09/03/2007 12:00AM

Well-bet trainer finds plenty of success on Polytrack


When thinking of trainers whose horses flourish on Polytrack, those with European backgrounds, such as Patrick Biancone, quickly come to mind. Others might think of similar trainers that have barns filled with horses with turf or distance pedigrees.

Wayne Bearden does not fit either mold. A 78-year-old native of Alabama, his background in racing stems from competing mostly with low-end dirt horses in Michigan.

Stakes horses in his barn are few and far between, unless one counts those of the Michigan-bred variety. His stable comprises claimers, the kind of everyday horses that fill the bulk of the cards at Turfway Park, where the fall meet began Wednesday.

But Bearden has been highly effective at Turfway, both as a trainer and owner.

Since Polytrack was introduced at Turfway Park in September 2005, Bearden has ranked among the winningest trainers there - scoring with 40 of 157 starters, for a win percentage of 25 percent, and 58 percent of those runners hit the board.

Bearden also has proven to be a winning owner, topping the Turfway Park winter-spring standings in 2006.

Of course, Bearden cannot be considered strictly a trainer that wins on Polytrack. He won seven consecutive trainer titles at the now-closed Detroit Race Course and had two meet training titles at Turfway when all of its racing was conducted on a conventional dirt track - the 1996 holiday meet and the 1997 fall meet. He has won more than 1,200 races over a training career that began in 1959.

The downside to backing Bearden at the betting windows is that his horses are strongly supported. He often rides leading jockeys, and because his horses are placed aggressively, they regularly start among the favorites.

According to Daily Racing Form's Formulator database, the median payoff on Bearden's runners at Turfway over the last two years has been $5.60. Even hitting at a 25 percent win clip, a $2 wager on each of his 157 starters at Turfway would have yielded an average payoff of $1.72.

One statistic is particularly noteworthy in analyzing his Polytrack history at Turfway. Of his 40 winners there over the last two years, all but three came with jockey Julien Leparoux in the irons.

Their statistics together at Turfway are remarkable - 37 winners from 92 starters, which translates to a 40 percent win rate. The $2 win wager on each of those starters would have yielded a return of $2.67.

Even when they did not win together, they were often second. Twenty-three of those 92 starters ran second, meaning 60 were a part of the exacta (65 percent).

With Leparoux gaining prominence and often receiving lucrative stakes-riding opportunities across the country, chances are likely that he and Bearden will not have as many opportunities to team up this fall at Turfway. But recent history suggests they command respect if they do.