Thursday, May 17
LAS VEGAS – I hate to say I told you so . . . but I TOLD YOU SO.
Two weeks ago in this space, I advised horse racing novices that it’s just as likely for a longshot to win the Kentucky Derby as a favorite so it’s a great race to take a shot to make a score. The Derby isn’t the time to bet the chalk because it’s the safe play.
I’ll Have Another, at odds of 15-1, ran down front-running 4-1 favorite Bodemeister in the stretch and paid $32.60 for a $2 win bet. Due to the 20-horse field and the crapshoot that it can be, the exotics paid well even with the favorite holding on for second: $2 exacta paid $306.60, $2 trifecta paid $3,065.60, $1 superfecta paid $96,092.80 and the $1 Super High Five wasn’t even hit, so if you had been able to line up 19-6-5-13-8 (I’ll Have Another, Bodemeister, 12-1 Dullahan, 30-1 Went the Day Well and 12-1 Creative Cause) on your ticket, you could have taken home the $276,914 all by yourself.
Yep, there’s gold in them thar Derby pools.
I better get off my high horse before someone knocks me off because even though I told you there are plenty of opportunities to win a lot by betting a little in the Derby, I didn’t cash a ticket. I’ll Have Another was my second choice to win the race (and I appreciate the thank-you notes from those who said they did bet him or use him in exactas with Bodemeister or in head-to-head-matchups based on my recommendation) but I didn’t bet him to win (even though I said at the Lucky’s seminar at the Riviera race book the night before the race that the Derby is one of the rare times when it’s an acceptable time to bet more than one horse to win a race) and missed the exotics as the tickets that included Bodemeister didn’t include Dullahan). In deep stretch, my top choice Creative Cause was in third place behind the top two and it was looking like I could hit the potential $3,000 trifecta three times, but then he was passed late by Dullahan and Went the Day Well, so it was a matter of being “so close but yet so far.”
But still, I feel my overall point was made. With these young 3-year-olds, it’s almost always better to try to find the ones that are still developing and improving instead of taking the ones who have been getting all the hype and thus get their odds hammered. And I’m not just saying this because I was high on I’ll Have Another, but it’s also important to note that he wasn’t a horse that came from nowhere. He won the Santa Anita Derby, one of the major prep races, and was still overlooked by the masses because of 20-horse field and an inordinate amount of attention being given to the superstars, Bodemeister and Union Rags and even the undefeated Gemologist (who hadn’t beaten anywhere near the competition that I’ll Have Another had faced).
Obviously, a lot of this is red-boarding (though not as much as other people who hadn’t given I’ll Have Another much of a chance but are now lauding him), but certainly remember it next year at Derby time as well as in the fall when the Breeders’ Cup is run.
OK, so what about the Preakness this Saturday?
As wide-open as the Derby has been over the years with all the huge payoffs, the Preakness is just the opposite. It’s much more formful and we usually see the favorites perform like they’re supposed to. The last 47 times that the Derby winner has run in the Preakness (it’s rare that they don’t, happening just 3 times in the last half-century), they’ve won 19 times or 40.4 percent of the time. Now, you’ve probably heard that I’ll Have Another has been made only the second choice at 5-2 on the morning line behind Bodemeister at 8-5, so historically it could be said that I’ll Have Another would be an overlay at 5-2 when the 40.4 percentage equates to odds of 3-2 against. Conversely, 8-5 is a terrible price on Bodemeister if you want to use history as a guide as only two Derby runner-ups have been able to turn the tables and win the Preakness in the past 50 years.
There were only 11 horses entered in the Preakness, so with just over half as many runners of the Derby, that alone shows you the payoffs are likely to be lower. Shackleford won last year at 13-1 and paid $27.20 for a $2 win bet, but it was only the second time in the last decade that the Preakness winner has paid more than $10. Derby winner Animal Kingdom ran second and the exacta only paid $114. The Preakness exacta hasn’t paid more than $200 since 2002 when Derby winner War Emblem won and 45-1 longshot Magic Weisner got second.
Except for that time, the new shooters in the Preakness haven’t fared too well and none of the five that are entered this year are given much of a chance (I love longshots, and not even I can make a strong case for any of them; if one does fire, I’ll certainly be second-guessing myself).
I’m again putting Creative Cause, 6-1 third choice on the morning line, on top as he was farther off the pace in the Derby but made a big move in the middle of the race to get in contention, a move that might have put him on the lead if he hadn’t had so much traffic to contend with in the beginning of the race. He ran down Bodemeister the last time they faced in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita and lost to I’ll Have Another by just a nose in the Santa Anita Derby, so he’s going to be right there at the finish and I believe is a must-use in all head-to-head matchups if you’re looking at those. I’m putting I’ll Have Another in the second slot (I would say he’s playable in matchups, but obviously you’re laying money with him now, so I’ll pass on those) with Bodemeister third. Even if I hit the trifecta cold, that’s not going to be a life-changing score. To spice up the payoffs, I’m also using Daddy Nose Best at 12-1. He has the right to improve on his Derby performance as he finished 10th and wasn’t expected to come back in the Preakness but his connections were encouraged by his subsequent training so I see that as a sign he’s set for a top effort.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do. Hopefully we’ll meet at the cashier’s window this time.
Dave Tuley is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Las Vegas race & sports beat since 1998, first for the GamingToday newspaper in Vegas and has written for Daily Racing Form since 2000. Tuley started his own website, ViewFromVegas.com, in 2007 and has written for other websites, including ESPN.com. In 2006, he won "Best News Story" by the Professional Football Writers of America, the only time a gambling story has won a PFWA award. Tuley, 45, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is married with children in Vegas. His roots can be seen in the names of his three children: daughters Jordyn and Peyton (named for Walter Payton, not Peyton Manning) and son Maddux. Dave can be followed on Twitter @ViewFromVegas.