Jay Lietzau is in his third season as a horse racing handicapper with the Star Tribune. You can find his picks – and Canterbury Park’s results – here and in the paper’s paper.
Canterbury Park kicks off its 18th season on Saturday and if you want to enjoy a beautiful outdoor event in Minnesota while also having the opportunity to make some real money, then the Oval in Shakopee is the place to be. While there are many different systems for choosing the winners (grandma’s birthday, favorite color, niece’s first name), it’s always better to do some homework before hitting the track.
To help you with that, here are five things to keep in mind when using the Canterbury card as a handicap this summer.
Mac Robertson and Joel Berndt shared the practice title last summer, 35 wins ahead of third-place finisher. Robertson and Berndt always top the training leaderboard and this year should be no different. Most handicappers know this and their horses are usually overwhelmed. In fact, a $2 outright bet on all of their horses in 2022 only yielded a return on investment (ROI) of $1.34 (Robertson) and $1.94 (Berndt). Last year, only two trainers achieved positive ROI, and they were David Van Winkle ($2.56) and Karl Broberg ($2.18). Canterbury veteran Tony Rengstorf also had a good 2022, finishing third in the practice standings, and Tim Padilla did very well last summer, particularly in horse bed stakes races in Minnesota.
Jockeys to watch
Last summer, Harry Hernandez (ROI $1.56) was in Shakopee for the first time, and he looked great at first glance. He dominated the jockey classification with 28 wins more than his closest competitor. Lindey Wade (ROI of $1.38) and Alonso Quinonez (ROI of $1.56) are also returning in 2023 after finishing in the top 5 in the jockey rankings last season. Of the returning jockeys, Ezequiel Lara had the highest ROI at $2.18 so keep an eye on Lara for live long shots.
The inner dirt
Historically, early speed horses have been favored on the clay court – and 2023 will most likely be no different. For the dirt handicap, focus on horses that are either on a lead or a few lengths away. Also favor the jockeys who act aggressively from the start and can secure a favorable position early in the race.
Tips for the lawn
Turf racing usually has the largest fields. Big squares are good for the player as they usually offer higher value. In two-lap turf races, no running style is preferable, so don’t be afraid to step up your game if the price is right. Turf sprint races tend to favor speed due to the short distance (5 furlongs). In the turf racing handicap, pay close attention to the reps. Horses that get into trouble during a race could walk away with a good prize in their next few starts.
When playing horizontal bets (pick 3, pick 4, or pick 5), don’t be afraid to play favorites. The favorites have won at Canterbury by a rate of 41% over the past two summers, which is slightly above the national average. So if you’re having a hard time picking a winner in a race, the fallback solution is to bet on the favorite – and you have a 4 in 10 chance of progressing. Here is a table of all the different bets offered in Canterbury.