A Quick Primer on Playing Arlington Park's Polytrack

 Return to Polytrack
Attached to Arlington Park's introduction of Polytrack in the summer of '07 was a long list of new challenges for the horseplayer. We needed to familiarize ourselves with what kinds of horses would take to the new track, and how the surface would play.

Armed with three full meets of experience under our handicapping belts, we're building data that can help us become even more successful in picking winners.

At arlingtonpark.com, you can now find a PolyCapping database. Powered by Equibase, this database is updated overnight and is available for viewing each morning through the previous day's races. Arlington Park's PolyCapping tool is a free database designed especially for expert horseplayers who want detailed information. It offers detailed race information on the individual winners of every Arlington race since May 2007, including position at key junctures of the race, last start information and much more. The PolyCapping database is easy to use because it is sortable, downloadable, and it allows handicappers to chose the criteria he or she thinks is important when wagering on Arlington Park live racing.

Here are some all-time stats pulled directly from the PolyCapping database:

May winners last raced @ which circuits?
213 last raced at Hawthorne, 57 at Keeneland, 41 at Tampa, 40 at Oaklawn Park, 27 at Gulfstream Park, 21 at Fair Grounds and 13 at Churchill

Most May Winners on Polytrack (Fast starting trainers)
38 Catalano, 20 H. Robertson, 18 Rivelli, 13 Yanez, 12 Stidham, 12 Janks, 11 Hobby, 11 Bennett, 10 Block, 10 Tomillo, 10 Williamson, 9 Kirby. 8 Amoss, 8 Geier, 8 S. Mullins and 8 Reavis.

Polytrack Overall:
2150 total races: Avg. winning odds of 5.5-1 (Favorites: 678/2150)

Notables (all 2007-2009)
Steve Asmussen has 42 wins, only 3 in turf races; only 2 above 8-1 odds; 22 of his wins in maiden races.

Wayne Catalano has 187 wins (132 w/ Calabrese); average odds of winners only 2-1; 131 of his 187 winners were FAVORITES.

Avg Winning Odds By Class on Polytrack
All classes: 5.54 to 1, Maiden Claiming: 5.74 to 1, Maiden Special: 5.74 to 1, Claiming: 5.45 to 1, Starter Alw: 4.60 to 1, Alw/OPT: 5.36 to 1 and Stakes: 6.19 to 1

Here are some other Polytrack observations and potential angles to consider.

  • When Polytrack gets wet, it gets tighter and faster and tends to favor front-running types.
  • There are horses for courses. Now that synthetic surfaces have been in use for a few seasons, we have a better handle of their success level over these sorts of tracks. 
  • It's difficult for a horse to make a wide, sweeping move on the turn for home and win. Much like it is on turf, an inside, pocket trip can be quite advantageous.
  • It doesn't seem nearly as important for a horse to switch from their left to right lead in the stretch. They seem to carry on better on the wrong lead than they do on a traditional dirt track.
  • Horses rebound off bad races much better. It may be more important to evaluate a horse not by what they did in their last race, but what they have shown they are capable of the entire meet.
  • A heavily bet favorite who has never run on Polytrack is almost certainly worth playing against. The fact that they are a monster on dirt certainly doesn't mean that form will transition to Polytrack.

Based on my statistical analysis, here's a list of the top Polytrack sires (alphabetically). A star indicates they are doubly dangerous in my book.

Alphabet Soup, A. P. Indy, Belong to Me*, Bernstein*, Boundary*, Broken Vow, Cactus Ridge, Candy Ride*, Catienus, Chapel Royal*, Chester House, Composer, Concerto, Decarchy, Distant View, Dixie Union, E Dubai, El Corredor*, Empire Maker, Event of the Year, Forestry*, Friendly Lover, Ghostzapper, Giant's Causeway*, Harlan's Holiday, Hennessy, Indian Charlie, Joyeux Dancer, King Cugat, Kitten's Joy, Langfuhr, Lucky Lionel, Maria's Mon, Milwaukee Brew, Mizzen Mast, Montbrook, Mr. Greeley, Mutakddim, Northern Afleet*, Pembroke, Pikepass, Pleasant Tap, Pleasantly Perfect, Point Given, Proudest Romeo, Pure Prize*, Skip Away*, Sky Mesa*, Slew City Slew, Smart Strike, Spinning World, Stormy Atlantic*, Straight Man, Street Cry, Tactical Cat, Tale of the Cat, The Name's Jimmy, Three Wonders, Tapit, Tiznow, Tour d'Or, Trail City, Trajectory, Tribal Rule*, Unusual Heat*, Vindication, War Chant, Wildcat Heir, Wild Event, and Yankee Gentleman*.