|First Time Starters: Can You Bet Against Them?|
|By Richard B. Valentine
In handicapping maiden races, we are often faced with the problem of first-time starters. Over the years many experts have advised us to simply skip races where first timers are entered.
Should we? Let’s take a look.
In this study, comprised of 20,000 maiden races, we we have broken the starters into three categories:
The first thing we notice is that 3,042 of the winners, about 15%, were first-time starters. In addition, the $net (which represents the average return for each $2.00 wagered) is about the same. The win percentage of FTS is lower, but they make up for it with a higher average mutuel.
What happens if we break the races into maiden special weights and maiden claiming?
In the above table of 10,000 maiden special weight races, we see a slightly more extreme pattern. Here almost 20% of the races were won by FTS, but the $net has dropped to $1.32, a loss of 34% of each wagered dollar! Notice, also, that the win percentage has hardly changed (from 8.3 to 8.4 percent).
And what about the 10,000 maiden claiming races in our sample?
In the this sample we see that the $net actually went up slightly, from $1.51 to $1.55.
In conclusion, we would say that, while first-time starters have an impact on the races, they are certainly not to be feared. In the environment where they win most often, maiden special weight races, they actually have a positive influence on your wallet because they draw “wasted money” into the pool.