In Quarter Horse handicapping, there are two bias angles that most players use that don't do much for your value. In 870 yard 'around the hook' races where the gate is located very close to the turn, inside posts are at an incredible advantage, especially on mile racetracks. Horses coming from the three inside posts win over 50% of 870 yard races. In straightaway races, the common belief is that the extreme outside post is the best post to have. This is because the horse has more open space and may not feel the intimidation of being between other horses or being down on the rail.
While these both tend to be solid angles, there are times where the racetrack itself comes into play and thwarts their usefulness. For example, let's take a look at the Sawgrass Stakes at Hialeah last Sunday. This was a 440 yard race where the three betting favourites came from the outside. 3-2 choice Dash Master Jess had the six hole in the eight horse field and was exiting a victory in the $227,260 Hialeah Derby. Joltin Jess came from post seven and was coming off of a pair of impressive victories in the Crystal River and the Moonstone. Finally, Sure Shot B last raced in the City of Hialeah Stakes where he rallied for the win. He had the far outside post. This trio were a classy bunch and deserved the money they took, which was a combined 63.7% of the win pool.
Where did they finish?
Joltin Jess finished 2nd by a 1/2 length. Dash Master Jess was 3rd, a neck behind Joltin Jess. Sure Shot B finished an even 5th by a 1 1/2 lengths. None of them got into any trouble, so why did they lose, even as the best horses in the race?
The winner was Dashin Beduino, a horse who was 3-for-14 prior to the Sawgrass and was exiting a win against non winners of three Allowance company. It was an impressive win visually but this was a serious jump in class. Breaking from post two, he won by a 1/2 length at 7-1 odds.
Was he just the best horse? Or was there a bias at play that helped him out?
Out of nine races on the card, there was one winner from post six, three from post five, and the other five came from the inside three posts. All the races were conducted down the straight. 55.5% of the race winners came from posts one, two or three. That is a bias. To back it up, the day before, five of nine winners came from the three inside posts with one winner from post four. Looking at this, I think it is safe to say the horses running on the inside part of the track were at an advantage. Dashin Beduino may not have been the most talented horse in the field, but he had an advantage and it paid off for bettors who picked up on it.
The moral of the story is that even while watching Quarter Horse races, look out for biases. Observing the way the straightaway plays can lead to some profitable results.