01/12/2007 1:00AM

New meet rider-trainer stats can be misleading


LEXINGTON, Ky. - You were probably having too much fun to notice, but at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, the jockey and trainer standings at Turfway Park disappeared. They weren't stolen, so there is no need to alert the authorities. And it wasn't the result of a David Blaine magic trick.

It happens at Turfway each year. The holiday meet ran from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31. Then, starting on Jan. 1, the same jockeys and trainers continue to ride and train. But for the purposes of record keeping, all of the results from the holiday meet are discarded and handicappers who check the standings find that every jockey and trainer starts fresh, as if the holiday meet never happened.

The statistics from the new meet, which begin as a much smaller sample, can be very misleading. For example, if you are looking for jockeys to bet against at the current Turfway meet you might notice that William Troilo shows just 1 win from 31 starts through Thursday. Some handicappers might guess that he isn't as good on Polytrack as he is on other surfaces, but that isn't true.

Troilo was simply unlucky to win once while finishing second six times and third eight times since Jan. 1. If you want to see how good Troilo actually is, you need to check the holiday meet statistics. Troilo won 17 of 122 races, nearly 14 percent. In fact, he rode well enough to enable bettors to show a small profit on his mounts with a $2.02 return on investment. Combine his 17 wins, 12 seconds, and 14 third-place finishes with his winter meet numbers, and the combined statistics are smoothed out, with 18 wins, 18 second-place finishes, and 22 thirds.

The winter meet statistics for Orlando Mojica are also very misleading. He shows just 1 win from 21 starts in the current standings. Is he really a 4 percent-winning jockey at Turfway? Is his $0.28 ROI a realistic indication of the return bettors are likely to receive from him over the long run? Not according to the holiday meet standings. Bettors who played Mojica to win in every race showed a profit at $2.11 from a sample of 107 mounts. His win percentage was a solid 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Rafael Mojica Jr. has won with 6 of 24 mounts since Jan. 1, for a flashy 25 percent win rate and a $2.38 ROI. But before you get too excited, notice that he finished second twice and had no third-place finishes. Do you expect that he will continue to win three times as many races as he will finish second and third combined? I don't. Check out his holiday meet numbers. His win percentage was reasonable, but unspectacular at 9 percent with 12 wins from 125 rides. The distribution of his first, second, and third-place finishes was much more normal at 12-13-16. His ROI was below-average at $1.44.

And what about Julien Leparoux? He rode 33 mounts at the holiday meet, with 7 winners, and a 21opercent win rate. But his mounts were overbet, and his ROI was a subpar $1.44. In the current winter-meet standings, Leparoux shows 7 wins from 33 mounts once again. But they paid even less, with a poor $1.07 ROI. In this case the story is similar at both meets. It pays to bet against Leparoux when his mount does not appear to be dominant.