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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM

SARATOGA PRIMER
VOLUME 12 - Number 2
Wednesday 7/22
/15

TWO DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY AT THE SPA...ALWAYS MORE TO KNOW!

Winning Off-The-Turf Races Not As Easy As MTO!

It is still within recent memory that race track officials from most circuits came around to realizing that they needed to ensure that races "washed from the turf to dirt" due to mostly weather related grass conditions would not become so short in number of competitors due to scratches that they were for the most part beyond reasonable wagering.

The solution has been the entry of what are known as MAIN TRACK ONLY (designated in the past performances as MTO) in originally carded as grass races with the understanding that these so-designated horses will ONLY run if the race is switched from the grass to the main track.

The subsequent general consensus that has developed around these off-the-turf races is that because trainers would enter Main Track Horses only if they felt those horses had a distinct advantage over the horses entered for the turf who wind up staying in the races, more mutuel pool attention is given to MTO runners than the originally scheduled for grass runners who stay in the race when it moves to the main track.

THE RESULTS SAY OTHERWISE

Below is a breakdown of the OFF-THE-TURF races run at Saratoga in both 2014 and 2103, broken down by year and a number of distinctive categories. These statistics beg some interesting conclusions in respect to the general consensus that MTO runners have an edge. Let’s take a look.

2014
*28 Races were run during the meet.
*There were 5 winning favorites...this was well below the average rate of winning favorites at the meet. It was especially so given the average field size.
*The average field size was 6.5 horses.
*The overall average payout was $10.74...this is below the average winning payout for the meet but is understandable given the small average field size.
*There were 16 Non-MTO runners that won at an average payoff of $10.43.
*There were 12 MTO runners that won at an average payoff of $11.16...based on the comment above regarding how the public gravitates to MTO runners in these races this might be considered an anomaly but remember that in many cases there were multiple MTO runners and a number of those were the losing favorite.
*The average payoff for one turn races at 5.5 (originally scheduled at the same distance on turf) and at 7 furlongs (originally scheduled at one mile on the turf) was $10.94.
*The average payoff for two turn races a 9 furlongs (originally scheduled at all 1 1/16 Miles or further on the Inner or Main Turf Course) was $10.64...so there was very little difference based on distance.

2013
*25 Races were run during the meet.
*There were 7 winning favorites...this was somewhat below the average rate of winning favorites at the meet. The slightly higher percentage compared to 2014 was largely due to the higher average field size.
*The average field size was 7.3 horses.
*The overall average payout was $12.72...which was close to the average winning payout for the meet but the average field size of the off-the-turf races was smaller than the overall average field size for all races during the meet the figure was impressive.
*There were 16 Non-MTO runners that won at an average payoff of $15.90. More so than in 2014, and again perhaps to the increased average field size this number leans towards the contention of this presentation that the public truly over-bets the MTO runners.
*There were 9 MTO runners that won at an average payoff of $7.08...based on the comment above regarding how the public gravitates to MTO runners this well-below the average payout for all races at the meet more than emphasizes the point.
*The average payoff for one turn races at 5.5 (originally scheduled at the same distance on turf) and at 7 furlongs (originally scheduled at one mile on the turf) was $12.84.
*The average payoff for two turn races a 9 furlongs (originally scheduled at all 1 1/16 Miles or further on the Inner or Main Turf Course) was $12.43...so there was once again (as in 2014) very little difference based on distance.

CONCLUSION
As a bettor you can rely on the fact that prognosticators, TV talking heads on TVG, NYRA. HRTV and elsewhere will continue to extol the virtues of the MTO runners when the races are washed to the main track. But as these past two year stats show...and they are representative of a longer years study sample...there is good value to be taken if you search as deeply down the past performance lines as possible. You will often find that the better horses are adaptable to either surface while the MTO horses are just as likely to be specialists for whom the trainer feels needs an edge.

NOTE: Check back on opening day morning as I break down some stats that differentiate two-turn turf races on either the Inner Turf or Main Turf Course.

SARATOGA

"Graveyard of Favorites" for losers…"Longshot Heaven" for winners
And the difference is INFORMATION!
Jim Hurley has the winning information at Saratoga - Click here

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