03/11/2014 12:06AM

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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