Sunday, December 16, 2007

Poly Want a Trotter?

It is interesting when you ask someone about harness racing, particularly a thoroughbred player, they will often say that our sport has some wacky things going on with it. Namely, drugs, "stiffing", reversals of form, breaking trotters and other nasty things. That apparently can keep them away from our game. Do the above happen? Sure. One scan of the USTA or SC fines and suspensions tell us so. But is our game really that tough to figure out compared to thoroughbreds?

Recently Jeff Platt from Jcapper posted his stats from all Polytrack racetracks in his database.

It was astounding.

Races: 4301
Wins by Chalk: 1290
ROI: 0.78
Win %: 29.99

So, on artificial surfaces (poly, tapeta etc) the favourite won at 29.99%. In all races the favourites win at a 34.61% clip.

In 100 years of racing, through wars, through recessions, through muddy tracks, through snowstorms, through ringers and rascals, from Citation to Street Sense, through all of it - post time favourites have won nearly at the same rate. One surface change has changed the game dramatically. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

What about harness racing? Surely there must be something goofy happening in our game similar to that. People tell us our game is hard to figure out. Surely those nasty breaking trotters are bad bets as chalk. They must be. Conventional wisdom tells us so.

Think again.

In a sample of over 7000 harness races, the chalk won at a 37.07% clip.

In that sample of over 4500 races, pacers won as chalk 36.5% of the time.

Those nasty hard-to-figure-out trotters won at a 38.3% clip.

Next time someone says "betting trotters is worse than betting Polytrack", you can correct them. Don't be afraid to bet the chalk in trot races. They win, just like pacers do.

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