• Crystal Ball

    POSTED Feb 9, 2012
    My TwinSpires blog colleague Derek Simon inspired me to post my own line for Pool 1 of the 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands future wager, which opens Friday, February 10, and closes Sunday, February 12.

    I've included Derek's "fair odds" to compare with the prices I'm willing to take, and we clearly have some disagreement with Empire Way leading the way, as Derek lists him at 100-to-1 while he's one of the few I'd take a shorter price on.
    Judging by the morning line, Empire Way is likely to be a horse I bet, though Union Rags interests me a great deal at 10-to-1. I've never taken that short a price this far out, but he is absolutely the fastest horse to date. He wouldn't need to improve between now and May to win the Derby, and any improvement makes him a Triple Crown threat against this group.

    That said, the vagaries of Derby wagering make taking a short price this far out extra precarious because any misstep on the trail knocks a three-year-old's Derby day odds down significantly. Most recently we've seen this with Monarchos in 2001 and Super Saver in 2010. Both lost their final Derby preps before winning the Derby and both paid more in pool 3 of the future wager than either paid following pool 1.

    A similar situation could happen with Union Rags. He could be 10-to-1 now, lose the FL Derby and be that same 10-to-1 price in pool 3. It's no fun to accept two months of exposure with no reward.

    So for that reason I'm unlikely to venture into anything too low, but if I have a winning Saturday then it'll be hard not to parlay some of it on my favorites for the Derby. I do like looking at the 40- and 50-to-1 range because I can bet $25-$20 to win $1,000. It's a nice reward for relatively low risk, but I never look to get too rich off it because of the variance involved in betting on outcomes that have a less than 5% chance of happening. Day in and day out, I'd much rather hammer a 3-to-1 horse who I think should be 2-to-1.

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