Be The Smart Money - July 7, 2022

The Myth

Does Post Position Impact Probability to Win or ROI?


Data Speaks Louder than Words

Horse racing fans and handicappers have many theories and biases related to post position.  Is the “one hole” in a large field a death sentence?  Does an outside post even stand a chance?


With plenty of analyst opinions and post position reports available for purchase, there’s a lot of noise out there.  BTSM cuts through the clutter with rigorous and straightforward analytics to determine if post position is a handicapping variable, you should be paying attention to.  After all, data speaks louder than words.



The Data Set

  • Eight years of data from a prestigious track
  • All races have at least 8 horses leaving the starting gate and finishing
  • All races on fast dirt
  • Excluding races with dead heats, entries and DQs
    • All to create a homogenous sample
  • Clean & rich sample of 546 Races with 4,815 horses ran


The Analysis & Results


 BTSM segmented the post positions into 4 segments for hypothesis testing (and a little extra analytics).

  • 1st PP is the post (our subject of the analysis)
  • Inside middle (e.g. in a 10 horse race PP 2-5)
  • Outside middle (e.g. in a 10 horse race PP 6-9)
  • Outside (e.g. in a 10 horse race the 10 PP)




From the chart above, you can see there is a high win % coming out of PP1 and the best ROI (betting $2 on each horse).  The Outside has a surprisingly high win rate and ROI … a diamond in the analytical rough. 


PP1 passed all statistically significant tests that it does provide an edge to winning and ROI.  Although not part of our original analytical objective, the outside post provides a very similar advantage.


Myth Busted? (YES!)


As George Orwell once said, “to see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.”  Many times, we intuitively think the “one hole” is ripe for getting squeezed in a large field, creating a disadvantage in our minds and not acknowledging what the data and analytics is telling us.

Based on this analysis, Post Position is not a Myth and the “one hole” in not a death sentence.

The analysis clearly indicates post position is a valuable data point that is worth investigating for the track you play the most to determine if any such bias exists.  As you know, you may see drastically different results than above when applied to other tracks across country – but as this analysis shows – post position stats are definitely worth a look for your favorite track.



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