• What are the odds?

    POSTED Apr 9, 2012
    As much as the racing March 31-April 1 juggled the Kentucky Derby picture, the action on April 7 mostly held up the status quo, as nothing that happened in the Illinois Derby, Santa Anita Derby, or Wood Memorial inspired me to change my top nine horses o
    As much as the racing March 31-April 1 juggled the Kentucky Derby picture, the action on April 7 mostly held up the status quo, as nothing that happened in the Illinois Derby, Santa Anita Derby, or Wood Memorial inspired me to change my topnine horses on the Road to Louisville, though I did usurp Mark Valeski in tenth with Rousing Sermon just because I like the latter's two-year-old form and style to maybe land in the gimmicks at a huge price if he gets in.

    Overall I was more impressed with the Santa Anita Derby than the Wood Memorial, though that's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy since I've said for the past few weeks that I think the better group of horses is out West. I haven't been high on Alpha all year, so Gemologist barely beating him doesn't really get the juices flowing. It's possible that both Wood horses are better than I'm giving them credit for, and if that's the case then I'll be a likely loser come May 5 (if Gemologist or Alpha does win then hopefully it's Rousing Sermon finishing second).

    One of the more interesting discussions to erupt after Saturday's action was not about who is most likely to win the Kentucky Derby but who the public would think is most likely to win. With the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby still to go plus three weeks of preparation after that, several things can happen to change the odds:
    ·        Upsets in either race
    o       If a horse who needed a win to get in the Derby wins then he is likely 15- or 20-to-1 at best for the Derby, but that means a 50-to-1 bubble horse might be out, which means the price(s) on the favorite(s) go(es) up as well. This is a good thing supporters of horses like Union Rags, Gemologist, etc.
    ·        Hansen airmails
    o       Union Rags’ third-place finish left Hansen a logical alternative among individual interests inpool 3 of the future wager, and even though he was 8.4-to-1 that day, I think he’d need to win the Blue Grass impressively to be 8-to-1 on May 5. 10-to-1 seems more likely with a solid effort.
    ·        Bodemeister wins
    o       Bodemeister needs an Arkansas Derby win to clinch a Derby stall, but such a win would not be an upset. If he’s not favored in the Arkansas Derby he’ll be among the top choices. A truly remarkable performance not only gets him to Kentucky but also makes him one of the top choices.
    ·        Secret Circle dominates
    o       Secret Circle is probably the most under-the-radar Bob Baffert-trainer colt with multiple stakes wins in the history of the Hall of Fame conditioner’s career. Most horses with Secret Circle’s resume for this trainer would be an overwhelming favorite for the Derby at this stage, but Secret Circle just can’t seem to shake the idea that he’s a sprinter. It doesn’t help that back in February Jason Shandler and Brad Free both quoted Baffert as saying that Secret Circle isn’t a Derby horse. Still, a big win in Arkansas certainly would suppress his price.

    The big question with any of the above scenarios is to figure out as prices change whether the longshots get longer or the favorites do. Recent history tells us that the crowd is reticent to send horses off at higher than 60-to-1 odds—even on horses who should be 200-to-1. Three horses at 50-to-1 who should be 60-to-1 each means a horse who should pay $14 to win might pay $15. Yes,the favorite-longshot bias is alive and well in the Kentucky Derby.

    So here’s a first look at how I think the odds will shake out on May 5. I’ve left three spots blank and averaged them out to 30-to-1 because I already have three horses at 50-to-1 and if any of those horses don’t go then their replacements (e.g. Mark Valeski, El Padrino) are likely to be less odds. Rousing Sermon is an exception since he’d be 40-to-1 or more.

    It’s crazy to think that the favorite could be 7-to-1 in this race, but unlike most years when that would be a damning statement, for me this year it’s a testament of how strong this group is. If I were to make Union Rags and Gemologist both 5-to-1 and Take Charge Indy, the top two from the Santa Anita Derby, and Hansen 8-to-1 then the odds elsewhere skyrocket, and that’s if Bodemeister and Secret Circle don’t impress.

    C and H said...

    Are these morning line or post-time odds?

    Unknown said...

    They're what I think will be the post-time odds, so in that way they're *my* morning line.

    Put another way, I'm projecting how I think the public will bet, not what I think the morning line would be (though you could argue it's what I think the morning line should be!).

    Mike D said...

    I think the presence of Borel will put TCI closer to the leaders. Twice the Appeal was 8-1 last year, and he was legitimately 50-1.

    Unknown said...

    Mike: Presence of Borel or a female jockey definitely deflates win odds.

    One thing I'd love to see more of is runner totals for exotic bets. Who takes the most money in doubles, pick Ns, exactas, etc.? The double will pays from the Oaks and Woodford Reserve are probably better barometers of true odds than the win pool since there's so much casual money in the win pool.

    Look at Animal Kingdom last year. There's no way he was that price (20.90-to-1) in the top of trifectas considering what it paid--top two choices out in a 19-horse field, and it "only" came back 1,975.20-to-1.

    Anonymous said...

    Don't see any way that Alpha is 16-1 off his Wood Memorial. He will take plenty of wise guy money of the trouble he had on the first turn. 8-1 there.

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