Inner visions, horses not fast
Innervisions, put my money on blast
Lots of racing for handicapping
Lots of horses for losing money
Inner visions here to stay
To, uh oh, those long winter nights
I could go on-especially since the next verse includes the command, "Tell me more; tell me more," but you get the gist: if Keeneland and Kentucky Derby season is spring and Saratoga and Del Mar are summer, and Breeders' Cup prep season is fall then surely the Aqueduct inner meet is winter.
Indeed, many point to the Aqueduct inner meet as a case for less racing; "Why do we need to race year-round in New York?" some ask, but it's hard to argue with handle figures that clearly indicate people want to bet Aqueduct-even in the winter.
Aqueduct is a solid third in average daily handle behind Gulfstream and whichever Southern California track happens to be running (Hollywood now, Santa Anita beginning December 26).
From December 1, 2012, through February 28, 2013, only three tracks (Gulfstream, Santa Anita, and Aqueduct) handled more than $300-million, and the next closest in fourth was Tampa Bay Downs with a little more than $200-million, and only Fair Grounds also had more than $100-million (Oaklawn deserves to be in this last tier with Fair Grounds as well since its average daily handle is more than $2-million/day, but its total handle in the period referenced is less because it does not open until January).
I understand how some people could make the "there's too much racing" argument until they use Aqueduct for support because there's no arguing against those kind of numbers.
Personally, I enjoy playing the inner meet. Horses more easily find their right conditions, and the form holds up. Enough races are competitive that you don't have to wait too long for opportunities but not so competitive (a la Gulfstream and Keeneland) that you feel as if you're stabbing. The pools are big, and the grand slam is fun.
And surprise, surprise... speed is king at the meeting. Using my trusty ALL-Ways database to go back through the last two years of inner visions, any horse with a top last-out Brisnet.com Speed Rating of two or more won 34% of his/her races for a positive ROI of 3%. Make it at least a five-point margin and the win rate balloons to 48% with a +10% ROI.
Routes are nearly as juicy as the two-point threshold yields the same 34% win rate but is only break even in ROI. Going up to a five-point (or more gap) gets you 42% winners and a +8% ROI.
My read on these numbers is that people overvalue form even in the face of superior speed ratings. For whatever reason, people value an 80 earned when winning more than an 80 earned when sixth by many lengths, but for horses who have raced at Saratoga and Belmont fall championship meetings, sixth by many with an 80 is certainly possible. Then they "drop" into a condition at the inner Aqueduct meeting against horses who have won for 75 and you get a square price.
For more information on playing Aqueduct, check out the Aqueduct Notebook at The Handicapper's Edge as well as Daily Selections full-card analysis with best bets, which are available daily for all New York Racing Association races.
What types of angles do you like to play on the Aqueduct inner?