Keeneland: Looking at the Spring Meet through Data

After delving into horse racing over the past few years, I’ve noticed that I don’t really think about time through the lens of seasons anymore. Instead I think about things by when tracks open and close, and major race days. I spent a good deal of “Dubai World Cup / Florida Derby weekend” prepping what comes below for “Opening Week at Keeneland” (aka this week).

In any case, I thought it might be useful to take a look at some Keeneland content in preparation of the spring meet, which might offer some data points that could be helpful in forming opinions on races over the next three weeks.

I’ve pulled together some mostly high level stats around race types, trainers and jockeys primarily by course, and course configuration. The primary way we’ve looked at races for the purposes of the post are splits between dirt and turf, and those races run around one turn, and two turns.


Keeneland runs around 300 races each year. The fields are typically pretty hefty and the average win odds have been climbing. Note that during 2015, Keeneland hosted the Breeder’s Cup, so there are a few more races during that year.

YearRunnersRacesRunners per raceAverage win odds

Keeneland switched from and all weather surface to dirt in 2014. Overall, the vast majority of races are run on the dirt but there has been a slight up-tick in turf racing in the past few years.

And to reiterate quickly, I have denoted here the number of turns that the races are. One turn races are those run around only one turn of the track. Two turns, well, you get it.

YearCourseNumber of turnsRaces
2013All weather1149
2013All Weather294
2014All weather163
2014All weather248

As a potential guideline, I thought it might be interesting to look at payouts by race type to see where we might be able to reach for some prices, and where we might have to eat some more chalk:

  • There is some potential to reach for prices in stakes races, as is evidenced by the nice average payouts for stakes races in 2018.
  • Maiden races offer the second highest opportunities for prices, on average.
  • Interestingly, AOC and Allowance races offered the lowest payouts, on average
RacesField Size
2018Allowance Optional Claiming5.0257.8
2018Maiden Claiming6.9399.3
2018Maiden Special Weight6.77210.1
2018Starter Allowance6.278.6

Notes and Definitions

Please note – through the rest of the article, we will examine racing through the using a some of the following definitions. Here they are for reference:

Win %Total number of wins divided by total number of starters
TakeoutThe percentage of money the racetrack takes to cover racing (it’s around 16% for win wagers)
Odds adjusted win %One divided by one plus odds of a horse – then multiply that by the one minus the takeout rate
Win percentage divided by odds adjusted win percentage

The rationale for odds adjusted win percentage is to reduce the impact that longshots (horses that are unsuited, potentially for a race) have on losing from any given perspective (be it post position, weight, or anything else that is included below).

The way to think about impact values:

Numbers less than one mean that horses win less than the public expects, and numbers greater than one mean that horses win more than the public expects them to. The takeaway being numbers higher than one might represent pockets of opportunity or overlays. It’s another take on any given play’s return on investment


To start, we can take a look at stats since 2017, sorted by expected win percentage (calculated using the odds that the horse broke from the gate at), and filtered for trainers with more than 50 mounts.

  • Chad Brown tops the list and interestingly, he boasts an impact value of > 1 which suggests that he wins more than the odds of his horses suggest that he should. However, consistently playing Chad Brow would yield a payout of $0.61 for each dollar wagered. The takeaway is only play Chad Brown when he wins 😉
  • It appears that handicappers appropriately assess the Wesley Ward runners, as his impact value is almost exactly 1. Much like Chad though, the return for every dollar invested is only $0.51.
  • On the other side of this, it is interesting to note that Bill Mott wins only 2.7% of the time from 74 starters with an impact value close to zero since the odds his horses go off at suggest he should win at a 17% clip. The return here of only $0.07 for every dollar suggests an almost complete avoid for me.
  • Similar to Mott, are Graham Motion (at 6.7% win, .49 impact value), and Ken McPeek (7.1% winners from 169 runners and a .54 impact value).
  • On the positive side, Eddie Kenneally and Ben Colebrook each boast impact values of greater than 1, and returns on a dollar invested of over a dollar, suggesting you could almost blindly play them and expect to make money $$$.
TrainerMountsExpected win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Chad Brown6226.382133.871.280.61
Todd Pletcher6126.041931.151.20.68
Wesley Ward15020.93120.670.990.51
Brad Cox11719.472723.081.190.73
Brian Lynch6317.081015.870.930.6
William Mott7417.0422.70.160.07
Steven Asmussen10816.851917.591.040.62
Thomas Amoss5716.611119.31.160.56
Mark Casse13016.072015.380.960.74
Eddie Kenneally9115.651617.581.121.15
Joe Sharp6814.981116.181.080.82
Michael Maker17314.712715.611.060.78
Brendan Walsh8314.41910.840.750.48
H. Motion5913.8446.780.490.31
Dale Romans5213.251019.231.450.92
Kenneth McPeek16913.08127.10.540.25
Ron Moquett7311.631013.71.180.49
George Arnold, II9211.381516.31.430.92
Ian Wilkes14711.131510.20.920.68
Ben Colebrook9510.621414.741.391.6
Nicholas Zito559.3235.450.580.42
John Hancock559.2659.090.980.34
Philip Sims669.1369.0910.31
Victoria Oliver667.4769.091.220.44
Charles LoPresti707.07811.431.621.42

Trainers, one turn on dirt

If the above was a too high level view for you, look no further. We’ve broken out trainers even further. Here, we show trainers for one turn races on dirt. Instead of looking for trainers with more than 50 mounts like we did above, we have only filtered for trainers with more than 30 mounts.

  • Wesley Ward wins more than the odds suggest his horses should. However, there is is still a negative return on a dollar investment.
  • Wayne Rice is 0 for 31 in one turn dirt races
  • George Arnold has a slightly positive return on investment and an impact value of greater than one. Potential to upgrade in some cases.
  • Ben Colebrook once again has a pretty substantial impact value, and a positive return on a dollar invested if you were to blindly bet on every one of his one turn dirt runners. Not bad…
  • Michael Tomlinson is 7 for 31, has an impact value that is sky high at > 2.2 and has a very high return on a dollar invested. Could push me to bet some of his higher priced runners.
TrianerMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Wesley Ward8425.912529.761.150.65
Brad Cox4321.341432.561.530.7
Mark Casse4219.13511.90.620.79
Eddie Kenneally4719.02714.890.780.37
Michael Maker5218.4713.460.730.36
Steven Asmussen6218.291422.581.230.61
Kenneth McPeek5313.1935.660.430.06
George Arnold, II3413.02617.651.361.01
Ben Colebrook5512.5411201.591.26
Ron Moquett5712.33915.791.280.57
Ian Wilkes5511.6423.640.310.33
Michael Tomlinson3110.01722.582.261.8
John Hancock519.3459.81.050.36
Philip Sims358.4325.710.680.28
Wayne Rice312.270000

Trainers, two turns on dirt

I was toying with my filters to see how many mounts to include. I landed on 10 mounts since 2017 so I could highlight the following stat.

  • Bill Mott: 0 for 14 in two turn dirt races. Really interesting food for thought in my opinion. Wonder how that compares to Gulfstream, two turn dirt races…
  • Steve Asmussen is 2 for 30, with an impact value of 0.36.
  • Eddie Kenneally pops up again. 5 for 18 with an eye-popping $2.43 return on a dollar investment
  • Overall, there probably isn’t as much to takeaway from this grouping
TrainerMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Todd Pletcher2626.22623.080.880.48
Brad Cox3224.42928.121.150.9
Rodolphe Brisset1123.2218.180.780.3
Joe Sharp2220.6429.090.440.1
William Mott1419.980000
Steven Asmussen3018.2826.670.360.04
Michael Stidham1117.2419.090.530.23
Mark Casse3116.98722.581.330.72
Michael Maker2216.71313.640.820.24
Thomas Amoss2616.67519.231.150.41
Dallas Stewart1215.9418.330.520.18
Kenneth McPeek7715.71810.390.660.38
Brendan Walsh3015.2516.671.10.9
Eddie Kenneally1814.84527.781.872.43
Neil Howard1213.63216.671.220.84
Ian Wilkes3313.6824.241.780.97
Dale Romans2813.2414.291.080.26
Michael Matz1213.043251.921.43
Philip Sims2013.014201.540.54
John Ortiz1112.7219.090.710.12
Victoria Oliver1611.08212.51.130.26
George Arnold, II2110.68314.291.340.63
Ron Moquett139.9117.690.780.26
Andrew McKeever119.74218.181.873.75
Charles LoPresti249.37416.671.781.56
Michael Tomlinson129.260000
D. Lukas159.0616.670.742.15
Nicholas Zito308.4613.330.390.58
Ben Colebrook148.15321.432.635.89
William Bradley117.1319.091.270.8
William Bennett135.9917.691.281.47

Trainers, one turn, turf

For what it’s worth, we’ll look at one turn on the turf. The sample size is pretty small, and I went down to 5 mounts as the minimum. There are a few interesting tidbits.

  • Wesley Ward seems to over perform relative to the stats on dirt. Still can’t make a profit betting him blindly.
  • Mark Casse is 3 for 9 with a big return on a dollar. His horses might be worth a second look if they show up one turn on the turf.
  • Ben Colebrook here breaks from what we’ve seen before. Unsuccessful since 2017, as he is 0 for 11.
TrainerMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Wesley Ward2918.15620.691.140.75
Mark Casse915.17333.332.23.01
Joe Sharp814.39337.52.613.31
Brad Cox612.950000
Chris Hartman712.34228.572.321.83
W. Calhoun610.050000
Ben Colebrook119.670000
Michael Maker79.550000
Steven Asmussen99.51111.111.170.37
Victoria Oliver77.510000
Ian Wilkes77.16114.2920.7
Gregory Foley106.581101.523.22
Neil Pessin74.250000

Trainers, two turns, turf

I bumped the filter up to more than 10 mounts here. But mainly for the top statistic below:

  • Kiaran McLaughlin is 6 for 12 in two turn dirt races. Big return of almost $2 for every dollar invested.
  • Mike Maker gets a positive stat as well. Positive return on a pretty significant number of runners.
  • Another substantial stat. Wesley Ward is 0 for 28 around two turns on the dirt.
TrainerMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Chad Brown4926.521632.651.230.61
Kiaran McLaughlin1218.476502.711.97
Christophe Clement2117.78314.290.80.4
William Mott4816.5524.170.250.1
Todd Pletcher1616.45318.751.141.08
George Weaver1616.18318.751.160.46
Arnaud Delacour1015.460000
Brian Lynch3315.0939.090.60.52
Brad Cox3613.93411.110.80.73
Thomas Proctor1813.39316.671.241.45
Claude McGaughey III3713.17513.511.030.81
Mark Casse4812.96510.420.80.27
Norm Casse1012.912201.551.36
H. Motion4312.7749.30.730.43
Michael Maker9212.541718.481.471.22
James Toner1212.43216.671.340.44
Brendan Walsh2811.0427.140.650.32
Dale Romans1410.9117.140.651.07
Michael Matz2110.80000
Wesley Ward2810.480000
Joe Sharp201042020.76
George Arnold, II329.9515.621.581.06
Ian Wilkes529.5847.690.80.87
Eddie Kenneally229.28313.641.471.9
Michael Stidham149.01321.432.382.45
William Bradley138.710000
Kenneth McPeek397.7112.560.330.24
Ignacio Correas, IV237.550000
Rodolphe Brisset137.4117.691.040.55
Ben Colebrook156.610000
Victoria Oliver265.7327.691.340.59
Roger Attfield185.640000
Charles LoPresti295.44310.341.91.77
Philip Sims104.170000
Andrew McKeever103.980000
Neil Pessin113.850000
Mikhail Yanakov152.250000
Wayne Rice130.890000


Jockeys, one turn on dirt

Similarly to trainers, we are taking a look at jockeys since 2017 and how they’ve fared. Here we’ve filtered for jockeys with more than twenty mounts.

  • Unreal statistic is the Joel Rosario is 15 for 38 with a huge impact value and solid return on a dollar. Might have to blindly bet this guy, in one turn races on the dirt.
  • The top five here all have positive return on investment values. TAke your pick…
  • Looking toward the bottom, I think it’s interesting to see some highly negative return on investment numbers from Javier Castellano, Jose Ortiz and Shaun Bridgmohan. Could be a good idea to fade these guys when they aren’t on a super strong favorite (or always in SB’s case)
JockeyMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Samuel Camacho, Jr.245.69520.833.662.85
Joseph Rocco, Jr.489.441020.832.211.54
Joel Rosario3820.031539.471.971.34
Albin Jimenez3912.54923.081.841.4
Tyler Gaffalione3515.23822.861.51.2
Calvin Borel409.07512.51.380.76
Paco Lopez2213.49418.181.350.56
Florent Geroux11118.22522.521.240.66
Miguel Mena359.42411.431.210.35
Luis Saez4914.42816.331.130.69
Ricardo Santana, Jr.10116.581918.811.130.75
Julien Leparoux10516.241918.11.110.7
Robby Albarado11011.521412.731.110.73
Mitchell Murrill319.4439.681.030.5
Jon Court417.5437.320.970.39
Corey Lanerie16715.762313.770.870.63
James Graham1109.6198.180.850.45
Declan Cannon697.545.80.770.47
Jose Ortiz10219.41514.710.760.42
Jose Lezcano2810.
Gabriel Saez5310.9547.550.690.37
Brian Hernandez, Jr.11513.2108.70.660.32
Javier Castellano2823.35414.290.610.15
Channing Hill409.89250.510.16
Jack Gilligan837.6233.610.470.07
Chris Landeros7710.9345.190.470.45
Adam Beschizza3812.6125.260.420.37
Edgar Morales427.2112.380.330.78
Julie Burke253.270000
Arienne Cox312.270000
Shaun Bridgmohan3014.960000
John McKee285.610000

Jockeys, two turns, dirt

Couple of interesting notes here. Again filtered for more than 20 mounts.

  • Contrary to one turn on dirt, Javier Castellano has a big return on a dollar investment ($1.36 for a dollar) and an impact value of 1.42 suggesting he wins more than he is expected (by the public) to.
  • Also contrary to one turn on dirt, Joel Rosario is at the bottom of the chart here, with an unprofitable return on a dollar investment even while winning almost 18% of the time.
JockeyMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Channing Hill227.45418.182.441.44
Edgar Morales3011.16723.332.092.23
Chris Landeros4611.221021.741.941.53
Ricardo Santana, Jr.3814.84923.681.61.13
Javier Castellano2021.16301.421.36
Shaun Bridgmohan2313.34417.391.30.95
Adam Beschizza2913.75517.241.250.87
Declan Cannon3083101.251.4
Florent Geroux7217.841419.441.090.5
Brian Hernandez, Jr.7914.211215.191.070.49
John Velazquez2023.285251.070.69
Gabriel Saez2711.06311.1110.62
Joel Rosario2819.27517.860.930.31
Robby Albarado6917.161014.490.840.31
Jose Ortiz4921.07816.330.780.42
Corey Lanerie8817.21112.50.730.62
Julien Leparoux5715.06610.530.70.87
James Graham6310.2534.760.460.21
Luis Saez3018.0926.670.370.24
Jack Gilligan416.970000
Joseph Rocco, Jr.228.80000

Jockeys, one turn, turf

In the interest of saving space, I’ll just throw out a few stats for this one, as the sample size is very small.

  • Joel Rosario, 4 for 9, impact value of 2.53 and $2.80 for ever dollar invested.
  • Jose Ortiz, 1 for 15
  • Florent Geroux, 1 for 19
  • Brian Hernandez, Jr., 0 for 16

Jockeys, two turns, turf

For more than 20 mounts, here is the chart and some accompanying stats.

  • Javier again toward the top winning over 30% of two turn turf mounts, with solid return on investment.
  • Joel Rosario and Jose Ortiz end up pretty far down the list here. That, though, is likely because they ride pretty heavily backed horses and only win around 15-20% of the time (don’t get me wrong, not bad, if you’re not trying to turn a dollar into anything other than smoke).
JockeyMountsExpected Win %WinsWin %Impact ValueROI
Gabriel Saez276.78414.812.181.03
Adam Beschizza349.82617.651.80.95
Jose Lezcano4311.75818.61.580.82
Javier Castellano3920.411230.771.511.27
Joe Bravo2411.21416.671.491.26
Channing Hill245.8228.331.430.55
Tyler Gaffalione329412.51.391.11
Luis Saez3410.9514.711.351
Brian Hernandez, Jr.788.31810.261.230.84
Corey Lanerie979.581010.311.081.16
Julien Leparoux11012.711412.7310.91
Declan Cannon333.1213.030.970.41
Chris Landeros437.4536.980.940.45
Joel Rosario5318.22916.980.930.64
Jose Ortiz8522.3717200.890.74
John Velazquez2613.93311.540.830.37
Florent Geroux11311.1287.080.640.36
Robby Albarado736.6534.110.620.34
Joseph Rocco, Jr.257.02140.570.54
Ricardo Santana, Jr.375.7212.70.470.29
James Graham605.2311.670.320.13
Jack Gilligan363.090000


Hopefully this should be enough to get you started on Keeneland! Look forward to any comments / suggestions.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@john_camardo), or through the blog if you have any questions

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