Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities.
The Ship-and-Win program horses for Del Mar’s summer meet are strong bets who are sent west with great intent.
For more than a decade, Del Mar has added purse incentives to attract horses from outside California for its summer meeting. The theory is to bolster field quantity and quality. But have said ‘shippers’ added to the product or merely worked some loopholes? While the program has good intentions, I wanted to find out how it's impacting the horseplayers.
I fired up the Betmix database to look at the past five summer meets at Del Mar, 2017-2021. I wanted to see how horses who last raced outside of California have fared, how well they were regarded in the betting and who was training these horses – west coasters or actual non-California barns. More than 650 horses show up in the database at Del Mar during that time, exiting races outside California, 180+ of them in stakes races. While there are some eligibility requirements to the complete Ship & Win program, this short dive gives a good look at the out of town impact.
Ship-and-Win horses have average odds of 14.33-1 vs. 16.04-1 for all starters.
Ship-and-Win horses have a 13.6% win rate and 25.9% exacta rate vs. 11.9% and 23.8% for all starters.
Ship-and-Win horses have a $0.59 ROI vs. $0.77 for all starters.
Notable Non-California trainers to have 10+ Ship-and-Win horses: 6 (Mark Casse, Victoria Olivier, Mike Maker, Dallas Keen, Tom Proctor, Molly Pearson).
The overwhelming majority of starters from non-California races come from California-based trainers – Bob Hess, Peter Miller, Phil D’Amato and Doug O’Neill all with 30+. None of the non-California trainers with 10+ starters has topped 18 starters in the 5-year study, so that means they’re bringing 3 or 4 horses per summer max from any barn. The Ship-and-Win horses have as slightly better win and exacta rate by 1.7% and 1.9%, respectively, but their odds are shorter and their ROI significantly less by $0.18. They do not provide a better value betting opportunity to the horseplayer evaluating them vs. the locals.
You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, look at each class of race and turf vs. dirt for these Del Mar ship-ins.