by The Oracle
Opening day of the 2023 Canterbury Park live racing meet is Saturday, May 27! That means it’s time to look back at the 2022 Canterbury Park live meet from a statistical standpoint and use that data to help us better predict the outcomes of the 2023 Canterbury Park races.
Canterbury Park offers many low-takeout wagers, including the Pick 4, Pick 5 and a brand-new Turf Pick 3 that will be offered on Wednesday nights. 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 2022, as we prepare to unlock the 2023 Canterbury Park handicapping puzzle. Good luck in 2023!
The public correctly selected the winner 41% of the time in all thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park last year. That is 3-percentage points above the national average for winning favorites at all racetracks in North America in 2022, and equal to how favorites fared at Canterbury Park in 2021. All categories of races, including turf, dirt, sprint, route, maiden, claiming, and allowance races showed favorites winning between 39% and 43% of the time. This varied quite a bit from previous years, when the turf races had a much lower percentage of winning favorites than dirt races. Canterbury is expected to put a greater emphasis on turf racing this year, so it will be interesting to see if that trend reverts to the norm. Last year, early speed on the turf did remarkably well in comparison to other turf racing around the country. That may have contributed to the much higher win percentage for favorites on turf (43%) than in previous years.
Last year, heavy favorites that were bet down to 7/5 odds or lower won 150 races out of 294 attempts. That’s a 51%-win rate, and it shows that the public was pretty sharp when betting these heavy
favorites. The ROI on win bets for these runners was $0.95 per dollar, whereas the place and show ROI both checked on at $0.93. These heavy favorites proved last year that they were tough to ignore in both horizontal and vertical wagers.
On the other end of the spectrum, there were 19 winners at 20-1 odds or higher last year, but nearly 800 runners went to post at those high odds. Betting them all would have resulted in a 22% loss to the bankroll, despite catching an 80-1 winner in the sample. And longshot betting to place and show was even worse, with place showing a 47% loss and show returning a loss of 49%. 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. That has proven to be consistent year after year.
Harry Hernandez won the riding title at Canterbury Park last year as he led all jockeys with 78 wins. Luis Fuentes, not riding at Canterbury currently, finished second with 50 wins and Lindey Wade was third with 47 wins.
Hernandez won the jockey title by a wide margin last year, so it’s logical to think he’s the big favorite to repeat as leading rider again in 2023. But leading riders always attract a lot of attention from the public from a wagering perspective, and Hernandez was only returning 78 cents on the dollar despite winning with 20% of his mounts. His best category was with two-year olds, where he was 7/22 (32% winners), showing a flat bet profit of $1.41 for every dollar wagered. His mounts were to be avoided if they weren’t taking any wagering action, as he was only 3/77 at 8-1 or higher ($0.44 ROI), with his longest priced winner of the meet checking in at $26.
Oftentimes it pays to follow the jockeys a bit further down the standings as they can click with a longshot or two. Last year, riders fitting that bill were Ezekiel Lara (11% wins, $1.09 ROI) and Jermaine Bridgmohan (15% wins, $0.97 ROI). Both of these riders outperformed the takeout by a substantial margin and gave backers their money’s worth.
Last year, MacLean Robertson and Joel Berndt finished in a dead heat for the trainer title with 61 wins each. Robertson won with 20% of his starters, while Berndt found the winners circle with 31% of his runners. Expect more of the same this year, as Robertson has been a fixture at or near the top of the Canterbury Park trainer standings for the past two decades, while Berndt won the title in 2021, and again last year.
Joel Berndt finished the 2022 Canterbury Park meet with 61 winners from 195 starts with an ROI of $0.97. Berndt runners were virtually unstoppable as the favorite (57% winners and ROI $1.22) and his best categories were Allowance/Stakes races (ROI = $1.12), dirt routes (ROI $1.34) and turf routes (ROI = $1.19). The Berndt horses not taking any action on the tote board struggled, winning only once at over 8-1 from 28 tries.
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. Unfortunately, from a wagering perspective, his runners offer very little value on the tote board. His ROI in 2022 in most categories was hovering around 70 cents on the dollar.
As it is with jockeys, following trainers a bit lower in the standings is where the money may be found. Last year, David Van Winkle showed a positive ROI of $1.28 while finishing tenth in the standings with 15 wins.
Best of luck playing the 2023 live racing meet at Canterbury Park!
Bruce Meyer, known as The Oracle, is seven-time Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year. He plays horses on a daily basis using database analysis.