by Jeremy Plonk
August 1, 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.
Horseplayers catch on at boutique meetings Saratoga and Del Mar after the first few weeks.
Many horseplayers will note that the start of a big meet like Saratoga or Del Mar – or anywhere for that matter – is a time to feel things out. That they’ll wait for later in the meet to settle in. But do the results of the races bear that out as a real strategy?
I dialed up the Betmix database to separate the July and August/September results at both Saratoga and Del Mar over the past 5 years.
Saratoga average July winners were 5.18-1 odds.
Saratoga average August/September winners were 4.87-1 odds.
Saratoga percentage of winning July favorites was 34.3%.
Saratoga percentage of winning August/September favorites was 35.0%.
Del Mar average July winners were 5.53-1 odds.
Del Mar average August/September winners were 5.37-1 odds.
Del Mar percentage of winning July favorites was 34.10%.
Del Mar percentage of winning August/September favorites was 33.8%.
The average winner in August/September dropped by .31 odds at Saratoga and .16 odds at Del Mar compared to July early season winners. Saratoga’s percentage of winning favorites grew .7% later in the meet, while Del Mar’s dropped .3%. These results mostly would suggest that the meets get a bit easier to handicap at they proceed deeper into the season, certainly an easy argument to support at Saratoga than Del Mar.
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 each track by race condition to see which types of races have changed the most in terms of payoffs and favorites. Also, do similar studies for the tracks you follow in terms of early and late seasons.