by Jeremy Plonk
March 21, 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.
Fair Grounds’ long stretch can trip up horses trying to navigate extra distance.
The 1,346-foot Fair Grounds home stretch can seem like an eternity when watching your horse try to hang on to the lead. By the same token, horseplayers often hold out hope longer on late-runners given the additional real estate. But does that demanding stretch run have an impact on horses running longer distances?
I dialed up the Betmix database to look at all Fair Grounds dirt races over the past 3 years, going back to March 21, 2019. At the most common distance run in both sprints and routes, the idea was to evaluate horses adding distance, staying at the same distance or cutting back distance and chart their success.
At 6 furlongs, horses adding distance won 11.3% with an ROI of $0.67 for every $1 bet.
At 6 furlongs, horses returning at the same distance won 14.0% with an ROI of $0.76 for every $1 bet.
At 6 furlongs, horses shortening distance won 12.7% with an ROI of $0.76 for every $1 bet.
At 1-1/16 miles, horses adding distance won 11.8% with an ROI of $0.52 for every $1 bet.
At 1-1/16 miles, horses returning at the same distance won 16.0% with an ROI of $0.86 for every $1 bet.
At 1-1/16 miles, horses shortening distance won 17.0% with an ROI of $1.09 for every $1 bet.
Horses adding distance had the least success of those racing at both 6 furlongs and at 1-1/16 miles. The win percentage was 1.4-3.7 points less in sprint races and 4.2-5.2 points less in routes. In the same situations, horses adding distance also had the worst ROI when compared to those returning at the same distance or cutting back in distance, 11 cents per runner in sprints and between 34-57 cents less per runner in routes. The initial assumption that the long Fair Grounds’ stretch is difficult on horses stretching out in distance is absolutely confirmed by this data.
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, see which jockeys have the best win percentages with horses making distance moves at Fair Grounds, perhaps finding an edge with the right pairing of horse, situation and rider.