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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 12:00 AM

VOLUME 12 - Number 1

(Looking Deeper Into Top Trainers)

Today I begin with my first of a series of SARATOGA PRIMERS that will show you that there are ALWAYS NUMBERS BEHIND THE NUMBERS and that you need to look a little deeper if you want to maximize your opportunity to win.

Hopefully these PRIMER INSTALLMENTS will show you how much work must be done to get that all so important extra edge at what is arguably America’s toughest race meet of the year but also the most PROFITABLY REWARDING.

In today’s installment we’ll suggest that the statistics which are posted on any number of web sites, in this case the NYRA site, which accurate in what they provide don’t even begin to tell you what you need to know. Just as a baseball players batting average tells you how many hits he has from how many at bats but now he produces or doesn’t produce in the clutch, so do the statistics which tell you (for instance) who were the "leading trainers" at Saratoga a year ago fall far short of how those trainers produce from a wagering standpoint.

First Let’s Look At The 5 Top Winning Trainers From The 2014 Saratoga

These overall numbers are taken from the NYRA Web Site.
TODD PLETCHER...131 Starters...28 Wins...25 Seconds...16 Thirds...21% Winners
CHAD BROWN...98 Starters...23 Wins...15 Seconds...14 Thirds...23% Winners
BILL MOTT...81 Starters...13 Wins...13 Seconds...10 Thirds...16% Winners
MICHAEL MAKER...59 Starters...12 Wins...9 Seconds...7 Thirds...20% Winners
GRAHAM MOTION...68 Starters...11 Wins...9 Seconds...8 Thirds...16% Winners

On its surface that list isn’t surprising given the luminary names that comprises the Top 5, but the real question for a bettor is whether or not those numbers mean anything as a guide to betting these trainers, at what prices and under what distance, surface, class level or age of horse levels?

Believe it or not there is ALWAYS VITAL INFORMATION that can be gleaned if you know what to look for know how to break down the given generic stats (as shown above) and are willing to roll up your sleeves to find it.

For the purposes of explaining what I mean by the numbers behind the numbers I’m going to show you a few "hidden" stats that are quite removed by a simple "who won the most races standard." To do that I’m going to briefly* break down the winning and losing races of last year’s top trainer, Todd Pletcher and by doing so hopefully give you an idea how much work needs to be done, but as I say, work that yields solid returns.

Todd Pletcher - Biggest Winner - Most Over Bet Trainer

Let’s repeat the basic numbers published on NYRA for Pletcher in 2014. He had 131 Starters and 28 Winners. But the crucial question is, what does the 21% winning mark mean for a bettor’s Return On Investment (R.O.I.)? Not much if you are simply betting Pletcher because it is Pletcher. Let me give you a few "isolated" statistics.

  • Of Pletcher’s 28 Winners last year...23 went off as the post time favorite.
  • Of Pletcher’s 103 Losers last year...25 went off as the favorite.

That means that 48 of the trainer’s 131 runners (or 36.6% of his runners) a year ago were the favorite. And that number is even a bit higher when you consider that there were a handful of races where he ran more than one horse in the same race.

But that only begins to address how much info there is once you delve deeper. By now even the most casual bettor knows that Pletcher is the King Of Juveniles every year at Saratoga. Just take a look at last year’s juvenile numbers:

  • 53 of Pletcher’s 131 starters last year were 2-year olds.
  • 11 of the 53 were winners (21%...the same as his overall percentage)
  • 10 of the 11 Winners were favorites.
  • The average win mutual of the 11 winners was $4.47...with 8 of those being odds-on (less than $4.00)
  • Of the 42 that did not win there were 14 beaten a total of 24 or 45.3% of his juvenile starters went off as the favorite.
  • A $2 Wager on all of Pletcher’s 2-year olds would have cost $106 for a total return of $49.20 or less than $1.00 per $2 wagered.
  • However, suppose you bet ONLY the favorites? You would have still been holding the shorts as the 10 favorites that won combined to return $38.00 for a $48 investment (24 starters times $2) your R.O.I. would have improved but not gotten out of the red.

At least the numbers do show you that you should look very warily at any Pletcher 2-year old that is not sent off as the starter. Fair enough, now let’s look at the 78 non-two-year old starters to see if fine-tuning makes betting Saratoga’s "Leading Win Trainer" any more palatable. It would appear as though the public is a bit more circumspect with their tendency to seek the comfort zone of the "winning reputation" that precedes Pletcher when it comes to his older runners, but in many instances if you look close enough you can more often than not see the tote-board lean a bit wearily towards his program number(s) when he is involved.

  • Pletcher won 17 of the 78 non-juvenile starters last year (just a shade above his overall 21% winning average.)
  • 13 of the 17 winners went off as the post time favorites.
  • The "overall" average mutuel payoff for the 17 winners was $4.35.
  • The total collected on a $2 wager for all 17 winners was $73.90.
  • That means you total investment of $156.00 (78 times $2.00) would have produced an R.O.I. of $.95 for each $2 bet.
  • However, there is a "silver(?)" lining to be found. If you only bet the post time favorites you’d have wagered on 24 favorites....the 13 winning favorites and 11 losing favorites. In that case you’d have wagered $48 (24 times $2) and gotten a return of $52.60 (the collective payoff of the 13 older winning favorites.)

I doubt there are many bettors at Saratoga who are disciplined enough to go through an entire meet betting only the 24 older horse favorites sent out by Todd Pletcher with the hopes of turning a profit. And don’t forget, the purpose of this exercise is to show you exactly how much work needs to be done. I’ve done the work. I chart the trainers. I don’t just go back to last year but many years. And I’ll even tell you that were you willing to roll up your sleeves there are even ways to break Pletcher and other trainers down even more.

  • Start with the overall numbers, even broken down in the short sample above.
  • Break the trainer down even further by isolating first time starters, surface switches, distance switches, class drops or raises and on and on. There are gems. It takes discipline. But that is what I do.

And that is why I know WHO AND WHAT NOT TO BET (which is often more important in the overall process than anything else) and which UNMISTAKEABLE FINE TUNED GEM TO EXPLOIT.
In the next installment of SARATOGA PRIMER I’ll let you view some of the Chad Brown and other "Top Twinning Trainers" on the list as well as give you a taste of the many positives I find by revealing a few of the "under-The-Radar" trainers that few know as significant positive R.O.I. providers.

See you in a few days.

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