Submitted by John DaSilva on Monday, June 18, 2018 at 2:01 PM
(TAKING A LOOK AT THE TOP JOCKEYS)
Even the most casual bettor, even the Saratoga Tourist Bettors, just about every one of them knows to look in the program for the Ortiz brothers, Jose and Irad as well as Javier Castellano and John Velazquez. It is a safe bet they will do what they have done in recent years and vie for the riding title.
However, what not a one of them will do, is vie for the “Value Title.”
The reason the Ortiz brothers, Castellano and Velazquez are not your best value riders is simple. Because of their unique talent and as an extra edge for the outfits that own and train the best horses, these mounts are given to these riders.
This is not to be construed as a diminishment of the talents of these leading jockeys. It is simply a statement of fact. And the public is entirely culpable for over betting these jockeys as a result. And as a result of that these jockeys have a perennially negative Return On Investment (R.O.I.) and as such provide an opportunity for some solid value on the next tier of capable jockeys, those who might not be as visible as the top four.
(VELAZQUEZ ONLY TOP 4 JOCK WITH PLUS R.O.I.)
When it comes to ascertaining value as it pertains directly to jockeys…in other words, betting a jockey strictly based on his name and no other factors, John Velazquez presents a perfect example of how upside down that is.
From Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, himself and Javier Castellano, Velazquez rode by far the fewest horses (173.) He also had the lowest average winning mutuel at $7.87. For the most part this had to with him riding first call for the trainer with by far the largest number of overall post time and odds-on favorites.
However, because Velazquez had by far the highest win percentage of any of the top 4 jockeys…
Velazquez – 26.5%
Jose Ortiz – 19.4%
Irad Ortiz – 18.4%
Javier Castellano – 12.7%
…he was able to parlay that $7.87 average mutuel into a Return On Investment of $2.09 (a 9 cent profit on every $2 wager on a Velazquez ridden horse.)
To give you an idea of the returns and what kind of betting the public does on these perennially top 4 jockeys let’s take a look at their salient numbers. The jockeys are listed in order by number of wins.
Mounts – 298
Wins – 58
Winning Percentage – 19.4%
Average Mutual - $8.13
R.O.I. - $1.60
Winning Favorites – 24
Beaten Favorites – 51
Odds-On Winners – 7
IRAD ORTIZ, JR.
Mounts – 282
Wins – 53
Winning Percentage – 18.4%
Average Mutual - $8.31
R.O.I. - $1.56
Winning Favorites – 27
Beaten Favorites – 47
Odds-On Winners – 4
Mounts – 173
Wins – 46
Winning Percentage – 26.5%
Average Mutual - $7.87
R.O.I. - $2.09
Winning Favorites – 24
Beaten Favorites – 30
Odds-On Winners – 12
Mounts – 228
Wins – 29
Winning Percentage – 12.7%
Average Mutual - $8.03
R.O.I. - $1.02
Winning Favorites – 16
Beaten Favorites – 46
Odds-On Winners –2
It is worth repeating that what can be called at times blind extra money bet on the horses these noted jockeys ride simply because they are riding them has nothing to do with their abilities. It has everything to do with the wagering public.
This makes these numbers important because it declares that if you are betting a horse that one of them is riding you will be asked to take a “reduction in value. Which means there must be solid standard handicapping reasons beyond the rider or heavy influence by the rider on your check list.
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(IS THERE A WAY TO EVALUATE THESE JOCKEY NUMBERS?)
The answer to that is, of course. But we must repeat, even when we find positive angles for a jockey, those angles are based on past performance and do not guarantee the same results forever. One reason is that an under-the-radar rider who continues to provide value will eventually be discovered and that jockey will begin to have a higher rating equivalency in the handicapping procedures of savvy players.
Let’s take one of those jockeys from last year as an example…Rafael Santana, Jr.
Mounts - 136
Wins – 13
Winning Percentage – 9.6%
Average Mutuel - $1.77
Mounts – 191
Wins – 14
Winning Percentage - 7.3%
Average Mutuel - $1.72
Obviously Santana rode to a negative R.O.I. the last two years and a very low winning percentage. But given those low win percentages that R.O.I. was rather high. It was, as you would expect, relatively high because Santana rode one of the highest percentages of longshots at each meet.
In fact, only 5 of his 27 winners paid in single digits. Among his 22 double digit winners was a $60.00 winner in 2016 (his highest of the two years.)
But that 29-1 runner was “short” compared to many of the hopeless longshots Santana was willing to ride in order to make a name for himself.
Looking more carefully one could find 14 horses that went off higher than 29-1 in 2017 and 29 that went off at higher than 29-1 (Santana’s threshold winner the last two years) in 2016. And if one were to use that 29-1 as a barometer and eliminate those horses which went off at above those odds, Santana’s R.O.I. in 2017 was exactly break even at $2.00 and in 2016 the R.O.I. was $2.03.
Keep in mind this is not an endorsement of making a $2 win wager on every one of Santana’s horses that goes off at 29-1 or less. But it is a way of showing you that there are always ways to break down a jockey as applies to your overall handicapping…rather than betting a jockey blind…especially if he is as visible as the perennial top four.