On average favorites win about 35% of horse races. But, that win percentage can fluctuate based on the distance, surface, class, etc. For example, favorites are more likely to win dirt races than turf races. Another thing that will obviously make a big difference in the win % of favorites is the number of horses in the race. Favorites will win more often in small fields than in races with a lot of other entrants.
We recently looked at a large sample of data in Angler for races that had 8 horses starting. These races contained all tracks, distances, surfaces, classes, etc. The only consistent thing was that they had 8 starters.
We wanted to look at each horse in those races based on their rank in terms of their final odds. The horse with the lowest odds is the favorite, and the horse with the highest odds was the 8th choice.
The table above shows you how often a horse runs better, worse or as expected.
If a horse was the favorite, they couldn't run better than expected (as they were expected to win) and the 8th choice couldn't run worse than expected (it was expected to finish last).
The favorites in these 8 horse races won 35.4% of the time and ran worse than that 64.6% of the time. Worse could be anything from 2nd through 8th. The 2nd betting choice ran as expected (2nd) 20.7% of the time and ran better than expected 21.6% of the time and ran worse than expected (3rd through 8th) 57.7% of the time.
As you look through the table you will notice some interesting things:
The betting public is better at deciding which horse will win than which horse will finish last.
In races with 8 horses the winner will be among the top 4 betting choices 82% of the time.
Horses that are the 5th choice will run better than expected 45.9% of the time, which puts them on a lot of superfecta tickets.
While this information is not all that surprising, it should help you think in general terms about percentages and odds. If you want to make money betting on horses you need to be betting against the favorite in the races that it is going to lose, and as you can see that happens more often that not (64.6% of the time). If you are betting on a horse that is the 5th choice or higher you are only going to win about 18% of the time. A horse could be the 5th choice and have odds of 7:1 or it could be the 5th choice and have odds of 12:1 or more. So, when you consider the general percentage chance that you have of beating the public opinion make sure you are going to be paid accordingly if you are right.
Finding the value plays is the key, and using Betmix will get you there. Betmix angler will help you find value plays and give you answers to almost any statistical question you have about horse racing data.