Catching My Eye: Two angles to find prices at Fair Grounds, Part Two

December 21st, 2022

Five weeks in at Fair Grounds, I am finding two handicapping angles that have been key for finding price horses. Last week I went over how turf form has been transferring to the dirt. That angle remained a live one this past week: 

  • On Monday, Dec 19 Greys The Boy won on the dirt after a string of turf runs (8.1-1) in Race 7. After winning on 12/11 at 6.4-1, Smarty Alex repeated in Race 1 (2.9-1 but the third choice of six runners). 
  • On Saturday, Dec 17 Tizplenty (2.7-1) won Race 7. Unsurprisingly, the Asmussen trainee coming from the turf was a short price, but he beat out the 3-5 favorite, Repealing. Remember the usefulness of these angles for beating favorites in multi-race wagers. 
  • Race 5 on Friday, Dec 16 gave us turf runner Mad Adam on top (5.7-1), but more impressively, using the grass gelding Ogre’s Lion King (31.1-1) underneath in the trifecta paid $1038 for $1.
  • On Thursday, Dec 15 in Race 2 Thinkitasadonation transferred her Oklahoma and Texas turf form to the dirt track and popped at 11.7-1.

Road to the Derby Kickoff” day on Monday 12/26 will feature the first turf races of the Fair Grounds meet. Assuming all goes well and grass runs continue to be carded, this angle might be short-lived, so attack while you can.

The second angle I am finding will likely be with us for the meet: trusting the less well-known jockeys.

Unsurprisingly, bettors are underlaying the most well-known connections. Often, young jockeys and apprentices only get mounts on horses who might need a race before they will fire their best effort, and that’s when the connections grab a top jock. At Fair Grounds, the best jockeys and the best jockey agents are representing some unsung heroes of this young meet. 

The colony is deep, and bettors need to move these four riders up their list of jockeys with live mounts: Bri Culp, Alex Castillo, Tre Albert, and Erica Murray.

With the addition of Florent Geroux, Corey Lanerie, Edgar Morales, and Jose Luis Rodriguez for 2022-2023, the regular high percentage winners at Fair Grounds like James Graham, Brian Heranandez, Colby Hernandez, Marcelino Pedroza, and others have their work cut out for them. Last year it was Jareth Loveberry, Rey Gutierrez, and Deshawn Parker who swooped in and made their mark and rewarded their backers. But it’s the less well-known riders who are bringing home all the prices.

Let’s look over these riders' win percentage and best prices through the end of the day Monday 12/19.

Brianne Culp has won 9 times with 45 mounts (20%), and five of those were longshots, relative to field size (22.5-1, 9.9-1, 5.8-1, and 5-1).

Alexander Castillo has 10 wins from 59 tries (17%), six of them long shots, relative to field size (14.1-1, 10.5-1, 8.9-1, 7.7-1, 6.4-1, and 6.3-1).

Erica Murray is 3 for 30 (10%), all at nice prices (11.9-1, 5.7-1, and 6-1).

Tre Albert has ridden 4 winners from 40 mounts, including the biggest price of the meet at 47.6-1, and three other healthy win payouts (5.2-1, 5.1-1, and 4.7-1).

If you are playing the 15% takeout Pick 5 or Pick 6 and not using their mounts, then don’t count on a generous payout. Take a closer look at their mounts and loosen your criteria a bit to include the ones you can, and don’t be timid about betting them to win.