Prime Power Strength At Saratoga

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Ed DeRosa

July 16th, 2014

Among several reasons why Saratoga Race Course is unique in the North American racing landscape, is that a higher percentage of people play it a higher percentage of days. I.e., playing every day and trying to “beat the meet” is one of the reasons why Saratoga has the highest average daily handle of any track in the country. Tuesday truly is the only “off” day.

Prudent bettors always pick their spots, so I’d never advocate betting every race, but handicapping every race is essential to provide the best opportunities, and while trainer (or jockey or pedigree or any number of) statistics tailored to particular variables present in a specific race could help identify those opportunities, nothing is more powerful as a starting point than either PRIME POWER or Speed Ratings.

I reached that conclusion after examining the 3,789 races in my Saratoga ALL-Ways database that goes back to 2006, and some of the most impressive statistics from that research appear below, but like Salvatore’s trainer survey, this look at key handicapping angles at Saratoga is more about information and how to use it when wagering than the theory behind why these stats play out.

Non-maiden fast-track dirt sprints

*Top-ranked Prime Power horse won 38% with an ROI of -2%

*Top-ranked Prime Power horse with at least a 3-point advantage won 43% with a +1% ROI

*Top-ranked Prime Power horse with at least a 7point advantage won 61% with a +9% ROI and finished third or better 82%

Non-maiden turf sprints (any condition)

*Best last-out Speed Rating won only 25% of time but ROI was a solid -1%. When the gap was more than 2 points, however, the win rate inched up to 27% but with a positive ROI of 5%

*The top Prime Power horse won 31% with a break-even ROI.

*The top Prime Power horses with at least two points won 35% but with a +12% ROI

*The top Prime Power horses with at least an 8-point gap won 47% with an ROI of +25%. There are 62 races in this sample, which means it comes up about once a week.

Non-maiden turf routes (any condition)

*Top-ranked Prime Power horse wins 27% with a +2% ROI

*Top-ranked Prime Power by more than 4 points wins 30% with a +5% ROI

Non-maiden off-track dirt sprints

*The Speed Rating becomes more predictive on an off track with a 32% strike rate in this category overall and a robust +11% ROI among the best last out numbers

*Demand a 3-point gap between the best last out number and the second best and the win rate reaches 47% with a crazy good +62% ROI

Non-maiden off-track dirt routes

*Just the best last-out Speed Rating underperforms here with a 21% strike rate and -28% ROI, but get a three-point gap and the win rate goes to 24% and the ROI is +22%.

Admittedly and with very rare exception, these are not the types of angles that will mine $50 or even $20 winners. $15 seems to be the ceiling when it comes to top Prime Power or last-out Speed Ratings, so this is the type of information that can help you identify valuable and/or likely winners more than longshots.

Good luck this meeting!