February 25, 2021

How to Bet the Jockey Wager at Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs returns on Saturday, September 2, and with it the competitive racing and fun wagering menu that fans have come to expect from the all-turf meeting.

But there is a new feature as well that bettors can avail themselves to not only to win (even more) money on their opinions but also help a great cause.

Listed as race 11 in the Kentucky Downs program, the jockey wager challenges bettors to pick the jockeys who will perform best on races 4-10 of each program. The bet (which, again, is accessed via race 11) will close when the first horse enters the gate for race 4 and settles following the 10th race. Jockeys earn points for their finishes in each race on a 25-12-9-5 scale with a single point added for a late scratch or non starter.

Kentucky Downs is donating a portion of its commission for the wager to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which continues the track’s tradition of giving back to the industry, as it also has a relationship with Old Friends.

Alright, so it’s a good bet for a good cause. How do we hit the thing? A perfect score is 175 (7 wins at 25 points each), but that’s extremely unlikely (even if a jockey were 1-to-2 to win every race, that’s a 19-to-1 shot to win seven in a row). Based on last year’s results 75-100 points looks like a safe target for the win slot with 50 a virtual lock to “hit the board”.

Based on the aforetolinkedto Kentucky Downs wagering piece, there are some angles to find horses who will run well: 1) top-ranked by Prime Power, 2) top-ranked by best last-out Brisnet Speed Rating, and 3) an early speed advantage. One thing I plan to do is add up the Quirin Speed Points for each jockey and see if it might be worth taking a flyer on the one with a big advantage (if one exists).

Another thought is that number of mounts is not nearly as important as quality of mounts.

You can use this binomial calculator to play around with some rudimentary numbers yourself, but I use R for the variable probabilities present in racing (i.e. a binomial calculator won’t help with an even money, a 3-to-1, a 9-to-1, etc.). But as a quick example, a jockey who’s 3-to-1 on 4 mounts has about a 26% chance of winning at least 2, which is good enough to be in contention. A jockey with 7 mounts at 9-to-1, however, has only a 15% chance of winning at least two, and even going 7-1-2 isn’t as good as 4-2-0. I.e., my sense is that after the obvious names, my sense is that bettors will overvalue quantity of mounts, which might provide some opportunity elsewhere.

It’s a fun bet to ponder, but it’s ultimate entertainment value will come from whether there is actual value in the pools. It seems like the type of bet where either the obvious jockey will be grossly overbet to create opportunity to go against a 1-to-5 who should be 4-to-5 or fan favorites will balance the odds to where a that 4-to-5 might be even money (and thus a good bet).

If the Kentucky Derby future wager has taught us anything, it’s that the field is almost always an overlay, and I expect that here. People want to bet people not the leftovers, and I expect that to create some value on the field wager. We’ll find out Saturday!