August 15, 2022 | By Jeremy Plonk/
Originally published on

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities.


Woodbine’s Tapeta course plays more favorably to turf horses than dirt.


With the Queen’s Plate on deck Sunday at Woodbine, many eyes will be on the greater Toronto’s ovals that typically don’t play local races. Does the old theory that synthetic tracks favor turf courses carry over to Woodbine’s Tapeta?

Data Points:

I dialed up the Betmix database to look at all Woodbine main track races in 2021 and so far in 2022. The more than 1,000 races provide large sample size. I separated all starters based on their most recent start, whether it was on dirt, turf or synthetic and compared win percentages and $1 ROI.

Horses who last raced on traditional dirt won 12.0% on Woodbine’s Tapeta with an ROI of $0.62.
Horses who last raced on turf won 12.6% on Woodbine’s Tapeta with an ROI of $0.76.
Horses who last raced on synthetic surfaces won 11.8% on Woodbine’s Tapeta with an ROI of $0.80.

Bottom line:

The win percentages varied only 0.8% no matter the last surface raced upon. There appears to be no discernible edge in that regard. The dirt-prepped horses, however, provided a much lower ROI, some $.14 less per dollar compared to turf-prepped horses and $.18 less than those last raced on synthetic. This may suggest that even after 15+ years of synthetic racing in North America en masse, the public still doesn’t do a good job identifying which dirt horses will handle the synthetic, and which will not. The similar win rates, but much lower ROI, give me the impression that the dirt-to-synthetic myth remains more in the horseplayer than the horses.

Additional details:

You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, see which class levels these surface changes have the most impact. Or, look at other synthetic venues like Turfway, Presque Isle, Golden Gate to see if it plays out similarly.