Nuanced trainer stats strike again with 9-1 winner

January 24th, 2024

In the past, we’ve explored how digging into the granular details of trainer stats can reveal nuances not apparent at first glance. These nuances can lead to lucrative payoffs, as was apparent at Fair Grounds last week.

Trainer Dallas Stewart has trained a bevy of classy stakes winners through the years, including champion Forever Unbridled and Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lemons Forever. But bettors who rely on a simplistic view of trainer stats aren’t typically in a hurry to bet Stewart’s first-time starters, since his win percentage with such runners since 2000 stands at a modest 9%.

But here’s the thing: when a trainer wins at a 25% rate with first-time starters, bettors take notice and payoffs suffer. Stewart’s 9% win rate isn’t lofty, but it means debuting Stewart trainees tend to start at enticing prices. And by digging into nuanced trainer stats, it’s easy to identify when a Stewart-trained first-time starter is most likely to challenge for victory.

For example, since 2022 Stewart has gone 5-for-13 (38%) debuting three-year-olds on dirt at Fair Grounds. Betting them all would have yielded a sizable profit. When Stewart’s unraced three-year-old Bee Dancer debuted in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Fair Grounds on Jan. 20, 2024, we accordingly highlighted the colt as a live longshot. The result? Bee Dancer tracked the pace before taking over to win by a length at odds of 9-1. Every $20 win bet returned $208.

Stewart is also strong when debuting juveniles on dirt at Churchill Downs, going 10-for-52 (19%) since 2019. That includes a phenomenal season in 2021 when Stewart-trained juveniles went 6-for-13 (46%) debuting at Churchill Downs. Even during the final quarter of 2021, when it was clear Stewart was enjoying a better-than-average year with juvenile first-time starters at Churchill Downs, bettors in the know could have caught the winning debuts of Spartan Army (18-1) and Ben Diesel (14-1). $20 win bets on those live longshots would have returned $380 and $308.

It’s worth reiterating: bettors who focus on Stewart’s overall win percentage with first-time starters are unlikely to identify horses like Bee Dancer, Spartan Army, and Ben Diesel as live win threats. That’s why such horses start at enticing prices, generating lofty payoffs for bettors who dig deep into the stats and uncover Stewart’s strongest winning angles.