Be The Smart Money - July 14, 2022


Final Odds “Sweet Spot” – Does It Exist?

Is there an odds range that provides a sweet spot to producing a higher ROI? 


Data Speaks Louder than Words

As we all know, there is no shortage of options when it comes to formulating your betting strategy.  With a wide variety of variables to consider for each race – track (dirt or turf), race type (maiden, claiming, etc.) – is there a betting bias that exists that could help inform when to be aggressive with your betting strategy and when not to?  With a plethora of data and race types, we’ve only scratched the surface on uncovering if there is an odds sweet spot to producing a higher ROI that you may want to consider.  



The Data Set

  • Eight years of data 2016 -2022 from one track
  • Selecting races with at least eight horses starting and finishing
  • Selecting only races that were run on either Fast Dirt or Firm Turf
  • Excluding races with dead heats, entries and DQs
  • Clean & rich sample of 1,037 Races with 10,326 horses ran


The Analysis & Results


First, we segment the final odds into 3 groups: 

  • 4:1 or Lower - these horses in a large field of races that we analyzed are your 1st and 2nd favorites, usually;
  • 5:1 to 9:1 – horses that draw some betting attention
  • 10:1 or higher – longer shot horses


Without any slicing or dicing of the races we quickly found a significant odds bias.


As the data in the chart indicates - if you are betting on a horse that is going off at 10:1 or more --- you better know something because you are betting into a -36% ROI group of horses.  The Win Rate trend is to be expected; but the “4:1 or Lower” horses are winning more often than their final odds would suggest.

Still a -14.4% ROI on “4:1 or Lower” horses doesn’t make you any money – it simply directs you where to hunt in the woods for good value at this track.


We dug a little deeper to see if we could find a class of races that displayed a larger bias towards “favorites”.


And we found it… Maiden Special Weight races (MSWs)… you will absolutely want to pay attention to and adjust your handicapping.  As you may know, MSW races are difficult to handicap as they tend to have less data and limited Past Performances (if any).  Most of the betting public only knows pedigree, auction price (if any), trainer, jockey, workouts, owner – a very limited data set which to handicap.




Over 27% of races at this track are MSW and as you can see, the win rate of 31.6% and near break-even ROI of -2.8% for lower odds horses is a slam dunk from a betting perspective.  You should take the favorites in MSW races to the bank all day long when presented with the opportunity.  Now that’s just printing money. 



Does Odds Sweet Spot Exist?  (YES!)


Expert handicappers often look for value on the betting board to make money.  That value-seeker, at this track, will find it easier finding value in the favorites.  This is a bit counterintuitive because they are favorites after all.  But, at this track these favorites aren’t bet down as much as they should be.  If you takeaway anything from this analysis…Bet Big on favorites that show value (well, at least at this track).



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