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    Comparing Odds (05/27/14)

    John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
    By John Ewing
    Comparing California Chrome's odds to win the Triple Crown to Johnny Manziel, the Cavs winning the NBA lottery and more. Odds courtesy of Bovada.lv.




    Early Vegas odds for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, released last fall, had California Chrome as a 300 to 1 longshot. Odds be damned, the colt not only won The Run for the Roses but is now the favorite to win Horse Racing's first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

    If California Chrome's odds to win the first leg of the Triple Crown were 300 to 1, what were the thoroughbred's odds to win horse racing's crown jewel last fall? Kevin Bradley, Sportsbook Manager for Bovada.lv, estimates the racehorse with a modest pedigree would have been 3,000 to 1 to win the Triple Crown.

    Those staggering odds imply that California Chrome had a 0.03 percent chance of winning the Triple Crown. To put those odds in perspective, we look back at some other longshots in sports that took the money.

    The UConn Huskies winning the 2014 NCAA Tournament

    The Huskies were 66 to 1 (45 times more likely than California Chrome's odds to win the Triple Crown) to win the title before March Madness began. Entering the Sweet 16, UConn was still a considerable underdog, 28 to 1, with top seeds Florida, Arizona, and Virginia still in the tournament.

    Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman

    Johnny Football became the first freshman in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The Cleveland Browns' first round pick was 150 to 1 (20 times more likely than Chrome) to win the award before the season began.

    Adrian Peterson winning the NFL Most Valuable Player Award

    Peterson not only rushed for 2,097 yards, the second most in NFL history, he did so in his first season following reconstructive knee surgery. Midway through the 2012 campaign, AP had rushed for 775 yards. Peterson's odds at the time were 125 to 1 (24 times more likely than Chrome) to win the MVP Award.

    Los Angeles Kings winning the 2014 Stanley Cup

    This is yet to be determined but the Kings were down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Los Angeles rallied to win the series and is battling the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. On the brink of elimination against the Sharks, the Kings were 100 to 1 (30 times more likely than Chrome) to win the Stanley Cup.

    The Cavs winning the first pick in the 2011, 2013 and 2014 NBA Draft

    Cleveland's odds of winning the NBA Draft Lottery: 22.7 percent in 2011 (Cleveland's odds plus Clippers pick), 15.6 percent in 2013 and 1.7 percent in 2014. The combined odds of winning all three draft lotteries: ~1,661 to 1. Even the Cavaliers' absurd luck does not compare to California Chrome's odds to win the Triple Crown.

    Here is hoping that California Chrome can become the next longshot to defy the odds.


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