After the first three daysof racing at Kentucky Downs, a few trends emerged which might prove valuable over the final two days of the meet. Here's a look.
From 24 total races, 15 winners (62.5%) had just raced at either Arlington Park (nine) or Saratoga (six). Starters had made their immediate prior starts at 20 different racetracks, including one in France, and another 23 horses made their debuts at Kentucky Downs.
Betting favorites have won 12 races (50%), including nine of 10 on Saturday. When favorites come in above a 33% rate, it usually means the fields and payoffs are small. But that hasn't been the case at Kentucky Downs. The races are averaging 9.79 starters and the takeout is low, so payoffs have been generous. In fact, just betting on the favorite to win would have yielded a 50.83% profit so far.
It probably would be unreasonable to expect favorites to continue winning half the races, but don't routinely toss them out of the betting mix because of some dedication to swinging for the fences: 18 of the first 24 favorites (75%), have finished in the top three.
Trainer Wayne Catalano won with five of his first six starters, and Wesley Ward with three of his first seven. Luis Jurado has had five starters that have all hit the board, winning two. Among the jockeys, Channing Hill is four-for-four). David Flores, Jon Court, Rosie Napravnik and Antonio Castanon all have multiple wins.
But this might be the most useful lesson from the first three days of racing: Bettors shouldn't neglect their most valuable asset, their observation. Turf courses can change suddenly, largely depending on the amount moisture in the ground.
The weather was not sweltering, but it was hot the first two days of racing, and the sun was out. The Kentucky Downs turf was kind to speed. In races run at distances less than a mile, the typical winner was within three-quarters of a length of the lead after the opening half-mile. And, horses leading virtually from the start won half those races. Early leaders also won two of the three races at distances of one mile and a mile and 70 yards. In two-turn races, 1 1/2 miles and 1 5/16 miles, the typical winner attended the early pace, 1 3/4 lengths back after a half-mile.
A rainstorm came Wednesday, and it rained a bit more on Thursday. On the following Saturday, the turf course was much kinder to horses with late-running styles. At every distance, early speed became less effective, and late runners more effective. A few horses rallied from far back to win.
So what will the course be like for the final two days of racing this Kentucky Downs season? Speed is always dangerous at the shorter distances, but don't expect it to dominate.
--Released by Kentucky Downs and edited by Dick Downey