Finding Longshots at the Graveyard of Favorites

Graveyard of Champions

In my previous post I looked at what to expect at the 2016 Saratoga meet including how the track plays, which jockeys, trainers and owners can be expected to compete for the meet title and which wagering pools offer the most value. In this post we are going to look at some proven longshot angles to help you in your handicapping and wagering strategy at Saratoga in 2016.

Saratoga has long been known as the “Graveyard of Favorites.” Man ‘o War was upset in the 1919 Sanford Stakes, Secretariat was defeated in the 1973 Whitney Handicap and last year American Pharoah suffered the only loss of his Triple Crown campaign in the Travers Stakes.


These three are among the most prominent horses to suffer defeat at Saratoga but many more have lost over the years and many more will in the future. When a favorite is beaten, especially an odds on favorite like the three mentioned above, the resulting parimutuel returns can be very lucrative.

Favorites have won at a rate of 31% overall the last three years at Saratoga, slightly below the long term rate of 33% across all tracks. Longshots (10/1+) have won 13% of the races during that time. Let’s take a look at which jockeys and trainers have had the most success on longshots as well as which types of races produced the most upsets.

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Saratoga 2016: What to Expect and How to Profit From It

Saratoga Race Course

The 2016 Saratoga meet kicks off on Friday July 22nd with the first of 40 race cards. Each of the 40 cards will contain at least one stakes race and the overall quality of the supporting races will be of a higher level than any other meet of the year.

Saratoga is the premier meet in North America and is the target of many high profile jockeys, owners and trainers. Winning the meet title at Saratoga for some in each of these groups is of the highest priority and they will sometimes deviate from their normal patterns to succeed.

Knowing who will follow this pattern of deviation from the norm can be a major factor in deciding whether you have a profitable or unprofitable meet at Saratoga. Additionally understanding how each of the three courses (dirt, turf and inner turf) play, which post positions are advantageous or disadvantageous and how to navigate the wagering menu are also critical.

Let’s take a look at each of these variables and how you can incorporate them into your handicapping and wagering strategy to maximize your profits at Saratoga in 2016.

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Belmont Stakes Card 2016: Key Horses and Live Longshots

There is no Triple Crown on the line this year but there is a fantastic set of races to handicap and bet on the Belmont Stakes card.

Exaggerator and Flintshire head the star-studded cast of horses coming from all over the United States, from Canada and Europe and a few returning for the first time since a trip to Dubai.

There will be many opportunities to make a few bucks throughout the card.

Following are the horses I labeled as keys in both vertical and horizontal sequences and some live longshots that are worth a second look.

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2016 Preakness: Handicapping in the Rain

2016 Preakness at Pimlico

The sky might be clear when the field for the 141st Preakness Stakes takes the track but it is very likely they will be racing over a wet track.

Rain is forecasted to fall from early morning until late afternoon, which means the main track and turf course will be saturated.

The stakes races will surely be kept on the turf but the supporting races may be moved to the main track.

With so much uncertainty the only way to prepare is to have two plans.

Plan A will be for the likely wet scenario and Plan B will be for the very unlikely dry scenario.

As I did when putting together my guide to Canterbury Park I looked at the past three meets (plus the few days they have raced this year) at Pimlico.

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Canterbury Park: A Guide to the Lowest Takeout Meet of the Year

Canterbury Park Lower Takeout

Canterbury Park made headlines this spring when it was announced the track would be offering the lowest overall takeout of any track in North America during its 2016 meet, which runs from May 20th to September 17th.

The takeout rate structure is simple: 15% on Win, Place and Show pools and 18% on everything else.

In addition to this player friendly change the management at Canterbury Park showed a willingness to listen to the horse player community by quickly nixing a jackpot Pick 5.

These changes have boosted Canterbury Park in the annual HANA track ratings for 2016 from 29th all the up to 6th.

Canterbury Park, like Kentucky Downs, has decided to put their customers first and has provided us (horse players) with the opportunity to show the entire horse racing industry that takeout rates matter.

This could be the tipping point that determines whether takeout rates stay the same or decrease in the coming years.

It is our responsibility to support tracks that put the horse player first.

I know that you may have rarely, if ever bet Canterbury Park so I looked at the past three meets (2013 – 2015) and complied the information I think will help you (and me) succeed when betting their races this year.

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Handicapping the 2016 Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby will once again have a full field as many optimistic owners and trainers send forth horses that have no business running in the most important race for three year old colts in North America.

It is their right to do so if their horse meets the qualifying parameters but it adds another level of complexity to an already complex race.

If the goal of the Kentucky Derby was to crown the best three year old the field would be limited to the 12 or 14 top horses.

That is part of the goal but the other part is to maximize the wagering handle on the race and the supporting races because the Kentucky Derby card along with the Kentucky Oaks card comprise the majority of the annual wagering handle at Churchill Downs.

This is the hand we are dealt so let’s get to work.

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The 30 Day Challenge: Learn How to Bet Smarter Using One Simple Technique

30 Day Challenge

Creating a new positive habit can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.

It all depends on the individual and how easy or hard it is for that person to condition themselves to follow through with the positive habit on a daily basis.

As a child you may have been resistant to brushing your teeth twice a day but as you got older it hopefully has become second nature to do so.

That would be an example of an easy to form positive habit.

On the other hand eating healthy and exercising are often hard to form positive habits.

While many people have the intention of getting in better physical shape at the start of every new year most do not stick with the program very long.

The proof of this is very easy to see as all you need to do is monitor the number of people in your local gym in January, February and so on.

January will be the peak and each month after the number will fall until the only people there are the regulars.

This is an example of a hard to form positive habit.

Both of these examples are generalizations as there may very well be some that never brush their teeth twice a day or even once a day.

Likewise there may be some that start eating right and exercising and quickly establish a routine that sticks for life.

This reinforces the point that forming a positive habit is very individualized and there is no magic formula to determine how long it will take for you or me.

With that said I want to propose a challenge to you, one that I know will positively impact you as a horse player.

For some it will be very easy, for others very hard and for most somewhere in between the two extremes.

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