Main Track Training Begins

Main TrackNow that the snow has finally melted, the track crew has been feverishly pepping the main oval for use on Friday. The training track opened Wednesday mid-morning and traffic has been steady.

Roughly 140 horses are on site now with major loads expected to arrive this weekend. Hawthorne wraps up their spring meet Sunday and then the Chicago contingent, including the leading owner in the country Midwest Thoroughbreds, will begin to arrive.

Jockey agent Richard Grunder will handle business for Ry Eikleberry, fresh off a Sunland Park riding title, and Giovanni Franco, currently the leading pilot at Turf Paradise.

Demand for stall space is high. Some trainers were put on hold and none got the total number they asked for. It would be great to have 2,600 stalls at Canterbury but the fact is there are slightly less than 1,600 and they need to be filled with useful horses that fit the program here and are ready to run. It takes at least 10 to 12 weeks to get a horse ready to race so those that have been wandering around a pasture since September are light years from being ready. Demand for space is a good problem to have but it also means that some things need to change from an owner’s perspective.

Road to Kentucky Contest

Just two weekly contests remain in the 2013 Road to Kentucky Contest and both involve Churchill Downs.

The Derby Trial is Saturday. Not really a Derby prep but a good reason to hold a free contest. Twilight racing at Churchill with a 5pm first post. Entry cards will be available throughout the day however.

The final contest is of course the Derby Day card and that begins next Saturday at 9:30am.

Even though no fillies are expected to run for the roses, a glance at the Road to Kentucky Overall Leader Board shows distaff dominance. The top four players are female. I don’t have the stats but I would say women are outnumbered by a wide margin. Jessica Rau has a nearly 2,000 point lead over Linda Hernandez who is just in front of Nancy Sobkowiak and Heidi Snow. While Rau is not home and cooled out, she is in the driver’s seat for the trip to the National Handicapping Championship next January.

Advance wagering on the Derby and undercard begins the morning of Friday, May 3.

If you have a Derby horse already feel free to share it with the readers via a comment.

Week 2 in Review (Stats & Trends)

The skies didn’t cooperate over Memorial weekend, as rains forced all the racing action onto the main track. Uncertain track conditions didn’t stop the public from being sharp all four days, as only five winners paid 5-1 or above and 8-1 was the biggest price of the weekend. The $1 Pick 4 payoffs ranged from $42.70 to $1,415.30, and all eight Pick 4 returns paid above the win parlays for the sequence. The overlays ranged from 25% to 269% as the Pick 4 continues to be an excellent bet with this year’s reduced takeout of 14%.

The Track Bias

The Canterbury track has been strongly favoring speed, especially in dirt sprints over a fast track. So far, in 30 fast track sprints run at 5.5 or 6 furlongs, 16 of those races were won in wire to wire fashion. Additionally, 27 of the 30 winners were running in the top 3 at the first call of the race (2 furlong mark). Speed is dominating! Compare those numbers to the national average for wire to wire sprint winners (25%) and it’s easy to see the track bias that has materialized over the first two weeks. It’s worth paying attention to each and every night.

Winners Previous Start

Here are the updated numbers for the major tracks the winning horses shipped from (minimum 10 starts), and how they are doing over the first two weeks:

Prairie Meadows: 12 winners from 56 starters. ROI 0.85

Hawthorne: 10 winners from 31 starters. ROI 1.01

Fonner Park: 5 winners from 40 starters. ROI 0.65

Turf Paradise: 5 winners from 45 starters. ROI 0.42

Canterbury Park: 5 winners from 95 starters. ROI 0.41

Oaklawn Park: 4 winners from 21 starters. ROI 1.27

Tampa Bay Downs: 4 winners from 21 starters. ROI 0.61

Remington Park: 3 winners from 11 starters. ROI 1.34

Horses making their previous starts at Canterbury Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Fonner Park and Turf Paradise are underperforming so far with regard to ROI.

Slow Starting Stats

The cold stats from week one continued in week two. First time starters are now 0 for 17, horses running on first time Lasix are 0 for 20, and horses with Morning Line odds of 10-1 and higher are now 1 for 87 for the 2012 meet.

Maiden Chalk

One final note for this week: There have been 14 maiden races run so far totaling 103 horses. Seventy six horses have had off odds of 7/2 or greater, and they are 0 for 72. All fourteen winners have paid 3-1 or lower. As I mentioned in the 2012 preview, maiden races at Canterbury are a good place to look for singles in the Pick 4 wager.

Good luck next week!

This blog was written by Canterbury Regular “The Oracle”. The Oracle is a longtime Minnesota race fan that has handicapped Canterbury’s races religiously for more than 20 years. He writes about handicapping and statistical trends in Canterbury’s races.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography