Saratoga Juvenile Maidens

SARATOGA WATCHDOG

The following articles regarding the 2012 Saratoga Racing Season, which runs from Friday, July 20 until Labor Day, Monday, September 3, are provided FREE on this Web Site on a regular basis. You'll find everything from individual type of race breakdowns to shipper evaluations, to money management suggestions and daily racing previews and reviews.

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PART 3: Friday, July 7

SARATOGA JUVENILE MAIDENS: THE "SMART MONEY MYTH."

Maybe it is only me...but I strongly suspect it isn't.

In the years upon years upon years that I've been haunting and haunted by the Saratoga Race Meet there is one refrain I have heard over and over. It goes something like this. "How can anyone know who the best 2-year old in these maiden races? Only the barns and the 'smart money' know who the best are, so it pays to follow the tote board."

Does that sound familiar? And more important, is there such a thing as "smart money" in the sense that the barns, or certain insiders really do know how any of these precocious youngsters are going to perform?

The WATCHDOG'S answer to those questions is based on the same thing as it always is...RESEARCH. Plus the unassailable resolution that if the public believes following the tote board in juvenile maiden races is the way to go...THEN IT MOST LIKELY ISN'T.

NUMBERS POINT TO THE "MYTH"

If you want to get to the truth about any assumption therein, thoroughbred racing analysis demands the same methods of research as any true study. That means that you begin with the premise...in this case that SMART MONEY POINTS OUT THE BEST JUVENILE MAIDENS...and try to disprove it.

By now, knowing this writer's style of less-than surprise, surprise, you've likely figured out that the SMART MONEY PREMISE was easy to disprove. In addition, the research also makes the case for a few handicapping disciplines that might be useful.

FIRST THINGS FIRST...THE NUMBERS

If the SMART MONEY is valid and a bettor should be following the tote board or (as the corollary would presume) not bet the race, the assumption is...juvenile maiden favorites should win the highest percentage of the races.

When one looks to the numbers in order to confirm that premise, the evidence is pretty ugly.

I went back over ALL 61 Juvenile maiden races run in 2011 at Saratoga and as to the performance of the betting favorite...here are the results:

  • 13 of the 61 favorites won...21.3%
    (That vs the national average of 34% overall wins by all favorites)

  • The average winning payoff for the 13 winning favorites was $4.98
    (That vs the generally recognized national average favorite winning mutuel of $5.45 - $5.60)

  • The average Return On Investment for $2 wagered on every favorite was $1.06

  • 9 of the favorites finished in the place spot and 8 wound up as the show horse.
    (That means just OVER 50% finished off the board...in fact 12 finished 6th or worse, and in many cases the fields weren't deeper than 6 or 7 horses.)

HOW ABOUT THE SECOND FAVORITE?

Glad you asked.

  • 15 of the second favorites won...24.8%

  • The average winning payoff for those 15 second favorites was $8.23

  • The average Return On Investment for $2 wagered on every second favorite was $2.02
    (How about that...if you'd have stuck to just making this bet you'd have turned a 1% profit)

HOW ABOUT THE THIRD FAVORITE?

Equally glad you asked.

  • 13 of the third favorites won...21.3%
  • The average winning payoff for those 13 third favorites was $10.74
  • The average Return On Investment for $2 wagered on every third favorite was $2.29
    (How about that...a 14.5% profit if you bet every third favorite)

AND OH THOSE LONG SHOTS
As you might expect, given those failure numbers on the part of the favorites, there were also a number of bombs.

14 of the 61 winners PAID OVER $20.00:

Pure Gossip - $76.00
Caviar N Champagne - $31.20
Bellacourt - $29.60
Why Take A Chance - $22.60
Optimizer - $57.00
Currency Swap - $21.80
Bourbon Street Girl - $21.00
Tiz Sardonic Joe - $20.00
Welcome Dance - $57.50
Fox Rules - $47.20
Fantastic Song - $20.40
Motion Lounge - $38.00
Princess Phoebe - $28.40
Night Maneuver - $41.00

So there you have it. Better value from the second and third favorites and more than enough solid longshots to make you look the other way when the tote starts its mythical "follow the smart money" call.

As is always the case there are NO IRON CLAD SHORTCUTS. When it comes to handicapping you have to be willing to do the work. Is a juvenile working well, is the breeding there for early winning or for short distances, does the trainer have a good record with youngsters, at the sprint distance, on dirt, with a certain jockey or does the trainer have a tendency to race his youngsters to peak performance. These are just a few things that are paramount to making your choice and doing so at the value you are willing to accept.

Too often too many people listen to too many people and do too little work. No one has unbeatable inside information and the SMART MONEY is only as smart as when it wins. There is no substitute for relentless study, study, study. Be careful out there. The MYTHS could kill you.

THE WATCHDOG

23
Nov

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