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Saratoga racing trends

Profile Picture: Ashley Anderson

July 13th, 2022

This Thursday, July 14, will mark the kickoff of Saratoga Race Course's 2022 summer meet, featuring a 40-day race schedule and 77 stakes worth $22.6 million in total purses.

Home of the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers (Aug. 27) and the $1 million Whitney (Aug. 6.), the Spa's summer meet will begin with a four-day opening weekend, followed by live racing conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, throughout the summer. The final week will run through Monday, with the meet concluding on Labor Day, Sept. 5.

Below we look at some of the top racing trends at Saratoga, from trainer and jockey win percentages to track biases across different surfaces and distances, to get you ready for the 2022 meet in New York.

Trainer win percentage since 2017

TrainerStartsWinsWin %ROIEarnings
Chad Brown
829
195
23.52%
-16.737033
$21,573,268
Todd Pletcher
697
143
20.52%
-19.72023
$13,550,190
Steven Asmussen
363
70
19.28%
-14.311295
$10,349,790
William Mott
480
67
13.96%
-21.552083
$10,164,590
Michael Maker
421
64
15.20%
-17.992874
$5,333,208
Linda Rice
342
58
16.96%
-6.476608
$4,349,659
Rudy Rodriguez
453
58
12.80%
-16.445916
$3,941,986
Christophe Clement
331
58
17.52%
-19.033233
$5,794,776
Jeremiah Englehart
339
48
14.16%
-35.280236
$3,557,478
Danny Gargan
184
38
20.65%
-16.902174
$2,427,773

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown has been the top trainer at Saratoga over the last decade. The two-time Preakness S. (G1) winner racked up 195 wins in 829 starts between 2015 and 2021, and has recorded a track-leading 342 victories from 1,415 races (24.17% win percentage), along with $35,279,462 in earnings, dating back to 2012.

Brown earned his 1,000th career win with Mr Maybe in the John's Call Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24, 2016, and his win with Practical Joke in the 2016 Hopeful S. (G1) marked his first Grade 1 victory on dirt.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher is second in wins at Saratoga going back to 2017 (143) and 2012 (308), but has won more than any trainer on Saratoga's dirt track in both of those time frames. He is 98-for-431 (22.74%) since 2017 and 215-for-874 (24.6%) since 2012.

He also owns a pair of victories in the Travers, with Flower Alley (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2011), as well as three wins in the Whitney, with Left Bank (2002), Lawyer Ron (2007), and Cross Traffic (2013). He paired up with jockey John Velazquez in all but one of those victories (Stay Thirsty was ridden by Javier Castellano).

Top Saratoga trainers on turf

Brown has been strongest on Saratoga's turf, going 235-for-944 (24.89%) since 2012 with $24,617,499 in earnings. He also has a track-best 123 victories on turf (23.79% win percentage) since 2017.

Pletcher has the next most wins on turf since 2012 (93-for-556), but is tied with Christophe Clement (45-for-261) for second most turf victories since 2017, though Clement has a slightly higher win percentage — 17.24% compared to Pletcher's 16.92%.

Jockey win percentage since 2017

JockeyStartsWinsWin %ROIEarnings
Irad Ortiz Jr.
1,426
273
19.14%
-20.203366
$24,424,419
Jose Ortiz
1,415
269
19.01%
-14.462898
$24,215,758
Luis Saez
1,354
206
15.21%
-18.434269
$19,031,816
Joel Rosario
1,067
176
16.49%
-16.176195
$19,339,282
Javier Castellano
896
150
16.74%
-30.770089
$16,062,995
John Velazquez
723
125
17.29%
-21.528354
$14,620,697
Manuel Franco
1,191
124
10.41%
-25.890008
$12,240,492
Jose Lezcano
802
102
12.72%
-5.349127
$8,776,652
Ricardo Santana Jr.
813
101
12.42%
-21.771218
$11,089,347
Junior Alvarado
693
80
11.54%
-12.763348
$7,925,279

Three-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. is king of Saratoga, with 273 wins (19.14% win percentage) since 2017 and a total of 483 victories over 2,752 mounts since 2012.

His brother Jose ranks second in overall victories since 2017, going 269-for-1,415, and ranks first on dirt since 2017, with 143 first-place finishes, three more than Irad in that time span.

On turf, Irad has been superior, with a track-leading 133 wins in 676 mounts dating back to 2017 and 238 since 2012.

No other jockeys have collected more than 100 victories on Saratoga's grass in the last five years. Reigning Whitney S. champion Joel Rosario ranks third on turf, with 80 first-place finishes, while six-time Travers S. winner Javier Castellano is fourth with 77 wins.

Hot trainer-jockey combos at Saratoga

While the Ortiz brothers lead the Spa in dirt and turf victories, Castellano is one-half of the top trainer-jockey duo at Saratoga. The four-time Eclipse winner (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016) has triumphed 67 times when paired up with Chad Brown in 292 starts (22.95% win percentage) for $6,256,617 in earnings in the last five years.

The pairing of Brown and Irad Ortiz ranks second in wins since 2017, with 59, which has translated to $5,997,836 in earnings.

Pletcher and Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez are next in line (52-for-241, $4,909,330 in earnings), followed by Steve Asmussen and Ricardo Santana Jr. (47-for-263, $6,319,531, and Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz (40-for-144, $4,537,775).

Sires by wins on dirt since 2017

SireStartsWinsWin %ROI
Into Mischief
241
42
17.43%
-0.185477
Tapit
169
29
17.16%
-0.426331
Speightstown
106
26
24.53%
0.575
Malibu Moon
144
22
15.28%
-0.221875
Curlin
164
22
13.41%
-0.385671
Central Banker
120
21
17.5%
-0.222917
Uncle Mo
127
21
16.54%
-0.357087
Candy Ride (ARG)
86
18
20.93%
-0.288953
Flatter
120
17
14.17%
-0.48625
Mineshaft
119
16
13.45%
-0.35

Leading North American sire Into Mischief is the top sire at Saratoga, with 57 wins from his progeny since 2017, including 42 wins on dirt. Tapit is next in overall wins by progeny (44, and 29 on dirt), followed by Uncle Mo (37, 21 on dirt), and More Than Ready, who has produced 37 wins overall and 27 on turf, the second most sire wins on grass behind Kitten's Joy (30).

Freud ranks third in sire wins on turf (27), followed by English Channel (23), who boasts an impressive 21.7% sire win percentage. Hard Spun (29-for-88), City Zip (16-for-78), and Animal Kingdom (10-for-49) also own a sire win rate higher than 20%, while British-based Kingman is an astounding 10-for-22, good for a 45.45% win rate since 2017.

Sires by wins on turf since 2017

SireStartsWinsWin %ROI
Kitten's Joy
180
30
16.67%
0.162222
More Than Ready
145
27
18.62%
0.592414
Freud
186
27
14.52%
-0.129301
English Channel
106
23
21.7%
0.08066
Scat Daddy
127
20
15.75%
-0.177953
Hard Spun
88
19
21.59%
-0.000568
War Front
105
18
17.14%
-0.204286
Lemon Drop Kid
110
17
15.45%
-0.363182
City Zip
78
16
20.51%
0.541667
Uncle Mo
103
16
15.53%
0.103883

Saratoga track biases

Looking at races on the final day of Saratoga's summer meet in 2021, we can glean some information on recent track bias.

For sprint distances on dirt, 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 furlongs, pacesetters (E on Brisnet Past Performances) owned the highest win percentage. At 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt, E horses won at a 66% clip, followed by E/P (early/presser) types at 24%. The rail post also produced winners at a 21% rate, and posts 4-7 won at a 15% rate.

Early runners were slightly less successful at six furlongs (57%) and 6 1/2 furlongs (54%), while early/pressers generated the highest impact value (1.15, 35% win rate) at seven furlongs. The rail post won 20% of the time at this distance.

On turf, E/Ps carried the highest impact value (1.24, 29% win rate) at 5 1/2 furlongs, with the rail post winning 20% of the time.

With route distances on the inner turf course, closers (S types) won 42% of the time at one mile, with the rail post winning at a 19% clip. At 1 1/16 miles, P types were most effective (35%), as were posts 1-3 (1.33 impact value, 16% win rate).

On the outer turf, E types won at a 30% rate, followed by E/P types (25%), at 1 1/16 miles. Posts 1-3 and 4-7 carried equal impact values of 1.20.

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