by Jeremy Plonk
April 5, 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.
Early season 2-year-old races offer few surprises and the winners are often no secret.
With April comes the year’s first juvenile tests at tracks like Keeneland, Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Sunland and Turf Paradise traditionally the most prevalent of the baby races. Wesley Ward’s success at Keeneland is widely known as the dominant player in the division.
I dialed up the Betmix database to look at all April juvenile races since 2015, a total of 155 in all. I wanted to compare the average winning payouts and percentage of winning favorites to these races nationally compared to the general race population, as well as juvenile races run later in the year. Also, I looked at the obvious Wesley Ward factor vs. other juvenile race winners this time of year in April.
The average win odds in 2-year-old April races since 2015 has been 3.6-1.
The average win odds in all April races since 2015 has been 4.7-1.
The average win odds of 2-year-old races May-December since 2015 has been 4.8-1.
The percentage of winning favorites in 2-year-old April races since 2015 has been 46.8%
The percentage of winning favorites in all April races since 2015 has been 36.8%
The percentage of winning favorites in 2-year-old May-December races since 2015 has been 36.5%
Trainer Wesley Ward’s April 2-year-olds have an average win odds of 0.8-1.
Trainer Wesley Ward’s percentage of winning favorites in 2-year-old April races since 2015 has been 52.1%. Non-Ward favorites win 42.5%
The numbers speak for themselves in that April juvenile racing is far heavier toward favorites and shorter prices than the rest of the year and the rest of the month’s racing population. Win odds are a full point shorter, and the percentage of winning favorites 10% higher. Even when you factor out the obvious Wesley Ward influence in April, other national favorites still win at a rate about 6% higher than subsequent months and older horses within the same month. This myth is absolutely confirmed that secrets are hard to come by in April 2-year-old races.
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, which trainers besides Wesley Ward are worth your attention this early in the year with the freshman class?