The Canterbury Park Track Profile

Every racetrack in America has a track profile. In simple terms, the track profile tells us where the winners are coming from at various distances and surfaces. That’s an important piece of handicapping information. How often have you heard the question “How is the track playing today?” We can’t answer that question in this article, but we can analyze how the track has played, using data from the past five seasons at different distances on the dirt and turf as we get ready for the 2010 live racing season.

Dirt Sprints

Dirt sprints at Canterbury are run at three main distances: 5½ furlongs, 6 furlongs and 6½ furlongs. As expected, early speed does quite well in sprints at Canterbury Park.

At 5½ furlongs, the winner was on or within 1 length of the early lead 61% of the time at the first call, and on or within 1 length of the lead 69% of the time at the second call. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader only 11% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the early leader only 11% of the time at the second call. This profile strongly favors horses that can grab the early lead! Deep closers only win about 1 in every 10 dirt sprints at Canterbury Park.

At 6 furlongs, the winner was on or within 1 length of the early lead 44% of the time at the first call, and on or within 1 length of the lead 50% of the time at the second call. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 22% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 17% of the time at the second call. This profile also favors horses that can grab the early lead but it is not as pronounced as the profile for 5½ furlongs. Deep closers do win about 1 in 5 dirt sprints at 6 furlongs at Canterbury Park.

At 6½ furlongs, the winner was on or within 1 length of the early lead 40% of the time at the first call, and on or within 1 length of the lead 44% of the time at the second call. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 18% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 13% of the time at the second call. You can see that as the distance stretches out a bit, early speed becomes a little less reliable although it is still very good. Deep closers win about 1 in 7 dirt sprints at 6½ furlongs at Canterbury Park.

Dirt Routes

Dirt routes at Canterbury are also run at three main distances: 1 mile, 1 mile 70 yards, and 1 1/16th mile. You may find the track profile at these distances to be surprising.

At 1 mile, the winner was on or within 1 length of the early lead 47% of the time at the first call (the 4 furlong call), and on or within 1 length of the lead 74% of the time at the second call (the 6 furlong call). Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 19% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the early leader only 6% of the time at the second call. You can see that speed is still quite good, and a very high percentage of winners are within 1 length of the lead by the second call. Only about 1 of every 20 route winners is a deep closer that is still more than 5 lengths back at the second call. A horse needs a mid-race move to reach contention when they go two turns at Canterbury Park. Avoid the one run closers!

At 1 mile 70 yards, the winner was on or within 1 length of the early lead 47% of the time at the first call (the 4 furlong call), and on or within 1 length of the lead 67% of the time at the second call (the 6 furlong call). Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 19% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the early leader only 6% of the time at the second call. These numbers are very similar to what we saw at 1 mile, a slightly lower percentage of winners were on or within one length of the lead at the second call.

At 1 1/16th mile, the winner was on or within 1 length of the early lead 39% of the time at the first call (the 4 furlong call), and on or within 1 length of the lead 64% of the time at the second call (the 6 furlong call). Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 22% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the early leader only 5% of the time at the second call. Again, early speed doesn’t do quite as well but the deep closers do very poorly at this distance.

Over the past 5 years, statistics show that deep closers do worse in routes than they do in sprints at this racetrack! Avoid deep closers in routes unless they can make that move to the lead in the middle part of the race.

Turf Routes

Turf racing generally does not favor early speed and our five year race sample proves this out. In turf routes, the winner was on or within one length of the early lead only 25% of the time at the first call, and on or within one length of the early lead only 35% of the time at the second call. Conversely, the winner was more than 5 lengths behind the early leader 39% of the time at the first call, and more than 5 lengths behind the leader 22% of the time at the second call. The profile favors patient rides from the back of the field with an explosive move toward the lead at the midway point in the race. Closers do even better at the 7½ furlong distance than they do in routes (36% of winners more than 5 lengths back at the second call)!

Avoid the faint hearted front runners on the turf!

Keep in mind that these are historical percentages and we need to see evidence once racing starts that the track is playing in similar fashion. The track profile is a good way to get started with the handicapping process. Good Luck in 2010.

The Oracle

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