07/13/2015 8:55AM

Bet This, Not That: Trainer angles at Del Mar


Summer in Southern California means racing at Del Mar. The eight-week summer meet starts July 16 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 7. This will be the first meet since 2006 with races run on a dirt main track, ending an eight-year stretch of the all-weather Polytrack surface, mirroring a move made by Keeneland last year.

Since DRF Formulator gives you access to all of a trainer’s runners over the past five years, this means the main-track races in that database for Del Mar are synthetic races. However, don’t let anyone tell you that trainer stats are rendered useless with that surface switch.

Much like we did recently for Keeneland, we can use Formulator to focus on the class and type of horses a trainer has saddled at Del Mar in that time, and which ones have been more successful than others. Which are the best betting opportunities, and which are best to avoid? Below are a few of our favorites, and at the bottom of this article, you’ll find a code to try Formulator to find your own betting opportunities.

John Sadler

No trainer has saddled more runners or more winners in the last five years at Del Mar than Sadler (616-112-93-97 record), and his $1.83 return on investment is higher than all trainers with at least 200 starters there in that time period. Simply put, Sadler’s runners at Del Mar are generally well spotted and should be ignored at your own peril. In advance of the 2015 summer meet, Sadler again appears to have a strong stable of runners at all levels, headed by graded stakes winners Hard Aces, Stellar Wind, and Talco. Look for Sadler to debut some strong 2-year-olds too, as he’s debuted 53 at Del Mar since 2010, winning at a 23 percent rate for a $2.27 ROI.

Bet This: Sadler in maiden claimers. Sadler’s maidens in for a tag have been successful at Del Mar over the past five years, and some have been especially good bets. For instance, when he drops from maiden special weight to maiden claiming at Del Mar, he’s 14-6-5-1 for a $3.71 ROI; that’s 43 percent winners and 86 percent in the money. First-time starters in maiden claimers (17-7-0-3, $6.32 ROI) and 2-year-old maidens in for a tag (14-7-2-2, $4.50 ROI) also have been profitable bets, so it’s not too surprising that he’s 4 for 7 with a $6.85 ROI when debuting a juvenile in a maiden claimer at Del Mar over the past five years.

Not That: Sadler in turf sprints. Sadler has had good success in the downhill turf sprints at Santa Anita, so it’s a bit surprising that he’s only 35-4-6-5 for a $0.58 ROI over the past five years in turf sprints at Del Mar. Sure, 11 percent winners and 43 percent in the money isn’t horrible, but it’s worth noting that those four winners were all favorites, and he’s had only one win in his past 22 Del Mar turf-sprint starts.

Doug O’Neill

Only Sadler has had more runners and winners at Del Mar in the past five years than O’Neill (610-99-95-86 record), and his 16 percent win rate there is right in line with his overall numbers in that period. O’Neill’s runners at Del Mar generally run to their odds, as he’s only 9 for 192 (5 percent) with a $1.44 ROI with horses above 10-1, although he did pop with $38 debut winner Jimmy Bouncer at the summer meet last year.

Bet This: O’Neill in turf sprints. Like Sadler, O’Neill has had success in turf sprints at Santa Anita, but O’Neill has been a much better bet in turf sprints at Del Mar. Over the past five years, O’Neill is 23-6-5-4 for a $3.22 ROI and a $12.40 median winner payout for those runners.

Not That: O’Neill in turf routes. Longer turf races at Del Mar tell a different story for O’Neill. Over the past five years at Del Mar, he’s just 133-13-22-25 for a $0.69 ROI in turf races of a mile and longer. Even worse, in maiden special weight turf routes, he’s 23-1-3-3 for a $0.16 ROI.

Not That: O’Neill on the class hike. With two very specific class hikes, O’Neill has had little success at Del Mar in the past five years. He’s had only one horse hit the exacta when moving from claiming races to allowance races in that time (15-0-1-4), and he’s just 1 for 15 for a $0.49 ROI when increasing the claiming price of a horse 50 percent or more, albeit with seven horses running second. Conversely, he’s had very good success with the opposite moves, as he’s 24-4-4-1 with a $2.65 ROI when dropping from allowance to claiming and 17-7-1-1 for a $5.97 ROI when dropping the claiming price at least 50 percent.

Bob Baffert

Even though Baffert’s 19 percent win rate at Del Mar over the past five years is markedly lower than his 25 percent rate with all runners in that period, Baffert still owns the highest winning percentage for any trainer with more than 50 starts at Del Mar (428-82-67-58 for a $1.28 ROI). Also, no trainer has sent out more favorites at Del Mar in the past five years (153-54-29-15, $1.60 ROI). For Baffert’s runners in recent years at Del Mar, the story has been “follow the money,” as indicated by the $5.30 median price for his winners there.

Bet This: Baffert going route to sprint. It will be interesting to see how this angle plays with the switch to a dirt main track, but it’s definitely worth noting that Baffert is 21-9-4-3 with a $3.68 ROI in the past five years when cutting back from a route to a sprint at Del Mar. When the cutback comes following a layoff of at least 100 days, he’s 7-4-1-1 with a $2.71 ROI.

Not That: Baffert longshots. Remember, with Baffert at Del Mar, follow the money. In the past five years, Baffert has run 69 horses at Del Mar who were 8-1 or higher at post time; only two hit the exacta. His full record with those runners is 69-1-1-6 for a $0.38 ROI, and that only 12 percent hit the board means that most ran to their odds.

Bet This: Baffert first-time starters in maiden special weights at lower than 3-1. Again, live Baffert runners at Del Mar are poorly kept secrets, and this is definitely the case with his first-time starters. In the past five years there, he’s 32-15-6-3 for a $2.20 ROI with those at low odds not debuting for a tag, and when that’s the only horse he’s entered in the race, he’s even better: 20-12-3-1, $2.92 ROI.

Other trainers

Bet This: Bill Spawr on dirt. Consider Spawr the Larry Jones of Southern California. Jones is a very successful trainer on dirt, winning at around a 25 percent clip in recent years in dirt races. When Keeneland had a Polytrack main surface, he managed just a 85-3-10-10 record for a $0.40 ROI. Keeneland switched back to dirt, and he’s gone 14-3-2-3 and 15-4-3-3 in dirt races in the two meets since. Similarly, Spawr holds a 25 percent win rate and a positive ROI over the past five years in dirt races, but he’s managed only a 111-8-8-19 record in that time on the Del Mar Polytrack, returning only $0.70 for each $2 win bet. With the switch back to dirt, don’t be surprised if Spawr’s numbers rebound as well.

Bet This: Peter Miller debuting juveniles in maiden claimers. If Peter Miller debuts a 2-year-old for a tag at Del Mar, take notice; he’s probably ready to run. Over the past five years, he’s 26-11-1-3 for a $4.17 ROI with those runners. Interestingly, with all other first-time starters at Del Mar in that time, he’s winless, and only 17 percent hit the board (29-0-3-2).

Bet This: Mike Puype in maiden races for California-breds. Puype has done good work with statebreds, and nowhere is that more evident than in maiden races at Del Mar restricted to horses bred in California (or by California-based sires). In the past five years, he’s 50-12-5-4 with a $3.07 ROI in those races, compared with a record of 88-6-13-13 and a $0.56 ROI in maiden races without that restriction.

Bet This: Julio Canani within a month of the prior race. With Canani’s runners at Del Mar, count the days. In the past five years, the ones he’s run there within 30 days of their previous race have compiled a record of 56-16-4-6 for a $3.50 ROI. The true sweet spot seems to be between two and three weeks since the last start; he’s 7 for 19 for a $4.75 ROI at Del Mar with horses racing between 14 and 21 days since their last start.

These are just a few examples of great bets to target as well as ones to avoid. Every day, at every track, you will find many examples of these kinds of great (or awful) opportunities. DRF Formulator gives you the keys to find these angles, and it could very well lead you to a winner who is overlooked by much of the betting public. Check out www.drf.com/store/formulator-past-performance for the different Formulator plans available, priced for every budget. Better yet, try it for yourself; get two Formulator cards for a penny by using code BETTHIS at checkout.