The Oracle Provides Insight

By The Oracle

The 2019 live racing season is upon us!  Every year brings a unique excitement for the season to come, as horses arrive from all parts of the country.  The ever-challenging handicapping puzzle brings these horses together, and it’s up to us to predict what will happen once the gates open.

Here’s a look at some final statistics for the thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park in 2018, as we prepare to unlock the 2019 Canterbury Park handicapping puzzle.  Good luck in 2019!

The Favorite

The public correctly selected the winner 36% of the time in all thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park last year.  That is 1-percentage point below the national average for winning favorites at all racetracks in North America in 2018, and is consistent with how favorites fared at Canterbury Park in 2017.  The most formful races last year were the races for 2-year-olds, which produced winning favorites 47% of the time (15/32).  Conversely, the claiming races proved to be elusive to the betting public last year, as only 32% of the favorites prevailed.

The Odds

Last year, heavy favorites that were bet down to 7/5 odds or lower won 141 races out of 314 attempts.  That’s a 45% win rate, but it also shows that these “locks” lost more often than they won.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were 14 winners at 20-1 odds or higher last year, but nearly 1,000 runners went to post at those high odds.  Historically, Canterbury Park has not been a “longshot” paradise, and last year 78% of the thoroughbred races were won by horses at odds below 6-1.

The Jockeys

Ry Eikleberry and Orlando Mojica battled it out for the riding title last year, with Eikleberry prevailing 87 to 79.

Despite the win total, Eikleberry was not a profitable jockey to wager blindly on last year, as his mounts only returned $0.70 on the dollar.  He was solid with favorites though, (42% winners) and he showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes with a 27% win rate and an ROI of $1.05 for every dollar wagered.

Orlando Mojica had a slightly better ROI of $0.78 with his mounts.  His most profitable category was in turf sprints (<1 mile) where he won 25% of the time with a positive ROI of $1.26 for every dollar wagered.

Neither Eikleberry nor Mojica were known as longshot riders last year.  Combined, they were 5 for 190 with an ROI hovering around $0.30 on the dollar.

The Trainers

McLean Robertson and Robertino Diodoro tied for the top trainer honors last year with 57 wins.  Both trainers have their strengths which tend to carry over from year to year.

Mac Robertson won with 24% of his starters last year, including 38% of the time his horses were favored.  Robertson showed a flat bet profit in turf routes, and easily beat the takeout in State-bred races and maiden special weight races.  Historically, Robertson has not been one to win with longshots at Canterbury Park, as he was only 4% with horses off at 8-1 and higher last year and those plays returned only $0.34 for every dollar wagered.  Robertson is also campaigning Amy’s Challenge, who was voted the Canterbury Park Horse of the Meet in 2017, and is currently one of the fastest female sprinters in the country.  Expect another strong performance by Robertson in 2019, as he looms the favorite to repeat as leading trainer once again.

Robertino Diodoro won with 23% of his starters last year, but only won with 28% of his horses that went to post as the favorite.  Diodoro’s main game is claiming races and that is where he is the most dangerous.  He won with 29% of his claimers and maiden claimers last year, showing a flat bet profit in both categories.  Diodoro’s highest price winner last year was 9-1, so he is another trainer not prone to connect with longshots.  Expect him to be near the top of the trainer standings throughout the season.

Good luck playing the 2019 live racing meet at Canterbury Park!

Canterbury Stats and Trends

Temperatures have dropped just a little bit, but early speed is still money on the Canterbury main track. The track bias for the last month shows dirt sprints yielding wire to wire winners at a 45% clip, which is unchanged from the previous sample. Wire to wire winners in dirt routes have dropped from 45% to a 32% win rate, and turf races are slightly up, yielding 28% front running winners over the past month. All these numbers are well above national averages!

Speed continues to dominate, especially in dirt sprints.

The Favorite

Favorites are holding steady, finding the winners circle 43% of the time in thoroughbred races with an ROI of $0.96 for every dollar wagered. Dirt sprints continue to provide the highest percentage of winning favorites (47%, ROI $1.00) although the numbers are dropping slightly. Dirt routes are next at 39% and $0.93 and these numbers are also down from the previous sample. Turf races are yielding 33% winning favorites and $0.87 return on every dollar wagered, which is very similar to previous figures.

The win percentage of favorites was bound to drop off as they were extremely high for the first half of the meet. They continue to be well above normal win percentages for favorites.

The Odds: A Further Breakdown

We already know that favorites have been winning 43% of the races at Canterbury Park this summer. Here is some additional data regarding final odds of winning horses at Canterbury for the 2012 meet. In addition to favorites doing well, it is also true that extreme longshots have done very poorly.

• Approximately two-thirds of the races have won by horses paying 3-1 or less.

• Only 16 winners (<5%) have paid 10-1 odds or higher (10 main track and 6 turf).

• 45% of the starters go off at 10-1 or higher odds and they represent less than 5% of the winners.

• 23% of the starters go off at 20-1 or higher odds and they represent less than 1% of the winners.

• Horses at or above 20-1 are a combined 1 for 466 on the main track.

• Horses at or above 10-1 in dirt routes are a combined 2 for 181.

It is worth noting that what HAS happened in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that it will continue to happen in the future. A significant change in the way the track is playing could produce some crazy longshot results. And recently there was a 50-1 winner on the turf course that may have been a reasonable contender in some people’s minds. But I think it’s important to know that we have only had a 10-1 or higher winner about once every three racing days on average in 2012. Plan accordingly!

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