by Jeremy Plonk
March 28, 2022
Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities.
Anyone can run third, fourth or fifth to bottom an exotics ticket.
Handicappers spend a lot of time trying to tab winners and logical contenders to top their tickets. But they often resign to the refrain that anyone can hit the bottom of the ticket. That’s why you’ll most often see an ‘all’ in the third, fourth and fifth spots of trifectas, superfectas and even super high-5s. A tired horse can plummet through the field; a late-runner can pass tired ones. The bottom of a ticket gets ugly to predict. How ugly? Let’s look at the numbers.
I dialed up the Betmix database to look at the average odds of finishers by race placing in all races run in 2022 nationally through March 27. I also wanted to see how longshots 10-1 or more performed in terms of hitting the board to see where they may be most likely to land.
4.77-1 average win odds
6.87-1 average place odds
9.48-1 average show odds
11.65-1 Average fourth-place odds
15.11-1 Average fifth-place odds
10-1+ shots win 3.5%
10-1+ shots finish second 6.4%
10-1+ shots finish third 9.1%
The numbers suggest the higher the placing, the higher the average odds, with the gap growing the higher up you get – nearly 3.5 points higher for fifth, than fourth, for instance. At each placing, the average odds goes up at least 2.1 points (the narrowest between 1st and 2nd-place finishers). And when looking at longshot prices, it follows suit in that horses 10-1 or more are more likely to finish third than second and second than first. In short, the public does a good job sorting these things out. It may be a stretch to say ‘anything’ can bottom your exotics ticket, but the numbers certainly bear out that the most likely place for the prices improves the further down the finish order.
You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, check these same numbers at your local track or by class of races to see if any are more or less trustworthy to deliver the same results.