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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 9, 2014 at 12:00 AM


Useful Trend Or Too Small A Sample?

Ask any regular horseplayer what are the five most aggravating occurrences that afflict their daily betting choices and I guarantee that whether first or fifth on the list will be something along the lines of…”I always seem to catch on to a general trend or bias just as it begins to disappear.”

Sound familiar?

Nonetheless, any serious handicapper/bettor who is looking for a more than fair share of winners must of necessity search for those trends or biases. So with that in mind I took a look at the first five days of racing at Belmont Park, from Thursday, May 1 through Wednesday, May 7.

Although they had also completed racing on Thursday, May 8 before this article was completed I chose to stay away from that day because overnight and morning rains left the track a quagmire and all turf races were moved to the sloppy main track. By the time you internalize what is collected below the main track and turf courses will be back in useful operating order in which case what is below will be more relevant.  

There were 48 races run over the aforementioned 5 days. 37 races were run on the main track and 11 combined on the two turf courses. It is also worth reminding readers and Belmont bettors that races that are run up to a mile and an eighth are run around one turn (out of the chute) on the main track. This is important to keep in mind because that meant that 36 of the 37 main track races were one turn affairs.


In order to find any useful trends or biases during the early days of the meet I broke down the performances of the winners by distance, what position they were in at three “calls” during the race (first call, call prior to the stretch and in the stretch) and how many lengths off the pace they were at each of the three calls. Those horse that went wire-to-wire are simply designated as W-W rather than repeat 1st three times.

For example, in Race 4 on May 1 Jackson N Lorimer raced as follows:

3rd(3 ½)…2nd(2)…2nd(2)

Taking Jackson N Lorimer and each of the other 36 main track winners into account you will see each of those three calls followed by the range of distance off the pace. In those non-Wire-To-Wire winning races where the winner assumed the lead at the second or stretch call (signified by lead) I followed that point of call listing with the number of runners that had the lead within the noted range. (See Note “A” below.)

Let’s take a look at the 37 dirt races that were run the first five days of the meet.
6 FURLONGS—(12 Races)
4 Wire-To-Wire
8 Other Winners…First (3 ¾-2)…Second (2-L…”A”—2 Had Lead)…Stretch (1 ½-L—4 Had Lead)
6 ½ FURLONGS—(5 Races)
2 Wire-To-Wire
3 Other Winners…First (5-Hd)…Second (3-L—1 Had Lead)…Stretch (2 ½-L—2 had Lead)
7 FURLONGS—(2 Races)
1 Wire-To-Wire
1 Other Winner…First (6 ½)…Second (1 ¾)…Stretch (2)
1 MILE—(8 Races)
3 Wire-To-Wire
5 Other Winners…First (1 ½-1)…Second (1/2-L—3 Had Lead)…Stretch (1 ½-L—3 Had Lead)
1 1/16th MILES—(8 Races)
2 Wire-To-Wire
6 Other Winners…First (5-Hd)…Second (2 ½-Hd)…Stretch (2-L—3 Had Lead)
1 1/8 MILES—(1 Race)
First (1/2)…Second (L)…Stretch (L)
1 1/4 MILES


  • While the range of First Calls above shows 5-Hd at 6 ½ furlongs, 6 ½ at 7 furlongs and 5-Hd at a mile and a sixteenth those three biggest numbers came in one individual race at each distance. In all the other 34 races the inner went either wire-to-wire or was no further back than 3 ¾ lengths at first call, 3 lengths at second call or 2 lengths in the stretch.
  • The early results would indicate that as the track gets back to good and then fast this weekend and you begin breaking down your races you would probably be well-advised to demand a lot of positive attributes from any horse that runs on the main track and is not a wire-to-wire candidate, a solid presser based on previously indicated pace figures or at least a close up stalker.
  • Interestingly, when the previously scheduled turf races were taken off the grass and run on the fast main track on the opening two days of the meet even those races, which featured Main Track Only entrants and some turf horse that stayed in, the above tendencies did not deviate in those races.


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Using the same standards for the 11 Turf races that were run during the same period there is no set trend or bias that would be deemed useful. The number of turf races was reduced, as mentioned above, by pre-opening day conditions that necessitated the first two days of scheduled grass races to be moved to the main track.
Here is the summary of the 11 Turf races run during the period.
6 FURLONGS—(2 Races)
1 Wire-To-Wire
1 Other Winner…First (5)…Second (2 ½ )…Stretch (Hd)
7 FURLONGS—(2 Races)
No Wire-To-Wire Winners
First (7-1)…Second (7-1/2 )…Stretch (2 ½-L)
1 MILE—(3 Races)
No Wire-To-Wire Winners
First (9- 1 ½)…Second (5-L—1 Had Lead)…Stretch (1-L—2 Had Lead)
1 1/16th MILES—(2 Races)
1 Wire-To-Wire
1 Other Winner…First (3)…Second (3)…Stretch (1 ¾)
1 1/8 MILES—(1 Race)
1 1/4 MILES—(1 Race)
First (2)…Second (2)…Stretch (1 ½)


Obviously it is difficult to glean anything from a small overall sample and smaller number of races at each different distance. But this difficulty is also showcase by simply taking a look for instance at the two 6 furlong races in which one winner went wire-to-wire and the other broke 5 lengths off at first call or the two 7 furlong races in which the winners were 1 length back at first call in one of the races and 7 lengths back in the other, so there is little for a position and/or pace player to take from the turf as of yet.

Use this information carefully but even with only 37 fast dirt track races in hand it might be wise, once the track returns to good-fast rating (still sloppy as of Friday 5/9) to see if a horse you like for other reasons also gets a push from its projected running style.


Before I wrap up I thought I’d include a list of the GOING GOOD and NOT SO GOOD jockeys as of Thursday. May 8:

Jose Ortiz—17-7-1-2
Irad Ortiz – 33-5-6-6
John Velazquez—14-4-2-3
Junior Alvarado—23-4-6-2
Luis Saez—12-3-2-0
Chris DeCarlo – 13-3-1-6

Taylor Rice—25-1-5-3
Rajiv Maragh—20-1-3-5
Michael Luzzi— 20-2-1-2
Eddie Castro—16-2-1-2

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