May 16, 2021

Fair Grounds Holiday Season Trends To Watch

The Fair Grounds Race Course meeting began on Nov. 15, but in many ways the first 2 weeks of the 4-month meeting were just an amuse bouche to the holidays season that will give way to the Road to the Louisiana Derby and Fair Grounds Oaks as this year’s 2-year-olds turn 3 in 2019.

To access all of Brisnet.com’s Fair Grounds handicapping information, CLICK HERE

With racing concluding at Churchill Downs, and Oaklawn pushing back its opening a week, major stables like Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen figure to have a dominant presence in New Orleans over the next 8 weeks while mainstays such as Tom Amoss, Ron Faucheux, Al Stall, and Dallas Stewart are sure to make their presence known.

Indeed, Brad Cox was the leading trainer last year in the 5 racing weeks following Thanksgiving (Nov. 30-Dec. 31), not only ranking #1 in wins with 16 but also was tops in win percentage (36.3%) among the 19 trainers with at least 20 starts in that period, and his starters posted a flat-bet profit of +7.2%

Two unknown-to-me names that stuck out in this category were Joe Duhon, who was only 2-for-20, but those 2 paid well enough for him to sport a +68% ROI. Lee Thomas was 5-for-20 and also positive.

The only other trainer (i.e. in addition to Cox, Duhon, and Thomas) with a positive ROI in this stretch was Michael Stidham, who was 9/35 (25.7%) with a +12.2% flat-bet profit.

On the negative side, Danny Pish was 0-for-20 last year. He has a strong string in both Arkansas and Texas this time of year, so beware his Fair Grounds runners. Hugh Robertson (1/22) and Chris Hartman (2/26) had poor numbers last year. Both (and especially Hartman) did OK to close out various summer and fall meetings this year, so it might be reasonable to follow the Fair Grounds trend at short prices thinking they targeted races earlier in the year.

Joe Sharp has great numbers, but a -23.1% ROI despite winning 28.8% of races means he’s crazy overbet. The same applies to Mark Casse to a lesser extent with his 24.1% strike rate and -18.2% ROI.

James Hodges (7/19) and Sam David Jr. (6/18) missed the 20-start cut but are worth mentioning based on gaudy win percentages and a flat-bet ROI to match.

As for what’s happened in the first two weeks of the meet, the Brisnet.com At A Glance below shows favorites winning at a 34% clip, which is less than the national average, but they’ve been reliably “in the money” at a robust 74%, which ranks 3rd (behind Mahoning Valley [78.1%] and Del Mar [77.9%]) among the 20 tracks with at least 15 races since Fair Grounds opened.

Based on the “track bias meet (11/15-11/25)” char below, it definitely appears as if inside speed is good when sprinting on the dirt, while 10 races is probably not enough to draw a meaningful conclusion considering the “best style” is different for the first 2 weeks versus just the last week.

Bret Calhoun has started the meeting 0/11, but his stats for December in the above group are solid enough that I would not let that 11-race skid to start the stand deter me from betting his horses. Like Pish, however, he is another who has strings elsewhere this time of year, so consider trainer intent and where this starter might fit into his program when handicapping his horses.

 


FAIR GROUNDS AT A GLANCE
Avg. Winning Odds: 5.70 – 1
Favorite Win%: 34%, Favorite Itm%: 74%
EXOTICS
PAYOFF
Exacta 84.48
Daily Double 96.35
Trifecta 476.75
Pick 3 643.07
Superfecta 2,651.62
Pick 4 6,088.16
Pick 5 Jackpot 17,640.23
TRACK BIAS MEET(11/15 – 11/25)
Distance #
Race
%
Wire
Best
Style
Best
Posts
5.5fDirt 12 42% E Rail/Ins
6.0fDirt 26 35% E Rail
1 MileDirt 5 40% E/P Middle
1m 70yDirt 5 20% P Outside
Turf Sprint 7 0% E/P Rail/Ins
Turf Routes 18 17% E/P Rail/Ins
TRACK BIAS WEEK(11/19 – 11/25)
Distance #
Race
%
Wire
Best
Style
Best
Posts
5.5fDirt 6 67% E Rail/Ins
6.0fDirt 14 29% E Rail/Ins
1 MileDirt 3 67% E Middle
1m 70yDirt 3 33% E Mid/Out
Turf Sprint 4 0% E/P Rail/Ins
Turf Routes 7 29% E/P Outside
Who’s HOT, Who’s NOT
HOT TRAINERS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Winning
Favorites
’17-‘
18
Win%
Faucheux Ron 13 5 0 2 7.25 2 21%
Schweda Brian 3 2 0 0 16.50 0 11%
Engler Jeff 5 2 0 1 5.00 1 12%
Jones J. Larry 5 2 0 1 14.96 1 21%
Morley Thomas 5 2 0 1 8.36 1 12%
Robertson Hugh H. 5 2 1 2 10.02 0 19%
HOT JOCKEYS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Winning
Favorites
’17-‘
18
Win%
Graham James 26 9 7 6 5.50 2 12%
Bravo Joe 10 4 1 2 3.04 2 18%
COLD TRAINERS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Beaten
Favorites
’17-‘
18
Win%
Gomez Jorge 12 0 0 3 50.00 0 7%
Calhoun W. Bret 11 0 1 0 12.28 1 19%
Duhon Joe O. 10 0 1 0 35.08 0 13%
COLD JOCKEYS Starts Wins Place Show Avg.
Odds
Beaten
Favorites
’17-‘
18
Win%
Lara Ezequiel 22 0 1 4 25.83 0 7%
Kennedy Ty 11 0 0 1 24.54 0 10%