03/10/2014 11:06PM

Harness Racing: Riding the Efimetz wave

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How are we supposed to view trainer Kevin Efimetz?

Seemingly out of nowhere, the trainer has taken over the stock of the currently suspended Tracy Brainard and went on a head-scratching tear. How many trainers do you know with 19 wins and 10 seconds in 47 starts (through 3/9)? Even better, the crafty conditioner has won 10 of his last 13 races at Saratoga Raceway and Gaming.

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I have never even heard of the Kevin Efimetz before. So I checked the records and was surprised to see that he has accumulated 258 lifetime wins as a trainer since 1991 (he has no stats from 1998 to 2000). In 1,486 starts from 1991 to 2014, Efimetz has won 17% of his races and finished in-the-money 45% of the time!

What boggles my mind most is how a trainer that is capable of such performance has never started more than 198 horses in a year and has averaged just 25 starters over the previous five years.

That is certainly something makes me go hmmm.

A search on his past shows only a few post-race positive test violations and none since 2004. So as far as trainers go, his record is relatively clean. From an outside viewpoint, he appears to be simply on a hot streak, just like a MLB player can hit .400 for a month before slumping. But this is harness racing, not MLB. Winning 40% is much harder than hitting .400 for a few weeks.

What bothers me most about the success of Efimetz is that whether it is true or not, most bettors and fans of harness racing will simply just assume he is a “beard” for Brainard. Harness racing has a perception problem and when a trainer seemingly comes out of the woodwork to dominate, that raises a red flag. It makes people wonder what is going on and it certainly leaves doubt in the mind as to how such success is possible.

As a bettor I’m a big fan of Efimetz. I like any trainer who sends out winners at a consistent rate. It makes my life easier knowing that the majority of time his horses will offer a big effort. I can bet with confidence while he is hot. Yeah, the prices will be short, but all that matters is return on investment. Of the six horses he sent out on Sunday at Saratoga, 5 went off as odds-on favorites and four won, returning 10% on your money. If you play on an ADW that offers rebates, that 10% profit easily jumps to 15-18%.

While others complain about Efimetz’s success, I say ride the wave and reap the rewards. If he is doing something wrong, he’ll get caught. Until then, this is the U.S. and everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

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joe bettor More than 1 year ago
Maybe someone from the racing jurisdications that approved the trainer change showed up and they could not operate as usual. In baseball if a hitter goes 24 for 26 at the start of the season including 18 extra base hits someone gets suspicious.
trvey More than 1 year ago
This trainer won no races tonight--seems like the drugs have worn off. This is typical behavior of drugged animals.
Femaleastronut More than 1 year ago
When will they issue arrest warrants?
joe bettor More than 1 year ago
4 for 4 and they win easily too. Easy money. This is better than a hot roll of sevens. Kevin now has 18 wins and 6 seconds in 26 starts at Saratoga. Tracy no need to come back, keep Kevin. To Paul Kelley. According to Tracy the only thing we need to know that Kevin is trainer his name is in the program. Definition of beard - name in program. But his results speak for themselves.
Ryan Polanawski More than 1 year ago
Easy exactas to pop my buttons and one more kid made my night.
Joel Weiner More than 1 year ago
By the way, Friday night, Efimetz-Morrill 4 for 4.
Joel Weiner More than 1 year ago
First a thank you to Derick for giving harness racing fans (and detractors) a forum in the DRF to discuss things that everyone who posts here is quite passionate about. A second thank you to Tracy, (hopefully it really is Tracy), for having the guts and intelligence to come on here and discuss the issues with us; for far too long horse-people in this industry have stayed silent. There's been a cloud hanging over the head of successful trainers for years in this sport because of the use of drugs milkshakes, etc. When someone wins at 30%, eyebrows are raised. Is this person that much smarter than a horseman who wins at 5%? I don't know but when it's time to go to the windows, I know who I'll be betting. With that said drivers do make a huge difference. I'll take Yannick, Dave Miller or Tim Tetrick any day over guys like Marcus Miller who gets to drive Erv Miller's stock and is 4 for 110. Should't be allowed on the track and yet there he is. Should be breaking in at Monticello.
BornFunny More than 1 year ago
Great job Derick. Great job Tracy. Great job Paul. This is horse racing. Opinions make the game. Clearly they also make an interesting read. Keep up the good work Derick!
freckles More than 1 year ago
the game is so crooked..these types of trainers need to be criminally charged. they are not only strealing from the public, but from honest horsemen.
Ryan Polanawski More than 1 year ago
How are they stealing? What is the crime? I just looked it up, her suspension is actually over at this point. The suspension stemmed from an overage of testosterone in a gelding. Not some major drug, in fact testosterone is a legitimate substance to use in horses. More than likely a breakdown in communication with a vet and horse was treated by mistake. The way people are carrying on here you would think she was suspended for something major. Like I stated people are jealous.
Jack H More than 1 year ago
anything that gives advantage and is listed on the banned substance list should carry the appropriate term of punsihment. To me the problem is simple. If in the US you are caught training via syringe in most cases you get a slap on the wrist, have the ability to train in another persons name, and pay a fine. You can appeal at times for years and when it is all said and done you walk away with a mark that most top % trainers already have. The issue will not be fixed until things like happen to Allard at the Meadowlands happen everywhere. You cheat back you bags and leave.simple end of discussion. Or if the sport want to clean itself up make it painful and I mean painful. Look at Mitch Butterfield in Australia. 3 positive test for testosterone and banned for 15 years. Let me say it again 15 years !! If I knew I could loose my livelihood for 15 years I would think twice about riding the grey line between aggressive and thief. In this case I will say this. I think this run is clean. On suspension with horses transferred into another persons name they are just racing down in class right now. Or perhaps the testosterone lingers in the blood.
Tracy Brainard More than 1 year ago
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I would like to point out that testosterone is legal to use in NY state. The horse that received the positive was under the care and treatment of a licensed veterinarian. The horses level rose above the states threshold, so an overage resulted in the positive. And you are correct, testosterone does "linger" quite some time, that is why NYS retests the horse to make sure his levels are within their criteria before he was eligible to race again.
Jack H More than 1 year ago
as always appreciate the candid reply. Perhaps the way the states regulate is the issue and if clear lines are not given to trainers it causes issues. One question I have. Does each individual horse process testosterone at different rates? IF so how can a standard line between right and wrong exists? I also wonder when I see high CO level test.
Ryan Polanawski More than 1 year ago
Same in humans, doctors have to monitor closely. Geldings which I believe was the horse in question are robbed of their natural testosterone during the castration process. In effect supplementing with hormones is both safe and leads to a happier and more natural gelded equine.
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
Ryan....Do you do stand up comedy? I'll admit that is pretty darn funny
Ryan Polanawski More than 1 year ago
Robert what is your claim to fame?
Tracy Brainard More than 1 year ago
I dont wish to pick any fights here, just to clarify a couple points. If you want to call Kevin a beard, that's okay. But it is clear to anyone who can read a program that he has taken over my stable in my absence. This change was made after checking and getting approval from all racing jurisdictions involved. We are not hiding anything. The stables success at saratoga is due to several factors. The horses came from racing tougher competition at Yonkers, so they fit cheaper classes, a lot of the horses they are racing against haven't raced since December, and most have been piloted by arguably one of the most talented drivers in the country.
Jack H More than 1 year ago
100% appreciate you participating in this. I will stand by what I said in an earlier post... Jim Morrill Jr. As anyone in the business and they will tell you he has the best clock brain in the business. He knows his fractions. Steals 2nd and 3rd qtrs and then mashes the gas peddle. Back to your article. You question him and his stats at the same time you say ride the wave. You cannot have it both ways. Either you like the placing of his horses, the care he gives them and the tactician of a driver and you say he is legit. Simple run on thumb I used when I was in the business. If a horse races if they do not finish first second or third without a legitimate excuse parked out first over etc... drop them in class. I never understand why sharp trainers are not given credit for classifying horses. NO Pena in my view was an entirely different deal. Claim and them beat open pacers a few weeks later by open lengths etc.. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have you participate in this discussion. Wish more trainers and drivers would do so.
Ryan Polanawski More than 1 year ago
Thanks for putting the truth out there. Enjoy the time off.
joe bettor More than 1 year ago
Believe it. He was able to come in overnight and have amazing success. What about Mark Capone who was trainer of these horses whenever they raced at Meadowlands? And I think all trainers racing at Yonkers should consider Saratoga it is easy to be first or second.
Ryan Polanawski More than 1 year ago
Sounds like a ton of jealousy here. Kevin obviously knows his way around a horse, he isn't some sudden sensation. Maybe he don't want the dogs life working 365 days a year and substitutes in spots he can be gainful. Alot of garbage spewed here. I am shocked by Paul Kelley.
Paul Kelley More than 1 year ago
Sometimes the truth is shocking...it is what it is.