Category Archives: Handicapping Blog

Pedigree Handicapping – Kentucky Derby Distance Sires

Perhaps the biggest question when handicapping the Kentucky Derby is whether or not a young three-year-old is up to the challenging mile and a quarter distance. Their pedigree, starting with the sire, can provide important clues.

Fifteen stallions have sired the 20 horses likely to break from the Derby starting gate on May 5 and we used the stallion data within Betmix Angler to analyze the success of their progeny at distances of 9 furlongs or longer. The full results, sorted by Win % are shown in the chart below.

Of the stallions with over 25 runners to sample it's no surprise to see Tapit and Awesome Again leading the way in Win %. While the Derby has eluded Tapit so far, he is the sire of three of the past four Belmont Stakes champions. Awesome Again won the Breeders' Cup Classic (at Churchill) and has long been known as sire of later-developing two-turn types. His distance runners have been much more profitable for bettors too with a positive Win ($34.30) and Place ($13.50) flat bet profits.

Perhaps the surprise among the top three is Into Mischief who is known more as a speed influence. His signature win came in the CashCall Futurity (G1) at 8.5 furlongs, the longest distance he ever raced. He's truly become one of North America's top stallions but his best runners so far have excelled around one turn: Canadian champion sprinter Miss Mischief, two-time Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, Champagne/Allen Jerkens Memorial S. winner Practical Joke, etc. The latter posted his sire's best Derby finish when 5th last year. Into Mischief's two other Derby starters Vyjack and Vicar's in Trouble finished 18th and 19th, respectively.

It's obviously a small sample size for Take Charge Indy, whose first crop are just three-year-olds this year. In fact his first Derby contender, Noble Indy, is also his lone distance winner from four starters after taking the 9-furlong Louisiana Derby in late March. Creative Cause also has a smaller sample but there's reason to believe this distance success will continue as he's a son of Giant's Causeway and a full brother to Destin, a Grade 2 winner at 14 furlongs and the nose runner-up in the 2016 Belmont Stakes.

 

Pedigree Handicapping – Sire Performance at Churchill Downs

Handicappers have heard the adage 'horses for courses' to signify a thoroughbred that seems to run best over a certain racetrack. But what about 'sires for courses'?

Since Betmix Angler features stallion data we can attempt to answer that question. With Kentucky Derby 144 on the horizon we took a look at the sires of this year's prospective runners to see how their progeny have performed on the main track at Churchill Downs (since 2012). The full results, sorted by Win %, are shown in the chart below.

The Storm Cat grandson Creative Cause (sire of My Boy Jack) leads the way narrowly over Into Mischief (Audible), a Storm Cat great grandson. Creative Cause has only two full crops on the track currently so his sample is limited, but still encouraging. This seems legitimate as he performed reasonably well under the Twin Spires during his racing career, finishing 3rd in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (behind Hansen and Union Rags) and 5th in I'll Have Another's Kentucky Derby the following spring. His sire, the great Giant's Causeway, ran Tiznow to the wire in that dramatic 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic in Louisville. Into Mischief raced exclusively in California but his sire, Harlan's Holiday, was based in Louisville during his early career with trainer Kenny McPeek and captured the 2001 Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill during his juvenile season. He later finished 7th as the favorite in the '02 Derby.

Awesome Again ranks third in progeny Win % over the track on which he conquered one of the best Breeders' Cup Classic fields ever assembled in 1998.

Creative Cause and Into Mischief are among the four stallions whose progeny have produced flat win bet profits on the Churchill main course over the past several seasons. Arch (Instilled Regard) and Take Charge Indy (Noble Indy), whose oldest runners are three-year-olds, are the others.

Younger or regional stallions like Lucky Pulpit (sire of California Chrome), Uncle Mo (Nyquist) and Bodemeister (Always Dreaming) have sired the past few Kentucky Derby champions so finding reliable past test samples of this approach to Derby handicapping is a little tricky. However, the Bodemeister runners had produced a $6.80 flat bet win profit (2 winners from 15 starters or 13.3%) and Pioneerof the Nile had sired 19.4% winners at Churchill ($18.40 flat bet win profit) prior to American Pharoah kicking off his Triple Crown tour in the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

Sharp Angles – Wando Stakes

Wando S.
8.5F on All Weather (April 21)
Horse Racing Data Analyzed: 28 stakes at 8.5 furlongs for 3-year-olds over Woodbine main track
Date Range: January 1, 2013 - Present
Sharp Angle: Ranked 1st in Speed This Distance
Factor Stats: 32 contenders, 11 winners (34%, $26.30 flat win bet profit, 141 ROI%, 21 in the money 65%)

Woodbine kicks off its 2018 season on Saturday with a two-stakes card. Recently crowned Canadian Horse of the Year Pink Lloyd will be odds on to capture his ninth straight in the Jacques Cartier Stakes but the co-featured Wando Stakes figures to be a much more interesting handicapping puzzle. The 1 1/16 mile contest has attracted a field of 7 sophomores, some of whom have their sights set on the $1 million Queen's Plate on June 30.

Using the Betmix Angler handicapping software to analyze the last 28 three-year-old stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine Polytrack course we find that Speed This Distance has been key for this race type. 11 of the 32 contenders (34%) have had found the winner's circle with another 10 filling out the extactor and triactor spots (66% in-the-money). A $2 flat bet on these contenders has shown a $26.30 win profit buoyed by Shaman Ghost, hero of the 2016 Marine Stakes at 13-1.

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Sharp Angles – Arkansas Derby

Arkansas Derby
9F on Dirt (April 14)
Horse Racing Data Analyzed: last 5 runnings of the Arkansas Derby
Date Range: January 1, 2013 - Present
Sharp Angle: Ranked 1st in Best Lifetime Speed
Factor Stats: 5 contenders, 3 winners (60%, $7.40 flat win bet profit, 174 ROI%, 4 in the money 80%, $9.20 place bet profit, $4.50 show bet profit)

The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby had drawn another field worthy of its grade with the unbeaten sensation Magnum Moon and Solomini (a G1 winner until the stewards intervened) the headliners. Using Betmix Angler to analyze the past five runnings of the Arkansas Derby we find that Best Lifetime Speed has been a strong predictor of success.

In fact, three of the past five winners, along with a 7-1 runner up, have ranked first in this factor with positive ROIs showing across the board. It's true that favored American Pharoah (2015) and Classic Empire (2017) are among the three winners. But the latter entered last year's contest under a cloud of uncertainty after a curious third-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes. The sample also includes 2013 winner Overanlyze who was among three contenders under 4-1 (including eventual Preakness hero Oxbow). This year's race shapes up similarly on the tote board and this Sharp Angle can provide an extra degree of confidence when deciding between closely matched runners.

How to apply this Sharp Angle:
Using the Factor Ranking sliders in Betmix Birddog, find the horse that ranks 1st in Best Lifetime Speed.

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Sharp Angles – Fred W. Hooper S.

Fred W. Hooper S.
8F on Dirt (January 27)
Horse Racing Data Analyzed: 13 one mile Gulfstream Park graded stakes on dirt
Date Range: January 1, 2013 - Present
Sharp Angle: Ranked 1st in Avg. Last 3 Late Pace
Factor Stats: 13 contenders, 6 winners (46%, $16.60 flat win bet profit, 163 ROI%, 9 in the money 69%, $6.20 place bet profit, $0.30 show bet profit)

Anchored by the second Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park, Saturday, January 27 is the first ‘event day’ on the 2018 thoroughbred racing calendar. While the big race is expected to be a going away party for the odds-on Gun Runner, the rest of the card offers some intriguing betting opportunities. The Fred W. Hooper Stakes, for example, has drawn a competitive field of 11 and we've found a profitable Sharp Angle to help formulate a betting strategy for the race.

By using the Betmix Angler handicapping software to analyze the past 13 one mile dirt Graded stakes at Gulfstream, we found that Average Last 3 Late Pace has pointed the winners of nearly half of those races. Another three runners ranking first in this factor hit the board with positive ROIs generated in the win, place and show slots.

How to apply this Sharp Angle:
Using the Factor Ranking sliders in Betmix Birddog find the horse that ranks 1st in Average Last 3 Late Pace.

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Sharp Angles – Las Cienegas S.

Las Cienegas S. (G3)
6.5F on the turf at Santa Anita (January 20)
Races Analyzed: 32 graded stakes at 6.5 furlongs on turf
Date Range: January 1, 2013 - Present
Sharp Angle: Ranked 1st in Avg. Earnings This Track + 1st or 2nd in Last Turn Time
Factor Stats: 15 contenders, 8 winners (53%, $20.60 flat win bet profit, 166 ROI%), 13 in the money (86%, $7.40 flat place bet profit, $2.40 flat show bet profit)

The 6.5-furlong sprints on the downhill hill turf course at Santa Anita are the most unique races in North America and present a most unique handicapping challenge as well. With several years of horse racing data from the gorgeous Arcadia, California course, Betmix users are in a unique position to isolate the most important factors in these races.

Using Betmix Angler we find that familiarity and a turn of foot has been successful in this race type. A total of 15 runners in the past 32 graded stakes ‘down the hill’ have ranked 1st in Average Earnings This Track AND 1st or 2nd in Last Turn Time. Eight (53%) have found the winner's circle and, incredibly, only two of the 15 contenders has failed to hit the board.

How to apply this Sharp Angle:
Using the Factor Ranking sliders in Betmix Birddog find the horse that ranks 1st in Average Earnings This Track AND among the top 2 in Last Turn Time.

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Pedigree Handicapping – 2017 Sprint Sires

In recent posts we've been highlighting some of the powerful pedigree data that can be mined within the Betmix Angler handicapping software. This time we take a look at some of the most successful sprint sires of 2017. We started with the top Top 20 sires by 2017 North American earnings and then used Angler to gather sprint race figures for those 20 sires.

Into Mischief is the leader by 2017 sprint win % at 18.82% followed closely by Ghostzapper (18.56%) and Tapit (18.55%). All three sires have a better sprint win % than their overall 2017 win % as well (noted by green shading in chart below).

Medaglia d'Oro is next in line with a 17.86% win rate and he's the only sire in this sample with a positive $2 Win ROI. That number is buoyed by $135 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint upsetter Bar of Gold, but his sprint runners also won at an higher clip than his general runner population in 2017.

Pedigree Handicapping Visual

 

Sharp Angles – Mucho Macho Man S.

Mucho Macho Man S.
8F on Dirt (January 6)
Horse Racing Data Analyzed: 16 one mile Gulfstream Park stakes for 3YOs on dirt
Date Range: January 1, 2013 - Present
Sharp Angle: Ranked 1st in Best Lifetime Speed
Factor Stats: 19 contenders, 9 winners (47.4%, $16.40 flat win bet profit, 143 ROI%, 16 in the money, $16.20 place bet profit, $4.00 show bet profit)

Here we go! The road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby kicks off with the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita and the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park. An octet of three-year-old square off in the latter, going a flat mile in South Florida. Using the Betmix Angler handicapping software we find that Best Lifetime Speed has been a key factor in these Gulfstream 8 furlong stakes for sophomores. While it’s no surprise that the race would tend to go to the fastest horse, the payouts have been good the Angle has pointed to 4 of the 5 winners of this race, including last year’s $11.40 winner Sonic Mule.

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Sharp Angles – Tropical Park Derby & Oaks

Tropical Park Derby & Tropical Park Oaks.
8.5F on Turf (December 30)
Horse Racing Data Analyzed: 46 Gulfstream Park turf stakes for 3YOs at 8 & 8.5 furlongs
Date Range: January 1, 2013 - Present
Sharp Angle: Ranked 1st in Average Turf Earnings
Factor Stats: 45 contenders, 12 winners (26.7%, $48.20 flat win bet profit, 153 ROI%)

Sophomore turfers get one last chance for a blacktype win against their own age group in Saturday’s Tropical Park Derby and Tropical Park Oaks. Using the Betmix Angler handicapping software to analyze middle distance Gulfstream Park turf stakes for 3-year-olds we find an emerging Angle for this race type. Average Turf Earnings pointed to the double digit winners of both these contests last year - Giant Surprise, winner of the Derby at 8.90-1 and Ultra Brat who lit up the tote board in the Oaks at $36.70-1. The trend continued into 2017 with odds-on Adorable Miss taking the July 4 Martha Washington Stakes.

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