By Noel Michaels
The Belmont fall meet extends into early November with racing going on through the Breeders’ Cup weekend at Del Mar before closing Nov. 7, after which the New York racing scene shifts to Aqueduct.
With four weeks left at Belmont, let’s check on a few trends that could help you boost your win percentages. Just like at the Keeneland and Santa Anita meets, most of the major stakes at Belmont are over. What’s left is good old day-in, day-out high quality racing and wagering, including top-rung turf racing and lots of 2-year-old races.
Here are some observations that might prove helpful:
A most interesting post-position trend shows that horses racing on the inside over the main track in sprints are faring quite well. Horses breaking from post 1 in dirt sprints were 12-for-46 for an excellent 26% win rate. The inside trend is not only about the rail. In fact, the inside four posts in dirt sprints were a combined 33-for-46 – a 72% win rate. In contrast, horses from all other posts have gone a combined 13 wins from 72 starts or a win rate of 7.5%.
The inside trend on the Belmont main track has also been apparent in routes, even though Belmont’s dirt routes are run around one turn. Horses from posts 1-4 have won 66% of the routes run at the meet (won 19 of the 29 races). Horses breaking from posts 5-11 in those races have a combined record of 10 wins from 82 starts for a 12% win rate.
After Luis Saez won his first Saratoga meet riding title, the jockey leaderboard has returned to where it often is at Belmont — Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Jose Ortiz leading the way with 19 wins apiece. Jose Ortiz has been the much hotter jockey, however, accomplishing his 19 wins rom 82 starters for a 25% win rate. Irad is 19-for-114 for 17% wins. Next are Saez (16-for-107, 15%), and the surprise jockey so far, Dylan Davis (16-for-103, 16%). The stats for Saez and Davis have been similar except for the winning return. Saez’s average winner is paying $9 (for a $2 win bet), while Davis’s victories have an average win payoff of $16.80 — one of Davis’s 16 winners was the favorite.
Leading trainer is up for grabs between two of the best in the country — Chad Brown (14 wins) versus Todd Pletcher (13 wins) for the top spot. Both are winning at a 21% clip, but the similarities end there. Brown has had a bit of tough luck in terms of runner-up finishes with 17 seconds, and his in-the-money rate of 59% is better than Pletcher’s 49%. This bodes well for Brown during the second half of the meet. If you’re betting, take note that Brown and Pletcher are also excelling in different areas. Brown has been the meet’s top turf trainer 11 wins from 49 starters (22%). Pletcher is doing his winning on dirt, where his nine main track wins from 33 starters (27%) leads the way. Pletcher also leads the way with 2-year-old wins with seven.
Rudy Rodriguez is 9-for-45, 20%, which is good for third in the standings, Linda Rice is 9-for-29 for a 31% win rate, Tom Morley is 8-for-20, 40% wins and 60% ITM including seven wins with 10 route starters, and George Weaver is 4-for-16, 25% and 63% ITM with all four wins on the turf. are all having an exceptional meet so far.
Belmont trainers not faring so well include David Donk (1-for-26), John Kimmel (1-for-17), Jeremiah Englehart (1-for-16), Chris Englehart (1-for-17), and Tom Albertrani (0-for-13).
Noel Michaels has been involved in many aspects of thoroughbred racing for more than two decades, as a Breeders’ Cup-winning owner and as a writer, author, handicapper, editor, manager and promoter of the sport for a wide range of companies including Daily Racing Form and Nassau County Off-Track Betting.
He also is regarded as the leading source of news and information for handicapping tournaments and the author of the “Handicapping Contest Handbook: A Horseplayer’s Guide to Handicapping Tournaments”, which made his name virtually synonymous with the increasingly-popular tournament scene.
In addition to contributing to US Racing, he is also an analyst on the Arlington Park broadcast team.