Be The Smart Money - July 21, 2022




The Myth

Gotta go with “a gray horse on a gray day”!!!!


Data Speaks Louder than Words

You’ve planned your trip to the track, excited to visit with friends, have a few Montucky Cold Snacks and maybe hit a few winners.  Unfortunately, the clouds have not cleared and all indications point to overcast weather – a gray day.  At some point during the day, your horse will take the final turn with the lead – going off at 7:1 – you’re already thinking what your $10 straight win bet will produce.  That is until that gray streak of lightning crushes the field and comes from 10 lengths back down the stretch to win.  That horse showed final odds of 24:1 – of course you and everyone around you is thinking the same thing – a gray horse on a gray day!


We’ve all had that moment when faced with taking a gray horse on a gray to prove there still is a little bit of kismet in the sport of kings – not to mention a great story to your friends and family.  BTSM wanted to have a fun with this weekly installment, so we set out to put some data and numbers to confirm if there is any truth behind “a gray horse on a gray day” or if that is simply a track myth we should leave for the dreamers.



The Data Set


  • Eight years of data from a prestigious track
  • Excluding races with dead heats, entries and DQs
  • Definitions:
    • Color determined by Racing Program
    • Weather defined as:
      • Clear = “Clear”
      • Rainy, Showery, Cloudy = “Not-Clear”


The Analysis & Results


First, lets take a look at WinRate (WR).  Regardless of overall WR, clear weather WR or Non-Clear weather – there is no statistically significant difference across color type.  Myth busted? Hmmm… not yet.




Second, lets take a look at ROI.  ROI is significantly negative for Gray horses (-32.4%) which would indicate the general public over bets Gray horses.  Gray horses are over bet even more so when the weather is not clear.

The data suggests the betting public does indeed believe in “a gray horse on a gray day”; thus, driving their odds down and the payouts to be less than they should normally be, when they do win.




Myth Busted? (YES!)


As the data and illustrations show, gray horses rank last in ROI.  This is one myth that is exactly that – a myth (and a myth that others believe).  If anything, while all your buddies are betting a gray horse on a gray day, go with the Chestnut and maybe you’ll catch lightning in a bottle on that not clear day.



Be The Smart Money

Transforming How to Handicap for Value

Get your Smart Sheets for Saratoga and Del Mar at