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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 10:54 AM

SARATOGA SIGHTINGS
VOL. 16 - Number 2


SARATOGA JUVENILE TURF MAIDEN RACES

On Saturday we took a look at the 2015 juvenile maiden dirt sprints and gave you a few ideas of what to look for as you "handicap forward."

In today's SARATOGA SIGHTINGS we'll stay with the juvenile maidens but move to the turf for the two distances they run those races at...5½ furlongs and 1 1/16th miles.

Another departure from Saturday's overview is that we are taking a look at BOTH 2015 and 2014 and doing so for one very important reason.

If you take a look at the collective results for each year they present and entirely different overview on many levels. That no direct formula can b drawn from the two years is exactly the point. As a bettor there is every reason to trust your subjective handicapping when it comes to juvenile turf maidens.

A TALE OF TWO YEARS
First let's take a look at the raw statistics.

In 5 ½ Furlong turf maiden races:

2015 - number of races 10
2014 - number of races 9
2015 - average number of runners per race 9.3
2014 - average number of runners per race 8.3
2015 - average winning mutuel $18.20
2014 -  average winning mutuel $10.25
2015 - number of winning favorites 4 (40%)
2014 - number of winning favorites 3 (33%)
2015 - mean payoff $27.05
2014 - mean payoff $12.10
2015 - 3 of 9 winners went wire-to-wire
2014 - 5 of 10 winners went wire-to-wire

In 1 1/16th Mile turf maiden races:

2015 - number of races 14
2014 - number of races 13
2015 - average number of runners per race 9.3
2014 - average number of runners per race 8.8
2015 - average winning mutuel $15.37
2014 - average winning mutuel $8.75
2015 - number of winning favorites 2 (14.3%)
2014 - number of winning favorites 6 (46.2%)
2015 - mean payoff $24.60
2014 - mean payoff $12.85
2015 - 4 of 14 winners went wire-to-wire
2014 - 3 of 13 winners went wire-to-wire

A quick look at those numbers supports the original contention that the more you spread the sample the more difficult it is to over lay a rule-of-thumb grid or a solid standards basis. To repeat, this makes you not only need to be more subjective in your handicapping but can trust that such subjectivity will not be beaten down as often by the very standards that you have to work around (or accept) in other type races.

Before we end, however, these numbers bear a few footnotes.

Note One - In 2014 Chad Brown was on fire with baby turf maidens, especially at 1 1/16th miles. He started 10 juvenile overall and was a WINNER with 5 of them. A $2 win bet on each of his 10 starters ($20) would have returned a total of $51.90. People that follow this sort of thing were loaded in wait for Brown last year.

How did he do? He started 14 maiden juveniles at a mile and a sixteenth. The public made 5 of them the post time favorite and Brown managed a grand total of 2 winners. Last year a $2 wager on each of his horses ($28) returned a total of $21.60...not a total disaster but not close to his 2014 standards.

Note Two - The results and losses from following Brown last year are relatively new as he has made a name for himself over the course of the last 4 to 5 years. He is one of a small handful of trainers that are "religiously" over bet at Saratoga.

Premier among them (and remember we are talking about juvenile maiden races) has been Todd Pletcher...even more so on grass. Last year Pletcher started 16 maiden youngsters at a mile and a sixteenth of the grass and cashed in with just two ($8.00 and $6.20, we'll let you do the math.) In 2014 started only 11 juvenile maidens in two-turn turf races but still managed to produce just 2 winners, at $11.20 and $5.00.

This makes it obvious that even the best of trainers are not, just because they are running a horse, going to win. Keep this in mind because what these guys will do is take a bit more money than they should so if you have solid reasons to back a horse of lesser known connections, don't be afraid of the bigger barns.

Note Three - This is one additional data-driven example of how much players will forget to go to the wedding and then go to the funeral.

In 2014 Bill Mott started 9 juvenile maidens on the turf at 1 1/6th miles and lost with each of them. This is not noteworthy on its own because traditionally Bill Mott has not been a high percentage (perennially in single digits) first out trainer.

When 2015 rolled around the public dutifully ignored his first two 1 1/6th mile turf maiden juveniles and all they did was win at $44.20 and $25.20. If nothing else that certainly put the public in line...and of course that line went right to the funereal as Mott finished the meet by losing with the last 9 maidens he entered under the conditions.

Note Four - If there is one central contributor to the discrepancy breakdowns between 2015 and 2014 it might be as simple as the weather. In 2015 there were almost no races washed off the turf due to inclement weather. In 2014 both the beginning and the end of the meet were plagued by it. This not only shortened the fields but interrupted much of the training methodology of trainers and those outfits looking for ideal situations in which to win at Saratoga (always a glory, particularly for lesser known barns) were not as much in play.

This is of course just one speculation but if the weather remains good again in 2016 and few plans are changed you can likely expect results much closer to last year.

Either way, this sample should show you how tough certain races can be...how important it is that there are people out there who actually process this stuff.

Next up, we will publish the results of Juvenile Stakes races form the last three years.

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