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.
It’s easier to handicap shorter dirt sprints.
They aren’t the most glamorous races nor at the high-profile tracks, but many handicappers believe that short dirt sprints are the easiest place to find a winner. They’re the bastion of the old expression that the race is won by the fastest horses. Is it easier to identify whose fastest in these races, and does that result in more wins?
I ran the Betmix database for every race in the country from Jan. 1, 2018 through today. I looked at races at 4-1/2 furlongs and shorter, 6 and 7 furlongs, and 1 mile to 1-1/8 miles – essentially dashes, sprints and routes.
Favorites won 42% in dirt dashes at 4-1/2 furlongs or less.
Favorites won 39% in dirt sprints at 6 to 7 furlongs.
Favorites won 37% in dirt routes at 1 mile to 1-1/8 miles.
The average price winner in dirt dashes at 4-1/2 furlongs was 4.2-1 odds.
The average price winner in dirt sprints at 6 to 7 furlongs was 5.3-1 odds.
The average price winner in dirt routes at 1 mile to 1-1/8 miles was 4.7-1 odds.
In claiming races, favorites won 43% in dirt dashes at 4-1/2 furlongs or less.
In claiming races, favorites won 37% in dirt sprints at 6 to 7 furlongs.
In claiming races, favorites won 37% in dirt routes at 1 mile to 1-1/8 miles.
In claiming races, the average price winner in dirt dashes at 4-1/2 furlongs was 4.2-1 odds.
In claiming races, the average price winner in dirt sprints at 6 to 7 furlongs was 5.1-1 odds.
In claiming races, the average price winner in dirt routes at 1 mile to 1-1/8 miles was 4.8-1 odds.
Dirt dashes had the highest win percentage and the lowest average odds winners, both by decided margins. The favorites won 3-5% more often in dirt dashes vs. dirt sprints and routes. The winners’ average odds in dirt dashes by between a half-point and just over a full point. When it comes to ‘cheap speed’ dirt dash favorites won 6% more readily than other races on the main track. The average price winner also was less among claiming dirt dashes.
No doubt that the shorter the race, the more clarity in the results on dirt. If you’re barking up the cheap speed tree, than you can also say that the winning favorites in dirt dash claimer is even stronger with a bigger spread than other dirt races. These numbers affirm the assumption dirt dashes are easiest to handicap.
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, check how the tracks you handicap vary throughout the various distances.