How to bet the 2017 Indiana Grand Meeting

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

April 18th, 2017

Admittedly, the headline is optimistic considering betting on horses requires both short- and long-term adjustments. Maybe what has worked over the past four seasons at Indiana Grand Race Course (my ALLWAYS database for the track includes 3,856 races since April 23, 2013) will not work as well this year, but the start (and end) of a meeting can be a lucrative time to jump into a track’s pools, so we’ll try to make sense of what’s happened at the Shelbyville oval enough to make some dollars when its 2017 meeting opens on Tuesday, April 18.

When I approach a meet, I want to know 1) what data points in the Ultimate Past Performances are more likely to lead me to identifying the most likely winners, and 2) how the wagering public responds to those data points.

Impact Value helps me identify the strength of the number while ROI helps determine how useful it can be from a pari-mutuel perspective.

Not surprisingly, none of the most popular pieces of information in the PPs—Speed Ratings and Prime Power—have a positive ROI over four seasons, however betting the best last-out Speed Rating across all races is just -12% ROI, which beats the takeout, and with an Impact Value of 2.3, these are horses winning often enough at overlaid prices to always dig deeper on a non-favorite who has the best last-out Speed Rating.

The basic reports in ALLWAYS split up races by surface and distance (sprints are anything up to but not including 1-mile races; routes are anything 1 mile or beyond). An interesting thing in the dirt route report, which includes 886 races, is that ALLWAYS formula for determining a horse’s fitness using workouts has produced a +15% ROI when applied to dirt routes. My hypothesis is that workout patterns can be matched to trainers to figure who is signaling readiness (many horses will be coming off layoffs at the start of the meeting) and who “needs one.”

In turf sprints, it’s been as easy as betting the top-ranked horse in Prime Power to show a 6% profit across 297 races.

Off tracks at Indiana Grand follow the same pattern I see at most tracks: Upgrade horses in form. E.g., the best last-out Brisnet Speed Rating has a better ROI on off than fast tracks.

The Brisnet At-A-Glance table below shows average payouts in 2016 at Indiana Grand. As a bettor who prefers multi-race (aka horizontal) wagers to verticals (e.g. exactas and trifectas), I like what I see here because the average double is more than the average exacta and the average pick 3 is more than the average trifecta. The same 5.69-to-1 average win odds and 37% favorite strike rate is fueling those payouts.

Incidentally, those average win odds represent an $89.52 two-race parlay, but the average double payout is $92.75, a 3.6% premium. The three-race parlay averages out $593.84, meaning the $703.25 average Pick 3 payout provides an 18.4% boost.

Unfortunately, the smart money appears to be in the Pick 4 pools, as the four-race parlay based on a $13.38 average payout is $3,972.79, but the average Pick 4 payout is only $3,493.10, a 12% drop.

It’s no surprise to see “E” types do so well in all races, especially sprints, but it’s worth noting how different the 5 ½-furlong and 6-furlong races played last year. The short sprints had 44% wire jobs with a lean toward inside posts while the “standard” 6-furlong sprints had only 34% gate-to-wire winners with outside posts seemingly better.

I don’t make much of the post discrepancy, but the wire % gives me a lot more confidence in those short sprints to willingly back horses who figure to have a clear lead.

Avg. Winning Odds: 5.69 - 1
Favorite Win%: 37%, Favorite Itm%: 71%
Exacta 84.81
Daily Double 92.75
Trifecta 631.25
Pick 3 703.25
Superfecta 4,924.16
Pick 4 3,493.10
TRACK BIAS MEET(04/19 - 10/29)
Distance #
5.5fDirt 156 44% E Inside  
6.0fDirt 298 34% E Outside  
1m 70yDirt 80 24% E Rail/Ins  
1 1/16mDirt 50 22% E/P Rail/Ins  
Turf Sprint 80 31% E Rail/Ins  
Turf Routes 96 15% P Rail