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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 1:52 PM

Saratoga Watch
Jim Hurley
Thursday. June 28

When it comes to the 40 day Saratoga Meet, which begins Friday July 20, there are any number of traps a horse bettor can fall prey to. And many of them have two things in common. They are the result of bromides which lost their fizzle many years ago, yet are still spread at a virulent rate by players and are the result of repeated proclamations based upon “empirical” experience on the part of TV and Blog pundits who should know better. .

Today I will focus on a number of these “assumptions” as they apply to two-year old (juvenile) maiden races at Saratoga.

Let’s star by repeating just 4 of the assumptions made by players based on these long ago flattened bromides plus repeated statements made by the pundits.

ONE – With so little information to go by, the best way to bet two-year old maiden races is by following the action on the tote-board.

TWO – Consider every juvenile maiden Todd Pletcher sends to the track, he is a master at getting the great stock he manages to win early.

THREE – Up and coming trainer Chad Brown always has his horses ready early. If they don’t win on debut they win soon after.

FOUR – Wesley Ward might not have the stock and credentials of a Pletcher or Brown, but all you have to do is look at his exploits with two-year olds at Keeneland every year to know how juvenile-early-win-centric he is.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. But is it borne out by the actual racing?

(WHATEVER ELSE YOU DO…DO NOT BE HELD HOSTAGE BY THE TOTE BOARD)

If you have been a Saratoga player for any more than one or two days you would have been told that the “only” way to “Beat” juvenile maiden races is by following the tote board.

The reason is, those on the backstretch who have seen these horses work, those owners and trainers who point to Saratoga for an early career win, and those bigger horse bettors who are “connected,” know which horses are ready to win immediately and which will need to race themselves into a winning mode.

That in turn means serious money will show up on the “Live Horse” when there is otherwise so little “form” information to go on. To repeal, you should follow the money as it appears on the tote board.

Logically, if that is true, then favorites or even near to favorites should win a high percentage of two-year old maiden races. Well, year in and year out I’ve done the research, and all I can say to those who follow such a rule is…Uh-Oh!

Last year there were 61 two-year old maiden races at Saratoga. Of the 61 the favorite was a winner 17 times…27.9%.

That meant there were 44 beaten favorites. So much for following the “smart money” as it shows up on the tote board.

Here are the relevant stats from last year…stats I might add which are within 2-3 percentage points and 25-35 cents in return average payoffs the last 4 years.

Let me digress one moment to say that the payoffs, percentages and how people bet are of course generally the same when a sizable sample is used because it is for the most part a “wagering body” composed of the same majority nucleus, with the same patterns year in and year out.

Two-Year Old Maiden Stats 2018

*Number Of Races - 61
*Number Of Favorite Winners – 17 (27.9%) – Compared To Overall Winning favorites Percentage Of 36.7 The last 5 Years
*Average Payoff Of 17 Winning Favorites - $4.99
*Number Of Favorites Finishing 2nd – 10
*Number Of Favorites Finishing 3rd – 9
*Number Of Favorites Finishing Off The Board – 25
*Average Payoff For Winning Non-favorites - $22.75
*Overall Average Winning Payoff - $17.80…Compared To The Overall Win Average Payoff For All races Of $12.98.

To all those who wish to follow the tote I say, go right ahead, my clients and I will find better information and get better results…you can always join us.

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(PLAY TODD PLETCHER TWO-YEAR OLD MAIDENS AND EKE OUT A SMALL PROFIT, BUT…)

Whatever else I might say about Todd Pletcher and his two-year old maidens, if you bet all 33 of them at the same win amount you might have eked out a small profit. And small or not, any plus R.O.I. from a trainer is notable.

And it is perhaps specifically notable given that his public recognition means his horses are “over-bet” simply on name recognition alone. And that is where the “Value” problem rests.

First The Stats:

*Number Of Starters – 33
*Number Of Winners – 9 (27.3%)
*Average Payoff For The 9 Winners - $8.01
*Return On Investment For Each $2 Wager - $2.18
*Number Of Beaten Favorites 8

In summation, there is no other way to produce those numbers but as positive. This is my only caveat. When it comes to the likes of a brilliant, notable trainer like Pletcher, I know anything I win is “devalued.” All one has to do is pick the name of any trainer other than the recognizable top 3 or 4 and give him or her a 27.3% overall win margin. I guarantee you that the R.O.I. would be considerably higher.

You might think I’m nit-picking but remember, Pletcher isn’t the only trainer sending out horses…and when it comes to value, one has to read more deeply. You can see that I do.

(CHAD BROWN AND WESLEY WARD – TWO SOLID TRAINERS YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID IN JUVENILE MAIDEN RACES)

As I wrap up I will remind you that when I mention Todd Pletcher, Chad Brown and Wesley Ward I am writing “only” of their juvenile maiden race performances and doing so for the purpose of showing you there might be traps you don’t want to fall into.

To briefly go back to what I stated at the start to this article, as the 2018 Saratoga Meet unfolds you will undoubtedly hear the praises of Chard Brown and Wesley Ward sung, for the reasons I mentioned above.

Consider them overall if you will. But when it comes to juvenile maiden races, I’ll leave you with the statistics from a year ago.

Chad Brown:
*Number Of Starters – 23
*Number Of Winners – 5 (21.7%)
*Average Payoff For The 5 Winners - $5.52
*Return On Investment For Each $2 Wager - $1.20
*Number Of Beaten Favorites 8
Note: The Numbers Speak For Their Self…Be Careful.

Wesley Ward:
*Number Of Starters – 15
*Number Of Winners – 3 (20.0%)
*Average Payoff For The 3 Winners - $10.06
*Return On Investment For Each $2 Wager - $2.02
*Number Of Beaten Favorites 2
Note: Based Strictly On Returns You Break Even With Ward. But Let’s Look Inside Those Numbers. In The 12 races He Did Not Win, His Runner Managed Only 1 Second And 2 Thirds. Imagine Bettors Looking To Him To Complete An Exotic.

(CONCLUSION)

This is not meant to disparage players and their methods or to knock very capable trainers. Just remember, there are numerous ways that you can be led astray by listening to “empirical” advice from too many pundits. Don’t fall into the traps. Be diligent in your handicapping. And always remember…I’m right here every day of the Saratoga Meet.

 

 

 

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