by Jeremy Plonk
March 8, 2021
Welcome to a new handicapping series for our Monday blog space entitled “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.
If you missed the wedding, don’t attend the funeral.
There’s a racetrack axiom that when longshot winners score, you should avoid them at shorter prices next time. If I didn’t cash for $30, why would I take 5-1 when he runs the next time? That’s the wedding vs. funeral, you see. This point of interest comes up this week as we just witnessed longshot winners of the Gotham (Weyburn) and Tampa Bay Derby (Helium) on Saturday, and we’ll have to decide what to do with them next time on the Triple Crown trail.
Most horseplayers don’t trust longshot winners for the basic fact that they go against what the handicappers previously perceived them to be. No one likes to be wrong, especially in picking the horses. Is the wedding-funeral myth rooted in fact or grudge? Let’s see.
I crunched the numbers in the Betmix database for every Thoroughbred race in North America over the past 5 years, going back to Mar. 8, 2016. The study was for horses who won their most recent start at 15-1 or more odds, and how they performed in their next start when bet to lower prices. We looked at horses bet in their return to 10-1 or less, 8-1 or less, 6-1 or less, 5-1 or less, 4-1 or less, 3-1 or less and post-time favorites. We compared the performance of the wedding-to-funeral types with all horses of comparable odds no matter their previous results or odds.
15-1+ winners bet back to 10-1 or less in a return race won 16.3% with a $.82 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses 10-1 or less won 19.8% with a $.82 ROI for every $1 bet.
15-1+ winners bet back to 8-1 or less in a return race won 17.9% with a $.81 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses 8-1 or less won 21.2% with a $.81 ROI for every $1 bet.
15-1+ winners bet back to 6-1 or less in a return race won 21.0% with a $.84 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses 6-1 or less won 23.7% with a $.82 ROI for every $1 bet.
15-1+ winners bet back to 5-1 or less in a return race won 23.3% with a $.86 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses 5-1 or less won 25.5% with a $.82 ROI for every $1 bet.
15-1+ winners bet back to 4-1 or less in a return race won 26.0% with a $.86 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses 4-1 or less won 27.8% with a $.82 ROI for every $1 bet.
15-1+ winners bet back to 3-1 or less in a return race won 31.0% with a $.87 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses 3-1 or less won 31.7% with a $.82 ROI for every $1 bet.
15-1+ winners bet back to post-time favoritism in a return race won 37.6% with a $.95 ROI for every $1 bet.
All horses bet to post-time favoritism won 37.1% with a $.83 ROI for every $1 bet.
Overall Findings Verdict:
Longshot winners at 15-1 or more showed an equal or better ROI at every return price in comparison to all horses at that price. The difference was most significant with returnees bet to 5-1 or lower. While the win percentage of longshot winners trying to repeat was lower at all return price levels, the gap narrowed as the return price lowered. In other words: The harder they were bet in the return, the better they performed. With favorites, longshot return winners actually won more often than all favorites studied and had resoundingly strong ROI.
The idea that you missed the wedding and should avoid the funeral is a statistical myth. In fact, those longshot winners next time out are as good – or better – of a bet than their competition. True, you’re not getting 15-1 this time, but off a winning race and given the performance data, you’re no longer looking at a 15-1 kind of horse in the new match-up. You’re betting horses off of today’s chance to win, not the past. Don’t get beat twice because of a grudge; keep an open mind in your new evaluation.
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, take a look at the tracks you play most often to see if they fall in line with this study’s conclusions. I took a second dive by examining maidens coming off of 15-1 or more wins and meeting winners next out. They had an even stronger win % and ROI when bet down in the return at 5-1 or less.