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.
Seven furlongs is a specialist’s distance.
With Saturday’s Princess Rooney Stakes at Gulfstream one of the calendar’s most important 7-furlong sprints annually, the old racetrack axiom that 7-furlong races are for specialists comes to mind. The distance is demanding on the fleet dashers, but quicker than most routers can handle. Let’s see if the numbers suggest.
I fired up the Betmix database to look at all 7 furlong dirt races run this year in the US. I wanted to see how horses performed exiting races shorter, longer and at the same trip. A total of 916 races were surveyed. I also looked at horses in those 3 scenarios in terms of how often each category won over 7 furlongs.
I also extended that out to look at the last 10,000 such starters at 7 furlongs to see if 2022 was representative, long-term.
This year so far:
7-furlong entrants who last raced shorter than 7 furlongs won 13.5% with a $0.70 ROI for every $1 bet.
7-furlong entrants who last raced longer than 7 furlongs won 12.4% with a $0.68 ROI for every $1 bet.
7-furlong entrants who last raced 7 furlongs won 15.7% with a $0.80 ROI for every $1 bet.
Over the past 10,000 starters at 7 furlongs:
7-furlong entrants who last raced shorter than 7 furlongs won 12.2% with a $0.75 ROI for every $1 bet.
7-furlong entrants who last raced longer than 7 furlongs won 11.4% with a $0.73 ROI for every $1 bet.
7-furlong entrants who last raced 7 furlongs won 14.0% with a $0.80 ROI for every $1 bet.
This year so far:
Horses exiting races shorter than 7 furlongs won 462 of the 916 races at 7-furlongs (50.4%).
Horses exiting races exactly at 7 furlongs won 192 of the 916 races at 7-furlongs (21.0%).
Horses exiting races shorter than 7 furlongs won 239 of the 916 races at 7-furlongs (26.0%).
**first-time starters accounted for the other 23 victories**
Both current and long-term, horses exiting 7-furlong races won 7-furlong races at a higher strike rate (+2.2% short-term, +1.8% long-term) than those changing distances. Horses remaining at 7 furlongs also had the higher ROI (+$0.10 short-term, +$0.05 long-term). Those horses remaining at the same distance are fewer in number and therefore accounted for the least amount of total victories as horses stretching out in distance easily won the most races. But there’s no doubt when you find a horse for 7 furlongs exiting a 7-furlong race, the specialist distance assumption rings true by a decent margin. And this narrow study does not even account for past success at the 7-furlong trip.
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, consider which tracks have the most impact in terms of 7-furlong specialists.