National Race Masters Blog

Back to Blog Home…

Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM


17 Days Until The SPA

Part III - June 30

You can look at the calendar and wonder why you are reading an article on the 2014 Saratoga Race Meet when it is still almost 3 weeks away…or you can be grateful that with so much information available to help make this year’s meet the best ever IT IS NEVER TO EARLY to begin discussing all the INTRICATE ANGLES, TRENDS and HISTORICAL DATA that most Spa Bettors never consider…the Angles, Trends and Historical Data that will change your wagering fortunes.

Over the course of the next few weeks we will publish updates to this SARATOGA OVERVIEW ARTICLE that reveals factors that most bettors never even consider…factors that separate the 10% that win from the 90% that lose. We suggest you join us every week for this invaluable information.

With that in mind we are using this edition of the SARATOGA OVERVIEW to "profile" what have been OVERLAY Payoffs in 5½ Furlong, 7 Furlong and 1 Mile Turf Races over the course of the last four to five years at Saratoga.

Let us first remind you that we use the term PROFILE because instead of strict reliance on Ragozin or Thorograph Numbers or Beyer or BRIS Speed Numbers that for the most part point to favorites, which the profiles below will show to be distinct BET AGAINST PROPOSITIONS….especially early in the meet, which we’ll point out below, the breakdowns you are about to read give you a range of performance figures that allow you to evaluate how certain horses in a race, based on their running styles will fit that range of patterns. But most important of all is the revelation of how these 5 ½ furlong races far OUTPAY ANY OTHER DISTANCE OR SURFACE RACES…as we stated above, especially early in the meet.

Don’t Sit On Your Hands…The Big Payoffs Begin Early

Below we break down the average prices, the better post positions, the best running styles and the PROFILES of the most likely winners in 5½ furlong turf races at Saratoga.

Let’s review a general pattern, one that has repeated itself over the last few years.

The 5½ furlong turf race pays such outlandish prices early in the meet (the first 25-28 days) because it is a distance that 90% of the horses competing in don’t generally run at. For instance, at the Belmont meet, turf sprints are run at 6 and 7 furlongs. At Saratoga, because of the layout of the turf courses the "only" sprints are run at 5 ½ furlongs. The next distance is 1 mile.

This configuration means that many trainers with horses that have shown speed at Belmont at 6 and 7 furlongs are hopeful that the "shorter" distance will be advantageous. And generally speaking it would be except that in most (again especially early in the meet) there are a number of conditioners who are looking for the same edge so the pace factor can in many instances be even more damaging than at the slightly longer distances.

Conversely, pressers, stalkers and trackers who have made moves that get them a win or on the board from just off or from mid-pack at 6 and 7 furlongs are apt to run out of race track.

Each year also produces a number of speed runners who have failed on the main track…horses whose trainers "hope" will wake up on the turf. Some do and some don’t.

All of these jumbled factors contribute to what you will discover below…great prices. So let’s begin with a breakdown of the races and then conclude with an OVERVIEW.

Race By Race Profile Shows Why You Want To Be Involved Early

Directly below are statistics for ALL 61 turf races run at 5½ furlongs during the 2014 meet. The weather was most cooperative as only a totals of nine 5½ furlong turf races were washed to the main track and four of those came during the final two days of the meet.

# of Horses in each Race Post Pos. of Top 3 Winning Price Trip Type Lengths Behind Leader at 1st and 2nd Call Exacta Payoff
12 3/4/9 $11.20 wire-to-wire N/A $291.00
12 4/12/7 $5.70(F) Press (1—1) $44.20
9 5/7/9 $11.40 Press (1 - 1) $206.50
9 4/5/3 $24.40 Track (5.5—6.5) $108.50
10 4/5/1 $7.50(F) Press (1 - .5) $45.00
12 11/10/8 $16.40 Stalk (2—1.5) $69.00
9 7/4/3 $5.40(F) Track (7—5.5) $27.60
8 4/8/6 $17.80 Stalk (3—3.5) $138.50
10 3/9/10 $40.20 Stalk (3—3) $480.00
9 8/2/6 $16.60 Press (.5 - .5) $81.00
8 3/2/8 $16.40 Track (5—2.5) $52.00
8 2/8/4 $8.00 Stalk (2.5—2.5) $32.00
11 11/8/9 $11.00 Stalk (4—2) $58.00
12 1/9/3 $23.40 Track (4.5—5) $361.50
12 7/3/9 $10.20 wire-to-wire N/A $119.00
12 1/12/3 $69.50 Track (5—4.5) $294.50
8 6/5/7 $25.40 Track (3.5—3.5) $93.50
8 1/8/5 $6.30(F) Track (5.5—5) $31.20
8 8/1/6 $5.40(F) Press (1—1) $21.20
10 3/6/5 $9.70 Track (5—4.5) $36.00
8 8/4/1 $9.40 Press (.5—L) $47.20
10 6/4/3 $4.60(F) Track (6.5—5) $15.60
12 12/10/4 $7.80 Press (L - .5) $157.50
9 2/7/3 $17.60 Stalk (4—2.5) $111.50
10 4/6/2 $5.60 Track (4.5—4.5) $46.80
8 8/3/5 $11.20 Track (4.5—4) $78.50
9 8/1/3 $12.20 Stalk (3.5—3) $49.40
7 6/7/2 $5.50(F) wire-to-wire N/A $30.00
9 5/9/8 $10.20 Track (7—6.5) $36.00
5 2/4/5 $27.20 Track (5.5—5.5) $55.00
8 7/8/2 $3.20(F) wire-to-wire N/A $26.40
8 6/4/5 $9.00 Stalk (2—1.5) $46.40
5 5/2/4 $6.40 Press (1.5—1) $14.00
8 8/5/2 $14.40 wire-to-wire N/A $77.50
9 7/8/2 $8.30 Press (1.5—1) $50.00
9 4/3/9 $13.40 Track (9.5—7) $43.40
7 5/6/2 $20.20 Track (5—4.5) $164.00
7 2/3/4 $20.60 wire-to-wire N/A $106.50
5 3/4/5 $3.20(F) Stalk (4—3) $13.60
10 10/6/3 $10.40 Track (4—3.5) $67.00
11 1/5/8 $31.80 wire-to-wire N/A $218.50
10 8/1/5 $4.80(F) Stalk (2—1) $37.60
8 4/6/8 $6.40(F) Stalk (2—1.5) $27.80
10 8/9/7 $46.00 Press (1 - .5) $143.00
6 5/2/3 $5.40(F) Stalk (3—2) $15.80
9 6/4/8 $5.60(F) Press (.5 - .5) $19.60
8 7/3/1 $47.80 Track (6—3.5) $208.50
7 5/6/7 $18.00 Track (3.5—3) $41.60
9 4/9/7 $24.80 Stalk (2.5—4) $250.00
8 3/7/6 $6.70 Stalk (2.5--2.5) $18.60
9 7/6/2 $6.70 wire-to-wire N/A $32.20
10 4/6/5 $6.70(F) Press (1.5—1.5) $22.40
9 2/4/6 $3.00(F) Track (5—2) $25.60
7 4/7/6 $4.40(F) wire-to-wire N/A $36.20
7 7/6/1 $4.30(F) Stalk (3.5—3) $29.20
7 1/5/3 $3.90(F) Stalk (2—2) $16.60
10 4/3/5 $4.10(F) Press (.5 - .5) $67.50
8 6/3/7 $15.00 Stalk (2—2) $65.00
8 8/6/3 $25.80 Press (.5—L) $212.50
8 3/7/8 $6.20(F) Press (1—L) $19.00
8 2/6/4 $5.20(F) Press (1.5—1.5) $17.40

Saratoga is Almost Here...
ButThere’s Still Plenty of Winning Left at Belmont
Click Here to Get the Winning Edges You Need!

Profile Summary

It won’t take many glances at the lines above to understand how wide open these 5½ furlong turf races are. Nonetheless, the PROFILES can give you a starting point as to what sort of runner to look for and more importantly as we’ll see shortly…the importance of betting these races early in the meet for the most value.

ONE—There were 61 races with the average field size of 8.8 horses. Fortunately in 2013 weather cooperated and only 9 originally schedules turf sprints were washed to the main track and 4 of those came on the final 2 days of the meet.

TWO—Below is a summary of how many horse ran in each of the individual 61 races, how many races with that many horses there were and when that number of horses ran which post positions had how many horses hit the board (first, second or third.)

(5)—[3]…0-2-1-3-3 (To read this…none of the horses in post one hit the board…2 in post two…1 in post three…etc.)…Not enough of a sample for any conclusion.

(6)—[1]…0-1-1-0-1-0…Not enough of a sample for any conclusion.

(7)—[7]…2-3-2-2-3-5-4…Slight edge outside two posts but still a small sample. No bad post.

(8)—[18]…4-5-7-6-5-9-6-12…Slight edge to the outside. No individual post is a definite liability.

(9)—(13)…1-5-5-6-3-4-6-5-4…With the exception of the rail horse the post positions broke down evenly.

(10)—[10]…2-1-5-5-5-5-1-2-2-2…Although not a huge sample the inside two posts were submerged by the four posts outside of them. This is perhaps a reflection for the most part of the horses that were on the inside in these 10 races being for the most part closers that needed to drop back and loop the field in order to get on the board and therein had rough trips. This is why it is important to understand the running styles and how it will play out at creation posts.

(11)—[2]…1-0-0-0-1-0-0-2-1-0-1…Not a big enough sample for conclusion.

(12)—[7]…2-0-4-3-0-0-2-1-3-2-1-3…Not a big enough sample for conclusion.


  1. The average overall percentage of favorites in theses 5 ½ furlong turf races was 34.4% which was slightly below the overall average for the meet.
  2. Average Payoff for the meet…$13.85…average payoff for favorites $5.09 (well below the national average for favorite payoffs…average payoffs for non-favorites $18.45 (well above the overall national average for non-favorite payoffs.)
  3. We mentioned above the value of betting these races from day one. This is borne out by how the favorites broke down. In the first 38 of the 61 races there were only 8 favorites and they averaged $5.45 whereas in the final 23 races of the meet there were 13 favorite winners at an average of $4.86. As you would expect the 30 non-favorites from the first 38 races averaged a $23.30 payoff whereas the 10 non-favorites from the final 23 races had an average payoff of $16.84. This pattern has repeated itself in past years and is a reflection of trainers trying out-of-form or unproven on turf form early in the meet. As the meet goes on and horse runs a second or third time the stronger horses reveal themselves and the weaker ones run back with no hope or don’t run at all. This is why the VALUE IS EARLY IN THE MEET. This does not mean you stop playing the last two weeks or so…it means you don’t sit and wait as too many players tend to.

FOUR—Type of runner.

The breakdown listed above shows that there was no bias that favored any particular type of runner with a slight hurdle for wire-to-wire runners.

  • Wire-To-Wire…9 Winners
  • Pressers…16 Winners
  • Stalkers…17 Winners
  • Trackers…19 Winners

FIVE—First and second call positioning

The winners of these 52 non wire-to-wire turf sprints were an average of 3.3 lengths off the leader at first call and 2.7 lengths off the leader at second call.

However, by scanning the data above you can see that the range of lengths off the lead at first call was as far as 9 lengths back, with 16 of the 52 being 4.5 lengths or more back. At second call the range of lengths off the leader was as far back as 7 while 12 of the 52 non wire-to-wire winners were still 4.5 lengths or more off the leader at second call. This is why you should not fall into the trap that so many amateur bettors do of believing that closers are always going to be compromised in so short a race. No matter that distance, if the pace is honest enough the race will play out to the best horses.

SIX—Exacta Payoffs

  • The average Exacta Payoff on all 61 races was $87.85.
  • The average Exacta Payoff on the 21 races won by favorites was $28.14
  • The average Exacta Payoff on the 40 races won by non-favorites was $1119.20

The PROFILES above are of course only part of a deep equation when it comes to isolating the TOP VALUE WINNING PLAYS at Saratoga. But hopefully they will give you an idea of how to approach the past performances of each horse in these 5 ½ furlong turf races.

We will return at the end of the week with a similar breakdown on the mile and longer turf races.

Join the discussion


Forgot password

Keep me logged in