Checking the angles: Ascending speed figs

I’ve used this angle often – ascending speed figs in the last three races. It assures me that the horse is showing improvement. However, I was wondering this morning if this actually does indicate an expected improvement in results in addition to higher speed fig.

The good news

The good news is that horses with ascending speed figs do provide better results than the average horse. If we use the number from our last post (about trouble in the last race), your average horse wins 13% (except first-time starters), while those with ascending speed figs come home with 15% of the wins.

Finish position matters

If you want good results instead of just a better performance, you need to examine the data a little more closely. Those ascending speed figs don’t indicate better results to come unless they had resulted in good results already.

Angle Wins ITM ROI Starters
All starters, except first-timers 13% 39% -27% 293,643
Ascending speed figs 15% 44% -26% 49,732
Ascending speed figs, ITM in last 18% 49% -24% 31,772
Ascending speed figs, 4th in last 12% 40% -25% 6,233
Ascending speed figs, worse than 4th in last 9% 31% -31% 17,726

Is there hope beyond those ITM horses?

Of course! Those 4th place horses perform slightly worse than the average horse, but if they go down in class, then the percentages bounce back up.

Angle Wins ITM ROI Starters
Ascending speed figs, 4th in last 12% 40% -25% 6,233
Ascending speed figs, 4th in last
down in class
18% 51% -23% 1,632


Checking the angles: Trouble in last race

Of late, I’ve heard from a number of horseplayers how looking for horses who had trouble in their last race is really proving to be a winner for them. Naturally, my first instinct was to bet along with them. Then, the better side of me decided that some research was in order.

As always, I’m using STATS RaceLens to investigate these angles. If you get the free race or a day’s card (free or otherwise), you don’t get to make your own angles. Being an analytics fiend (ask the other Alexandria Little League coaches), I want to find my own angles. It’s not that I’m greedy and want to have a step up on everyone else. I just love learning and… thankfully for you, I also love sharing what I learn.

Is trouble itself enough?

First thing we have to check is, does that trouble in the last race automatically mean better chances in the current race. It’s negligible, giving us 13% wins, 39% ITM, but a depressing ROI of -23% for 37.421 starters. (All starters, less first-time starters return 13% wins, 39% ITM and an ROI of -27% with 293,643 starters in the last year.)

Does today’s morning line make a difference?

Good news! Today’s morning line is a very good indicator of expected win percentage by horses with trouble in their last race. Horse with trouble in their last race and a morning line of 4-1 or better win 26% of the time, finish ITM 62% of the time and have an ROI of -16%. (11,229 starters)

Bad news! That’s almost the same as all horses (except first-time starters) that have morning line odds of 4-1 or better. Those win 25%, are ITM 61% and ROI of -21%. (102,122 starters)

How about beaten favorites?

Jose (@Ruzerian) wondered if beaten favorites were hurting the ROI on one of those slices for horses with trouble.

Beaten favorites with trouble in their last race have a slightly better ROI than horses with morning lines of 4-1 or better, returning -13%, despite winning slightly less often (24% instead of 26%). They’re also in the money a little less, at 56% instead of 62%.

However, when we look at all beaten favorites, we see little daylight for the ones with trouble. It’s just a 1% increase (from 23% to 24%) for beaten favorites that had trouble over those that did not. The ROI is nicer, going down to -13% for the ones that had trouble (as opposed to -19%).

Is gaining ground in the stretch an indicator?

Sadly, not really. It might be the criteria that I’m using — gaining a length in the stretch and finishing at least 2 spots better than at the stretch call in that troubled start.

You gain about 1% more wins in any morning line tranche (<4-1, middling and >8-1) and have a slightly better ROI in general, but nothing overwhelming.

So… is it useful?

Horses that had trouble in their last race are likely to do slightly better than their counterparts who didn’t have trouble. It’s not enough, by itself, to point out a horse to play, but it is another data point in determining your play.

All starters, except first-timers13%39%-27%293,643
All starters, trouble last race13%39%-23%37,421
All starters, trouble last race,
gained ground and position over stretch
Beaten favorites23%56%-19%24,438
Beaten favorites, trouble last race24%56%-13%3,362
Morning line 4-1 or less25%61%-21%102,122
Morning line 4-1 or less, trouble last race26%62%-16%11,229
Morning line 4-1 or less, trouble last race,
gained ground and position over stretch
Morning line 4-1 to 8-1, trouble last race14%45%-17%7,293
Morning line 4-1 to 8-1, trouble last race,
gained ground and position over stretch
Morning line 8-1 or more, trouble last race5%23%-29%18,622
Morning line 8-1 or more, trouble last race,
gained ground and position over stretch

Claiming races: checking @TheStaggieMan’s advice

Since I’m on vacation, I’ve got some spare time to do some research, especially on days with little racing going on. So, I saw a string of basic handicapping advice tweets from one of my good Twitter friends, TheStaggieMan. You know I can’t pass up a chance to see whether long-held notions are supported by the data. So, we’re going to review his advice on claiming races.

Dropping in class with early speed

I set up an angle in RaceLens to examine whether horses with an Early running style dominate when dropping in class in claiming races. RaceLens found 8336 runners that fit the mold in 6363 races. Of those, 19% won and 48% finished in the money. The ROI isn’t great, at -21%, which is slightly worse than just picking the favorite (20%) in every race. So, it’s a good angle, but not want you’d want to make automatic. With the win percentages for all horses at 11-14% (turf routes are 11%, while dirt routes are 14%), getting an angle at 19% likely is pretty good, though not quite dominant.

Early speed going 6 furlongs

This one comes with a claim that early speed wins twice as often as any other running style. If true, you’d have to be an idiot not to use this angle.

Running Style Win Pct ITM Pct ROI
Early 17% 43% -22%
Early/Presser 12% 38% -28%
Presser 18% 51% -22%
Sustained/Presser 8% 28% -34%
Sustained 13% 42% -26%
Unknown (only 11 runners) 9% 9% -45%
On the lead at first call (projected) 23% 55% -16%

You might say the stats don’t support this, but it could be a categorization thing about running styles. Perhaps using RaceLens’ list of horses with an Early running style is too broad. If we look at the underlying proposition – the horse that gets out front early in a 6f claiming race has the best chance to win – then we find that 23% of those horses win. That’s a solid angle.

In viewing this angle, it can also be used to caution yourself during thoughts about track bias. When you see one of those 6f claiming races get taken by the early speed, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything about a speed bias at the track that day. (Many bettors leap to conclusions based on scant evidence, after all.)

Allowance horses dropping into claiming races

Here we’ll want to examine not only how well those allowance horses do, but whether an assertion by Norm (@The_Knight_Sky) that they’re overbet is true.

With 5002 runners in 3730 races in the last year, allowance horses dropping into claiming races (down 5 points or more in Equibase class rating) won 19% of the time and finished in the money 48% of the time. The ROI is simply average for an angle that’s this wide, at -20%. That doesn’t seem to point toward overbetting and it’s a nice angle.


The standard advice that TheStaggieMan is giving here holds true, basically. Using these angles is going to point out horses that have far better chances than expected – from 18% to 23%. Incorporate them into your handicapping, but don’t just use them blindly.

Sipes on Cox: Three angles you ought to watch

When Darren Sipes (@darren_sipes) tweets, smart horseplayers pay attention. If you want to know angles that actually work, first listen to people who’ve played the game for a while, with success, and then run the statistics on their insights.

Earlier this year, someone said they loved older fillies off long layoffs. It sounded like an interesting angle. Unfortunately, it’s actually a negative angle.

Angle # of starts Win % ITM % ROI
Older filly, long layoff 45+ 16,336 11% 35% -33%
Older filly, long layoff 61-180 6,850 12% 36% -32%
Older filly, long layoff 180+ 4,308 10% 31% -35%
All Horses 4-1/2f to max distance 310,178 13% 39% -27%

So, sometimes, when you check what people think is a good angle, that they may have been using consistently, it sometimes is not at all what they think it is. Over time, I’ve learned to have confidence in what Darren tweets, such as this:

Seeing that jam-packed assertion of not just one angle, but three, I had to fire up the Cray supercomputer and figure out if they were right and how often.

Removing blinkers in a turf route

This works nicely. The last year, there are only six instances, with a win, 3 places and a show. Only out of the money once (Sun Studio, FG 8, 2/7/19). At 2 years, 50% wins and still just one race out of the money. At 3 years, half of the 20 races and only 3 OOTM. Over the last 5 years, 43% wins and 86% ITM. Yeah, the ROI is impeccable, at +51%.

4-year-olds and older in allowance dirt routes second off the layoff

This one works recently and over time, but not as impressively. Ten races in the last year, of which 2 were wins and 9 were ITM. (Again, it’s the most recent race that’s OOTM – High North OP 8, 3/9/19.) At 2 years, you’re looking at 18% wins and 77% ITM in 22 races. The pattern holds at 3 years, with 19% wins and 67% ITM in 27 races. Extend to five years and the consistency of the angle is borne out – 21% wins, 68% ITM. The ROI is not great, at -13%, but only 11 of the 34 entries were 4-1 or higher.

4-year-olds and older in turf routes, winners last out, first off the layoff

doesn’t quite fit the display boxes…

This angle is another winner and profitable over time. The last twelve months saw 9 runners in this angle, two of whom won and three placed. Extending to two years, you get 23 instances and maintain 26% wins and 60% ITM (a win by Pioneer Spirit in AQU 4 on 11/24/17 at 14-1 pushed the ROI to +40%). Looking at the last 5 years yields 26% wins, 60% ITM and with a few double-digit wins, an ROI of +29%

Trust, but verify

These are all good angles and ones I’ll be keeping an eye on. It would behoove you to do so as well.

Can Dublin Green step up?

Two weeks ago, I touted There Goes Jose with Joey Martinez aboard. They went off at 6-1, finishing second and paying $10 on a $2 WPS bet, despite only getting a 9.3% win probability from RaceLens on a Morning Line of 7/2.

Part of the reason that I used to advocate for a bet on There Goes Jose was Joey’s performance on Sustained Pressers in Dirt Routes (SPDR) – on which he was a 13% winner. One of the wins in that category was on Dublin Green on March 1st at 35-1.

That race at the beginning of March was a Maiden Special Weight with a $60,000 purse. Dublin Green won, taking home $33,000 of it. They took the lead at the half-mile marker and drew away, winning by 7 lengths. Yes, SEVEN LENGTHS! (You can watch the race replay on the results page on It was mile though, while this is only 7 furlongs. This race goes way up in class, leaving the maidens and venturing into allowance territory, with a purse of $64,000. However, it is only New York State-bred 4-year-olds (and up).

While I could point to Joey’s 13% win percentage on SPDR for the There Goes Jose angle, the percentage at a furlong less (SPDS, since it’s a sprint) is an abysmal 3% (1 for 31). The lone win? When was aboard There Goes Jose on October 11th in the 3rd at Belmont at 20-1.

Clearly, both There Goes Jose and Dublin Green are special horses and Joey seems to know how to get the best out of them and find their way into the money. Nonetheless, RaceLens doesn’t like the pairing again, giving only 1% likelihood of victory.

Robbie Davis is not a renowned trainer. He has only 10 wins in 237 races, though the win with Dublin Green makes him 1 for 6 in 2019. That’s a mere 3% in all dirt sprints, and 0 for 7 with Sustained Pressers in Dirt Sprints.

I did a quick angle to find out how horses than won at a mile do when cutting back to 7 furlongs while going up in class. It’s a nice angle – 17% wins, 42% ITM, ROI -17% (above break even if there were no takeout!)

Nonetheless, with 9 horses in the race given a better shot than our hero, this will be a real challenge. I expect the odds to be far longer than 20-1 at post time.

There are 5 horses categorized as being Early or Early Pressers in this race, but the horse with the highest early speed rating is actually #10 Real Dan, who has a Sustained running style. The two horses that RaceLens gives the best late pace to (#6 Latin Love Bug and #9 Sams Last Ghasp, both at 20-1) aren’t expected to be anywhere close at the finish. Needless to say, RaceLens sees this as a wide open race.

Dublin Green does have increasing speed figs over the last 3 races, mostly because his first five races were so terrible — never closer than 20 lengths at the finish and only beat a single horse in 5 races. This is a big step up in class rating in RaceLens, going from 71 to 90 in Equibase speed figs. This is definitely a long shot. I’m obviously biased, but I really do think I see something here – both in Dublin Green and in Joey Martinez. We’d love for some of you to come along for the ride – just some of you, though….

There Goes Jose: Some angles for Sunday’s finale at Aqueduct

Anyone who’s followed my twitter feed or read my musings here knows that I have a soft spot for Joey Martinez. He’s an up-and-coming jockey on the NYRA circuit and has brought home some surprising longshots. He’s obviously working hard and learning his craft, so I really appreciate it – as does my pocketbook when he brings home a horse at 35-1 or 60-1.

Probably the biggest challenge for a jockey just starting out is getting mounts. Today is no exception. Joey only has one – #9 There Goes Jose in the 9th race at Aqueduct. It’s not unusual for my Jockey Notifications from my virtual stable on Equibase to show only a single mount for Joey, or for him to have less than 7 in a week. Not only is it hard to get mounts, it’s even harder to get ones that aren’t longshots.

There Goes Jose is not a longshot, nor is the trainer, Rob Atras. I was glancing at Kevin Cox’s selections today and he noted how well Atras in doing. So, I did a quick angle of Atras’ runners in the past 90 days with 8-30 since their prior race. He’s winning 57% and was in the money on 13 of 14 (93%). Among those 13 ITMs was There Goes Jose at the end of February, placing under Joey Martinez at 9/2 odds.

If you look at Joey’s stats in dirt routes over the last year and make your judgement on that, his 4% win percentage is going to drive you away. On the other hand, if you look at one of my jockey angles — Joey Martinez on a Sustained Presser in a Dirt Route (SPDR), the win percentage jumps to 13%, with two wins in 15 races. None of his mounts had odds better than 6/1 (Moxie at 6/1 and Mac’s Revolution won at 13/2) and only 4 were under 30/1. The other winner was Dublin Green at 35/1. He’s not getting usually getting mounts that people see as likely to win, but he’s won a few anyway. An average rating for SPDR is only 9%, so even with a small sample, Joey’s a bonus here.

Line through Semaya, whom Ben Hernandez rode on 16 December

I also like the increasing speed figs in the last three races, ITM in the most recent (18% win, 49% ITM) and Joey’s insane ROI of 175%, caused by the 35/1 win at the beginning of the month.

Other angles of note

#2 Raging Fire: Manny Franco aboard Early running style in a Dirt Route 25% wins, 61% ITM. Rudy Rodriguez trainees win 34% first off claim, 31 to 60 days since last race, 64% ITM.

#5 Metaphorical: Javier Castellano aboard Early/Pressers in Dirt Routes, 29% wins, 61% ITM.

#6 Slot: Early running style, but gained at least one length in the stretch, 16% wins, 45% ITM.

#7 Alrahaal: Dylan Davis aboard Pressers in Dirt Routes, 28% wins, 46% ITM.


RaceLens sees Slot as the true odds favorite (31.6%), by far, but the next 4 being pretty even (Metaphorical at 18.8% with 2-7-9 all around 11%). So, it’s a pretty open race. There’s a lot of speed, so some depends on who duels for the lead and how hot the pace is. Based on Joey’s ability to time his kicks, I think #9 There Goes Jose is a good pick here.

In search of an Instagrand trainer angle

Friday morning brought a notification on Twitter from one of my favorite data-driven horseplayers, Darren Sipes.

I was immediately intrigued by the specificity of the request. On Thursday, I’d done some research on trainer Ingrid Mason. One of her trainees, Supercede, was running in the 3rd at Oaklawn and TheStaggieMan had selected him (dropping in class, second off layoff). That generated discussion that called for more data….

Based on some quick research, the angle wasn’t a good one. In the last 12 months, Mason had 8 runners in dirt sprints running 2nd off the claim, but only one was a winner, Rapid Dial. If you went back as far as the angles had data for the length of the layoff, she had no winners from 8 to 60 days of layoff (0 for 23). As with every angle, it just provides some insight and the insight this one gave us is that the 9% on 2nd off the claim was hollow. Jermaine Bridgmohan couldn’t find room inside and Supercede had no late gain, finishing 7th.

So, with that angle having helped clarify one bet, Darren was hungry for more when Peter Frace retweeted this comment from Thoroughbred Insider:

So, we’re going to check out Jerry Hollendorfer to see what Darren’s angle might have to tell us about Instagrand’s chances on Saturday.

It’s a pretty specific angle, so there were… no matching results for this or the more-specific “winner last out”.

So, I got a little less specific, dropping the layoff to 45 days or more. That gave us two cases:

  • Kiss N Scat in the 2016 Iowa Oaks G3, “Chased along the inside and faded” to finish last of 10 at 22-1, 10-3-1-0 career $81,015 in winnings
  • Kentuckian in the 2015 Los Alamitos Derby G2, which got the lead on the outside, dueled and weakened to finish 3rd of 5 as the 2/5 favorite under Mike Smith, 10-3-0-3 career with a win in the Lazaro Barrera Stakes G3 and $177,830 in winnings

If we change the angle to include all races, not just stakes races, we increase the number of results to 24 over the last 5 years.

That returns 24-4-3-3 or 17% wins, 43% ITM, ROI of -31%. That’s lower than his ratings for dirt routes in the last two years (21% win, 53% ITM, ROI -19%), so it doesn’t give us a particularly favorable argument for the long layoff and Jerry’s experience in this angle.

There are, of course, plenty of other angles to research for our betting in the Gotham Stakes….

Middling at Gulfstream: Quick look at jockey angles for Miguel Angel Vasquez

When you open your racing form and you’re looking over the entries, you probably never make a note of a jockey whose win percentage is at the notional average of 11%. If there were an average nine horses in every race (there aren’t), then that would be the average you’d expect from a jockey. So, when you see Miguel Angel Vasquez’s name next to the horse and note his middling win percentage, it doesn’t really even register.

Of course, we know that it’s not 11% overall and certainly not in all race types. Nonetheless, when we break it down just by surface and whether it’s a sprint or a route, the graduate of the Laffit Pincay Jr training academy is nearly perfectly nondescript.

  All Jockeys Miguel Vasquez
Dirt Sprints 13% 13%
Dirt Routes 14% 15%
Turf Sprints 12% 11%
Turf Routes 11% 11%

The important thing to note is that once you start to examine the running styles, the “average” nature of his riding goes out the window. In some cases, he’s purely a waste of your bet, but in others, he’s sublime. Betting the right angles is one step toward success.

  Dirt Sprints Dirt Routes Turf Sprints Turf Routes
Early 13% 26% 15% 23%
Early/Presser 12% 13% 10% 9%
Presser 13% 5% 9% 6%
Sustained/Presser 16% 10% 5% 11%
Sustained 14% 20% 7% 10%

In my basic understanding of jockey skill development, it’s typical for apprentice jockeys to do well in dirt sprints and on horses with Early running styles. They’re aided by their weight allowance and are best when they urge the horse to give everything right away and then just hope to hang onto it. Reading the horse’s energy, plotting a route through traffic and coming from behind are skills that develop over time. While Vasquez has been at this for 5 years and nabbed 450 wins, his overall tendencies tend to be more along the early development line.

That said, he’s evened out in dirt sprints, with similar rates in all styles. However, when on early runners in dirt and turf routes, his success is such that it can’t be relegated to “break hard and hold on”.  He’s winning a quarter of those races. Ignore him on a lot of his mounts, but if he’s on one with an early running style in a route, you’d better know that his overall percentage and his route percentage hide his brilliance with those early runners.

He’s also figured out handling Sustained runners on dirt routes to the tune of 20%. The average jockey turns in 14% wins in that case, so he’s demonstrated that he knows how to ration the horse’s energy and strike at the right time.

So, middling and average might seem to be descriptors that apply to Vasquez, but they aren’t. On the right mount, he’s special. Bookmark that one.

Mounts for Friday, 1 Mar 2019
1st Race: #1 Dramamina (Presser in Turf Route)
Vasquez on PTR win 6%
3rd Race: #1 My Mr Wonderful (Early in Dirt Sprint)
Vasquez on EDS win 13%
4th Race: #6 Starship Taxi (Early in Dirt Sprint)
Vasquez on EDS win 13%
7th Race: #10 Cha Cha Heels (Sustained in Turf Route)
Vasquez on STR win 10%
10th Race: #1 Fast Track Kathern (Early Presser in Turf Route)
Vasquez on EPTR win 9%
11th Race: #2 Golden Tap (Early Presser in Turf Route)
Vasquez on EPTR win 9%

Sadly, he’s no particular help to us today. Starship Taxi in the 4th is likely the only one that you’ll be betting as it’s a good horse and Vasquez neither helps nor hurts in Dirt Sprints riding horses with Early running styles.

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.