Canterbury Park Track Profile (4/29/2008)

by The Oracle
There are many handicapping factors to consider when evaluating a horse race and selecting win candidates. The track profile is one of those factors, as it can help us to narrow down our contender group and focus on the horse whose running style most closely fits the track profile. The following analysis is based on races run at Canterbury Park over the past four summers. Races are broken down into three categories: dirt sprints, dirt routes and turf routes.
Dirt Sprints: Early speed has been a dominant factor in sprint races at Canterbury Park over the past four seasons. In a sample size of 815 sprints, the winner was on or within 1 length of the lead at the first call 52% of the time, and on or within 1 length of the lead at the second call 59% of the time. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths back at the first call only 14% of the time, and more than 5 lengths back at the second call only 12% of the time. Deep closers have been at a severe disadvantage in sprints in previous years.
There has been a slight post position bias towards the middle post positions in sprints, as 53% of the races have been won from post positions 4-7 since 2004, compared to 35% winners from post positions 1-3.
Dirt Routes: The surface has played pretty evenly for dirt routes over the past four seasons, as the numbers don’t indicate a long-term track bias at the route distance. In a sample size of 314 dirt routes, the winner was on or within 1 length of the lead at the first call 36% of the time, and on or within 1 length of the lead at the second call 60% of the time. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths back at the first call 25% of the time, and more than 5 lengths back at the second call only 10% of the time. This data suggests that while horses haven’t needed blazing early speed to win route races here, they do need to make up ground and be right in contention by the second call (6f) of the race. The mid-race move has been effective at this distance in the past.
Post positions 1-3 have won 44% of the route races, and post positions 4-7 have also won 44% of the route races since 2004. A slight edge to the inside posts in this category, but nothing dramatic.
Turf Routes: The historical track profile for turf routes at Canterbury Park favors closers. Early speed is NOT an advantage on the turf. A sample size of 132 turf routes run since 2004 show the winner on or within 1 length of the lead at the first call only 22% of the time, and on or within 1 length of the lead at the second call 36% of the time. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths back at the first call 36% of the time, and more than 5 lengths back at the second call 14% of the time. Again, a mid-race move fits the winning profile on the turf. Faint-hearted front-runners that are able to carry their speed on the main track will not succeed on the turf course. Only the strongest front running horses can wire the field on the turf.
Post positions 1-3 have won 31% of the turf routes since 2004, and posts 4-7 have won 51% of the turf routes, a slight post position advantage to the middle posts.
The Bottom Line: Keep your eye on where the winners are coming from at all distances and surfaces. Look for trends that either match the historical profile or contradict it. Either way, don’t fight the bias! Incorporate the track profile into your handicapping and select more winners! Good luck in 2008!

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