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The annual Keeneland Spring Meet is unique in several ways. Its short length (16 racing days in April) limits horses’ experience over the track, so unless trainers are based here, most horses will only get in a few training sessions. The course can have its quirks, too, so the more experience, the better. Local writer Dan Keener gives his unique insight as the highly-anticipated meet nears its return to the Lexington, Kentucky-based venue.
While the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) tends to attract the most hype, there’s another big race for 3-year-olds on the calendar that is worthy of attention. The Transylvania Stakes (G3) is an exciting turf race going 8 1/2 furlongs that traditionally kicks off the meet. I wanted to take a closer look at this race to see what value and historical trends exist.
Let’s dive into this information. First off, the track conditions have only been ideal 40% of the time. Be sure to use that to your advantage when handicapping this race.
In the past 10 years, the average field size (eight) has helped lower-priced horses excel. The betting favorite won four times, and only three times was the winner at 7/1 odds or higher. In fact, the average finish for the betting favorite in this period is third. The average payouts for vertical wagers are as follows:
These payouts are decent for the field sizes, but upon a closer look, the data skews due to a pair of double-digit horses winning, with other longshots hitting underneath, in 2017 (10/1 over 34/1 over 38/1 over 2/1) and 2011 (10/1 over 6/1 over 3/1 over 21/1). In both instances, the betting favorite missed the board entirely. If those years are removed from the sample, then the average vertical wager pays decline as well:
Without longshots winning, the average payouts drop 47% for exactas, 72% for trifectas, and 78% for superfectas. While you can still make money playing the vertical wagers, you will have to be wise about it. Playing against the favorite is a surefire way to cash, but when it comes to the Transylvania, do so at your own risk. Don’t be afraid to take a shot, but don’t also go so deep that a winning ticket doesn’t return a nice profit, either.
From my research, I found that almost every winner from this period was either on or within 1 length of the lead when rounding the far turn and entering the straightaway. Several winners of this race have taken the field gate to wire. It seems the only racing style that has not done well in this race are deep closers. Stormalory is the only deep closer to have won in the last 10 years. The past three winners of this race were also coming off of long layoffs (4-5 months). If you like a horse, do not be scared away by a layoff; horses have had proven success starting their 3-year-old campaign in this race.
And what about the human connections? Trainers Chad Brown and Dale Romans have won four of the past seven editions, while Javier Castellano, Robby Albarado, and Julien Leparoux have each taken this race twice.
These are all reasons why the Inside Track wagering guides are so important! You cannot afford to miss out on any longshots who may bulk up the payouts.
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