What are the odds?
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:
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.