Monday Myths: What To Do With Beaten Debut Favorites?

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.


Horses bet to favoritism first-time out are live and should be given extra consideration next time they run.


Post Saratoga and Del Mar, there will be a great focus on 2-year-old racing the rest of the year. Much is bandied about when it comes to ‘live’ horses on the toteboard and how the public word gets out on them. But when those public heart-throbs lose at first-asking, do we make excuses for them and bet them back? Let’s see by the numbers if that’s a good move.

Data Points:

I fired up the Betmix database to look at all second-time starters in America since 2018. I compared the win percentage of all last-out beaten favorites to those of runners who were bet to favoritism in their debuts and were returning. I also compared the $1 ROI bet to win on each type of runner.


Beaten Favorites won 22.2% in their next starts with a $1 ROI of $0.79.
Debut Beaten Favorites won 22.6% in their next starts with a $1 ROI of $0.78.

Bottom line:

There’s virtually no difference between a beaten favorite in any type of race as to a beaten favorite coming off a heavily bet debut effort. The debut beaten favorites won just 0.4% more often, and had a penny less ROI than all beaten favorites across the spectrum. This myth is debunked. Don’t be swayed by a horse bet in their debut as any special angle.

Additional details:

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, how does this angle perform over various tracks … or which trainers have success with this situation?

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