Saratoga Track Analysis: Dirt Bias for Meet to Date
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2018
Understanding current trends and how they relate to averages can help number crunchers guestimate what's likely to happen next. For example, flip a coin five times in a row on tails and you expect the next one to be heads; even though each independent flip is 50/50. The sixth flip is just as likely to come up tails again, but mean-revision says heads is more likely.
Today, we are going to take a semi-in-depth look at Saratoga Racetrack's dirt numbers and see if we can make some predictions for track bias in the week(end) ahead. While our site is geared towards selling our premium tipsheets, we want to help horseplayers understand some of the tools and methods that we use to handicap so that you, in turn, become a better player and hopefully cash more tickets. Since our sheets must be prepared days in advance, having some knowledge in your back pocket to combine with our picks and the live odds and you end up in a better position to come out ahead.
Meet-to-date, the position-profile of a dirt winner was 2.8th place at the 1/4 marker, 2.64 at the 1/2 mile, 2.54 at 3/4, and 1.5 in the stretch. Last week, from August 1st through August 6th, those numbers rose to 3.4, 3.2, 3.2 and 1.6, respectively.
The question horse players must answer is whether last week is more reflective of Saratoga's true bias, or if the meet-to-date numbers are more reliable? We fall into the camp of more data is better. So, with that in mind, we'd expect a revision-to-the-mean in upcoming races. In other words, for dirt-track winners to race closer to the front this week than they did last week. To pull the position placements closer to the pre-last week levels, calls could look something like 2.5 at the quarter, 2.3 at the half, 2.2 at three-quarters, and 1.4 in the stretch.
Let's get a little more detailed based on dirt distance. These charts illustrate the differences.
As you can see from the charts above, last week's call positioning was well above the norm at all dirt-levels except for 6 and 6.5-furlongs, which mostly ran to form. With these numbers in mind, handicappers might think about emphasizing speed in races of 5.5-furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. As for 6-thru-7-furlongs, horses that rate off the lead have been the home of winners.
Prior to last week, 72% of 5.5-furlong winners wired the field. That's probably a little over the top, but history is history. Assuming the front runner bias is a little heavier this week, say 50%, then horseplayers might think about identifying speed at odds of 6/5 or better. If half of your bets payoff, that's a positive return-on-investment (ROI). At 30% winners, you'll need odds of 5/2 or more.
Numbers were somewhat similar at 1 1/8 mile prior to last week. Seven of 19 races were wire-to-wire, and another were second from the 1/4 poll to first at the photo. That's 73% of winners running first or second. If speed reverts to the preferred dirt running style, then identify the fastest horses and pick which one you think is the best. Or get our picks! - of course. Another option is to dutch-win bet with your top two or three picks.
"Dutching" is a strategy that horse racing bettors can use to bet multiple horses to "WIN" and turn a profit if one of the selections hits the wire first.
Here's how it works:
Pick the horses you think have the best chance of winning.
Calculate each horse's odds of winning according to current odds by dividing the number 100 by the given odds. For instance, a horse with odds of 5 to 1 would have a 20% chance of winning: 100 / 5 = .20, or 1 divided by 5. Do this for all the horses you've selected.
Add the results from all the horses you plan on betting as there is an overall chance that one of the horses will win the race - at least according to the odds.
Perfect Casting (PP: 4 Race Time Odds 4-1)
One For Biscuit (PP: 1 Race Time Odds 5-1)
Daddyspentdamoney (PP: 8 Race Time Odds 7-1)
Perfect Casting = 25% (100 divided by 4 equals 25 or 1 divided by 4)
One For Biscuit = 20% (100 divided by 5 equals 20 or 1 divided by 5)
Daddyspentdamoney = 14.29% (100 divided by 7 equals 14.25 or 1 divided by 7)
25 + 20 + 14.29 = 59.29%
Divide each horse's individual percentage by the overall percentage. Then multiply this amount by the total amount of money you want to bet on the race. Let's use $20 with our example.
Perfect Casting = 25 / 59.29 x $20 = $8.43
One For Biscuit = 20 / 59.29 x $20 = $6.75
Daddyspentdamoney = 14.29 / 59.29 x $20 = $4.82
Total Bet = 8.43 + 6.75 + 4.82 = $20
Win bets are made in dollar increments starting at $2; so, use the rounding rules you learned in grade school. For our example, the real-life math would look like this:
$8 to win on Perfect Casting
$7 to win on One For Biscuit
$5 to win on Daddyspentdamoney
Total Bet = 8 + 7 + 5 = $20
...and who said that math couldn't be fun. Give it a try this upcoming Saratoga racing week(end) and just see what happens. You might surprise even yourself (and dazzle all your friends - mostly drunken friends - in the process).
Best of luck today!
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