• The Worst ‘Overlay’ in History

    POSTED May 16, 2014
    Ever since California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby in a time rivalled by wooden horses on a merry-go-round, the dissenters have been out in force.

    Racing fans and pundits alike have been quick to label California Chrome as “overrated” or “the best of a bad lot.” Hence, it should come as no surprise that nine rivals have lined up to challenge the Derby champ in the Preakness Stakes, including seven who did not compete in Louisville.

    Now, I’m no chalk-eating weasel and I applaud those who perpetually look for legitimate knocks against short-priced favorites — in any race. But I must admit to rolling my eyes a bit when folks claim that they are “looking for value” by eschewing the Derby winner.

    Value is not determined solely by price.

    One makes a profit at the races by betting on propositions that offer odds over and above their “real,” or actual, odds — period. If a horse has a 90 percent chance of visiting the winner’s circle, a win bet at 2-5 odds is a great wager. Conversely, an exacta that stands to pay $100 for a buck is a horrible bet if the combination is likely to connect fewer times than Donald Sterling at an NBA meet-and-greet.

    The fact of the matter is the Derby runners (and California Chrome in particular) are holding all the aces when it comes to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

    In the past 50 years, horses that did not compete in the Run for the Roses are just 7-for-242 (2.9 percent) at Pimlico. Horses that did compete in the most exciting two minutes in sports have won 43 times (16.6 percent) during that span.

    And it gets even worse if the “new shooter” did not win its last race, as only Bee Bee Bee (1972) and Red Bullet (2000) managed to capture the Preakness after failing to get the job done in their previous start. Worse, just nine percent of these horses have even hit the board in Baltimore.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Which brings me to Social Inclusion, everybody’s upset special in this year’s Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.

    Simply put, I think Social Inclusion may be the worst “value” play in the history of organized horse racing.

    Look, I get it: next to California Chrome (the Derby notwithstanding), the son of Pioneerof the Nile has the best overall speed figures in the field. But to understand why I think Social Inclusion is such a terrible bet in the Preakness Stakes, we have to dig deeper:

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    This is a horse that has never been headed early and, according to his connections, he’ll be on the engine again in Maryland… yet he’s not very quick. His early speed rations (ESRs) rank fourth in the Preakness field — behind California Chrome, Pablo Del Monte and Ring Weekend. And the only time he met today’s late speed (LSR) par was when he set a dawdling pace (0 ESR) in an allowance win at the notoriously speed-favoring Gulfstream Park.

    2013 WIRE-TO-WIRE RATES (main track)

    Aqueduct (AQU): 26 percent at 1-1/8 miles (23 races).
    Gulfstream Park (GP): 27 percent at 1-1/16 miles (97 races).
    Pimlico (PIM): 20 percent in all routes (100 races).

    Then there’s that stat I shared before: Non-Derby starters who didn’t win their last start are just two-for-144 in the Preakness over the past 50 years. And 5-1 (according to the morning line) is value on Social Inclusion? Value? (Picture Jim Mora asking the question to get the full effect of what I’m saying here.)

    If you’re seeking “new shooters” that have a chance at a good price, look at Dynamic Impact, Bayern or — one I really like — Kid Cruz. And, of course, don’t forget about the other Derby starters: General A Rod and Ride On Curlin.

    History has shown that they’re the ones that typically offer the real value.

    My Plays:

    EXACTA BOX 1,2,3,5,7,10.
    TRIFECTA 3 with 2,7,10 with 1,2,5,7,10.

    To get my Win Factor and Pace Profile Reports for ALL of Saturday's races at Pimlico, click HERE.

    Matty the Bartender said...

    - Great Analysis As Always. I'm Going 3,10 with 2,7,3,10 with 1,2,3,5,7,10 in my Trifecta.

    Klocker said...

    You're boxing 6 in the exacta? If CC finishes 1 or 2 that's an automatic losing wager.

    TonyP said...

    the derby favorites list shows Califonia Chrome as finishing 3rd in kentucky derby going to win bet Chrome for a fan if I played an ex would put arod and kid cruz underneath

    Derek Simon said...

    I also had Orb finishing second on that chart (wishful thinking given that I liked Golden Soul? LOL).

    I fixed the mistakes. Thanks Tony!

    Derek Simon said...

    Klocker, the idea behind the exacta bet is to profit slightly if California Chrome doesn't win and post (probably) a 50%-60% loss if he does. I disagree with you that the wager is an automatic loser if Chrome places -- I'm keeping the likely second choice (Social Inclusion) off all my tickets -- but obviously I will be watching the board.

    Furthermore, the trifecta bet is there for a reason. If California Chrome wins, I hope to make up for any exacta loss with that wager.

    The reality is, if you like California Chrome to win, you have to find a way to make better than 62.5% (3-5 odds) on your bet to exceed what you would make on a win bet (again, the odds should dictate one's ultimate strategy).

    Klocker said...

    You lost $9 for every $1 wagered on that exacta. There's no shame in losing but the problem I have with this wager is boxing 6 horses in a 10 horse field isn't handicapping. If you wanted to make better than 3-5 then you should have bet the tri and super, not the exacta. I didn't look at the probables near post time so I don't know how many of your possible winning combination would have made you what you were looking for. My guess is it wasn't many if CC was there.

    Derek Simon said...

    Klocker, your math is WAY off. The loss on the exacta box (69.7 cents per dollar) WAS more than I anticipated (50-60 cent per dollar), but it was nowhere near the $9 per sawbuck that you came up with.

    I won't argue your second point — a six-horse exacta box definitely is NOT handicapping — but, as I stated previously, it was part of a broader strategy… a strategy that would have come to fruition had General A Rod not been shuffled back on the far turn, thereby costing him the show.

    That said, as we both know, would-coulda-shoulda scenarios don’t pay the bills, so I’ll just have to take my lumps on this one and move on.

    Klocker said...

    That's all we can do no matter how well we wager. But correct me on the math please. A $1, 6 horse ex box cost $30. The $1 ex paid $9. So the bet lost $21 for every $1 wager. If it was a $10 6 horse box you would lose $210. No??

    Derek Simon said...

    I focus on ROI and ROI is always expressed as a net dollar amount or a percentage. The total bet was $30, not $1.

    Also, this bet was part of an overall strategy -- scaling it up ARBITRARILY was NOT what I intended anyone to do. In retrospect, I should have listed the exacta as a $1 bet and the trifecta as a $2 bet, as that was my planned bet (in reality, I wound up keying California Chrome on top in all of my wagers... and I STILL lost because I didn't have Social Inclusion in my tri).

    Klocker said...

    I just wanted to prove my math wasn't "way off". When I said for every $1 wagered you lost $21 I wasn't wrong. I didn't phrase it correctly. I meant for every $1 box ($30) you lost $21.

    Derek Simon said...

    Understood and appreciated. Thanks for the comments. Good luck on the Belmont!

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