Following a track bias to logical and lucrative payoffs

January 9th, 2024

The power of track biases to deliver compelling pari-mutuel payoffs has been readily apparent over the last couple of weeks.

On Dec. 2, 2023, a stakes-packed card at Aqueduct took place over a muddy track that played strongly in favor of speed. Pacesetters won seven of the day’s 10 races, and no winner closed from farther behind than third place by 1 1/2 lengths.

Despite the bias, there were a number of horses who managed to rally from far behind and record top-three finishes. And suffice to say they’ve been formidable in subsequent starts.

Take Doc Sullivan as an example. On Dec. 2, he rallied from seventh place (as many as 11 1/2 lengths off the pace) to finish third in a six-furlong maiden special weight for New York-bred juveniles. On Dec. 29, he started as the 13-5 favorite in a six-furlong sprint over the same track and class level, where he successfully rallied from midfield to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Every $20 win bet returned $72.

Guntown is another horse who ran strongly under challenging circumstances on Dec. 2, closing from last place in a field of eight to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths in a one-mile $62,500 allowance optional claimer. Bettors who recognized his bold rally against the bias were rewarded with 8-1 odds when Guntown returned to win over the same conditions on Dec. 29. Every $20 win bet paid $184.

The bias contributed another win on Jan. 6. In the $150,000 Jerome S., a one-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier at Aqueduct, Drum Roll Please started as the 3-5 favorite after rallying from seventh place to finish third in the Dec. 2 Remsen (G2). Dropping in class (and getting away from such a speed-favoring track) worked wonders for Drum Roll Please, as he closed from last place in the Jerome to beat 5-2 second choice El Grande O by 3 3/4 lengths. Betting $20 on the straightforward exacta would have yielded a $73 return.

The next time you see a bias as strong as the one on Dec. 2 at Aqueduct, take note of which horses ran well against the grain of the track. They can make great plays down the road.