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- John Piesen


At the finish of the racing day on Wednesday, December 17 the winter meet at Gulfstream Park was 9 days and 90 races old. That means it is time to begin looking at one of the key factors that should be a part of any serious bettor’s methodology. How are the shippers doing and what value if any are they providing.


With the close of the Calder meet (known as Gulfstream Park West) it is technically correct to call them shippers, even though they are Florida based horses that for the most part, while having last raced at Calder also have experience at Gulfstream, with a number being stabled there and using the Palm Meadows and Payson training centers.

So even though I am cataloging their performances as shippers, it is noteworthy for instance that on the last day of this sample, Wednesday, December 17, of the 6 races that were not 2-year old races (many lightly raced horses or first time starters), 26 of the 33 starters that last raced at Calder also had Gulfstream experience in their PP’s.

That being noted, here are the results of the Calder “shippers” at Gulfstream Park during the first 9 days of the meet.

Number of horses that ran...588
Average number of last out Calder horses per race...6.53
Number of Winners...53
Price Range of Winners...$3.60 - $57.40 (Mean Price $30.50)
Number of Double Digit Payers...27
Average mutuel payout for Winner...$14.40
Number of Winning Favorites...13
Number of Beaten Favorites...26


The next step is to catalog from which tracks the remainder of the runners shipped and how they fared.


Number of horses that ran...50
Number of Winners...5
Price Range of Winners...$5.00 - $15.80 (Mean Price $10.40)
Number of Double Digit Payers...1
Average mutuel payout for Winner...$8.80
Number of Winning Favorites...1
Number of Beaten Favorites...12

NOTE: You will notice right away that the perception that Belmont shippers have a class edge is rather harshly disputed by the results. This is shown by 10% of horses winning (although it must be noted that some races more than one ran) but particularly with one winning favorite and twelve losing favorites. Overall a negative performance


Number of horses that ran...36
Number of Winners...4
Price Range of Winners...$3.40 - $8.60 (Mean Price $6.00)
Number of Double Digit Payers...0
Average mutuel payout for Winner...$5.35
Number of Winning Favorites...3
Number of Beaten Favorites...5

NOTE: Not much better a performance the Belmont shippers and in general the Aqueduct horses coming off the continuing meet were running back off less of a layoff than the Belmont horses. The only workable action was the 8 race sample where Aqueduct shippers were made the favorite with 3 of those winning...but at $3.40, $4.20 and $5.20 that 37.5% produced just a $1.60 or -$.40 R.O.I.


Number of horses that ran...26
Number of Winners...3
Price Range of Winners...$2.80 - $37.80 (Mean Price $20.30)
Number of Double Digit Payers...1
Average mutuel payout for Winner...$14.40
Number of Winning Favorites...2
Number of Beaten Favorites...5

NOTE: The only thing that kept Keeneland shippers from being a completely dreadful was a $37.80 longshot winner.


Number of horses that ran...28
Number of Winners...6
Price Range of Winners...$4.00 - $62.80 (Mean Price $33.40)
Number of Double Digit Payers...4
Average mutuel payout for Winner...$23.10
Number of Winning Favorites...2
Number of Beaten Favorites...3

NOTE: Clearly the Churchill shippers have been by far the best investment. With 4 double digit winners among the 6 and an overall performance of 23.6% winners and only 3 beaten favorites it is apparent that early on the public has ignored these shippers to their own disadvantage. Another way of looking at the potency of the CD shippers is to calculate that had one placed a $2 wager on each of the 28 runners they would have gotten back $138.60 for $56.00 or an R.O.I. of $4.95.

CONCLUSION: There were obviously other race tracks that have shipped in to Gulfstream but the 4 above provide the kind of sample that shows you that like any other factor in handicapping, no single angle stands on its own.

In the case of the figures above you can see that if you like a Belmont, Aqueduct or Keeneland shipper because you consider those to be superior venues you have been given evidence that you better have much more in support of your horse than just the shipping angle. On the other hand if you like a CD shipper based on handicapping fundamentals you can probably feel a bit more comfortable given how they have performed during the beginning of the meet.

As I wrap up I will also remind you that as the meet goes on those horses that have already shipped and run will return to the track and new shippers will move in, but by the middle of January there will be fewer and fewer shippers and history shows form becomes more consistent so if you are looking for prices...there is no time like the present.

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