Trainers who did not do well at the recently concluded Belmont meet who I expect to win big at Saratoga 2011, due to one or both of the reasons mentioned above, include, first and foremost, Nick Zito, who suffered through a brutal 5% win percentage Belmont meet.  Zito trains his horses up at Saratoga, so the home advantage will be all his with a bunch of ready-to-win horses placed in realistic spots.

Other trainers ready for a big Saratoga season include low-Belmont 2011 win percentage guys such as Bill Badget, Tom Albertrani, James Jerkens, and Steve Asmussen.  Circle this group of trainers in your programs at Saratoga, and bet them early before the betting public has a chance to turn around their opinions after losing on this group of good trainers throughout the Belmont Spring/Summer meet.

I hope you can benefit from this Saratoga handicapping primer and use the information to your best advantage when playing the year's best race meet at The Spa.  Best of luck!


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