11/14/2002 1:00AM

Inside posts hazardous to horseplayers' wallets


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - As discussed last week, stalkers and pace-pressers with the ability to stay in close touch to the leaders have been dominating the dirt races at Aqueduct's fall meet. There have also been a number of days when horses positioned in outside paths enjoyed a demonstrable edge.

That might be due in large part to the fact that horses breaking from the inside post have spotted them a head start.

Because winning post positions are not broken down by specific distance, I normally don't pay much attention to them as they appear alongside Sweep's graded entries and underneath the current jockey and trainer standings in Daily Racing Form - especially for Aqueduct's main track, where the one-turn miles are lumped together with the two-turn, 1 1/8-mile races as "routes."

But when Monday's Form showed that from opening day Oct. 23 through Nov. 8 sprinters breaking from the rail were 1-50, and just 2-50 breaking from post 2, it reinforced the notion of how disadvantageous the inside has been. It was time to get out the charts to explore the phenomenon a bit further.

Even with a couple more winners from the rail last weekend factored in, the bleak overall stats for horses drawn inside in one-turn races from Oct. 23 through Veterans Day, Nov. 11, are worthy of attention, if only so that poor performances from inside horses and good performances from outside horses during this period can be placed in a more realistic context when they race back.

For example, in Thursday's sixth race, Images in Jade was coming off a fourth-place finish after an inside duel from the rail post, and was ignored at 28-1 because she had just finished five lengths behind bias-aided, five-wide winner Delta Quick, and 2 1/4 lengths behind six-wide runner-up Blue Holiday. Breaking from post 7 in an eight-horse field for the rematch, Images in Jade completed a $109 exacta finishing second behind 8-5 favorite Radiance. Delta Quick and Blue Holiday were both off the board.

Grouping together the one-turn races at four distances - six furlongs, 6 1/2 furlongs, seven furlongs, and one mile - there were exactly 100 races from Oct. 23 through Nov. 11.

The rail horse went 5-for-100, and post 2 accounted for six more wins. The two inside posts, therefore, were a combined 11-for-200.

By way of comparison, horses from the outside won more than 2 1/2 times as frequently. Horses breaking from the outermost post went 13-for-100 in the one-turn races, and the two outside posts combined for a 26-for-200 record.

The totals for races out of the chute at seven furlongs and one mile looked like this:

Post 11 and 2OutsideOutside two


1 mile2-364-725-369-72

The five horses who managed to win one-turn dirt races at Aqueduct during this period were as follows.

At six furlongs: Silver Squire ($3.60), Cyber Secret ($8.60), and Tarakan ($15.40).

At one mile: Around the Bases ($7.00) and Phish ($23.60).

A further analysis shows that the winning quintet won in spite of their inside post positions: Cyber Secret and Tarakan (last weekend's winners from white-hot, meet-leading trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.) each broke last at the start call. Phish, Silver Squire, and Around the Bases each broke next-to-last.

After a review of the official start call for the rail horse at each one-turn distance, it becomes even clearer that inside horses are taking the worst of it.

Six furlongs: The rail horse broke last or next-to-last in 21 of 43 races.

6 1/2 furlongs: The rail horse broke last or next-to-last in 3 of 4 races.

Seven furlongs: The rail horse broke last or next-to-last in 13 of 17 races.

One mile: The rail horse broke last or next-to-last in 25 of 36 races.

Total: The rail horse broke last or next-to-last in 62 of 100 races.

Also, at seven furlongs, the rail horse broke in the rear half of the field in all 17 races.

At one mile, the rail horse broke in the rear half of the field in 34 of 36 races.

Handicappers who desire more in the way of post position stats, as well as stats on a host of other pertinent subjects, can now access www.turfday.com, a new web site. The site is the brainchild of Bob Selvin, who currently provides the "Betting Value Averages" that appear in DRF Simulcast Weekly.

"This site is the culmination of an idea that I had many years ago," said Selvin, who has at his disposal data from every race run at North American racetracks since Jan. 1, 1995. "I realized how truly archaic it was to see 'trainer standings,' 'jockey standings,' 'sire standings,' and invalid, inaccurate post position studies. I came up with a formula that I called Betting Value Averages . . . a take on major league baseball's batting averages.

"The BVA formula is based on: finish position, number of horses in the race, closing odds and a 'rolling average' that considers what happens most recently is more relevant than what happened in the past."

In view of what's transpired at Aqueduct this fall, it would be parimutuel folly to argue with Selvin's assertion that recent events deserve more attention than the past.