Catch lucrative payoffs betting up-and-coming trainers

December 19th, 2023

Once a horse trainer starts winning with 20-25% of their starters, it’s hard to catch good prices on their best horses. Everyone knows female turf horses trained by Chad Brown are formidable in stakes, and they tend to start at suitably short prices. The same goes for seemingly any horse trained by Brad Cox these days.

But every high-percentage trainer has to start somewhere, and if you pay close attention to which trainers are actively heating up and rising to new heights percentage-wise, you can land enticing payoffs before the majority of bettors catch on.

Consider trainer Paulo Lobo. During the early 2000s he enjoyed success on a national stage, winning the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Farda Amiga and a trio of Grade 1 races with Pico Central. A dry spell followed through the 2010s; between 2014 and 2018, Lobo won only 17 races.

But then Lobo moved his base from California to Kentucky, and he’s been riding a steady ascent ever since. He won 17 races in 2020 alone and has nabbed more than 170 wins in the last three years. Along the way, his win percentage has jumped from a low of 3% in 2015 to a high of 24% in 2022.

However, bettors have been slow to recognize Lobo’s career renaissance. That’s been especially true when it comes to Lobo’s first-time starters, which are winning left and right. Lobo went 7-for-28 (25%) debuting unraced horses in 2022, and as of Dec. 18 his 2023 record with such starters stands at 9-for-35 (26%).

And check out the payoffs. Lobo’s nine winning first-time starters in 2023 started at odds of 7-2, 12-1, 4-1, 7-2, 13-10, 7-2, 30-1, 9-1, and 6-1. Only one of those winners started as the favorite, and if you’d bet $2 win on all 35 of Lobo’s first-time starters this year, you would have spent $70 for a return of $169.34. That’s right—betting blindly would have given you a $4.84 ROI for every $2 bet.

Five of those nine wins have come at Turfway Park, where Lobo has quietly compiled an 8-for-24 (33%) record with first-time starters since 2022. It doesn’t take much digging to turn up these powerful stats, and yet Lobo’s debuting runners continue to generate lofty payoffs. On Dec. 6, Sonho de Verao rallied to win her debut in a $15,000 maiden claimer at Turfway, starting at 9-1 and paying $20.10 for every $2 win bet. On Dec. 14, Lobo’s Rapping Wish started at 6-1 in a $30,000-$20,000 maiden claimer and led every step of the way to win by 4 1/4 lengths, paying $15.28.

Get your bets down now, because if Lobo maintains his current win percentages, it won’t be long until his horses are bet down as heavily as those trained by Brown and Cox.