Identifying a Track Bias

Opening DayIdentifying track bias is a very tricky thing. Deciding if a low-priced, inside-traveling, wire-to-wire winner benefited from a rail bias can be very subjective. To get to the heart of it, you really need to have handicapped the race and determined the likely pace scenario. If you are able to identify a trend or bias, it can be very lucrative. This was the case when spotting Sputey’s Cabin as the live longshot of the day on June 2nd.

Sputey’s Cabin had run against an inside bias on opening night. The track was sloppy and no one was doing much on the inside. While some of the winners had won near the lead, they were low priced and were likely to have won from anywhere. The exotics fillers were all coming from far back and on the outside part of the track. Sputey’s Cabin pressed a difficult pace from the rail and hung in until very late and faded slightly to finish 4th beaten only 7 lengths at 50-1 in the Lady Slipper. She was deserving of a big chance when she came back on June 2nd when she drew an inside post on a day that saw the first four races won by rail speed. She went wire-to-wire and hung in gamely to win at nearly 11-1.

There are a couple of runners who ran well against the bias that are running back on Thursday. Al Musaddad in the 8th race is coming off a race in which he closed right up the rail. While closers fared decently on that day, the rail was absolutely dead. He deserves a bump up. Jantzesfancyfriend was 5 wide the entire race on a day that the inside part of the track was golden. He is 4-1 in the 9th race. Ridgeofstone, in race 10, is 6-1 and might deserve a look after she set the pace on a turf course that was heavily slanted towards deep, outside closers. None of these runners should be played solely on the fact that they ran against a bias last time out, but be given additional credit for their effort.

Below is the track bias chart (click to enlarge) from the eyes of this handicapper. It might be worthwhile to refer to this chart this weekend as we are starting to see runners come back from race days where the bias was significant.

Track Bias

This blog was written by Track Phantom, a contributing handicapper for the Del Mar and Santa Anita websites. He has offered public analysis for Canterbury for 15 years and has closely followed Minnesota racing since he first visited the track in 1986. He was in person for most live races from 1986 through 2003 (when he relocated to Austin, TX). His analysis, information and blog can be found at www.trackphantom.com.

Week in Review: Canchari Heats Up

With nine days of live racing remaining in the 2012 season, favorites are still winning 44% overall in thoroughbred races with an ROI of $0.98 for every dollar wagered. Favorites in dirt sprints are winning 48% of the time (ROI $1.02), favorites in dirt routes are winning 43% (ROI $0.98) and favorites on the turf are winning 33% (ROI $0.87).

Spotlight: Alex Canchari

Last week was quite the wild ride for jockey Alex Canchari. In a season dominated by favorites and low-priced winners, Canchari scored with two huge bombs and finished in the money with several others. Here are the highlights from Canchari’s fantastic week:

Thursday

• Rajablou (Place at 23-1) – Rajablou had a 2 for 28 career record and was 0 for 6 on the turf, although he did show three in-the-money turf finishes. Trained by Coty Rosin, Rajablou grabbed the early lead but was passed in deep stretch by 5-1 Grandpa George. Rajablou paid $17.60 to place and $12.80 to show.

Friday

• Andrea’s Josie (Place at 20-1) – Andrea’s Josie had four prior turf races with her best finish being sixth, beaten four lengths. Canchari kept her near the lead and she ran a game second, beaten a length by the 3/2 favorite Theater of Dreams, but six clear of the third place horse. Andrea’s Josie paid $13.40 to place and $8.20 to show.

• Ming Glo (Win at 27-1) – The very next race, Canchari guided Ming Glo to a one length victory at 27-1 on the turf. Ming Glo, an 8-year-old gelding with a 1 for 59 career record and 0 for 15 turf record, was selected on the Friday pre race show by media personality and Canterbury handicapper Mike Gelfand. Mike correctly pointed out that Ming Glo had competitive turf figures and was a contender in this field. Ming Glo was switching back to his preferred surface after running in several dirt sprints at Prairie Meadows. Ming Glo paid $57.20 to win, $18.80 to place and $6.00 to show.

Saturday

• Third Rail (Win at 6-1) – Third rail was exiting a third place finish, beaten ¾ of a length at the same distance but was stepping up in class to a higher claiming price. The public sent him off as the fourth choice in an eight horse field and the believers were rewarded. Third Rail paid $15.60 to win, $7.20 to place and $4.80 to show.

• Cherryful Lady (Place at 19-1) – Cherryful Lady had been beaten by a combined 55 lengths in her prior three starts. Her last race was a 19 length defeat on the turf at odds of 40-1. So the public understandably stayed away from this filly even though she had won a dirt sprint earlier in the meet at 16-1. Canchari made a bold, mid race move on Cherryful Lady but came up a length short behind front running 4-1 winner Mane Slick. Cherryful Lady paid $18.00 to place and $7.20 to show.

Sunday

• Forest Sunrise (Win at 29-1) – This 8-year-old gelding was lightly raced with a solid overall record of 4 wins from 22 lifetime starts. But his last three races he had been well beaten despite showing pretty good early speed. Canchari took this horse right to the front and he proved to be very game on the front end, holding on for a 1 length victory. Forest Sunrise paid $60.20 to win, $25.00 to place and $8.40 to show.

Congratulations if you were holding winning tickets on any of the Canchari longshots from last week! And take a close look at his mounts for the remainder of the meet, perhaps his wild ride will continue.

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

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

Canterbury Trends & Statistics

The hot, humid summer continues and the Canterbury main track has consistently favored pure front-runners all year. The track bias for the last month shows dirt sprints and routes yielding wire-to-wire winners at a 45% clip, which is about double the national average. Even turf races are yielding 25% front running winners, which is about 10 percentage points above the national average.

The bottom line: Speed is dominant at all distances on the main track.

The Favorite

Favorites are currently winning at a 43% clip in thoroughbred races with an ROI of $0.98 for every dollar wagered. For much of the meet, the favorite was generating a flat bet profit but it has now slipped just under the breakeven point. Dirt sprints are the most chalk friendly races, with a 49% favorite win rate and an ROI of $1.04. Dirt routes are next at 46% and $0.95. Turf races are tougher to predict, yielding 32% winning favorites and $0.86 return on every dollar wagered. Not a surprise at all.

Jockey Spotlight: Lori Keith

Lori Keith has quietly moved into third place in the jockey standings with 23 wins from 126 starters, an 18% win rate. More impressively, she has compiled a flat bet profit of $1.02 for every dollar wagered on her horses so far this summer.

She has been a money rider on the turf this summer, winning 6 of 12 turf sprints (less than 1 mile) with an ROI of $2.83 for every dollar wagered. Her record in turf routes is 3 for 21, but one winner was a $40 bomb so her ROI is still $1.54 at this distance.

Take a close look at her horses when she rides for the Vic Hanson barn or the Michael Biehler barn as 20 of her 23 wins have been for one of these two barns. For Hanson, she has 10 wins from 52 starters for an ROI of $1.34. For Biehler, she has 10 wins from 34 starters for an ROI of $1.07.

From a wagering perspective, she’s definitely been giving her supporters their money’s worth!

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

Week 5 in Review (Stats and Trends)

Weather remained a factor at Canterbury Park as we faced an off track last Thursday and Sunday. However, the public hasn’t blinked as favorites continue a dominating trend of 46% winners and a flat bet profit with favorites of 6% in thoroughbred races.

Despite the high percentage of winning favorites, the Pick 4 paid over $300 for a dollar wager in five of the eight Pick 4 sequences last week. Two of those sequences paid over $1,200 as Pick 4 overlays continue to be the rule, not the exception.

The Track Bias

Front-runners didn’t fare quite as well last week at 5.5 and 6 furlongs due to the off track. The off track is producing wire to wire winners in sprints of 5.5 and 6 furlongs at a national average of 25%. Wire to wire winners at those distances over a fast track are holding very strongly at about 40%.

Trainer Spotlight: Mac Robertson

After a slow stat in May where Robertson only won with 1 of his first 10 starters, Mac has caught fire in June with a 12 for 29 run. Entering the week, he was tied for the lead in the trainer standings with 13 wins from 39 starters and his starters have generated a flat bet profit of 15%. Robertson has been the leading trainer for several years running, so his success is certainly no surprise. He is pretty strong in all categories and it’s pretty tough to find a useful pattern to play against him.

Robertson is a solid 7 for 17 with the favorite (41%) but he shows a slight flat bet loss of 5% in that category. He is batting an outstanding 56% in turf routes (5 for 9) and like last year, that’s where the wagering profits can be found.

It is interesting to note that all of his winners so far this meet have been with 3 or 4-year-old horses. He is 13 for 29 with those ages, and 0 for 10 with his five and six-year-old runners. The sample size may be too small to be meaningful but there it is. Also, Robertson has historically been very strong with two-year-olds so look out when he starts sending his maiden two-year-olds to the track.

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

Week 5 in Review (Stats and Trends)

Weather remained a factor at Canterbury Park as we faced an off track last Thursday and Sunday. However, the public hasn’t blinked as favorites continue a dominating trend of 46% winners and a flat bet profit with favorites of 6% in thoroughbred races.

Despite the high percentage of winning favorites, the Pick 4 paid over $300 for a dollar wager in five of the eight Pick 4 sequences last week. Two of those sequences paid over $1,200 as Pick 4 overlays continue to be the rule, not the exception.

The Track Bias

Front-runners didn’t fare quite as well last week at 5.5 and 6 furlongs due to the off track. The off track is producing wire to wire winners in sprints of 5.5 and 6 furlongs at a national average of 25%. Wire to wire winners at those distances over a fast track are holding very strongly at about 40%.

Trainer Spotlight: Mac Robertson

After a slow stat in May where Robertson only won with 1 of his first 10 starters, Mac has caught fire in June with a 12 for 29 run. Entering the week, he was tied for the lead in the trainer standings with 13 wins from 39 starters and his starters have generated a flat bet profit of 15%. Robertson has been the leading trainer for several years running, so his success is certainly no surprise. He is pretty strong in all categories and it’s pretty tough to find a useful pattern to play against him.

Robertson is a solid 7 for 17 with the favorite (41%) but he shows a slight flat bet loss of 5% in that category. He is batting an outstanding 56% in turf routes (5 for 9) and like last year, that’s where the wagering profits can be found.

It is interesting to note that all of his winners so far this meet have been with 3 or 4-year-old horses. He is 13 for 29 with those ages, and 0 for 10 with his five and six-year-old runners. The sample size may be too small to be meaningful but there it is. Also, Robertson has historically been very strong with two-year-olds so look out when he starts sending his maiden two-year-olds to the track.

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

Week 4 in Review (Stats & Trends)

Congratulations to jockey Tanner Riggs for winning the first five races on Friday night! The “all Tanner” early Pick 4 returned $105.50 for a dollar wager. Tanner is currently leading the jockey standings and is a great addition to the jockey colony this year.

The Pick 4 continues to be an excellent value play. This past week there were two $1 Pick 4 payoffs over $1,000 on Saturday and the longest priced horse in either sequence was only 6-1. In fact, the late Pick 4 on Saturday returned $1,337.10 for a dollar wager with the winning odds of 5-1, 4-1, 3-1 and 7/5. The Pick 4 paid more than three times what the win parlay for the sequence would have paid.

The Track Bias

No significant change in the track bias as horses are still going gate to wire in about 45% of the sprint races. That’s nearly twice the national average. It’s critical to be forwardly placed in sprints and many horses can be eliminated from your contender group with this one angle. As Dark Star always said, “Find the Speed”.

Favorites

Favorites at Canterbury continue to outperform the national average by about ten percentage points. Currently, favorites are winning at a 43% rate with about a breakeven ROI. The public has been especially sharp in maiden claiming and maiden special weight races, correctly selecting the winner 64% and 54% of the time, respectively.

The public has had the most trouble predicting the winner in Allowance and Stakes races with only 7 favorites winning from 28 races (25%).

How can you use this information? My suggestion would be to play Pick 4’s and isolate singles or narrow contender groups in the maiden races and go a bit deeper in the other races. The Pick 4 can still pay nicely if a favorite or two win during the sequence. We just need one good price.

Trainer Spotlight: Michael Biehler

Let’s take a closer look at one of the leading trainers so far this meet. Michael Biehler is off to a hot start with 10 winners from his first 30 starters and a flat bet profitable ROI of $1.08. His pattern last year was to excel with favorites and runners that were live on the tote board. This year is also following that pattern as he is 7 for 10 with the favorite (ROI $1.65) and 9 for 15 at odds of 5/2 and lower (ROI $1.59). He is also 8 for 18 in dirt sprints (ROI $1.38) so pay close attention to those bet-down sprinters.

Continuing the trend from last year, Biehler horses at 7/2 odds and above are only 1 for 15 at Canterbury this year and only 3 for 88 over the past year at Canterbury Park. But he has had some success with higher priced horses at other tracks, winning about 10% of the time with runners between 7/2 and 9-1 across the country. He might pop with a few medium odds runners yet this summer.

One other area of vulnerability with the Biehler barn is with two year old runners. Biehler was only 2 for 29 with two year olds over the past year. If Biehler sends out any heavily supported two year olds this summer, conflicting trends will be in play. The handicapper will have to decide for themselves and that’s why we call it gambling.

Good Luck in Week 4!

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

Week 4 in Review (Stats & Trends)

Congratulations to jockey Tanner Riggs for winning the first five races on Friday night! The “all Tanner” early Pick 4 returned $105.50 for a dollar wager. Tanner is currently leading the jockey standings and is a great addition to the jockey colony this year.

The Pick 4 continues to be an excellent value play. This past week there were two $1 Pick 4 payoffs over $1,000 on Saturday and the longest priced horse in either sequence was only 6-1. In fact, the late Pick 4 on Saturday returned $1,337.10 for a dollar wager with the winning odds of 5-1, 4-1, 3-1 and 7/5. The Pick 4 paid more than three times what the win parlay for the sequence would have paid.

The Track Bias

No significant change in the track bias as horses are still going gate to wire in about 45% of the sprint races. That’s nearly twice the national average. It’s critical to be forwardly placed in sprints and many horses can be eliminated from your contender group with this one angle. As Dark Star always said, “Find the Speed”.

Favorites

Favorites at Canterbury continue to outperform the national average by about ten percentage points. Currently, favorites are winning at a 43% rate with about a breakeven ROI. The public has been especially sharp in maiden claiming and maiden special weight races, correctly selecting the winner 64% and 54% of the time, respectively.

The public has had the most trouble predicting the winner in Allowance and Stakes races with only 7 favorites winning from 28 races (25%).

How can you use this information? My suggestion would be to play Pick 4’s and isolate singles or narrow contender groups in the maiden races and go a bit deeper in the other races. The Pick 4 can still pay nicely if a favorite or two win during the sequence. We just need one good price.

Trainer Spotlight: Michael Biehler

Let’s take a closer look at one of the leading trainers so far this meet. Michael Biehler is off to a hot start with 10 winners from his first 30 starters and a flat bet profitable ROI of $1.08. His pattern last year was to excel with favorites and runners that were live on the tote board. This year is also following that pattern as he is 7 for 10 with the favorite (ROI $1.65) and 9 for 15 at odds of 5/2 and lower (ROI $1.59). He is also 8 for 18 in dirt sprints (ROI $1.38) so pay close attention to those bet-down sprinters.

Continuing the trend from last year, Biehler horses at 7/2 odds and above are only 1 for 15 at Canterbury this year and only 3 for 88 over the past year at Canterbury Park. But he has had some success with higher priced horses at other tracks, winning about 10% of the time with runners between 7/2 and 9-1 across the country. He might pop with a few medium odds runners yet this summer.

One other area of vulnerability with the Biehler barn is with two year old runners. Biehler was only 2 for 29 with two year olds over the past year. If Biehler sends out any heavily supported two year olds this summer, conflicting trends will be in play. The handicapper will have to decide for themselves and that’s why we call it gambling.

Good Luck in Week 4!

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

Week 3 in Review (Stats & Trends)

We were back on the turf for the first time in 2012, and it didn’t take long for pari-mutuel fireworks to occur as 35-1 shot Wolsfeld Woods rocked the tote board in Race 4 on Friday night. That triggered a Pick 4 payout of $4.415.20 for a $1 wager as the Pick 4 at Canterbury continues to be an excellent betting opportunity. Saturday also produced a giant Pick 4 payoff of $4,301.20 for the sequence of 8-1, 2-1, 4-1 and 7-1. Another huge Pick 4 overlay!

The Track Bias

The Canterbury track bias continues to strongly favor early speed in sprints as nearly half of the races carded at 5.5 and 6 furlongs have been won gate to wire.  The national average is about 25%. Being on or near the lead is a must right now and deep closers in sprints can be eliminated with virtual certainty.

The Odds

Here is a breakdown of the odds of horses and corresponding win percentages. Note the two significant gaps at less than 7/2 and also greater than 9-1.

Odds      Winners      Win %       ROI

0.1-1.4        25/49        51%        $0.97

1.5-3.4        30/101        30%        $0.98

3.5-5.9        11/98        11%        $0.62

6.0-7.9        5/52        10%        $0.79

8.0-9.9        4/43       9%        $0.93

10.0-14.9        1/84        1%       $0.14

15.0-19.9        1/51        2%        $0.34

20.0 and up        2/80        3%        $0.81

Favorites are still doing very well, winning at a 45% clip. Approximately 2 of every 3 races have been won by low-odds, logical contenders. The next range is the key range to generating those big overlay Pick 4 tickets. About 25% of the winners fall in the 7/2 to 9-1 range.  If you can sneak two or three winners into the Pick 4 that are paying at least 7/2 odds it can be a very lucrative ticket. Lastly, as you can see from the above chart, less than 2% of the horses that have gone off at double digit odds this year have actually found the winners circle. It’s deep water but if you must swim, prices in this range are more likely to happen in turf races going forward.

Maiden races continue to be very formful. Twenty one out of twenty three maiden races have been won by a horse at 3-1 odds or lower. The public is in tune with the maiden races at Canterbury Park so far.

Good Luck in Week 4!

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.

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