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2021 Canterbury Park Live Meet Preview

by The Oracle
Follow The Oracle on Twitter at @Oracle 65
He will provide selections daily.

Opening day of the 2021 Canterbury Park live racing meet is Tuesday, May 18!  That means it’s time to look back at the 2020 Canterbury Park live meet from a statistical standpoint and use that data to help us better predict the outcomes of the 2021 Canterbury Park races.

Canterbury Park is continuing its 50-cent 10% takeout Pick 5 wager this year, and is also adding a $1 Pick 6 with a 10% takeout.  Both of these wagers are fan-friendly, offering the lowest takeout in the country!  It will pay to get involved in these wagers at Canterbury Park!

Here’s a look at some final statistics for the thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park in 2020, as we prepare to unlock the 2021 Canterbury Park handicapping puzzle.  Good luck in 2021!

The Favorite

The public correctly selected the winner 39% of the time in all thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park last year.  That is 2-percentage points above the national average for winning favorites at all racetracks in North America in 2020, and matches how favorites fared at Canterbury Park in 2019.  The most formful races last year were the races for maiden claimers, which produced winning favorites 49% of the time (37/76).  Despite the high percentage of winning favorites in this category, betting them all still produced a 2% net loss.  This has been a trend that has held up well the past several years.  A lot of favorites seem to get their picture taken in the maiden claiming ranks at Canterbury Park.  Conversely, the maiden special weight races proved to be elusive to the betting public last year, as only 30% of the favorites in that category prevailed.  Let’s see if that trend carries forward to 2021.

 The Odds

Last year, heavy favorites that were bet down to 7/5 odds or lower won 115 races out of 253 attempts.  That’s a 45%-win rate, but it also shows that these “locks” lost more often than they won.  In fact, betting these heavy favorites to place or show would have been easier on the bankroll than betting them to win.  The ROI on win bets for these runners was $0.85 per dollar, whereas the place ROI was $0.99 and show was $0.96.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were 16 winners at 20-1 odds or higher last year, but over 700 runners went to post at those high odds.  Betting them all would have resulted in a 28% loss to the bankroll, despite catching a 54-1 winner in there.  And longshot betting to place and show was even worse, with place showing a 47% loss and show returning a loss of 44%.  Ouch!  Horseplayers who prefer place and show betting would be better served to concentrate on the lower priced horses to find their plays.

Historically, Canterbury Park has not been a “longshot” paradise, and last year 80% of the thoroughbred races were won by horses at odds below 6-1.

The “sweet spot” for win betting last year was the 6-1/7-1 odds range.  That range netted a loss of only 5% for the 320 runners if you played them all.  Of the horses in that odds-range, 10% emerged victorious.

 The Jockeys

Ry Eikleberry won the riding title at Canterbury Park last year as he led all jockeys with 77 wins.  Francisco Arrieta finished second with 71 wins and Alonso Quinonez was third with 45 wins.

Ry Eikleberry

Indications are that Arrieta will not be riding at Canterbury Park this summer, so Ry appears to be heavily favored to repeat as leading rider in 2021.  Since Eikleberry is such a well-known rider at Canterbury, his mounts always attract a lot of attention from the public.  Eikleberry won with 24% of his mounts last year, and returned 81 cents on the dollar overall.   He was solid with favorites (45% winners) and he showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes (ROI = $1.14) and turf sprints (ROI = $1.03).  (Interestingly enough, in 2019 Eikleberry showed a flat bet profit in dirt sprints and turf routes so go figure…).  Eikleberry was only 1/57 with horses going off at 8-1 odds and above, and in fact his highest paying winner last year paid only $18.00.

Alonso Quinonez had a solid year at Canterbury Park last year, finishing third in the overall standings with 45 wins.  “Q” was very horseplayer friendly as his overall ROI was $0.95 and he showed a flat bet profit in several categories.  He won with 50% of his favorites (19/38 ROI $1.06) and also showed a flat bet profit with longshots.  In fact, he brought home 3 winners last year that paid over $40.00, including a 46-1 winner on July 2 named Lilfeatheredindian who was trained by Nevada Litfin.  Quinonez was 6/113 with horses at 8-1 and higher, resulting in an ROI of $1.31 with the big longshots.  He also showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes (ROI = $1.50) and turf sprints (ROI = $1.58).  As Quinonez continues to have success, these numbers will likely drop as the public catches on.  However, it is worth pointing out what a strong meet he had at Canterbury Park for the bettors in 2020.

On the other end of the spectrum, the “flaming wallet” award went to Jareth Loveberry, who’s mounts at Canterbury Park returned only 44 cents on the dollar in 2020.  Loveberry is currently riding successfully at Arlington Park in 2021.

The Trainers

For the past several years, McLean Robertson and Robertino Diodoro have battled it out for leading trainer honors at Canterbury Park.  However, last year we had a new leading trainer Joel Berndt, who ended up winning the 2020 Canterbury training title pretty comfortably over Mac Robertson by a total of 45 wins to 36 wins.

Joel Berndt finished the 2020 Canterbury Park meet with 45 winners from 201 starts with an

Joel Berndt

ROI of $0.86.  Berndt runners were very reliable as the favorite (46% winners) and his best categories were claiming races (ROI = $1.06) and maiden special weight races (ROI = $1.40).  The Berndt horses not taking any action on the tote board struggled, winning only once at over 8-1 from 41 tries.  Berndt was pretty consistent with both dirt and turf runners, with turf routers being his best category (32% winners and ROI = $1.01).  Joel also had a very good meet with his two-year-old runners last year, winning 5 races from 15 starters (ROI = $1.25).  Even though the secret is out on Joel Berndt at Canterbury Park, I expect another strong season from this barn in 2021.

Mac Robertson has been a dominant presence on the trainer standings at Canterbury Park for the past twenty years.  He has some pretty consistent results over time, typically doing very well in the higher-level Allowance and Stakes races, especially for Minnesota breds.  He often excels with his two-year-old runners.  He is equally sharp on both the dirt and the turf.  Last year turned out to an atypical year for the Robertson barn as none of the prior trends really held up and his win percentage dipped below 20%.  I would expect an improved performance from this barn in 2021, and a return to the top of the trainer standings would be no surprise.

Justin Evans is bringing horses to Canterbury Park this summer so that deserves a mention here.  Evans was last at Canterbury Park in 2008 when he challenged for the trainer title with Jamie Ness and Mac Robertson.  Over the past decade, he has continued to win a high percentage of races at various tracks in Arizona and New Mexico.  A look at Evans past year shows him with a win percentage of 30% from 350 starters.  His bread and butter is dirt sprint racing where he is showing a flat bet profit of $1.07 from 210 starters (33% winners).  In short, if Evans comes into Canterbury in a serious way, he’s going to have a strong influence and is likely to occupy a top 5 spot in the trainer standings.  Also of note, leading rider Ry Eikleberry has ridden for Evans regularly in his off-seasons from Canterbury Park down in Arizona and New Mexico.

Honorable mentions go to Tony Rengstorf and Francisco Bravo who both had 23 wins at Canterbury Park in 2020 and posted positive ROIs of $1.28 and $1.31, respectively.  This is the second consecutive year that Rengstorf has posted a positive ROI at Canterbury Park, an outstanding feat.  Keep your eye on these two trainers as they continue to reward their backers with big mutuel payouts.

The “flaming wallet” award went to Tim Padilla, with an ROI last year of 0.42.  While he was very good with favorites (8/17 and ROI $1.05), he was 0/40 at 8-1 and higher last year at Canterbury Park.

Best of luck playing the 2021 live racing meet at Canterbury Park!