Saratoga Diary: Week Six Wrap Up

TwinSpires Staff

August 28th, 2018


If week six seemed a bit strange, it was. With all the big stakes races scheduled, you would think that the two leading trainers, Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher, would dominate. Not only did they not dominate, but the week saw an amazing number of trainers find the winner’s circle in front of large crowds.

Chad Brown won three races, two on the turf and two with Jose Ortiz. George Weaver won three, all on the turf. Rudy Rodriguez won three, two on the turf. Bob Baffert, Brad Cox, Bill Mott and Pat Reynolds won two each. In 63 races run in week six, 49 different trainers won a race. That might explain why only 25.4% favorites won in week six.

The rider results for week six were less similar. Manny Franco had a spectacular week with seven winners. Only Jose Ortiz had as many. Irad Ortiz Jr. maintained his lead for the meet with five more, Javier Castellano and Joel Rosario also had five. Junior Alvarado and Ricardo Santana Jr. had four wins each.

The average win price for the 63 races run in week six was $13.49 which was skewed by Blue Belt’s win on Monday at $103.50. Still, the percentage of winning favorites was low while the field size for the week was 8.06 as only three races were taken off the turf.

There were 32 races run on the turf in week six (I am taking the steeplechase race out) and the average field size was 9.16. The average win price was a healthy $13.95 and only 7 out of 32 turf races were won by favorites – 21.87%.

There were 30 dirt races run on the dirt in week six. All were run on Fast tracks including three in off-the-turf races. The average field size was 7.17 and the average win price was $13.36. 9 favorites won the 30 dirt races for a win percentage of 30%.

For the meet, 339 races have been run with an average field size of 7.65 and an average win price of $12.22. 103 favorites won the 338 races (one race was run for purse money only) and the win percentage was 30.47.

There have been 210 dirt races run and the average field size was only 6.98. The average win price was $11.60 and 64 favorites won the 209 races for a win percentage of 30.62.

There have been 129 turf races run (one dead-heat) and the average field size was 8.68. The average win price was $13.15 and 40 favorites won the 129 turf races for a win percentage of 31. The percentage of winning favorites between dirt and turf are remarkably similar as the field size are dramatically different.

On the inner turf course, there were 63 races run (one dead-heat) and the average field size was 8.62. The average win price was $14.82 and only 13 favorites won the 63 inner turf course races – 20.63%.

On the Mellon turf course, there were 66 races run and the average field size was 8.86. The average win price was $11.72 and 26 favorites won the 66 Mellon turf course races – 39.39%.

This stark contrast between results on the inner turf course, more chaotic with a higher average win price and lower percentage of winning favorite, and the more formful results on the Mellon turf course with a lower average win price and higher percentage of winning favorites, has been here for years and this year is as wide as ever.

What it shows is that you can have more faith in a horse getting the trip on the Mellon turf course, with its wider, sweeping turns, and get up in time. On the inner turf course, horses are more likely to get into trouble and can easily lose momentum.

So, now let’s look at turf sprints. There have been 41 of them run; all on the Mellon turf course. The average field size was 9.17 and the average win price was $14.05. Only 11 favorites won for a win percentage of 26.83%.

For the riders, Irad Ortiz Jr. is the king of the Saratoga turf sprints with six wins. Brother Jose, Manny Franco, Javier Castellano and Ricardo Santana Jr. each have four turf sprint wins while Kendrick Carmouche, Luis Saez and Johnny Velazquez have three each.

For the trainers, Jorge Abreu, David Donk and Wesley Ward have three Saratoga turf sprint wins while Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Jeremiah Englehart, Bill Mott, Jason Servis and George Weaver have two wins each.

With six days of racing left, Chad Brown has 34 wins in 34 days of racing and is about where you would expect him to be when the meet started. What could not have been predicted was Todd Pletcher only having 17. Steve Asmussen has won 13 races while Bill Mott has 12, Rudy Rodriguez has 11 and Jeremiah Englehart has 10.

For the riders, Irad Ortiz, Jr. has a big lead with 45 wins. Brother Jose and Javier Castellano have 33 so it is unlikely that either one can catch Irad. What has been fun at the meet is Manny Franco having 31, Luis Saez has 26, Joel Rosario have 22 and Ricardo Santana, Jr. has 21. But, riders like Kendrick Carmouche, David Cohen and Dylan Davis have consistently ridden better than their horse’s odds and continue to deliver value.


Tomorrow begins week seven and the feature race, race 9, is the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) for juveniles going two turns on the turf. There was a crazy event here a few weeks ago when a race was run at the wrong distance. No final time has been accepted nor have speed ratings been finalized. All I know is that #7 SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN was far back early and went by horses like they were standing still. He was 12 lengths behind early and won by eight and it could have been more. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks up the mount as the son of Big Brown moves into open company.