The Grass is Greener in Kentucky


Fall Into Big Time Turf Profits At Keeneland

Wednesday, October 2

By Jim Hurley

If only the meet lasted longer.

But then we might not get the full fields and deep contention that makes for such great race track profit.

I’m referring of course to the upcoming Fall Racing Meet at Keeneland, which commences Friday October 4 and runs through Saturday, October 26. There are 17 race days during the meet, and one of the best values in the thoroughbred wagering world is a product of the Lexington venue’s grass route races.

Over the course of the last two fall meetings, there have been 53 turf route races (from one mile to a mile and a half) and to a value players’ delight only 14 favorites have paid off. That is a paltry percentage of 26.4. So if we do our math right that means 73.6% of non-favorites have won…and wow have those non-favorites paid off.

Take a look at the 53 race breakdown of the fall season’s grass route races over the course of the last two years.

2012 – 33 Total Races
7 Winning Favorites – 21.2%
Average Payoff For The Favorite - $5.25
26 Winning Non-Favorites – 78.8%
Average Payoff For Non-Favorite - $25.60

2011 – 20 Total Races
(Weather caused the loss of partial or all turf races on 7 of the 17 days of the meet)
7 Winning Favorites – 35%
Average Payoff For The Favorite - $5.15
13 Winning Non-Favorites – 65%
Average Payoff For Non-Favorites - $23.15

Combined Results 53 Total Races
14 Winning Favorites – 26.4%
Average Payoff For The Favorite - $5.20
39 Winning Non-Favorites – 73.6%
Average Payoff For The Non-Favorite - $24.75

Betting into those kind of results makes it rather easy to avoid the turf route favorite as a matter of course…unless you are certain that there is no liability whatsoever in betting that favorite in a particular race.

Perhaps one of the leading contributors to these terrific value payoffs in Keeneland turf route racing is the evidence that there was no “overwhelming” bias. However, the type of runner that did best was the horse capable of “pressing” the pace (able to be within at least 3 lengths or less of the leader at the two dominant calls mentioned below).

If we look at what style of runner won these races, we can see that careful attention to the style of running does explain why there is no “automatic play” based on a running style…one which would hold a definitive edge over another.

Let me give you an example of what I’m getting at.

In order to determine what “type” of runner (pace-setter, presser, stalker, tracker or deep closer) was better suited to the Keeneland turf course than any other, I looked at two dominant calls and where the winning horse was at those points. I looked at horses at the beginning of the backstretch and the head of the stretch for the mile and mile and a sixteenth races and the end of the middle of the backstretch and top of the lane for a mile and an eighth to a mile and a half. The results showed just how “even” the turf course played.

Of the 53 Winners:

8 Went Wire-To-Wire
22 Were Designated As Pressers.
(They were from between 3 and a ½ length of the lead at the first point of reference to 3 to the lead at the second point of reference.)
(Note – For the purposes of all these measurements I did not use exact “points of call” for the horses because I wanted to approximate positioning which also referenced on equal basis how they maintained position from and between points of call relative to the different route distances.)
11 Were Designated As Tracker-Stalker Types.
(They were from between 7 and 3 ½ lengths of the lead at the first point of reference to 5 ½ to 1 length of the lead at the second point of reference.)
12 Were Designated As Deep Closers.
(They were from between 16 ½ and 7 ½ lengths of the lead at the first point of reference to 10 ½ and 4 lengths of the lead at the second point of reference.)

Just imagine looking at the Past Performances of a Keeneland Turf Route and seeing the various running styles of the horses entered and then trying to map out how the race will be run. No one said this was easy…which is why the Lexington Price Palace provides what it does for the sharp handicapper.

Speaking Of Prices…The Keeneland Opening Day Feature Is The Grade I Alcibiades…A Win-And-You’re-In BC Challenge Race…Take A Look At Some Of The Recent Payoffs!

2012 (14 Fillies Ran)
Spring In The Air - $10.60
Broken Spell – Exacta $163.40
Magical Moon – Trifecta $1,143.40

2011 (13 Fillies Ran)
Stephanie’s Kitten - $21.60
Heart Of Destiny – Exacta $315.60
Putthebabies Down – Trifecta $3,999.40

2009 (12 Fillies Ran)
Negligee - $27.40
She Be Wild – Exacta $89.60
Amen hallelujah – Trifecta $567.40


That’s my TRACK TALK for today. Make sure you return to these pages on Friday for my in-depth preview of both the Alcibiades and Phoenix Stakes.



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