Should You Bet Horses Returning on Short Rest?

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

October 22nd, 2018

Although there has been a tendency in recent years for trainers to give their horses more and more time between races, there are some trainers still willing to run their horses back in a week or less, and when you can identify a trainer who’s skilled with this move, opportunities can abound for nice betting scores.

One such trainer is the New York-based Jeremiah Englehart, who famously upset the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with the 32-1 shot Ria Antonia. With three graded stakes wins so far in 2018, Englehart is enjoying a career-best season and should only find more success in the future.

One of Englehart’s strengths is knowing when to run his horses back on short rest. Five, six, or seven days might seem quick, but when Englehart makes this bold move, it pays to pay attention. According to statistics from DRF Formulator, over the last five years, Englehart has compiled a terrific 6-for-15 record with horses running back in a week or less. Four others finished in the top three, and betting all fifteen horses to win would have generated a profitable $2.33 ROI for every $2 win bet. Not bad!

The profitable ROI stems in large part from a New York-bred mare named Hay Field. The daughter of Haynesfield unleashed a strong rally from last place to win a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming race for New York-breds at Belmont Park on July 15th, 2018, five days before the start of the prestigious summer meet at Saratoga.

Englehart could have waited four or five weeks before running Hay Field at Saratoga, but instead, he decided to strike while the iron was hot. Just five days after her victory at Belmont, Hay Field showed up at the Saratoga starting gate for a 6 ½-furlong open allowance race, where she was overlooked at odds of 8-1.

Perhaps her form on paper wasn’t quite as impressive as that of her rivals, but with Englehart’s confidence backing her up, Hay Field produced another eye-catching finish to gain four lengths in the final furlong and prevail by a neck, generating a hefty $18 payoff for every $2 win bet.

The lesson here is simple—don’t be afraid to bet on horses that are running back on short rest. If their trainer has done well under such conditions (like Englehart), you might just be looking at a nice-priced winner!