07/01/2004 11:00PM

Rating riders by return on investment

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Churchill's spring-summer meet comes to an end on Monday. The jockeys who performed well enough to be among the top 10 in the standings here will be heading to a number of different venues, so bettors at those tracks can benefit by knowing which of them met, or exceeded the expectations of bettors at this meet, and which did not.

Although jockey Brice Blanc was in 10th place in the standings through July 1, with 19 wins from 132 mounts, he owned the best return on investment at $2.57. His 14 percent win rate was close to the 16 percent winners booted home by leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, and the 15 percent wins from fourth-place Cornelio Velasquez and fifth-place Mark Guidry. The difference was that Blanc's winners included longshots who paid much higher prices than those of the jockeys who rode more winners.

Second on the ROI list is Willie Martinez. He also scored with more than his fair share of longshots while getting home first 24 times from 230 mounts, slightly better than 10 percent wins, for a $2.16 return.

If you believe that the jockeys with the best returns on investment are always the ones who fly beneath the radar of most fans, you will be surprised to learn that Bejarano, who stands out like a sore thumb with 73 winners from 386 mounts, and a 24-win gap over second-place Pat Day, has done a remarkable job in the ROI department at Churchill. Despite his popularity, and his large lead in the win standings, Bejarano has nearly broken even for bettors at $1.99, the third-best return among the top 10 riders.

Mark Guidry, who is usually overbet by fans with a $1.42 ROI since 1991, has exceeded the expectations of bettors with a $1.85 return at this meet, the fourth-best ROI among the top 10 in winners.

Bettors love to pound horses ridden by Day down to underlaid prices, with a return of just $1.42 since 1991. But Day has ridden well enough at this meet to improve that number to $1.73, with 27 percent wins.

When I had previously checked these statistics based on results through May 20, Cornelio Velasquez was riding 20 percent winners, with a $1.67 return. Those numbers have since weakened somewhat, with 15 percent winners and a $1.54 ROI, sixth-best among the top 10.

Robby Albarado was having a tough time through May 20, with 11 percent wins, and a $0.88 ROI, but he has improved since then while raising those stats to 15 percent wins and a $1.45 return.

John McKee had been effective with longshots through May 20 with a $1.92 return from 12 percent wins. Although he is sixth in the win rankings, those numbers have tailed off with 9 percent wins, and a $1.31 ROI.

Calvin Borel, eighth in the win standings, has improved his win percentage from 7 percent through May 20 to 9 percent through July 1, but he is still being overbet at $1.28.

Shane Sellers continues to be a victim of his popularity with bettors. He showed 12 percent wins through May 20, with a poor $0.77 return. He has won at a much higher rate while boosting his win percentage by 50 percent to 18 percent. But bettors overplay him so much that he has produced only a $1.15 ROI.