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The Most Underrated Trainer

Several weeks ago I spoke about which jockeys were most likely to bring in a logshot. Today, I talk about which trainers are most likely to bring in a longshot.

Though jockey handicapping and trainer handicapping are both important, an understanding of trainers is more beneficial to your growth as a handicapper. Trainers understand their horses in a way that the jockey simply cannot, and an understanding of trainer tendencies and patterns will yield better results than being a student of jockeys alone. We looked at the number of longshots a trainer saddled from January 1st 2014 to October 31st 2014. We only included trainers who saddled 20 longshots or more so as not to skew the results. The list is arranged based on the trainer’s TA Trainer Rating with longshots, not his overall TA Trainer rating. We also looked at each trainer’s Win, Place and Show ROI to give you some insight into how to incorporate each trainer in your handicapping.

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The first thing I did was look for trainers that had enough wins so that I could effectively capitalize on any trends that I saw. I felt it was more beneficial to look for a trainer who could bring in multiple 12-1 horses as opposed to a trainer that brought in one 60-1 the entire year. I then looked at the Win ROI to make sure this trainer was getting some good prices. Of course, whose the first trainer who caught my eye? Marty Wolfson of course. Marty is easily the top trainer on this when looking at TA Trainer rating, longshot wins and the ROI he has with those longshots. The results seem to make sense considering that Marty seems to have an uncanny ability to improve horses by four to five speed figure points when assuming training duties from another trainer. His most famous example was when he took over the grade three horse Miesque’s Approval and won the Breeder’s Cup Mile with him. It’s nothing short of amazing that after all these years people do not overbet Marty Wolfson horses. Kathleen Demasi and Jimmy Jerkens are very similar to Marty Wolfson in that they can take a horse from another trainer and improve that horse’s current form by four to five speed figure points. So, lets focus our efforts on Marty Wolfson and Kathleen Demasi and try to play them when they are in races that they are most likely to win. In order to do this, we need their trainer profiles. I’m not going to embed their profiles in this article, but I will reference them and you can pull them up on your own by going to our site and clicking on trainer analytics distance/surface comparison.

There isn’t anything too outlandish that jumps out at me when looking at each trainer’s profile, but there are some things worth pointing out. In the 124 route races that Marty Wolfson has contested in the past 12 months, he has 26 wins, 17 places and 19 shows. Demasi has contested 86 routes over this same time period and has 9 wins, 15 places and 11 shows. I wasn’t born yesterday. I am well aware of the fact that Wolfson gets better route horses than Demasi, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that Wolfson is just a phenomenal trainer when it comes to route races period. It also has to be said that Demasi is fairly competant regardless of the distance; causation vs causality is always a slippery slope.

In the end, you still need to use your judgement when interpreting the data. For instance, I put a ton of stock in Demasi’s ability to improve horses. I do not put too much stock in her record in route races because I am of the opinion that she gets some awful routers that even D. Wayne Lukas couldn’t help. I’ll continue to play the Demasi trainer switch angle till the public starts valuing her at the level that they should.

I’ll continue to bump up any horse that’s getting a trainer switch to Marty Wolfson as well. I’ll also look for horses that are switching over to Wolfson and going up in distance, as he has an excellent route race record. I’ll also play horses that have switched over to the Marty Wolfson barn and are coming off of a layoff. It seems that these horses recieve the biggest boost in performance.

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California Chrome May Make History

I think that California Chrome has a shot at making history. If the voting for Champion Three-Year old goes the way I think it will, California Chrome will be the first horse in the modern era to win the Kentucky Derby and Pimlico Preakness and be denied the Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year old.

Since 1987, ten horses have won the first two legs of the triple crown, and all ten of those horses have been awarded champion three-year old. Some of these horses had spectacular records and little opposition-these horses bear little resemblance to California Chrome and his circumstances. With some of these Derby/Preakness winners, one could have easily made an argument against them, but didn’t. These horses are the reason why I believe a vote for California Chrome stays consistent with the criteria normally used to decide champion three year old.

In 1989, Sunday Silence-much like California Chrome- won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and was still seen by many to be inferior to Easy Goer. The fact that he won the Eclipse Award anyway is important because it gives us a precedent. The selection of Sunday Silence proved that the cumulative results of the Triple Crown and the Breeder’s Cup Classic would guide champion three-year old voting. There are other less stark examples of this unwritten rule such as 1999 when Charismatic won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but Cat Thief won the Classic. Voters decided that Charismatic gave his all throughout the Triple Crown and simply won a greater share of races that actually counted than Cat Thief did. If they had only looked at the Breeder’s Cup Classic, Cat Thief would’ve won.

Now, let’s get to the elephant in the room; Steve Coburn. Throughout the season, Coburn has been a divisive personality. His remarks at the Belmont Stakes was a huge black eye for the sport. However, the Eclipse Awards have historically been about results and nothing more. It is not the horse’s fault that his owner is tempermental; nor is it the horses fault that he was ill-prepared for the Pennsylvania Derby and received a pretty poor ride.

So, let me ask you this, if California Chrome never contested the Pennsylvania Derby and was owned by someone like Mike Repole would he get your vote for Champion Three-Year Old? The scary thing is that he actually might.

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Looking Back at the Breeders’ Cup

Looking back at this year’s Breeder’s Cup, I can say that I have much to learn as a handicapper. I also needed a little more racing luck than I actually wound up getting.

In the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile, I really liked Texas Red. In a fast pace, I had the son of Afleet Alex finishing second to Souper Colossal. When a horse that I’ve liked for a while gets a good TA Indicator, I pay close attention to that horse. Texas Red fit that bill. The problem for me was that I didn’t see that  fast pace developing and so there was no way I could justify picking Texas Red.

The BC Juvenile Fillies continued the theme of young immature horses making me look bad. The only horse I really liked in this one was Puca, who looked like a winner until she ran into the type of traffic you only see in LA during rush hour. Now, i’m not saying that horses and jockeys don’t partially make their own luck, but it’s tough when you single out the best horse and run out of racing luck.

I did pretty well in the sprint, but of course I made the assumption that Rich Tapestry didn’t need lasix in order to be effective in the US. Well, apparently even Rich Tapestry could use the help of every American horse’s drug of choice.

I started getting down on myself until the BC Turf came around. I knew I could trust Johnny V to give Main Sequence a good trip and that Main Sequence would take care of the rest. I am a little disappointed in myself for not taking Flintshire over Hardest Core, but I’m a sentimental type of guy, and had to go with the hard knocking American horse.

Now, what type of blogger would I be if I didn’t discuss our good friend Bob Baffert and his Breeder’s Cup Classic victory?

First off, I’m not sure that anyone can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Moreno wanted the lead; hence why gate disqualifications are rarely made. I do beleive that the racing community is fairly upset because the California stewards have once again rewarded Bob Baffert for pushing the limits of what is and isn’t fair. I also beleive that if Moreno gets a clean trip, this race looks a whole lot different. How different is up for debate, but I don’t think Bayern wins this one. I do think Bayern is talented the way Game on Dude is talented, so he may have still hit the board.

I still can’t help but think a faster pace allows Chrome to use more of his finishing kick and he battles with Toast of New York for the win. Of course, a faster pace scenario and clean break may have just resulted in a three length win for Shared Belief; it was pretty amazing how he was able to still finish ahead of all but three horses in the race.

All I can hope for, is that I steered some of you towards Toast of New York, and you profited off of him somehow. I still beleive that California Chrome, Toast of New York and Shared Belief were the three horses most in form that day, but in the sport of kings racing form will always take a backseat to lady luck.

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Jameel Anees’ Breeders’ Cup Selections

Breeder’s Cup Classic

Win: California Chrome

Place: Toast of New York

Show: Shared Belief

I think California Chrome avenges his last two defeats with a win in the Classic. The reason is simply because he has more upside than any other horse in the race. Yes, I said he has more upside. If you beleieve that jockey error cost him the Pennsylvania Derby and a quarter crack cost him the Belmont, then technically he hasn’t lost a race on his own. I also think the rapidly improving Toast of New York will give him his greatest competition and Shared Belief is far too talented not to round out this trifecta.

Breeder’s Cup Turf

Win: Main Sequence

Place: Brown Panther

Show: Hardest Core

Turf Racing is all about who can save ground and who is in form. I think that each of the three horses I highlighted meet those criteria, so I had to go with my gut and pick Main Sequence, though a victory by Brown Panther or Hardest Core wouldn’t surprise me in the least.I would also add that Johnny V is an underrated turf rider who will give Main Sequence the best trip out of everyone n the field, when the talent differential is so slim, this can make all the difference.  

Breeder’s Cup Mile

Win: Tom’s Tribute

Place: Toronado

Show: Mustajeeb  

Why Tom’s Tribute? Why not Tom’s Tribute? He has just as much talent as Toronado, isn’t due for a regression and has a much juicier price. Anything can happen, but Tom’s Tribute winning the Mile or atleast giving Toronado all he can handle wouldn’t be the most unexpected thing in the  world. Look for Mustajeeb to pick up the pieces for third.

BC Filly& Mare Turf

Win: Irish Mission

Place: Stephanie’s Kitten

Show: Abaco

Irish Mission may just run away with this one. Stephanie’s Kitten and Abaco look dangerous and could pick up a paycheck.

BC Juvenile

Win: The Great War

Place: Souper Colossal

Show:Daredevil

If he can handle the surface, The Great War will be pretty tough to beat. He has more experience than the rest of these and the distance won’t be an issue. Souper Colossal and Daredevil are the fastest of the rest, so I’ll go with them.

BC Juvenile Fillies

Win: Puca

Place: Conquest Eclipse

Show: Danette

This race is wide open, so I’ll go with the horse and jockey who can stay out of trouble, and that’s Puca. Look for Conquest Eclipse to take place and Danette to take show.

BC Sprint

Win: Rich Tapestry

Place: Secret Circle

Show: Private Zone

I’m leary about this one, I like Rich Tapestry and I don’t think he’l bounce that much, but I don’t think he’ll run back to form; it may not matter. Look for Secret Circle to defend his title valiantly and possibly pick up place. Private Zone looks like he can get show.

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The Jockey Angle You Need to Know

How important are jockeys? That’s the question that everyone asks, but is that the question that really matters? What if the question that we should be asking is which jockey is most likely to succeed in a given situation? When the best jockeys only win at a 25% clip, the question inevitably becomes which jockey is most likely to win in a given situation. The problem is we don’t know which situations to identify, and even if we did know, we don’t know which jockey excels at that given situation. Luckily, Thoroughbred Analytics puts that information right at our fingertips.

So, I decided to ask the question of which jockey is most likely to win with a longshot. The results were as follows:

Juarez, Jr., Alfredo, J.

Rodriguez, Pedro, A.

Perez, Miguel, A.

Saez, Juan, C.

Ramirez, Josean, G.

Hernandez, Juan, J.

Madeira, Carlos, D.

Desormeaux, Kent, J.

Hernandez, Julio, A.

Patin, Jr., Joseph, Walter

Tohill, Ken, S.

Gallardo, Antonio, A.

Rivera, Jose, M.

Zunino, Jose, Luis

Martinez, Heribert, Naherd

Nunez, Eduardo, O.

Tejera, Eguard, A.

Perez, Luis, E.

Maldonado, Edwin, A.

Otero, William, P.

Cruz, Manoel, R.

Gomez, Diego, Fernando

Molina, Jr., Juan, F.

Lopez, David, Michael

Parker, Deshawn, L.

Clearly, most of these names will be familiar to you if you are a prolific handicapper. If you only play the West Coast then the 8th jockey on this list probably stands out the most. Dutrow’s former go to guy is actually quite adept at bringing in horses at juicy odds. I always felt like Kent Desormeaux was good at spoiling my exactas when I played exactas, but now I actually have statistical evidence. So, how do we put this evidence to work for us as soon as Kent recovers from his injuries?

Well, we now know that the public seriously undervalues both Kent and the horses he rides. This data was compiled on the 20th of October, so it’s very actionable. We should play closer attention to the horses he rides, what odds they go off at, and what odds they should go off at. With this information at our disposal we can pick off some pretty pricey winners. Of course, Kent will lose more than he wins; just like any other jockey. The thing to keep in mind is that his longshots are being undervalued. Look at his mounts. Ask yourself if you like any of them and pick that one. Kent has ridden 166 longshots this year. He has 13 wins, 33 places, and 46 shows. He isn’t winning often with longshots, but he is doing better than he has any right to.

The astute handicapper looks for any angle he can get and a jockey’s ability to ride longshots is a pretty good angle in my opinion. Certain jockeys and their mounts are simply undervalued by the betting public. So, take a closer look at the riders on this list, they won’t be riding longshots for very long.

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