by Jeremy Plonk
May 24, 2021
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 are all about the live money on the board.
As the juvenile campaign deepens, form fills in a bit with 2-year-olds and the handicapping process starts to balance some. But early in the year, we really only have workouts, trainer stats, pedigree and the tote to guide us. Many horseplayers are adamant that the live money shows on the babies. One glaring part of that is because the influence trainer Wesley Ward has this time of year, winning 57% with favorites in Spring Keeneland baby races and 46% at Belmont Park during the same time of year.
I dialed up the Betmix database to track every 2-year-old maiden race run in April, May and June since 2016. Juvenile races in the allowance and stakes ranks are sure to have more form to influence the betting, so I wanted to track only the maiden races with far more ‘blanks’ in the running lines.
Early Season 2-Year-Old Maidens from 2016-present had an average win price of 4.59-1.
Early Season Maidens (3YO & older) from 2016-present had an average win price of 5.10-1.
Early Season All Races/All Ages from 2016-present had an average win price of 4.60-1.
Favorites in Early Season 2-Year-Old Maidens from 2016-present won 36.5% with a $0.78 ROI for every $1 bet.
Favorites in Early Season Maidens (3YO & older) from 2016-present won 38.9% with a $0.84 ROI for every $1 bet.
Favorites in Early Season All Races/All Ages from 2016-present won 37.6% with a $0.84 ROI for every $1 bet.
It’s a mixed bag with 2-year-old maidens paying a full half-point less per winner than their elder counterparts, but the elder maiden favorites being both more reliable (by +2.4%) and profitable (by + $.06 per) than their younger brethren. In terms of all races, the early season 2-year-old maidens also were less reliable and profitable with their favorites compared to the general race population – and their average win payoffs were nearly identical. These numbers indicate that the declaration that early season 2-year-old maiden races are all about the live money is false.
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, look at the particular tracks you follow – or jump ahead to different times of the season like summer (Saratoga/Del Mar) or the fall. For instance, 2-year-old maiden favorites at Saratoga win 32.5%, while they hit 39.5% at Del Mar.