“Irad Ortiz (or enter jockey’s name) is always unstoppable at Saratoga!!”
Data Speaks Louder than Words
If you spend more than 2 minutes listening to a racing broadcast or even your betting buddy, you’ll hear “Dude, ‘Jockey X’ has a hot hand – you have to include ‘Jockey X’ in your Pick3.” We know many expert handicappers that see one of the Ortiz brothers on a horse – even a horse they don’t like - will include that horse in an exotic wager.
The casual bettor bets on jockeys – the experts, right?!?! But, at the same time – it feels unsafe to bet against Irad.
The question becomes – as handicappers - are we doing ourselves a disservice by betting jockeys? Or, being foolishly wary of betting against a big-name jockey?
Here is a data look at the major jockeys at Saratoga and how they have performed over the years.
The Data Set
- 10 years of data from Saratoga (2012-2021)
- All races
- Excluding races with dead heats, entries and DQs
The Analysis & Results
First, lets see who has taken the most mounts over the years at Saratoga. (Top 9 below)
Not including the current 2022 meet, Irad leads all jockeys in mounts with close to 2,500 (~250 mounts a meet). You also see his brother Jose come onto the scene (possibly) taking mounts away from Hall of Famers, Castellano and Johnny V at Saratoga?
There is a myriad of ways to analyze jockey performance. Here, we will focus on trends of WinRate and ROI. Starting with WinRate…
Observation #1: There is a decent amount of ‘noise’ in the WinRates from year to year
Observation #2: Luis Saez only recently has hit the elite status at Saratoga
Observation #3: There is a clear delineation in WinRate between the Elite and others (Franco, Lezcano, Alvarado)
Although WinRate is interesting, lets take a look at ROI for Irad and ponder the thought – has he earned or lost rides on short odds horses due to performance….lets roll the tape.
Irad earned getting ‘good mounts’ by riding non-favorites to wins.
The IRAD Example:
- 926 mounts; 141 Winners à 15.2% WR
- Average odds of winners were 5.8:1
- ROI on betting IRAD to win was +3.7%
- 1,568 mounts; 302 Winners à 19.3% WR
- Average odds of winners were 3:1
- ROI on betting IRAD to win was -22.0%
The proverbial horse has left the barn, the word is out…. and Irad is overly bet.
Myth Busted? (YES – if you want to win money / No – if you want to win races)
Well known jockeys get bet down and result in severe negative ROIs.
If you catch on to the next Irad you may have an advantage – but don’t follow the crowd on the Elite jockeys.
“So, BTSM, who is the next Irad?”
Ah, thanks for asking….
In 2021, Tyler had over 200 mounts for the first time in Saratoga, his performance:
- 202 mounts; 30 Winners à 14.9% WR (’12-’15 Irad 15.2% WR)
- Average odds of winners were 5.9:1 (’12-’15 Irad 5.8:1)
- ROI on betting Tyler to win was +2.8% (’12-’15 Irad +3.7%)
Tyler could be the next Irad.
Feel free to ping us with your doubts and questions or the next myth to bust
Be The Smart Money
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