Trouble for Gene: My plays for Friday at Oaklawn

Since early January, Gene Grieshaber has been challenging all comers to take him on with the Friday card at Oaklawn. Today, it’s my turn to step to the plate. Looking at the card for 8 February 2019….

TLDR notes: longshot #13 in the 4th, best bet #8 in the 2nd, boring lock #4 in the 7th

First race: #1A Big Guy Ian (ML 6/1), who’s coming off a win and dropping in class (when >= 50% drop in claiming tag coming off a win = 20% wins). David Cohen is a bit better than average when piloting horses with an Early running style in dirt sprints (16% win/35% ITM), except when trained by Robertino Diodoro (they combine for 23% win 44% ITM on EDS).

Cohen is listed as the jockey for the entry. #1 Neil’s Diamond is an Early Presser, on which Cohen is even less impressive (5% win/36% ITM on EPDS), except when McKnight’s the trainer. They’ve been a great tandem at Oaklawn so far (2nd place in their lone EPDS, 2 for 2 with EDS), so it’s a mixed bag if Neil’s Diamond is the runner. So, a scratch would put us on #3 Tashreeh.

Second race: #8 Sky Freak (ML 6/1), as layoffs hurt the favored horses (#2 Tickle Bunny and #5 Cipherin’ Sue) with older fillies on 45+ layoffs only winning 11%/35% ITM. If Bridgmohan can find the kick for her, she’s a winner (he’s 24% wins/57% ITM on Sustained in Dirt Routes). The bullet works seem to indicate she has the speed, if the stamina holds (overcame slow break in her first).

Third race: #1 Bow and Arrow (ML 9/5) is a chalky choice, but Cohen masters Sustained running style horses in dirt sprints (22% wins/60% ITM). If he ends up on #1A Sutton Impact, the race gets wide open. Cohen does well on Sutton Impact, but not most Early running style horses in dirt sprints. They probably wouldn’t be the favorite then, so the improved price would guide my bet here anyway.

Fourth race: #13 Sweet Apple Pie (ML 15/1) projects to be on the early lead and has late speed in comparison to this field. It’s a wide-open race and I was sorely tempted by #2 Point Streak, but that long layoff by a 5-year-old filly with mediocre works held me back.

Fifth race: #12 Headland (ML 8/1) comes from the outside, but looks to close it out late, negating the concerns about the starting stall. Valdivia does very well on Pressers in Dirt Sprints (26% wins/58% ITM).

Sixth race: #4 Valiant Lady (ML 4/1) has ascending speed figs over her last 5 races, winning 3 and placing another (out of the money was the one 5 back). It certainly helps that Bridgmohan brings home 18% of his Early running style horses in dirt sprints. (42% ITM) Much of the field is coming off long layoffs here.

Seventh race: #4 Captain Von Trapp (ML 5/2) may be a chalk selection, but Ramon Vazquez is going to bring him from the back to the lead to secure this win.

Eighth race: #12 Pop Life (ML 5/1) showed increasing speed figs over the last three starts, all in the money, and now races the first time as a gelding. Again, the Sustained running style shouldn’t be hurt by the outside post. We get a nice bonus in that Vazquez wins 24%/59% ITM on Sustained in Dirt Sprints.

Ninth race: #8 Gold Zephyr (ML 5/1) in hopes that a speed duel will develop and allow Cabrera to guide her to the winner’s circle. She was sired by GoldenCents, who was on the hot list for sires of 2-year-olds last year. His progeny were at their best in dirt sprints (17% wins/43% ITM in DS, 14/49 DR, 6/38 TR, 17/35 TS).

Conclusion: Gene better be on his game tomorrow! Otherwise, I’ve already got some baseball catcher’s gear picked out to put that $25 toward!

Gene’s picks can be found on The Daily Gallop.

This worked out well. The mythical $2 WPS bet results were:

  • 1st race: With the scratch, got #3 Tashreeh, placed $8.20, Gene had #1, which won for $15 — Gene $15, Dave $8.20
  • 2nd race: #8 Sky Freak placed $15.80, Gene #2 $0 — Dave $24, Gene $15
  • 3rd race: #1 Bow and Arrow placed $4.50, Gene #2 won $16 — Gene $31, Dave $28.50
  • 4th race: No change — Gene $31, Dave $28.50
  • 5th race: #12 Headland wins $31.80, Gene #7 $0 — Dave $60.30, Gene $31
  • 6th race: #4 Valiant Lady places $10.40, Gene #1 $0 — Dave $70.70, Gene $31
  • 7th race: #4 Captain Von Trapp wins $11.60, Gene #5 $0 — Dave $82.30, Gene $31
  • 8th race: no change — Dave $82.30, Gene $31
  • 9th race: no change — Dave $82.30, Gene $31



Friday runner for @JAHiles at Turfway Park

Jeff Hiles has been on his own as a trainer for just a few months. On Friday, he has #2 Loran Holiday (Argentina) in the 4th race, which is a $15,000 claiming race. Hiles served in the Marines and is the son of Rick Hiles, who has recorded over 600 wins in his 40+ years as a trainer.

He’s managed to secure the services of Rodney Prescott, which is a good thing. Prescott rates well on Early Pressers in Dirt Routes (EPDR), winning 19% and finishing in the money 49% (ROI -9%). Typical EDPR rates are 13% to win and 39% ITM, with ROI -26%, while all horses in Dirt Routes win 14%, finish in the money 42% with the same basic ROI of -26%.

In July, Loran Holiday looked to be on a trajectory to win races at this level and move up from it, posting increasing speed figs and a win. Unfortunately, that progress stalled and she was running in a $5,000 claiming race at the beginning of the month.

The pedigree has some nice highlights, with the sire (Numerous) turning in a Grade 3 stakes win, and the dame grand sire (Forlitano) being a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner. The dame (Miss Loran) was unraced and Loran Holiday is the only foal of hers to race. Not being a particular student of pedigrees, I don’t know if this is unusual for a $15,000 claiming race.

Loran Holiday is up in class. This is a good sign, as it means that Hiles sees good things. Note the trouble indicator in the Equibase PPs – “Took up close, drifted”. It merits a morning line of 10/1 and Race Lens is no fan of her chances, rating her at just 4.8%.

So, this is likely a race in which Loran Holiday needs to prove herself. She doesn’t appear to have enough early speed to challenge #3 Tempestuous Amy or #5 Dream Fever. One wonder if she’ll have the kick she showed in winning at Belterra Park in June. Prescott does slightly better than average when guiding horses with a Sustained running style in Dirt Routes, so if they choose to find that kick, maybe the longshot has a chance better than the 4.8% Race Lens is suggesting.

Offsetting angles in AQU 3

Looking at the third race at Aqueduct, I came across some conflicting angles when examining #5 Crea’s Bklyn Law.

Sustained Pressers are terrible in Dirt Sprints

We know from earlier examinations that Sustained Pressers are the worst of the 5 styles: Early, Early Presser, Presser, Sustained Presser, and Sustained. I’m not sure if it’s just that lots of horses that don’t run well get identified as Sustained Pressers or if it’s that hanging close and kicking to win is simply harder than the other styles. Nonetheless, we know it’s true.

In the last year, there were 13,995 races with a Sustained Presser in them, with a total of 25,234 starts by Sustained Pressers. They won a mere 7% of the time, finishing ITM just 27% of the time. This resulted in a -40% ROI. If you compare that to all horses in Dirt Sprints, you see the magnitude of the problem: 13% wins, 39% ITM, ROI -28% (24,280 races and 182,443 starters).

Sustained Pressers are even worse going up in class

Going up in class is always a challenging proposition. Among all horses, this only garners at 9% win percentage, 32% ITM and -34% ROI. Among the Sustained Pressers doing it, the win percentage drops to just 5%, 20% ITM, -41% ROI.

Manny Franco wins on them anyway

In the last year, Franco has posted 6 wins in 34 such races (18%), finished in the money nearly half the time (48%) and produced a POSITIVE ROI at +6%. Using 2 years of data, it’s 16%/40%/-2%, and at 3 years, 14%/38%/+8%. So, it’s not a fluke. Those 6 wins were on 6 different horses, for 6 different trainers, at 3 different tracks from June to November. The odds ranged from 1.35/1 to 13.2/1.

Should we bet this horse?

Crea’s Bklyn Law is coming off a win as the favorite with Franco aboard on 25 November here at Aqueduct on a muddy track. He has mixed results at longer distances on muddy or sloppy tracks (good in June at Belmont, bad in July at Saratoga). One could argue for ANY of the horses in this race. The morning line puts our horse at 5th best (ML 6/1) and Race Lens likes him even less (10.3% or 9/1).

That kick looked nice. Franco’s good with this style, surface and distance. The odds are playable.

I’m going to put some money here, but it might best be done in multi-race wagers (easy to argue ALL in the Pick 5). Best of luck to us!

Caution in AQU 4

Looking at the 4th race at Aqueduct, I was surprised to get a negative angle on the favorite. It turns out that David Cohen actually hurts a little in this instance.

If you look at the PPs and check the jockey stats for Cohen, there are no warning signs. He’s won 13% of his races, including 16% at this distance on dirt. So, the average handicapper isn’t going to be concerned and may actually see Cohen as a bonus here. After all, isn’t 11% average?

Turns out that the average of all jockeys on dirt routes is actually 14%, which suggests field sizes averaging just 7 horses. Perhaps you think this still works out, as Cohen’s in the winner’s circle 16% of the time for those dirt routes.

This is where looking at running style really helps understand things. Cohen manages only 10% when riding horses with a Sustained running style in a Dirt Route. He makes up for that in the dirt route statistics by winning 25% (17/69) on Early Pressers. Worse yet, the average for Sustained in Dirt Routes is 14%. So, it’s not that the style doesn’t work well for everyone, but that Cohen doesn’t perform as well as the average for this style or overall on this surface and distance.

Interestingly, almost all of the jockeys in this race are poor matches for the running style of their mounts on Dirt Routes.

  • #1 WhyIsSheSoLucky – Hector R Diaz, Jr – Early Presser – 7%
  • #2 Joyful Frolic – Mike Luzzi – firster, unknown style – 3% (for all styles)
  • #3 Jasminesque – Dylan Davis – Early Presser – 14%
  • #4 Miss Marilyn – Jose Lezcano – Early Presser – 5%
  • #5 Chica Boom Chic – Reylu Gutierrez – Sustained Presser – 8%
  • #6 Stonewalker – Eric Cancel – Sustained – 11%
  • #7 Romantic Pursuit – David Cohen – Sustained – 10%
  • #8 Always Shopping – Manny Franco – Sustained – 17%

So, if you look only at jockey style/surface/distance numbers, you’re guided to Always Shopping. There’s a good piece by David Aragona on why he’s selecting Miss Marilyn, as he’s also not on the favorite.

Isolated look at Via Castagna in the 9th at Aqueduct

On Tuesday, I took a look at Joey R. Martinez’s three mounts for the day, provided some analysis and then evaluated the performance (jockey did better than the handicapper). He’s got three more mounts today, so I’m drawn in again, but will just take an isolated look at his mount in the 9th race to keep from going too deep.

Seven races altogether, with the first three only indicating he probably needed a lower level. Those were in 2017, and he was scratched from a pair of races in early 2018 which were probably going to be a reach. In August, he was overmatched in Saratoga in a Maiden Claiming 20k.

Arrivin at Belmont in August, the works looked a little better and our dear Joey got the mount for a 6-1/2f race. Martinez kept Via Castagna near the lead, then took it out of the turn. Unfortunately, that was the last surge he had and they had to watch the race slip away. They tried again in October, with the same result at 6f – moving to the front and watching it slip away.

Then, a switch was made to veteran jockey Rosario Montanez. Instead of running up front, Via Castagna got squeezed a bit at the start, so Montanez headed to the rail, to save ground. All they did the rest of the shorter 5-1/2f race was gain ground. When blocked, they headed wide out of the turn and ran down Petion Night to win.

Will Martinez follow that example and try a Sustained running style? It’s 6f, which was too far a couple of races back. He’s had no success with horses that have that style. Those two races do show some learning between Martinez and Via Castagna, so there’s a chance he’s learning to try a Sustained style with him.

The speed figures are not competitive for this race. Race Lens is completely disinterested. Neither an Early/Presser nor Sustained running styles are ones in which Martinez has had success thus far.

In isolation, without looking at the other horses, I’d think that 20/1 is very tempting. Looking at the favorites (all outside at 10, 11 and 12), the figures aren’t close. The times are not much different. Worth the risk?

How’d Joey do?

This morning, I offered up my thoughts on Joey R. Martinez’ rides for today.

First race

Finn’s Posse started slowly, then faded immediately. In his first race, he’d started quickly and faded quickly. Neither time did he look interested in racing. I honestly wouldn’t expect to see Finn’s Posse back on the track again, as he just doesn’t seem suited to it.

No fault of Martinez here. Just a horse that’s in the wrong business.

3-7-2-5 was not what Race Lens had in mind, neither was it what I expected. It was, however, more in line with the morning line.

Second Race

Expressly moved well early, establishing at the front and continuing on when #5 Havana Affair faded in the turn. However, Martinez had used everything that Expressly had by that point and the race swept by him. I think we could point to the distance being a challenge for Martinez at this point. Knowing how hard to push and when is what separates the jockeys. Martinez is a good motivator, but doesn’t yet have the experience.

Fifth Race

I thought this was Martinez’s best shot to win and I was right. The two favorites weren’t reliable and Halloween Horror had proven himself before. Unfortunately, #6 Ro Bear was able to kick better at the end. Martinez got him out to the lead smartly and husbanded the energy to allow for a kick at the end. It just wasn’t as good a kick as Harry Hernandez got out of Ro Bear. Might it have been too energetic an early pace to stick with #1 Peculiar Sensation? I don’t know, but I think it was just Ro Bear getting a perfect trip.


I think we’re seeing a learning process. Martinez has shown he can handle early speed in dirt sprints and is now finding some horses that he can gaug and manage their energy to stretch out to routes. He seems to be learning fast, so I’m going to keep my eye on him.

As to my handicapping? Middling. I let my hopes for Martinez’s success bias my view of the races. So, I ended up out of the money betting those races. Lesson to be relearned – keep emotion out of your bets.

How you doin’? Three rides with Joey

This summer, the greatest new angle that I had was jockey Joey R. Martinez on a horse with an Early running style in a Dirt Sprint. It was a stunning hot streak for the apprentice. He nabbed 6 wins in 12 races, plus a place and a show. That’s a 50% win percentage and 66% ITM for an ROI of 119%.

Then, a freak accident happened, and Joey fractured his jaw at Belmont. Now, he’s returned for a day of racing and we’re ready to see his three races.

He started his career by guiding the 22-1 longshot, Marble Falls, to second place behind Dylan Davis on Galordonado. No doubt, carrying 8 fewer pounds helped, but it was still an impressive first race.

A month later, the Brooklyn native scored his first win aboard another longshot aided by a ten-pound advantage.

BIG congratulations to jockey, Joey Martinez, for his first career victory right here at Aqueduct, aboard Playthatfunnymusic at 19-1! 🎉— NYRA (@TheNYRA) December 8, 2016

He has continued to be under-estimated by the public, guiding longshots home or into the money regularly. Well, maybe not regularly, unless you’re smart enough to know that it’s the horses with an Early running style in Dirt Sprints. None of today’s three races at Belmont fit that profile in STATS Race Lens, but we’re going to have a look anyway.

First Race

This $40,000 maiden claiming race is a partial fit for our angle. It’s a Dirt Sprint, at 5 furlongs. Joey’s guiding Finn’s Posse, which STATS Race Lens tags with a Sustained/Presser running style. Fortunately, you can watch the 8 November race at Belmont (which contained 4 of the 7 horses in this race) and see that there was nothing Sustained about Finn’s Posse’s running style. Apprentice Reylu Gutierrez put on the lead and… the horse just didn’t keep the pace.

The works are not impressive. They’re OK. Mostly 4f around 50 seconds and pedestrian 37s and 38s at 3f. No work of 5f to make one feel that the endurance level has changed. No bullets to make one think that there’s a late kick hiding there.

On the other hand, this might fit the profile well. They’re toting around a mere 115 pounds, when most of the other horses are at 122 or 124 pounds. Is this going to be the advantage Joey needs? Carrying 2 pounds less and expecting to be on dirt from the beginning (the 8 November race was off-the-turf) might he be able to put Finn’s Posse on the lead and carry the day? I certainly expect that tactical plan, but we’ll have to see how the 20-1 longshot does.

STATS Race Lens doesn’t like #4 Finn’s Posse at all. It dismisses #6 Martini Lane, who Martinez couldn’t get to win. It swears off #2 Tammany Giant, who’ll carry just 119 pounds and who finished a length and a half behind #5 There He Goes (30.9% likely). It also doesn’t care for either favorite (#3 Our American Star with ML 8/5 only merits 9%, while #7 Bourbon N Rye ML 5/2 only gets 9.1%). It picks #1 Cross Multiply on the rail at ML 7/2 to wire the race (43.7%).

Second Race

In the second, we stay on the Dirt, but shift to a Route. Martinez’s mount, #7 Expressly, does use an Early running style, so it us also a partial fit for the profile. Nonetheless, Joey has but one win in a Dirt Route (check below in the 5th, when he’s aboard Halloween Horror again!)

The worst thing for Martinez in this race is that each of the more favored horses has more accomplished jockey riding in a style at which they excel.

  • #2 Daria’s Angel, ML 9/5, jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr, Early running style, EDR success rate: 25% wins, 63% ITM, +12% ROI for 26.8% win percentage in Race Lens
  • #3 Satin Sheets, ML 5/2, jockey: Manny Franco, Early/Presser running style, EPDR success rate: 22% wins, 52% ITM, +13% ROI for 15.1% win percentage in Race Lens
  • #6 AreWehavingFunYet, ML 3/1, jockey: Joel Rosario, Sustained running style, SDR success rate: 21% wins, 57% ITM, -36% ROI for 37.2% win percentage in Race Lens

So, Martinez needs to husband Expressly’s speed to ensure they can cover the entire mile in front when he’s not shown success that way. Meanwhile, he’s facing three horses that are Expressly’s equal or better in the PPs, guided by men who win with the selected race profile far more than the average (14% in Dirt Routes). With a morning line of 9/2, this is not that good of a bet. Race Lens rates it at 10.4% and that sounds reasonable, even with a 5-7 pound advantage.

Fifth race

Martinez mounts his one Dirt Route winner, #5 Halloween Horror, with an Early/Presser running style. They won together on 8 October at Belmont, but Gary Contessa chose to utilize Luis R. Reyes next, giving up the weight advantage. They finished last. Martinez was still out with his injury on the 9th of this month, so he used apprentice Ben Hernandez. The speed figure popped back into the 90s, but the run was only good enough for second.

They have either a 7-pound or 9-pound advantage on each challenger in this race, so I’d expect another speed figure in the 90s. That makes him competitive with #2 Zap Zap Zap, likely outclassing the other entries. Irad Ortiz, Jr, is guiding Zap Zap Zap and Ortiz is in inexplicable drought in this profile (Presser in a Dirt Route). He typically wins 25% of such races, but has been shut out of the winner’s circle in this profile for 13 races in a row, covering two-and-a-half months. If you discount that September win as an off-the-turf race, we have to go back to early August. Do streaks like this matter?


I think Martinez is going to be competitive on all three mounts, but his best shot is in the 5th. The best bet on him may, however, be in the first race, when 20/1 odds make even a Show turn a profit on a WPS bet.

There will a followup post to review his performance and see if the analysis matches at all.

What do jockey angles tell me?

It seems that two prominent, diametrically opposed viewpoints exist on the impact of jockeys on a horse race.

The first is most often held by new horseplayers, who play based on the reputation of the jockey, as though that’s all that matters. I see some of this in what I called The Irad Ortiz Factor. Picking the horse based on the jockey is better than picking based on the name of the horse, but isn’t a viable long-term plan. No jockey has a positive ROI over the long-term.

The opposite extreme is that jockeys have no effect or, at best, a very minor effect. Looking at the jockey only when you’re choosing between two horses you see as equal competitors may undervalue the input of the jockey. In every aspect of life, I’ve seen how proper motivation can significantly affect human performance and I see no reason why that would fail to hold true for equine performance. Similarly, there are often tactical decisions that significantly effect the opportunity of the horse to win the race.

When top horses might go undefeated or lose only 10-20% of their races and with jockey failure rates of 75% being considered phenomenally successful, it’s not surprising that failure is blamed on the jockey.

When I look at jockey performance, though, I’m not looking at their success or failure in isolation. I want to use it to compare against the standard and against other jockeys in similar style/surface/distance combinations.

In today’s first race at Belmont, here’s the angle matches for #2 Rachel’s Blue Moon:

Manny Franco 26 SEP 18 BEL Race 1

I like to look at win percentages, but that graphic gives you a good indication of how Franco might influence the performance of Rachel’s Blue Moon today. Let’s look at the percentages…

Win %
Manny Franco Presser on Dirt Routes 22%
All Horses on Dirt Routes 14%
Presser in Dirt Routes 19%
Presser in any race 18%
Manny Franco in Dirt Routes 20%

The number most people will have in their head as “average” is 11% because that number is thrown around so much — if there are 9 horses in every race, 11% is average. Nonetheless, there are NOT 9 horses in the average race and each surface/distance combination is different – from 11% to 14%.

If people check the form, they’ll often see the last number in that table – the jockey’s win percentage at the surface/distance of this race. That’s a good start, but not the whole story. As we’ve noted in other blog posts, jockeys don’t perform the same when on mounts of different running styles on the same surface/distance. Sometimes, the difference is staggering. So, Franco’s 20% on Dirt Routes looks great against the notional 11% average and still very good against the actual 14% for Dirt Routes.

The surprising thing for most horseplayers is the win percentages for horses with the Presser running style. About 12% of horses get labelled as Pressers, yet they win 18% of races they enter. It’s a bit better in Dirt Routes, where they win 19%.

So, comparing Manny Franco’s performance on Pressers in Dirt Routes against the expected performance of the average jockey in the same style/surface/distance, his margin is far less impressive. Franco does better than the average, likely improving the chances of Rachel’s Blue Moon here, but the Ortiz brothers are both on Pressers as well, with the same 22% win metric. Jose Lezcano turns in the average number on Pressers, at 18%.

So, Franco likely doesn’t make any difference here that his opponents don’t also make. Does this put us in the ‘jockeys make no difference’ camp? I don’t think so. That’s especially so when we look at the lone speed here, #1 Might Be, with Dylan Davis reporting only 10% wins on Early running style horses in Dirt Routes. He likely hurts the horse’s chances, but does that get you off the 6/5 favorite?

When every jockey is riding the right style

Handicapping at the 8th race at Belmont this morning, I was stunned.

… every horse had a positive angle.

Running Style/Surface/Distance angles

Some of you have read my pieces for Danonymous Racing on jockeys and their preferred running style/surface/distance combinations.

I’ve continued that research, adding additional angles to my STATS Race Lens account, trying to find when jockeys excel and when they under-perform. It’s far more insightful than just knowing that “Irad Ortiz is a good jockey” or “Joe Bravo rules on dirt”. After all, the research shows that Ortiz is merely above average on a Sustained/Presser in a Turf Route and that Bravo can’t win at all in that running style in either Dirt Sprints or Routes.

In a typical race in which I’ve created style/surface/distance angles for all the jockeys, one or two will be highlighted by the system. I’ll give those entries a little more leeway, as the jockeys may make more difference than the system expects.

8th Race

I use a lot of angles, many just informational/reference information, like how all Early running style horses perform in dirt routes. So, I’m used to 5 or 6 angles showing for a horse – most of them just those FYIs. So, imagine my surprise when I pulled up that 8th race and EVERY horse was highlighted.

Seven horses are running in this race…

#1 More Mischief – running style: Presser, jockey: Jose Ortiz, 27% wins on Pressers in Dirt Sprints

#2 Maiden Beauty – running style: Presser, jockey: Joel Rosario, 25% wins on Pressers in Dirt Sprints

#3 She’s Trouble – running style: Sustained, jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr., 22% wins on Sustained in Dirt Sprints

#4 Elegant Zip – running style: Presser, jockey: Manny Franco, 21% wins on Pressers in Dirt Sprints

#5 Party Like Grandma – running style: Early, jockey: Andre Worrie, 16% wins on Early in Dirt Sprints, 18% wins on Wet Dirt Sprints

#6 Ma Meatloaf – running style: Presser, jockey: Joe Bravo, 26% wins on PRessers in Dirt Sprints

#7 Cartwheelin Lulu – running style: Early, jockey: John Velazquez, 27% wins on Early in Dirt Sprints

Is there any advantage?

Looking over that information, can one glean any insight?

  • Looking at Party Like Grandma, we see the 2nd favorite being ridden by the least successful jockey.
  • You’d figure Ortiz’s 22% would be a good number, but it’s slightly behind the median here. That might result in the betting following him more than it ought to (not everyone will be familiar with my work, haha), but that is the only Sustained runner in the race. It also gets the highest late pace projection from Race Lens.

I think that our research in the running styles/surfaces/distances hits more of a wall here than most. It’s a good reminder that it’s just a tool – hopefully one of many we have to handicap the race.


Seven Races with Joel: An examination of jockey tendencies

This week, I was expanding my research into jockeys and saw a post from David Aragona…

I’ve often seen people post things based on their impressions, but it’s not always backed up by the facts. David’s comment is….

Rosario wins a mere 17% of the time, so obviously there must be some other running styles and distances in which he’s not brilliant. Let’s have a look at his seven mounts today to see where he and his mount are on the same page and where they differ. This is mostly about examining the running styles and his performance, but some betting ideas will be given as well.

Race 1: Maiden Special Weight, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf

Horse: #3 Pipes, Sustained Running Style, ML 4-1, Race Lens 31%

Rosario on Sustained Running Style in a Turf Sprint: 31% wins, 64% ITM, ROI 17%

Perfect combination to start the day. The morning line puts the Linda Rice firsters piloted by the Ortiz brothers as the favorite, but this still looks like a very good bet.

Race 2: Allowance, 6 furlongs, Dirt

Horse: #7 Leap to Glory, Early Running Style, ML 9-2, Race Lens 14%

Rosario on Early Running Style in a Dirt Sprint: 24% wins, 55% ITM, ROI 40%

Again, one of the style/surface/distance matches that work well for Rosario. The favorite is again piloted by Irad Ortiz, but the 17% he wins on Pressers in Dirt Sprints is among his worst matches.

Race 3: Albany Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, Dirt

Horse: #7 Sea Foam, Presser Running Style, ML 2-1, Race Lens 24.7%

Rosario on Presser in Dirt Routes: 4% wins (1 for 25), 28% ITM, ROI -94%

This is a disastrous combination, but rolls out as the favorite. In the Mike Lee Stakes on 28 May, Rosario guided Sea Foam to 4th place as the 2nd favorite at post time, with Alvarado winning on longshot Analyze the Odds. Today, Irad Ortiz will be guiding that horse, in one of the combinations that’s about average for him (Sustained Dirt Routes: win 20%, ITM 53%, ROI -30%). Is it enough to warn one off Sea Foam?

Race 4: Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 miles, Inner Turf

Horse: #3 Shak’s Hidden Gem, Sustained Running Style, ML 9-2, Race Lens 19%

Rosario on Sustained in Turf Routes: 13% wins, 44% ITM, ROI -35%

The average in Turf Routes is 11%, so Rosario is slightly above average here. It’s far from his best, though. There are a lot of horses here with unknown running styles and Race Lens always downplays the chances for those horses, so the 19% is likely higher than most handicappers would aim. If this goes off the turf, Rosario remains about average (15% in all off the turf routes and 1 for 4 on Sustained in off the turf routes). Morning line favorite #10 Shady Shady Shady will be piloted by John Velazquez, who does very well on Sustained Running Style in Turf Routes (26% wins, 53% ITM, ROI 9%).

Race 5: Funny Cide Stakes, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt

Horse: #3 Red Zinger, Sustained Running Style, ML 10-1, Race Lens 8%

Rosario on Sustained in Dirt Sprints: 27% wins, 65% ITM, ROI 31%

Great match for Rosario again, but word is that this longshot will be scratched and run on Monday instead. Otherwise, this is a pretty open race and at 10-1, this will be hard to resist.

Race 6: Allowance Optional Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs, Turf

Horse: #4 Ethan Hunt, Early Running Style, ML 12-1, Race Lens 5%

Rosario on Early in Turf Sprints: 19% wins, 44% ITM, ROI -44%

Rosario is a better than average jockey here, but it’s about his average ability overall. They’ll probably look like they have a chance until they round the turn and the wall of closers rolls past them. A good reminder that the horse does the running and the jockey can only work from that.

Race 7: Seeking the Ante Stakes, 6 ½ furlongs, Dirt

Horse: #3 Maiden Beauty, Sustained Running Style, ML 9-2, Race Lens 22%

Rosario on Sustained Running Style in a Turf Sprint: 31% wins, 64% ITM, ROI 17%

Like the first race, Rosario’s in one of his best matches. This race could go to a few different horses, including #7 She’s Trouble, which has the same running style and will be answering to Irad Ortiz (21% wins, 59% ITM, ROI 41%).


Rosario has some good matches today and one very poor one. There are a number of combination in which he doesn’t fare well and it’s worth looking at them. One imagines that some of them are avoided intentionally, but, most importantly, we should try to avoid them ourselves. Most bettors will only know his overall percentage or maybe have a breakdown by surface and distance, so having the additional factor of running style may give us the treasured parimutuel advantage.

Joel Rosario Dirt Sprint Dirt Route Turf Sprint Turf Route Off Turf Sprint Off Turf Route
Early 24% 37% 19% 10%
E/P 16% 16% 9% 9%
Presser 25% 4% 18% 15%
S/P 15% 0% 0% 4%
Sustained 27% 18% 31% 13% 50% (1/2) 25% (1/4)
All 21% 15% 18% 12% 29% 15%