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April 29

Nominations Close For Shot of Gold Stakes
The opening day feature is the $50,000 Shot of Gold Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs. The racing office received 28 nominations. The entire list and past performances is available online.
A look at Canterbury using Thoroughbred Sports Network’s Track Stats
Thoroughbred Sports Network ( produces a number of handicapper friendly statistical compilations including Track Stats, a track specific set of data detailing trainers, jockeys, shippers, and track bias.
Knowing what a trainer does well and, for that matter, where a trainer lacks expertise can can lead to a score. Track Stats provides trainer statistics for certain situations such as layoffs, debuts, first and second off the claim, etc. Let’s look at a few examples.
Trainer James Cook has a relatively small sample size, just 74 local starts through last year, but in both 2006 and 2007 at Canterbury he returned a flat bet profit on distance switches, route to sprint or vice versa.
Justin Evans, a high percentage claiming trainer, has shown a flat bet profit over the past two CBY seasons with horses making their first or second start after being claimed. He also has done very well with one level class droppers (47% with a flat bet profit).
Everyone knows that Jamie Ness has a keen eye for a claim and can turn a horse around in a hurry. His first off the claim stats, 33% and a positive return on investment over three seasons, are proof. Finding situations where high percentage barns don’t perform is crucial as they are often over bet regardless of the circumstances. Ness has never won with a debut runner at Canterbury. I likely wouldn’t bet a firster from his barn until he does. Keep in mind that stats don’t tell the whole story. Perhaps Ness’s young stock just hasn’t been very good. If he has an infusion of new owners with precocious babies the numbers could reverse in a heartbeat. Be ready to change and adapt when faced with new facts and trends.
High percentage trainers like Mac Robertson often have great numbers in most categories. No matter how good a trainer is however, it is almost unheard of to find a situation where they win more races than they lose. A horse that looks great on paper is obvious to all and is going to be a short price. Short prices in the long run produce pari-mutuel disaster. A situation where Robertson has done well and produced positive numbers is second start off a layoff. These runners don’t always look super on paper but can surprise second start off the shelf.
These are but a few of the trainer angles that we will see played out again this summer at Canterbury. Having track specific data like Track Stats gives you an edge.
Shipper statistics are also important as they point to relative class. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but horses that most recently ran at Oaklawn Park do very well in their first Shakopee start. No matter how bad the form, take a careful look at all Oaklawn shippers. Each of the past two seasons there has been at least one Oaklawn shipper that has popped at big odds. Both years show a profit had you bet on every Oaklawn shipper. The flip side is Fonner Park. In 2006, Fonner shippers won 8% of their first local starts and in 2007 it was worse, just 3%. Both years showed a flat bet loss.
Post time favorites have done very well at Canterbury the past two years. In 2006 they hit at a 38% rate and last year at a 40% rate. They still lose more than they win but chalk must be taken seriously. One category, maiden claimers, produced 46% winners in 2007 and 80% in the money. The prior year those numbers were just slightly lower. Trifecta and superfecta players need to keep this in mind.
A new season could of course bring changes but trainers are creatures of habit and many simply excel in a given situation. Keep an eye on developing trends but also know where trainers historically do their best work.