The Oracle Reviews Week 2 of the Live Meet

by Vincent White

by Vincent White

Regression to the mean is the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme in its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement.  The variable I’m referring to is “percentage of winning favorites at Canterbury Park”.  We saw an “extreme” number of winning favorites in Week one (44%), followed by the “regression” in Week two as only 10 of 33 favorites were victorious (30%), bringing our year-to-date favorites win% to a predictable and reasonable 36%.

There were five longshot winners (>9-1) over Memorial Day weekend, which triggered four IRS Pick 3 payouts and three IRS Pick 4 payouts.  One of the Pick 4 payouts was a pool sweeping bonanza totaling $11,926.45, and it included a 6/5 shot winning the third leg of the sequence (Maryjean, owned by the Canterbury Racing Club).  Sometimes you only need one longshot to make the sequence pay off big! 

Here’s a closer look at those longshot winners from last week:

 5-23-14 Race 4 – Bear Facts ($38.80).  This was a clm20000 turf route for 3+ fillies and mares.  Bear Facts was shipping in from Turf Paradise and making her first start for the Valorie Lund barn.  She had run on the turf three times previously, and was beaten less than 3 lengths each time.  She was the beaten favorite last time out, finishing third at 7/5 odds.  She was the lone 3yo facing older fillies and mares, and was stepping up in class for this race.  Despite a wide trip, she closed down the center of the track to nail Julie’s Memory (9/2) at the wire with Eikleberry aboard.  The Lund/Eikleberry combo was a strong 27% at Canterbury over the past year, winning with 6 of 22 starters.  The class hike coupled with post 10 likely had the public looking elsewhere in this spot.

 5-23-14 Race 7 – Stephen’s Pride ($31.20).  This was a clm6250 dirt sprint for 3+.  Jockey Ry Eikleberry struck again with his second bomber of the night, this time closing from the back of the pack with Stephen’s Pride to win by a head for the Miguel Silva barn.  Stephen’s Pride was another runner from Turf Paradise, and he was in good form as he had won 2 of his last 3 races with a closing rush.  His perceived step up in class here from clm3000 to clm6250 may have contributed to his generous price. 

 5-23-14 Race 8 – Mr. Obeso ($46.80).  This was a maiden special weight dirt sprint for 3+.  This was a tricky longshot to find positivity on, but you could have stabbed at him if you guessed correctly that he was the potential lone speed.  Students of the Quirin points pace handicapping method saw that he had 6 Quirin points, same as the heavily favored Atomic on the rail.  Nobody else in the field had more than 1 Quirin point.  When Atomic broke slowly, that allowed Mr. Obeso to control the early pace and race wire to wire.  Many times, longshot winners need luck or something unusual to happen in the race to enhance their performance.  The slow start by Atomic was key to Mr. Obeso’s victory, and at 22-1 he was worth the gamble.  Mr. Obeso was a shipper from Oaklawn Park, first race off the claim by Bruce Riecken and ridden by Carlos Castro.  He had been the beaten favorite in 3 of his 5 career starts at Oaklawn against maiden claiming competition, but tonight was the first time he gained a clear early lead.

 5-25-14 Race 6 – Box Office Appeal ($28.60).  This was an Allowance dirt route for fillies and mares 3+.  Box Office Appeal was another longshot winner trained by Bruce Riecken.  She was stretching out to a route after a series of sprints, and was able to secure an easy lead from Post 2 with Dean Butler aboard.  She was returning on seven days’ rest, so was making her second start of the young meet.  She showed much more early speed last year but had been breaking poorly in her last three starts.  Guessing correctly on a sharp break from the gate was the key to her chances today.

 5-26-14 Race 5 – Petition for Gold ($61.40).  This was a clm7500 turf race at 7.5 furlongs for 3+.  Petition for Gold was a Nebraska runner trained by Ronald Westermann and ridden by jockey Jake Olesiak.  These two have teamed up for 10 wins from 22 starters (45%) over the past year!  Also, the race dynamic was such that there was very little early speed in the field, which allowed Olesiak to cross over and secure the lead from Post 12.  From there he nursed his advantage to the stretch, and outgamed his competition late to win by a nose.  The pace may have been a puzzler to predict, but taking a flyer on a 45% trainer-jockey combo made some sense when the horse was pushing 30-1 on the tote board.  It’s the stuff that longshots are made of.

 When evaluating horses that are double digit odds on the tote board, one approach is to look at the positives and ignore the negatives.  Very few horses with top connections and competitive speed figures will be longshots, so sometimes you have to grab on to something positive and hope that a little chaos can get you the rest of the way.

The Oracle

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