Saratoga Primer: Second Half, Second Time Over the Track

VOLUME 12 - Number 8
Friday, August 21, 2015

Not What You Might Expect

As Saratoga moves through the final three weeks of the 2015 meet the focus on shippers, two-year old debut runners and surface switches as a means of discovering overlooked winning runners changes considerably as we are now at the point where many of the races feature a number of horses that making their second or in a few rare circumstances third try over the surfaces.

It would seem logical that with a race over the track and the good or bad form exhibited, the handicapping information would make it slightly easier to separate the contenders from the pretenders. However, the charted results indicate otherwise.

In order to provide a background for what I am talking about I looked at the last three weeks of racing at the meet over the course of the last three years at Saratoga and those results show that second and third time runners provides the same overall value payoffs as resulted in the first 22 days of racing, when horses were either moving up from Belmont or shipping in from many different venues for their first ever or first 2014 try at the Spa.

The figures below, which as I say are representative of a multi-year sample were drawn from the final 18 days of the meet a year ago.

For purposes of the evidence I isolated those races in which a last out Saratoga runner either won the race or was the beaten favorite. I further categorized the horses in these races by breaking them down into winning favorites, beaten favorites and non-favorite winners.

This means that those races in which last out Belmont or Aqueduct starters or late shippers from other venues that were winners where there was not a last out Saratoga beaten favorite were not included in the statistical sample.

It also means that a number of races included both a beaten favorite and a non-winning favorite that were last out Saratoga runners in 2015 are included, which is why there are more total horses categorized than races run.


Total Number Of Races...111
Total Number Of Beaten Favorites...82 - 74.8%
Average Off-Odds Of Beaten Favorites...1.95-1
WHAT THIS MEANS...Unless you feel that you have every edge (trainer, jockey, current form, right surface and distance, etc. the best thing you can do is avoid the race altogether unless you feel even at the short price potential you are getting value.

Total Number Of Races...111
Total Number Of Winning Favorites...29 - 26.2%
Average Payoff Of Winning Favorites...$5.15
WHAT THIS MEANS...If you are not persuaded to view the last out Saratoga runner with deep suspicion when the favorite, given the high percentage of beaten favorites (first statistic above) then the low percentage of winning favorites (the overall national average is between 34% and 37%) the fact that the average winning payoff is about 40 to 50 cents below the average winning favorite payoff, this added statistical reality should cause you to double down on being very suspect and demanding. You should need a significantly positive reason for wagering on these second and third time over the surface(s) Saratoga favorites. It's also worth noting that the percentage of winning favorites overall during the first 22 days of this year's Spa meet is 31% (low to begin with...which is why we love the "graveyard) but still 5% higher than last year's repeat runners that were winning favorites.

Now let's take a look at the horses that ran a second or rare third time over the track during the last 18 days of the 2014 meet and won while not the favorite.
Total Number Of Races...111
Total Number Of Non-Favorites That Won...76 - 68.5%
Average Payoff Of Non-Favored Winner...$13.60
WHAT THIS MEANS...It doesn't take much imagination to see that the public and so-called "in-the-know" analysts who figure they have a handle on the first or second race over the track during the meet gives them an edge on finding the winner. In fact, over the course of the first 22 days of the 2015 meet the average winning payoff for all winners has been $13.18 while last year's final 18 days were in keeping with that number at a slightly higher figure. There is obviously value in finding the right horse with which to beat the favorite. That might sound easier said than done. But I know where to begin and with the right approach and information this is the right path to take.


"Graveyard of Favorites" for losers…"Longshot Heaven" for winners
And the difference is INFORMATION!
Jim Hurley has the winning information at Saratoga - Click here


While heady handicappers and bettors aren't all that surprised that rapidly merging jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr, is "holding his own" at the current meet, going up against the likes of Castellano, Velazquez, Rosario and other long established colony leaders figured a challenge. But heading into Thursday racing at the Spa, Ortiz wasn't only holding his own he was well in front of usual riding crown-claimers Castellano and Velazquez by a wide margin, both in number of wins and percentage.

Ortiz - 159 Starts - 40 Wins - 25%
Castellano - 178 Starts - 32 Wins - 18%
Velazquez - 133 Starts - 29 Wins - 22%

As to the equine star, it is well worth paying attention to first crop New York bred sire Giralomo. His juveniles have gotten off to a roaring start with the likes of debut runner Backwood Bay ($20.80...Race 6...8/15) and debut runner Pagan ($20.00...Race 5...8/17.) And his precocity has followed him because another of his debuting progeny, Trulamo, was hammered down to 6-5 at Delaware (Race 3...August 19) and won for fun over a sloppy oval. Keep an eye out.


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