A Look at Off the Turf Races at Saratoga: by David Navarre

Off the Turf Races at Saratoga

by David Navarre

August 21, 2018

Weather being what is has at Saratoga during this meet, it’s useful to examine how various jockeys handle the races that go off the turf to see how that may affect our selections.

When I ran the numbers, I was often surprised. I’d really expected the top performers to be those who filled those spots on the dirt, but there is not a direct correlation.

Table 1: Win Percentage in Off the Turf Routes

Michael Luzzi 43%
Johnny Velazquez 38%
David Cohen 33%
Javier Castellano 27%
Kendrick Carmouche 25%
Jose Lezcano 25%
Dylan Davis 21%
Jose Ortiz 21%
Julian Leparoux 21%
Manny Franco 20%
Luis Saez 19%
Irad Ortiz 18%
Junior Alvarado 17%
Ricardo Santana, Jr. 17%
All 15%
Eric Cancel 15%
Joe Bravo 15%
Joel Rosario 15%
Rajiv Maragh 13%
Luis R. Reyes 9%

 

Luzzi could be a quirk – that’s 3 wins in 7 races, 2 of which were in the slop. You’d expect Velazquez to do well, but these off the turf routes are his highest win percentage by far. The next four go from average or poor to very good. So, when you’d normally discount these jockeys as having no significant effect on the outcome, you have to pay attention when they go off the turf.

One important thing to note is that the average win percentage goes up when the race is taken off the turf. There are fewer horses running, even with some MTO (Main Track Only) entries. That’s why the line for ALL is at 15%.

Dirt Sprint Dirt Route Turf Sprint Turf Route Off Turf Sprint Off Turf Route
13% 14% 12% 11% 14% 15%

 

Thus, if a jockey is producing 12% wins when going off the turf, that isn’t the “average” performance that it would be for the same race run on the turf. Going off the turf, the average jockey’s win percentage should go up by 2-4%. So, let’s look at the differential between the Turf Route win percentage and the Off the Turf Route win percentage to get an idea who’s improving their chances when the race goes off the turf.

Table 2: Win Percentage differential when going Off the Turf over Routes

Michael Luzzi 43%
David Cohen 22%
Johnny Velazquez 17%
Kendrick Carmouche 15%
Dylan Davis 13%
Jose Lezcano 13%
Ricardo Santana, Jr. 10%
Eric Cancel 8%
Julian Leparoux 8%
Javier Castellano 7%
Manny Franco 7%
Luis Saez 6%
Rajiv Maragh 5%
All 4%
Luis R. Reyes 4%
Joel Rosario 3%
Jose Ortiz 2%
Junior Alvarado 1%
Irad Ortiz -3%
Joe Bravo -3%

 

While Cohen was already atop the list for win percentage, the fact that he’s tripling his win percentage when going off the turf likely means you’re going to get a good price on those mounts. He’s better than average on dirt routes, but dominant in these races. Carmouche goes from below average to very good as well. Conversely, Irad Ortiz and Joe Bravo do worse in these off the turf routes. Most betters won’t have any idea and they’ll be overbet.

Not surprisingly, the rates for sprints and routes vary off the turf as well.

Table 3: Win Percentage in Off the Turf Sprints

Julian Leparoux 33%
Joe Bravo 30%
David Cohen 29%
Joel Rosario 29%
Dylan Davis 25%
Michael Luzzi 25%
Javier Castellano 21%
Johnny Velazquez 21%
Irad Ortiz 19%
Manny Franco 17%
Jose Lezcano 15%
All 14%
Luis Saez 13%
Junior Alvarado 12%
Ricardo Santana, Jr. 12%
Jose Ortiz 11%
Rajiv Maragh 9%
Kendrick Carmouche 6%
Eric Cancel 0%
Luis R. Reyes 0%

 

The top of this list is vastly different. While Cohen is near the top of both and Leparoux moves up, Bravo and Rosario advance from merely average when it’s a sprint instead of a route. Looking at the differentials is very instructive as well.

Table 4: Win Percentage differential when going Off the Turf over Sprints

Julian Leparoux 24%
Michael Luzzi 19%
David Cohen 19%
Dylan Davis 15%
Joel Rosario 11%
Joe Bravo 9%
Manny Franco 7%
Javier Castellano 5%
Jose Lezcano 5%
All 2%
Ricardo Santana, Jr. 2%
Junior Alvarado 1%
Johnny Velazquez 0%
Kendrick Carmouche -1%
Rajiv Maragh -1%
Luis Saez -3%
Irad Ortiz -4%
Jose Ortiz -5%
Eric Cancel -6%
Luis R. Reyes -7%

 

Again, though Irad Ortiz remains an above average jockey, the advantage he has on the turf disappears when off the turf.

Sometimes, turf routes will become dirt sprints when you go off the turf, so here’s the differentials for those.

Table 5: Win Percentage differential when going Off the Turf while going from a Route to a Sprint

Michael Luzzi 25%
Julian Leparoux 20%
David Cohen 18%
Dylan Davis 17%
Joel Rosario 17%
Joe Bravo 12%
Ricardo Santana, Jr. 5%
Manny Franco 4%
All 3%
Jose Lezcano 3%
Rajiv Maragh 1%
Javier Castellano 1%
Johnny Velazquez 0%
Luis Saez 0%
Irad Ortiz -2%
Junior Alvarado -4%
Kendrick Carmouche -4%
Luis R. Reyes -5%
Eric Cancel -7%
Jose Ortiz -8%

 

The weather in the winter and spring this year did cause a few jockeys to head south, so the composition of the New York jockey colony wasn’t the same as most years. That might have allowed some of these jockeys to hit more frequently in off the turf races. It might also have exposed some of them to more races of this kind. I think if I was the agent for some of these guys, I’d insist that they ride where the weather is most likely to be bad.

One thing I think is certain, most people won’t have any idea how much these numbers vary from the overall numbers. Being armed with some more statistics, you’ll be able to gain an advantage on those folks and maybe record a few more big scores.

One thought on “A Look at Off the Turf Races at Saratoga: by David Navarre”

  1. Where did you get that Luzzi has 3 wins at current meet? Current stats per DRF—24-1-2-2
    Please explain…Thanks

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