Some Laurel Park handicapping discussion …

This is copied and pasted from another one of my post, but we’ll pick it up here. Perhaps some useful information here, or maybe somethings for debate.

As far as Laurel goes, for the most part it is one of the fairest surfaces in the country in my opinion. Speed is at an advantage at some distances like most places in the country, but at others it is a disadvantage. Here are some stats I have for the effectiveness of front runners at certain distances.:

% of wire to wire winners:

5.5F – 34% wire to wire winners
6F    – 31%
7F    – 16%

Now it gets interesting. One would surmise after looking the above data that the 1 mile races would be even more difficult to wire, but that would be false

1M    – 31%
1 1/16 – 27% Limited data, they only recently started carding this distance.
1 1/8 – 35%

My conclusion to the above is that the extra furlong really hurts the front runners going from 6 to 7 furlong because Laurel’s surface is generally deeper and more tiring than most. Those %’s don’t really fall in line with other track surfaces, generally I have found that those numbers will stay consistent from 5F to 7F.

I really believe that the mile % goes back up due to the jockeys as oppose to anything else. I think that additional furlong and the “furlong” to “mile” description of the distance vastly changes the way the race is ridden. The jockeys treat the 7F races like a sprint and come out of the gate riding but add that extra furlong and change that description and they fall out of the gate and relax their mounts. This allows the pace setters to steal the opening quarter in 23.xx or 24.xx or even slower which essentially turns it into a 6 furlong sprint, which is why the similar wire to wire stats. ( 31% and 31%, I don’t think it is a coincidence )
Some post position advantages or disadvantages? The normal post position stat chart that would be in the DRF is misleading, because they include wire to wire winners. Who cares what post you have if you make the rail by the end of the first furlong? All of the % and stats below will be with WIRE TO WIRE winners eliminated.

At 5.5 furlongs, it is very difficult to win outside of the 7 hole unless the has speed, most winners outside the 7 hole are wire to wire winners. Post positions 6 and 7 win at 13% and 11% respectively, while the 8 post wins only 4%. The short run to the turn obviously is the answer.

At 6 furlongs, the 8 post is a bit better, winning at 17% while the 9 hole is the breaking point, winning at only 7%. That additional .5 furlong probably gives the 8 hole a better chance.

At 7 furlongs, the inside two post are best by a pretty good margin, I believe that is due to the tiring nature of the surface and distance, the inside horses can come out of the gate and save ground waiting to make a run. Even with the longer run up, post 9 is the breaking point again with the disadvantage being even more drastic.

At 1 mile, the 1 and 2 post are again an advantage winning at over 20% each, while none of post 3 to 7 win at better than 13%. Not sure why? Post 3 to 7 are pretty even, all around 13% but 7 is the breaking point, post 8 and 9 win at only 5% and 3% respectively.

At 1 1/16th and 1 1/8th, the inside 5 post are at a huge advantage. You can win from the 6 hole but it is more difficult and outside of that is very tough.

Last winter was marked by a prolonged bias that favored the rail, not always speed on the rail either, most days rail skimming stalkers did best.  It was even more prominent when the weather was bitter cold. For most of the months of Jan/Feb. that bias held and was extremely profitable if you followed the trips and watched replays. I believe it is because they don’t put any water on the track, for fear of it freezing. What water is in the track seeps towards the rail and than freezes on these days, making the rail paths firmer.This year though, that bias has only popped up a handful of times and speed seems to be doing better over all than in the past.

One of the strongest and most reliable biases on the Laurel surface is when we get a significant rain or snow fall. The pattern usually holds pretty well and is almost predictable. It is  3 or 4 day pattern:

Day 1, the track will be muddy/sloppy, possibly sealed and will favor speed

Day 2, the track will be muddy but drying out and will favor off the pace horses

Day 3, the track could be muddy, good or fast and will favor off the pace and outside horses/post. Whatever moisture is left will have seeped to the rail and the rail will be deeper

Day 4, the track could be good or fast and still may favor outside horses or could be fair

This time of the year, if Day 3 or 4 is very cold, freezing temps, sometimes the rail will be favored because the moisture freezes.

This pattern actually just happened a few weeks ago. It may vary depending on how fast the place is drying out, but if the track is good after a muddy or sloppy track pay attention to how horses who show speed on the rail run.

That is about it. After spending an hour putting this together, I’m going to make it a main page post on a slow, snowy wagering day.


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2 Responses to “Some Laurel Park handicapping discussion …”

  1. Pull the Pocket Says:

    Thanks for this Phil. Really good stuff man.

    I’ll download Laurel tomorrow and have a look at your plays.

    Best luck,


  2. Phil J. Says:

    No problem. I enjoy talking horses and handicapping. I’ve been gearing up to pick your brain with some harness questions. You seem to follow that closer than I do.

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