As the 2012 Canterbury Park live racing season approaches, it can be instructive to look back at 2011 and analyze the results. What can we learn from the thoroughbred races run last year that might help us in our handicapping and wagering? Will trends from a year ago carry forward? Time will tell, but here are a few things to keep in mind that may figure prominently in the handicapping puzzle for 2012.
Respect the Favorite on the Main Track
The public was right 43% of the time last year in all races run on the main track. That is about ten percentage points above the national average. The public choice really dominated in maiden sprints, finding the winners circle 49% of the time and showing a 10% flat bet profit. If this trend carries forward, maiden sprints might be a place to look for singles in horizontal wagers.
Looking for vulnerable chalk? Try the turf races, which yielded only 29% winning favorites in 2011.
The Golden Rail
Track biases do exist, and the rail was the place to be last year on the Canterbury main track. Horses breaking from post 1 won 20% of the time and generated a 17% flat bet profit. There were 24 more winners from post 1 than from any other post position. Significant! Breaking it down between sprints and routes, the flat bet profit in sprints was 6% and in routes it was 52% with horses winning at a 20% and 21% clip, respectively.
If you wagered on a jockey with the initials D.B last year you had a pretty good chance! Dean Butler and Derek Bell combined to win about 1/3 of the thoroughbred races last summer, and both showed a flat bet profit if you played them every time. Derek Bell really excelled in allowance and maiden special weight races, winning 35% of the time and returning $1.49 for every dollar wagered. Dean Butler showed the most profitability in claiming and maiden claiming races, winning at a 27% clip with an ROI of $1.19. Call them the Butler and Bell mutual funds of 2011, and expect strong showings from both riders in 2012.
Mac Robertson, Bernell Rhone and Michael Biehler were the top three trainers last summer with over 100 wins combined. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Mac Robertson was the leading trainer once again and won with 34% of his starters, showing a flat bet profit of $1.03. He was pretty strong in all categories, but his most lucrative plays were on the turf, where he had a 38% win percentage and returned $1.50 for every dollar wagered.
Bernell Rhone had 22% winners last summer with a flat bet profit of $1.07. He excelled with route horses on turf and dirt, posting a 28% win rate and returning $1.51 for every dollar wagered in that category. You could look elsewhere when Rhone started a two year old (1 for 13), a layoff runner of over six months (0 for 11) or an extreme longshot > 15-1 (0 for 16).
Michael Biehler won with 19% of his starters last year and won over 30 races, but you had to pick your spots when wagering on his horses. He was very good with horses at 3-1 odds and lower, winning 28 of 69 starts in that odds range and showing a slight profit. But at 7/2 odds and above he was only 4 for 103 (4%) and you could look elsewhere for the winner.
Good luck with your selections in 2012 and we will continue to follow what’s happening on the racetrack from a statistical perspective throughout the summer.
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.