True or FalseWritten by Jon Stettin
A few years ago, a two year old named Caledonia Red barely made it to my radar in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in my early work. By the time the race came up, I made and cashed a nice bet. It was a true track bias I recognized that got me there. A true track bias is a gift that just keeps giving. Not only can you capitalize on one race day if you catch it, but you can bet with an edge on those who ran well against it and downgrade those who ran with it. The whole key is knowing a true track bias from a false or perceived one.
A bias can mean different things to different handicappers. I define a track bias this way:
A trend in the track that helps horses run better than they would have if they ride it and worse then they would have if they are against it. Simply said a bias can make horses who would not have won on a fair track win, and horses who would have won on a fair track lose. Anything less to me is not a true bias. It would be hard to capitalize off anything less than my definition. Additionally, although tracks can change throughout a card, a true bias will more often than not hold for the bulk of the day. When they don’t you must ask yourself if it could have possibly been a false bias. Chances are it was.
Players are fast on the draw to label a track biased, often incorrectly at least by my definition. A bias comes in a few different forms. It can be an inside or outside bias which relates to a portion of the racetrack. It can be down the crown of the track as we often see in the mud. It can be a speed bias or a closers bias. Sometimes you will see more than one type of bias together, but obviously they can’t conflict with each other, or you are back to a false bias.
An excellent example of bettors being prematurely fast on the bias draw was last weekends Belmont Stakes card. The bias talk came early and often. It was all over social media and the tv broadcasts. Trainers even voiced concerns about how the track was playing would affect their horses. They were all wrong, and no this is not subjective. Not only were they calling it a speed biased racetrack but they were also saying it was a rail biased racetrack. A good deal of this gibberish began after only the second dirt race was run. That’s an impressive assessment if you are right. Were they? You tell me.
Sea Foam won the first race on the card. He stalked the pace, did not make the pace, and made an early inside move — a stalking trip in the opener.
The next dirt race had the bias callers out in full force. The fact it was just the second dirt race on the card did not temper them. Majid went to the lead in relatively easy splits. He went Wire to Wire. He should have. He got away uncontested and set soft splits on a very fast but fair racetrack. One of the biggest lures to a false bias is not realizing why a horse trips out and wins. With the way things unfolded Majid was supposed to win.
The next dirt race was won by Midnight Bisou who not only came from off the pace but was last at one point. Nonetheless, you had analysts, trainers, and people all over social media saying you had or be on the rail with speed to win. I knew this would lead to some big edge bets on the card.
The next dirt race we saw Guarana blitz the field from slightly off the pace. It was a stalking trip. 4 races and just one Wire to Wire winner. They still screamed bias in force. On true bias days, you see 4 races and 4 Wire to Wire winners.
The next one was a classic. Hog Creek Hustle roared down the middle of the track from off the pace. He beat my “edge play” Nitrous by a long nose and Nitrous was further back and wider than he was. The reported rail and speed bias is not what cost me that bet.
Mitole took the next dirt race stalking and prompting the pace. Noteworthy McKinzie came from off the pace and had a lot of traffic trouble, or it may have been a different result but certainly would have been closer. That’s six dirt races and one Wire to Wire winner who got a lone lead and went slow on a fast track.
Sir Winston won the Belmont from off the pace. Did he spend some time saving ground on the rail? Absolutely. Did it help him? Absolutely as saving ground usually does. When good horses save ground on the rail it helps a lot. Seven dirt races and one horse goes gate to wire.
Recognizing a true bias from a false one can be lucrative. Being quick draw McGraw won’t help you be correct in that assessment.
There was a rail and speed bias on Belmont Stakes day. True or false?