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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 9, 2018 at 1:11 PM

Saratoga Watch
Jim Hurley,
Monday, July 9

Every year I present my annual look at the prospects for Saratoga Shippers. And as I went over the 2017 performances by shippers I once again can tell you that the more things change, new horses, some new barns, the more they stay the same.

The largest number of shippers arrive from the same locations (Churchill Downs, Monmouth Park, Gulfstream and PARX) and the payoffs on those shippers which do win are higher than the horses stabled at Belmont and Aqueduct before moving north. Even horses shipping in for multi-circuit trainers with stables in New York are usually higher payoffs than the locals.

The most difficult aspect of handicapping shippers is that there are barns which prime horses to win on the “big stage” and are successful in doing so. At the same time, so many shippers arrive at Saratoga simply because their connections “want to run at Saratoga.”

This becomes even more pronounced a separation because an outfit might have been allocated 20 stalls at Saratoga. This outfit might have 5 or 6 horses ready to win first out over the circuit based on their “readiness stage” given their past performances on their home circuit. But if the trainer has some maidens ready to continue their education, a couple of turf runners that have been competitive in conditions that he or she sees written the first three weeks or so of the meet and has those extra stalls, those horses will make the trip with the barn.

All of this and much more enters into how you need to appraise shippers. In other words, these horses are not live because they have, as you will hear from many analysts, “shipped in to win.”

In fact, the numbers, which I will publish below, numbers which have been eerily similar over the countless years I have done this, make playing a shipper as in need of solid reasons as wagering on any other horse.

(THE NUMBERS SAY SHIPPERS JUST AS TOUGH TO BEAT AS ANY OTHER PROSPECT)

First of all consider this. Without shippers welcomed by NYRA and Saratoga, the 40 Day Race Meet would not exist.

Last year there were a total of 398 races (not counting steeplechase) run during the Saratoga meet. In those 398 races we had a total of 3,249 runners leave the gate. 716 of those were shippers. That is 22.4%. But when it comes to evaluating past performance of shippers vs New York circuit based horses the percentages of shippers is much higher because of the number of first time starters included in the 3,249 figure.

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Below are the collective performances of shippers at Saratoga last year.

*Keep in mind that when you read these statistics there were occasions when multiple shippers from one track ran in the same race. But it was rare when a shipper won a race with shippers from the same circuit beaten in that race.

CHURCHILL DOWNS
Number of runners – 142
Win-2nd-3rd – 17-16-17
Winning Percentage 12%
Average Mutuel Payoff* - $23.27
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager* - $2.78
Winning Favorites – 3
Beaten Favorites - 12
*The Mutuel and R.O.I. figures are factors of one juvenile winner which returned $232.50. The remaining 16 of 141 charted out at $10.15 and $1.16
MONMOUTH PARK
Number of runners – 107
Win-2nd-3rd – 17-14-17
Winning Percentage 15.9%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $11.55
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $1.83
Winning Favorites – 8
Beaten Favorites – 10
GULFSTREAM PARK
Number of runners – 65
Win-2nd-3rd – 8-4-6
Winning Percentage 12.3%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $8.28
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $1.02
Winning Favorites – 6
Beaten Favorites – 2
DELAWARE PARK
Number of runners – 53
Win-2nd-3rd – 3-3-3
Winning Percentage .057%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $27.40
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $1.55
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 2
PARX
Number of runners – 48
Win-2nd-3rd – 6-8-6
Winning Percentage 12.5%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $18.55
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $2.32
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 3
LAUREL PARK
Number of runners – 48
Win-2nd-3rd – 6-4-5
Winning Percentage 12.5%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $17.90
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $2.24
Winning Favorites – 2
Beaten Favorites – 3
(NOTE) – The numbers for both PARX and Laurel were almost exactly the same. The positive R.O.I. indicates that if you like a horse shipping in from either of these venues you should not be dissuaded if there appears to be not much backing at the windows. In addition to the high R.O.I. notice that combined only 3 PARX shippers went off as the favorite and only 5 LAUREL shippers were favored.
FINGER LAKES
Number of runners – 44
Win-2nd-3rd – 6-5-5
Winning Percentage 12.3%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $11.42
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $1.56
Winning Favorites – 1
Beaten Favorites – 0
ELLIS PARK
Number of runners – 28
Win-2nd-3rd – 2-1-2
Winning Percentage 0.71%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $6.75
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.48
Winning Favorites – 2
Beaten Favorites – 2
WOODBINE
Number of runners – 24
Win-2nd-3rd – 7-2-4
Winning Percentage 29.2%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $9.35
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $2.57
Winning Favorites – 3
Beaten Favorites – 1
EUROPEAN-NON NORTH AMERICAN
Number of runners – 20
Win-2nd-3rd – 3-2-1
Winning Percentage 15.0%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $8.07
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $1.21
Winning Favorites – 2
Beaten Favorites – 3
INDIANA DOWNS
Number of runners – 19
Win-2nd-3rd – 1-2-5
Winning Percentage 0.53%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $5.50
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.28
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 1
SUFFOLK DOWNS
Number of runners – 16
Win-2nd-3rd – 0-3-2
Winning Percentage 0.00%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $0.00
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.00
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 0
PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS
Number of runners – 14
Win-2nd-3rd – 2-0-4
Winning Percentage 14.2%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $9.00
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $1.29
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 0
SANTA ANITA PARK PARK
Number of runners – 12
Win-2nd-3rd – 2-1-2
Winning Percentage 16.7%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $5.25
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.88
Winning Favorites – 2
Beaten Favorites – 1
ARLINGTON PARK
Number of runners – 12
Win-2nd-3rd – 0-2-1
Winning Percentage 12.3%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $0.00
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.00
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 3
KEENELAND
Number of runners – 11
Win-2nd-3rd – 3-1-1
Winning Percentage 27.3%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $28.27
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $7.71
Winning Favorites – 0
Beaten Favorites – 0
NOTE: Since every Keeneland shipper will be a “layoff” horse due to the last day of their spring meet, it would be wise to check out the works and layoff numbers of the entering trainers.
PRAIRIE MEADOWS
Number of runners – 9
Win-2nd-3rd – 1-0-2
Winning Percentage 11.1%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $7.60
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.84
Winning Favorites - 1
Beaten Favorites – 0
PIMLICO RACE TRACK
Number of runners – 8
Win-2nd-3rd – 1-1-3
Winning Percentage 12.5%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $20.80
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $2.60
Winning Favorites - 0
Beaten Favorites – 1
TAMPA BAY DOWNS
Number of runners – 8
Win-2nd-3rd – 1-2-0
Winning Percentage 11.1%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $6.90
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.86
Winning Favorites - 0
Beaten Favorites – 0
DEL MAR
Number of runners – 5
Win-2nd-3rd – 1-1-0
Winning Percentage 20%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $4.30
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $0.86
Winning Favorites - 1
Beaten Favorites – 0
LOS ALAMITOS
Number of runners – 2
Win-2nd-3rd – 2-0-0
Winning Percentage 100%
Average Mutuel Payoff - $19.30
R.O.I. Per $2 Wager - $19.30
Winning Favorites - 0
Beaten Favorites – 0
NOTE: Cause We Are Loyal ($24.40) shipped east by Doug O’Neill to win the Seeking the Ante Stakes and West Coast shipped east by Bob Baffert to win the Travers Stakes.

The following tracks had no winners from 3 or less shippers:
Mountaineer, Oaklawn, Thistledown, Golden Gate, Penn National, Canterbury, Fair Grounds, Evangeline, Turfway Park, Turf Paradise, Remington, and Belterra Park.

These are the base numbers and they are pretty close to what we saw the last 3 years. Keep in mind, which trainers ship better than others, how long a layoff, past history over the surface for older horses all serve to fine tune these numbers. But this is a good starting point. Keep this breakdown available. And remember to revisit National race masters daily for further Saratoga preview updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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