Statistical review - The Pen versus The Chip

07:08 PM 11 Oct 2012 NZDT
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With one final break remaining in the action of HANA Harness' The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs as the handicappers get ready for the final four legs of the competition, this would be a good time to drill down into the statistics to see how the handicappers are doing in certain categories.

Statistics were calculated based on two different criteria, the size of the track and the grade of racing at the track. Within the size classification, data was grouped by half mile tracks, five-eighths tracks, and seven-eighths tracks and bigger.

With regards to grade of racing, it was somewhat subjective with tracks grouped as Class A, Class B, and Class C with the best racing being classified as class A. When determining classes, the tracks' entire racing program was considered. Within each category, we will look at Percentage and ROI. Today, we examine win wagers.

Before we breakdown the statistics, let's look at how the handicappers did based on win percentage and ROI overall.

Contest-to-date by Win %

Position Handicapper Win Picks Win Hits Win % Win $

1st Scott Alberg (P) 761 279 36.66% $1,179.70

nd Bobby Z (P) 720 231 32.08% $1,223.30

rd Mark McKelvie (P) 761 244 32.06% $1,358.80

th Earl the Pearl © 761 229 30.09% $1,225.50

th Pandy © 761 226 29.70% $1,256.50

th Chatsworth Consortium © 761 208 27.33% $1,231.20

th Ray's Robot © 761 197 25.89% $1,206.30

th Mr. Trifecta (P) 761 178 23.39% $1,317.60

Contest-to-date by ROI

Position Handicapper Win Picks Win Hits Win ROI

1st Mark McKelvie (P) 761 244 0.893

nd Mr. Trifecta (P) 761 178 0.866

rd Bobby Z (P) 720 231 0.850

th Pandy © 761 226 0.826

th Chatsworth Consortium © 761 208 0.809

th Earl the Pearl © 761 229 0.805

th Ray's Robot © 761 197 0.793

th Scott Alberg (P) 761 279 0.775

o no one's surprise, the standings are different. Scott Alberg would be leading the contest if it was based on win percentage, yet he currently is in last place because the contest is judged on ROI. As handicappers know, it is not the number of winners you have; the key to successful gambling on horses is to look for specific races to play in order to maximize your earnings.

Now let's break down the statistics further. It is important to note while the handicappers have picked over 700 races, some caution needs to be considered when looking at these numbers. For one thing, since the handicapping legs took place on stakes nights, handicapping was primarily restricted to the best classes at each track.

Ideally, you would want to see how the handicappers did on regular mid-week cards as well before making any firm conclusions of their abilities.

Let's see how the handicappers did when looking at track size.

Win Percentage by Track Size - CTD 1/2 Track 5/8 Track 7/8+ Track

Handicapper Win % Win % Win %

Bobby Z 31.53% 31.71% 32.69%

hatsworth Consortium 27.59% 26.36% 27.81%

arl the Pearl 32.02% 32.73% 27.22%

ark McKenzie 34.48% 35.00% 28.70%

r Trifecta 25.62% 22.27% 22.78%

andy 34.48% 27.27% 28.40%

ay's Robot 26.60% 28.64% 23.67%

cott Alberg 41.38% 35.00% 34.91%

From looking at the above chart, we see win percentage-wise, we see Earl the Pear, Mark McKelvie, and Ray's Robot are at their best on tracks 5/8ths of a mile or smaller, where Pandy and Scott Alberg are statistically better on the half mile track when compared to the other side ovals.

Now, let's look at ROI by track size.

Win ROI by Track Size - CTD  1/2 mile 5/8 mile 7/8 mile+

Handicapper Win ROI Win ROI Win ROI

Bobby Z 0.842 0.892 0.827

hatsworth Consortium 0.725 0.820 0.897

arl the Pearl 0.757 0.773 0.855

ark McKenzie 0.878 1.024 0.816

r Trifecta 0.842 0.823 0.911

andy 0.855 0.749 0.865

ay's Robot 0.640 0.878 0.818

cott Alberg 0.917 0.732 0.718

Looking at these statistics, it is interesting to note that Chatsworth Consortium and Ray's Robot do significantly better ROI-wise off the half mile oval while Mark McKenzie excels on the 5/8th mile oval, showing a ROI over 1.0. You may also note that Mr. Trifecta does best on the larger ovals.

Pandy's best efforts are on the smaller and larger ovals and Scott Alberg seems to be at his best on the smaller ovals.

Now that we have seen how these handicappers did based on track size, let's see if there are any differences based on the overall caliber of the racing at the tracks involved.

First let's look at Win Percentage Win Percentage by Racing Caliber - CTD - Class A Class B Class C

Handicapper Win % Win % Win %

Bobby Z 33.59% 29.54% 34.69%

hatsworth Consortium 26.55% 27.03% 33.87%

arl the Pearl 29.28% 30.74% 32.26%

ark McKelvie 31.51% 32.43% 33.87%

r. Trifecta 23.57% 23.65% 20.97%

andy 29.78% 29.73% 29.03%

ay's Robot 23.57% 26.01% 36.76%

cott Alberg 35.98% 35.47% 46.77%

To no surprise, the vast majority of handicappers had the highest win percentage on the ‘Class C' tracks which is not surprising as those races tend to be more predictable, but Scott Alberg has a significantly better win percentage on the ‘C' tracks with a Win percentage of 46.77% as does Ray's Robot who shows a minimum of a 10% improvement over the ‘A' and ‘B' tracks.

While you would expect handicappers to have the lowest win percentage on the ‘A' tracks, Bobby Z shows a significant advantage on the ‘A' tracks over the ‘B' tracks.

Now win percentage is nice, but how does this translate to ROI?

Win ROI by Racing Caliber - CTD - Class A Class B Class C

Handicapper ROI ROI ROI

Bobby Z 0.847 0.830 0.985

hatsworth Consortium 0.862 0.737 1.047

arl the Pearl 0.859 0.731 0.806

ark McKelvie 0.873 0.934 0.825

r. Trifecta 0.910 0.895 0.457

andy 0.906 0.730 0.798

ay's Robot 0.797 0.722 1.041

cott Alberg 0.767 0.751 0.941

From these statistics, the only handicapper you would need to be wary of is Mr. Trifecta on the ‘C' tracks circuit. Chatsworth Consortium and Ray's Robot deserve special recognition for being able to end up on the plus side of the ledger on the ‘C' tracks.

Next week, the Exactas go under the microscope.

For handicapping selections, statistics, and additional information regarding The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge, please visit

by Allan SCHOTT ( HANA Harness Coordinator)

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