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Polytrack and Trainers for Courses

Arlington Park Communications | 07/31/2008 #


In response to my last blog a good question was raised and a good suggestion was offered.

TGH4559 asked how to handicap horses who have no previous Polytrack experience – should we use trainer data?

John Drake agreed with using trainer data, but also suggested to consider the horse’s record.

John makes a good point. Many horses are herd animals and are content to run with the herd, meaning the field. On any given day just look at the lifetime records of the horses entered and, with the older horses that have been racing for a while, you will see a number of them with more seconds and thirds than wins, illustrated with a record such as 18: 1-4-5. This is especially common in the claiming, non-winners of two (or three) races lifetime, type of races.

Such horses, as John points out, are herd animals no matter the surface. My advice: If you think they may be fast enough to take a part of the race, you may wish to include such horses as under horses (under your projected winner) in vertical exotic wagers such as exactas, trifectas, supers, and the new high-5.

TGH4459 is also correct in suspecting that trainer records can be helpful. The past performances carry each horse’s trainer’s current record at the meet. The lower the trainer’s win per cent at the meet, the lower the risk of his horse winning.

This is also the second year for Polytrack at Arlington. I will use the trainer’s record for last summer in addition to his current meet-to-date record. I recommend that you, the reader, do the same. I look at his record on the main track or turf course, depending on the surface where today’s race will be run. I also consider whether the race is a sprint or a route, around one turn or two, for two-year-olds only or older, and the like, and use the appropriate trainer data. Remember, that data must also be meet-specific.

A cautionary note. We must use reason and allow for change. For example, for the Arlington, 2007, meet trainer Hector Magana compiled a record of 58: 12-14-10, or 21%W, 45%WP, and 62%ITM (WPS). For the current Arlington meet to date Magana is 80: 6-18-17, or 8%W, 30%WP, and 51%ITM. Has Magana suddenly become a less-accomplished trainer? More likely the preponderance of seconds and thirds, versus wins, indicates that Magana is running his horses too high. Once he drops his horses a level or two, with permission of his owners, no doubt, his win per cent will improve. Take a second look at his entrants and be prepared.

Remember to join us at my upcoming free handicapping seminar in the Starting Gate area at Arlington this coming Saturday, August 2, starting at 11:30 AM. Registration begins at 11:15. I will be handicapping the afternoon’s races, then I remain in the area all afternoon and will be happy to show you the trainer data I use and talk racing and handicapping with you.  If you are not able to attend but would like to see a sample of the trainer data, email me at