ITM Plus - Euro vs. USA Trends
Last year, I published a blog post for the Breeders’ Cup that was well received. We thought it’d be valuable to update for this year’s edition. A lot of the concepts are the same, so it might be worthwhile to check out that article.
I am a visual learner and recently I’ve been playing around with new ways to explore horse racing data. As it relates to the Breeders’ Cup, I started tracking trends of where the winners were stabled. Eventually, I layered in trainers, again to see if there was any signal in the outcomes.
My approach, and the tables below, should be pretty obvious. I used conditional formatting to help me visualize whether winners of a particular race were stabled in the East, West, or Europe. Perhaps you think this is oversimplifying but I’d suggest this be used as a starting point for deeper analysis.
I’ll try to walk through how I use these tables to inform my analysis. And it should go without saying but, nothing here represents absolutes. Also, the focus here is on the winner, so even the strongest of trends may not be fully useful for the structuring of vertical wagers.
One of the reasons I started creating these tables was to get a better sense of where the European horses (and specific trainers) have excelled. Like most, I just assumed turf dominance and hadn’t looked at the data in the context of specific turf races. That is, clearly, the European Juvenile Turf runners have a strong record but the Juvenile Fillies are currently riding a seven-year losing streak – partly because of the total domination of this division by Chad Brown. More on that in a minute.
To me, there’s no strong signal in the Juvenile dirt races. I’ve highlighted 2017 as it was held at Del Mar but I’d caution making definitive conclusions from a single year.
Obviously, I’ll consider all of the European runners for the Juvenile Turf but the American contingent looks pretty formidable this year.
Trainer trends can be helpful as well. A couple of things jump off the page here.
Aidan O’Brien horses can often be over bet but his charges have done quite well in the Juvenile Turf and Turf. Anything he ships for the Juvenile Turf merits consideration, especially in multirace wagers.
Chad Brown has won four of the past seven Juvenile Fillies Turf races and clearly he enjoyed the last Del Mar BC. Brown generally tips his hand since three of his four winners in this spot have prepped (admittedly, they all won) in the Ms. Grillo. Obviously, that’s not the case this year but Haughty should not be dismissed if she draws in and Consumer Spending’s Selima win (explosive turn of foot and geared down while beating up on a few tomato cans) should be reviewed by all horseplayers.
The showdown between Jack Christopher and Corniche will be a highlight on Friday’s card. Take note of Brown’s success last time Breeders’ Cup was at Del Mar, specifically winning this race with Good Magic.
Moving to Saturday’s races (note that not all of these have traditionally been Saturday races), there are a few valuable trends to highlight.
First, in the Filly and Mare Sprint, east coast horses have been reliable and that’s worth noting since Gamine is likely to be one of the shortest prices of the weekend. It’s a short field but she’s far from unbeatable.
For a few races, it’s hard to make heads or tales of what the data suggests. There isn’t anything suggestive about the Dirt Mile, Sprint or Classic.
A simplistic view of the Filly and Mare Turf is that you might be able to cover the race with Chad Brown and the Euros. Unfortunately, that represents most of the prospective field. However, a Bill Mott trainee might vie for favoritism and will undoubtedly be the stateside horse with the most support at the windows.
While West coast turf horses have generally underperformed, they hold a strong recent record in the Turf Sprint. So while I’m generally comfortable tossing West coast horses in other turf events, I’ll give the pair a second look in the Turf Sprint. Prior to last year, it was easy to toss the Euro runners in this event but Glass Slippers (Sean Boarman!) changed that. A reminder that the Del Mar configuration is 5F vs. 5.5F - still, the European runners look like they deserve strong consideration this year.
One race where the European runners have underperformed is the Mile. They’ve accounted for the winner in just four of the last 11 editions. And they’ve burnt a ton of money along the way – Circus Maximus (2019), Ribchester (2017), Limato (2016), Make Believe (2015), etc. Personally, I plan on spending some time digging into the form of Master of the Seas - I think this horse comes in very live and will not be among the top favorites.
In the table below you’ll notice the presence of Charlie Appleby’s name among the 2017 winners. He’s shipped with greater frequency and seen plenty of North American success - something I take note of. I’ll be giving all of his runners a long look next weekend starting with the aforementioned Master of the Seas.
The Turf has been a race where, expectedly, the Europeans have performed very well. And moving on to the trainer table, this is the other event that Aidan O’Brien has relatively owned. A key race in all multi-race sequences, I wouldn’t let O’Brien knock me out in a race that he’s won multiple times.
Brad Cox shows up a few times on the table. Since Monomoy Girl’s emergence in 2018, Cox has become one of the top trainers in the game. He holds another very strong hand going into this weekend. Last year, most of his stable was proven over the Keeneland surface and while that’s not the case for Del Mar, I wouldn’t knock too many of his charges on that alone.
The following is a quote from my article last year - My best opinion of 2020 BC by a wide margin:
In terms of a prop bet, Cox would be my selection for most trainer wins at the year’s Breeders’ Cup – They ALL look live to me.
We’ve covered O’Brien already and I think most people know that Chad Brown should be considered in most Turf races.
The final trainer comment I’ll make is in regard to Steve Asmussen. Find his name on the tables above and you’ll notice he's had a fair amount of success when the Breeders’ Cup is out west. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that when he’s had those successes it’s come with horses that he shipped out early to get accommodated with their new surroundings. Jackie’s Warrior and Echo Zulu will get the attention from the barn but I’m not sleeping on Max Player, especially in underneath spots!