This week in horse racing: Landscape shifts to Churchill, Belmont

By Jeremy Plonk  ( 

April 26, 2022 08:47 PM

With the Run for the Roses less than two weeks away, the Kentucky racing scene shifts from Keeneland to Churchill Downs on Saturday. Meanwhile, Aqueduct’s winter season has passed the baton to Belmont Park in New York. Be sure to check out Point Spread Weekly and next week for an in-depth Kentucky Derby preview.

For those betting Belmont and Churchill Downs this week, the Betmix database offers several handicapping pointers. Here are some April/May statistics since 2018:

Belmont Park

— Percentage of winning favorites: 38.9%

— Average win odds: 4.79-1

— Top jockeys: John Velazquez (25%), Jose Ortiz (22%), Irad Ortiz Jr. (21%), Jose Lezcano (20%), Joel Rosario (20%)

— Top trainers: Wesley Ward (38%), Brad Cox (38%), Chad Brown (26%), Jeremiah Englehart (23%), Christophe Clement (20%), Todd Pletcher (20%) 

— Win percentage by last track: Churchill Downs (27%), Keeneland (25%), Gulfstream Park (17%), Oaklawn (15%), Fair Grounds (15%), Aqueduct (12%)

Churchill Downs

— Percentage of winning favorites: 33.7%

— Average win odds: 5.51-1

— Top jockeys: Irad Ortiz (24%), John Velazquez (22%), Tyler Gaffalione (19%), Gerardo Corrales (18%), Florent Geroux (17%), Ricardo Santana (17%)

— Top trainers: Wesley Ward (25%), Brad Cox (24%), Eddie Kenneally (24%), Rusty Arnold (24%), Tom Amoss (23%), Al Stall Jr. (22%), Chad Brown (22%)

— Win percentage by last track: Belmont (16%), Keeneland (13%), Oaklawn (13%), Fair Grounds (13%), Aqueduct (10%), Gulfstream (9%), Tampa Bay Downs (8%), Indianapolis (8%), Turfway Park (7%)

What to Watch for This Week

Beginning Friday, download the free 1/ST BET Kentucky Derby Wager Guide for in-depth analysis of the contenders, stats histories, workout reports, artificial intelligence and more from respected national handicappers. Visit for your copy ... has free workout videos and analysis of Kentucky Derby contenders … After taking a week off to refresh its turf course, Santa Anita returns and offers four major stakes on Saturday, including the Grade 2 $225,000 Charlie Whittingham on turf … Golden Gate Fields’ biggest race of the year, the Grade 3 $250,000 San Francisco Mile, will be renewed Saturday. The Bay Area track will offer a combined eight stakes races Saturday and Sunday … Lone Star Park near Dallas opens its 2022 season this week.

Friday Weekend Firestarter

Keeneland closes its spring meet Friday with star turf mare War Like Goddess headlining the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes in Race 8. War Like Goddess, the defending champ in the Bewitch, has won four of five races with a narrow loss in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She’s making her first start of the year here. Let’s pair her up in a daily double parlaying Races 8 and 9 to Canadian Pride, a California shipper training well since arriving at Keeneland a few weeks ago. That’s 4-7 in Races 8 and 9 for those playing along at home.

1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week

The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:

— Fonner Park: 46%

— Mountaineer Park: 42%

— Will Rogers Downs: 39%

— Aqueduct: 38%

— Evangeline Downs: 32%

Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.)

— Fonner Park: 59%

— Mountaineer Park: 54%

— Penn National: 50%

— Oaklawn Park: 45%

— Hawthorne: 44%

Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher)

— Gulfstream Park: 7

— Oaklawn Park: 7

— Aqueduct: 5

— Charles Town: 5

— Tampa Bay Downs: 5

— Sunray Park: 5

America’s hot jockeys last week

— Kevin Roman (12-21, 40%), Fonner Park

— Vicente Del-Cid (9-25, 36%), Evangeline Downs

— Angel Diaz (6-17, 35%), Mountaineer Park

— Harry Hernandez (8-24, 33%), Turf Paradise

— Armando Ayuso (4-12, 33%), Golden Gate Fields

America’s hot trainers last week

— Arnaud Delacour (4-5, 80%), Keeneland, Laurel, Tampa Bay Downs

— Isai Gonzalez (9-17, 53%), Fonner Park

— Keiron Magee (4-7, 57%), Laurel Park Charles Town

— Doug O’Neill (4-7, 57%), Golden Gate Fields, Keeneland

— Chad Brown (4-10, 50%), Aqueduct, Keeneland

Contest Scene Heads West

Handicapping contest players at can take part Friday and Saturday in the Golden Gate Fields-Santa Anita Challenge. The events begin with an $80 Friday Golden Gate Fields feeder contest that precedes Saturday’s $500 buy-in tournament that includes cash prizes and an NHC berth. For details, visit

Statistics courtesy of

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