PHOTO CREDIT: NYRA/Susie Raisher

 

Overview

Dating back to 2015, there are roughly 400 races run each year at Saratoga race course.

YEARFAVORITESRACESAVG_RUNNERSTOTAL_HORSESAVERAGE_PAYOUTMAX_PAYMEDIAN_PAYFAVORITE_PCT
20151194038.433846.956.254.60.3
20161464008.0932346.27564.30.36
20171313978.2532746.28116.254.450.33
20181233887.7630105.9451.754.40.32

Favorites overall win at a pretty heavy rate. The way I think this should be looked at is this: yes, favorites win almost 1 out of three races, but that leaves 2 out of 3 races to look elsewhere!

The payouts are the payouts referencing a dollar bet.

Oh, and just to talk about the winner that paid $116.25 for a dollar bet. That was a horse by the name of Perplexed. The horse was ridden by Luis Reyes, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and born in the first month of 2014 (maybe that makes him on the more mature side for his age which was 3 at this point). It was a sprint on a Sloppy (Sealed) track. Further, the horse carried only 113 pounds which was at least 6 pounds less than any other horse in the race. He hasn’t won since. But I do think this could be an informative example of maybe a confluence of a bunch of factors creating an insane result.

Now for the gorilla in the room, overall there was a sharp decline in the number of runners, and average number of runners per race. I think this may have been due to a significant number of very rainy days where a number of races were taken off the turf, and thus a number of horses were scratched.

The good news in all of this is that there is still plenty of interest, and thus money to win: handle per horse has been steadily increasing over the past four years, even with the declining number of runners since 2015:

 2015201620172018
Amount bet / horse$191,590$200,167$206,780$213,292

So now that we’ve gone through that, how is it that we’re going to make money on the meet?

Jockeys

As a point of reference, here are some stats for how jockeys have fared on the dirt and turf regardless of distance for the past three years. These are sorted by ROI which may be why there are some names that show up at the top that may surprise. I think this is helpful to parse out some riders who may win a high percentage of the time, but don’t necessarily beat the takeout.

COURSEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
TurfJose Lezcano247.05185280.120.151.341.27
TurfEric Cancel181.25143120.070.081.271.28
TurfManuel Franco283.7228260.10.111.241.17
TurfShaun Bridgmohan46.33950.080.131.191.52
TurfJohn Velazquez191.15212350.160.170.91.05
TurfJoel Rosario179201310.150.150.891.06
TurfCornelio Velasquez33.53940.10.10.860.98
TurfJose Ortiz242.6283550.160.190.861.25
TurfIrad Ortiz, Jr.246.5309590.180.190.81.06
TurfKendrick Carmouche116151130.070.090.771.16
TurfJunior Alvarado120.35163140.10.090.740.85
TurfRicardo Santana, Jr.80.4118120.090.10.681.12
TurfJavier Castellano179.25267400.180.150.670.83
TurfFlorent Geroux51.858640.090.050.60.53
TurfLuis Reyes22.23920.030.050.571.47
TurfLuis Saez118.4249200.110.080.480.76
TurfJoe Bravo15.33710.110.030.410.25
TurfPaco Lopez14.23720.10.050.380.53
TurfRajiv Maragh11.23830.090.080.290.84
TurfJulien Leparoux30.111050.10.050.270.48
TurfMichael Luzzi7.63210.050.030.240.63
TurfDylan Davis14.77020.050.030.210.58
TurfDavid Cohen4.32210.060.050.20.7
TurfAngel Arroyo10.27930.060.040.130.66
TurfJomar Torres02100.04000
COURSEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
Inner TurfRicardo Santana, Jr.115.59560.060.061.221.1
Inner TurfDylan Davis72.56040.040.071.211.61
Inner TurfJose Ortiz255.6237440.150.191.081.27
Inner TurfEric Cancel94.28880.050.091.071.67
Inner TurfRajiv Maragh43.74140.060.11.071.53
Inner TurfLuis Saez212.7211290.110.141.011.21
Inner TurfJulien Leparoux79.48470.10.080.950.85
Inner TurfJunior Alvarado128.5152150.10.10.850.98
Inner TurfKendrick Carmouche120.2514180.080.060.850.73
Inner TurfFlorent Geroux64.257780.10.10.830.99
Inner TurfIrad Ortiz, Jr.205.35246490.190.20.831.07
Inner TurfManuel Franco172.1214190.090.090.80.96
Inner TurfJose Lezcano130166200.10.120.781.15
Inner TurfJohn Velazquez143.45191290.150.150.750.99
Inner TurfJavier Castellano159.55233400.20.170.680.85
Inner TurfCornelio Velasquez22.33420.080.060.660.73
Inner TurfJoel Rosario89.25176150.130.090.510.66
Inner TurfShaun Bridgmohan18.43720.060.050.50.84
Inner TurfJoe Bravo19.854240.110.10.470.88
Inner TurfAngel Arroyo14.27010.060.010.20.25
Inner TurfPaco Lopez3.72910.080.030.130.45
COURSEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
DirtLuis Reyes126.156020.040.032.10.81
DirtSamuel Camacho, Jr.60.253020.030.072.012.26
DirtMike Smith38.221100.30.481.821.61
DirtDavid Cohen100.593160.110.171.081.56
DirtFernando Jara403730.050.081.081.5
DirtJoel Rosario344.75355590.160.170.971.06
DirtDylan Davis152.9159150.070.090.961.26
DirtJohn Velazquez354.4376940.220.250.941.16
DirtLuis Saez470.45504750.140.150.931.07
DirtJose Ortiz523.35841040.180.180.90.99
DirtJose Lezcano204.05229220.10.10.890.92
DirtJunior Alvarado225.05271330.120.120.831.04
DirtIrad Ortiz, Jr.471.955841080.190.180.810.95
DirtJavier Castellano397.05490960.20.20.810.98
DirtRicardo Santana, Jr.253.65315340.120.110.810.89
DirtJoe Bravo69.6587130.130.150.81.18
DirtEric Cancel165.55228170.090.070.730.83
DirtKendrick Carmouche208.75288300.110.10.720.95
DirtManuel Franco332.6463530.120.110.720.96
DirtShaun Bridgmohan43.66250.130.080.70.64
DirtMichael Luzzi40.86940.070.060.590.83
DirtAngel Arroyo79.35142100.090.070.560.8
DirtCornelio Velasquez38.77870.120.090.50.73
DirtPaco Lopez40.38550.10.060.470.57
DirtFlorent Geroux43.610490.120.090.420.71
DirtRajiv Maragh28.859460.080.060.310.77
DirtChristopher DeCarlo7.652720.090.070.280.81
DirtJulien Leparoux29.6512480.110.060.240.58
DirtElvis Trujillo4.752410.070.040.20.56
DirtRafael Hernandez33210.110.030.090.27
DirtJomar Torres2.33710.070.030.060.38
DirtAbel Lezcano03300.05000
DirtCorey Lanerie03300.1000
DirtJacqueline Davis02500.04000

With that out of the way, let’s take a deeper look at jockeys and how they fare by course, and race-type.

COURSESPRINT/ROUTEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
TurfSprintManuel Franco201.8133170.10.131.521.23
TurfSprintEric Cancel137.159790.070.091.411.24
TurfSprintJose Lezcano136.35105190.130.181.31.42
TurfSprintJoel Rosario109.95106190.160.181.041.14
TurfSprintJose Ortiz149.9156320.160.210.961.24
TurfSprintJohn Velazquez97.4108170.170.160.90.92
TurfSprintRicardo Santana, Jr.72.981110.110.140.91.28
TurfSprintIrad Ortiz, Jr.120.9171300.180.180.710.98
TurfSprintKendrick Carmouche65.79790.080.090.681.16
TurfSprintLuis Saez93.7137150.120.110.680.95
TurfSprintFlorent Geroux28.254510.090.020.630.25
TurfSprintJavier Castellano72.3125160.170.130.580.75
TurfSprintPaco Lopez14.22520.110.080.570.74
TurfSprintCornelio Velasquez10.92020.120.10.540.83
TurfSprintJunior Alvarado34.37440.10.050.460.56
TurfSprintJulien Leparoux18.24530.10.070.40.69
TurfSprintRajiv Maragh8.352120.090.10.41.08
TurfSprintDylan Davis14.74620.060.040.320.75
TurfSprintAngel Arroyo10.25230.060.060.20.92
TurfSprintLuis Reyes6.33210.040.030.20.84
TurfSprintJoe Bravo02500.11000
TurfSprintMichael Luzzi02200.05000

Highlights (good/bad/ugly):

  • Javier Castellano only hits at 13%, and you’ll lose about half the money you bet on him
  • Jose Lezcano and Joel Rosario both boast 18% win percentages in turf sprints, and have positive expected winnings though Rosario’s ROI is likely lower due to his having lower priced mounts.
  • Joe Bravo being 0 for 25 is somewhat surprising. He does slightly better in other types of races, but has been winless in these

COURSESPRINT/ROUTEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
TurfRouteJose Lezcano110.78090.110.111.381.04
TurfRouteShaun Bridgmohan27.92330.070.131.211.86
TurfRouteJunior Alvarado86.0589100.110.110.971.06
TurfRouteEric Cancel44.14630.050.070.961.4
TurfRouteKendrick Carmouche50.35440.060.070.931.15
TurfRouteIrad Ortiz, Jr.125.6138290.180.210.911.16
TurfRouteJohn Velazquez93.75104180.140.170.91.22
TurfRouteManuel Franco81.99590.090.090.861.07
TurfRouteJavier Castellano106.95142240.190.170.750.88
TurfRouteJoel Rosario69.0595120.130.130.730.95
TurfRouteJose Ortiz92.7127230.140.180.731.26
TurfRouteFlorent Geroux23.64130.080.070.580.86
TurfRouteLuis Saez24.711250.090.040.220.47
TurfRouteRicardo Santana, Jr.7.53710.060.030.20.47
TurfRouteJulien Leparoux11.96520.090.030.180.33
TurfRouteAngel Arroyo02700.05000
TurfRouteDylan Davis02400.03000

Highlights:

  • The big guns (e.g. Irad, John Velazquez, Manny Franco, Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano, etc.) have above average win percentages but sub par ROIs.
  • Luis Saez – one of my faves doesn’t do too well in routes and has only won 5 from 112 mounts.
  • Dylan Davis – surprisingly to me – is winless in turf routes as of yet. I think there might be some potential that this doesn’t last very long as he appears to be increasingly getting more and better mounts…

COURSESPRINT/ROUTEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
Inner TurfRouteRicardo Santana, Jr.115.59560.060.061.221.1
Inner TurfRouteDylan Davis72.56040.040.071.211.61
Inner TurfRouteJose Ortiz255.6237440.150.191.081.27
Inner TurfRouteEric Cancel94.28880.050.091.071.67
Inner TurfRouteRajiv Maragh43.74140.060.11.071.53
Inner TurfRouteLuis Saez212.7211290.110.141.011.21
Inner TurfRouteJulien Leparoux79.48470.10.080.950.85
Inner TurfRouteJunior Alvarado128.5152150.10.10.850.98
Inner TurfRouteKendrick Carmouche120.2514180.080.060.850.73
Inner TurfRouteFlorent Geroux64.257780.10.10.830.99
Inner TurfRouteIrad Ortiz, Jr.205.35246490.190.20.831.07
Inner TurfRouteManuel Franco172.1214190.090.090.80.96
Inner TurfRouteJose Lezcano130166200.10.120.781.15
Inner TurfRouteJohn Velazquez143.45191290.150.150.750.99
Inner TurfRouteJavier Castellano159.55233400.20.170.680.85
Inner TurfRouteCornelio Velasquez22.33420.080.060.660.73
Inner TurfRouteJoel Rosario89.25176150.130.090.510.66
Inner TurfRouteShaun Bridgmohan18.43720.060.050.50.84
Inner TurfRouteJoe Bravo19.854240.110.10.470.88
Inner TurfRouteAngel Arroyo14.27010.060.010.20.25
Inner TurfRoutePaco Lopez3.72910.080.030.130.45

Highlights:

  • Jose and Irad both win almost 1 of every five races they ride in. The more interesting piece here is that while Jose Ortiz has a positive ROI, Irad has a much lower ROI which may be due to his riding more heavily bet horses than Jose (check expected wins, which is derived from the odds of all horses ridden by each jockey).
  • Florent Geroux and Julien Leparoux were a combined 5 for 106 in Turf routes, but on the inner turf that’s a significant difference (15 for 161) – almost 10% as opposed to just under 5%.

COURSESPRINT/ROUTEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
DirtSprintLuis Reyes126.154720.040.042.681.06
DirtSprintSamuel Camacho, Jr.60.252520.030.082.412.75
DirtSprintJose Lezcano201.65184210.10.111.11.16
DirtSprintDylan Davis145.5135140.070.11.081.47
DirtSprintLuis Saez393.5404580.130.140.971.07
DirtSprintJoel Rosario244.95266390.150.150.920.99
DirtSprintJunior Alvarado181.65198230.10.120.921.11
DirtSprintDavid Cohen70.277120.110.160.911.4
DirtSprintJose Ortiz408.3451850.180.190.911.07
DirtSprintRicardo Santana, Jr.228.15255290.130.110.890.9
DirtSprintJohn Velazquez240.6277630.210.230.871.1
DirtSprintIrad Ortiz, Jr.385.4457830.190.180.840.93
DirtSprintJoe Bravo61.1573110.120.150.841.24
DirtSprintEric Cancel147.4182150.090.080.810.89
DirtSprintMichael Luzzi40.85740.060.070.721.19
DirtSprintJavier Castellano261.5373650.190.170.70.9
DirtSprintKendrick Carmouche159.05233230.110.10.680.92
DirtSprintShaun Bridgmohan33.455130.120.060.660.49
DirtSprintManuel Franco231.95358370.120.10.650.88
DirtSprintPaco Lopez27.26240.090.060.440.69
DirtSprintFlorent Geroux34.558150.10.060.430.63
DirtSprintAngel Arroyo45.7511570.080.060.40.76
DirtSprintCornelio Velasquez24.46640.120.060.370.51
DirtSprintFernando Jara8.92510.050.040.360.86
DirtSprintRajiv Maragh22.257750.080.060.290.86
DirtSprintElvis Trujillo4.752110.070.050.230.64
DirtSprintJulien Leparoux19.959260.110.070.220.57
DirtSprintChristopher DeCarlo2.82010.090.050.140.58
DirtSprintRafael Hernandez32810.110.040.110.32
DirtSprintJomar Torres2.33110.070.030.070.46
DirtSprintAbel Lezcano02300.06000
DirtSprintCorey Lanerie02400.11000
DirtSprintJacqueline Davis02100.04000

Highlights:

  • The top two on this list should mostly be ignored. Luis Reyes has had 2 winners that combined paid out $126 averaging to about 60-1 odds. Similarly with Samuel Camacho, Jr. 2 winners at about 30-1 each is all that it takes (to be on top of a list sorted by ROI).
  • Other than two lower percentage jockeys, no one has an ROI of above 1. There are a few who beat the takeout, though those are expected (e.g. Rosario, et. al.).
  • Javier Castellano hits at a rate of 17%, yet his ROI is pretty significantly below even the takeout. Similar is true for Manny Franco and Rajiv even worse (though some improvement could be expected from the latter two this year)

COURSESPRINT/ROUTEJOCKEYPAYOUTMOUNTSWINSEXPECTED_WINSWIN_PCTROIIMPACT_VALUE
DirtRouteAngel Arroyo33.62730.120.111.240.93
DirtRouteJavier Castellano135.55117310.220.261.161.21
DirtRouteJohn Velazquez113.899310.240.311.151.3
DirtRouteJoel Rosario99.889200.180.221.121.24
DirtRouteManuel Franco100.65105160.130.150.961.21
DirtRouteKendrick Carmouche49.75570.120.130.91.03
DirtRouteJose Ortiz115133190.20.140.860.72
DirtRouteLuis Saez76.95100170.160.170.771.07
DirtRouteIrad Ortiz, Jr.86.55127250.190.20.681.04
DirtRouteJunior Alvarado43.473100.150.140.590.9
DirtRoutePaco Lopez13.12310.130.040.570.34
DirtRouteRicardo Santana, Jr.25.56050.10.080.420.83
DirtRouteEric Cancel18.154620.080.040.390.56
DirtRouteFlorent Geroux9.052340.210.170.390.84
DirtRouteDylan Davis7.42410.10.040.310.42
DirtRouteJulien Leparoux9.73220.10.060.30.61
DirtRouteJose Lezcano2.44510.130.020.050.17

Highlights:

  • Johnny V and Javier Castellano run the show here. With Castellano hitting at 26% and Johnny V at 31%, both seem like great plays in dirt routes.
  • The Ortiz brothers punch well below the heavier weights with ROIs less than the takeout rate.
  • Jose Lezcano, in contrast to being at the top of the leaderboards in other categories has only 1 win in 45 route races.
  • Florent Geroux is very much worth calling out here. It appears that he’s only won on super short priced horses – essentially even money given his 4 wins have paid a total of $9 (which is inclusive of the initial $4 investment). This is an extremely low ROI ($0.39) for a dollar investment even with a win rate of 17%.
  • To take that even further, the bottom 7 jockeys on this chart are only a combined 16 for 253 which is only 6% whereas each of them on their own is expected to win

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