Kentucky Derby Analysis by Mike B.
Some recent Kentucky Derby history:
5 favorites in a row
10 favorites since 2000
14 since 1991 - 14/27 = 51.9%
Lowest payout 2-1
Why is this significant?
For any bettor, the Kentucky Derby offers the best chance to make money, by far, of any sporting event for the entire year. Let me underscore the "BY FAR" portion of that sentence. The Super Bowl may get all the hype, but the pari-mutuel betting model of horse racing on the sport's biggest day of the year allows shrewd bettors to take advantage of bad betting trends. There will be close to $150 million wagered on the Kentucky Derby alone. All of that money wagered in the states is combined into the same pool. These huge betting pools directly affect the odds of each horse in real time, and as you watch dumb money get pumped in on dog horses, this creates a huge value added to the horses with the very best chances to win. As mentioned above, that's better than 50% of the time the absolute best horse in the field has been winning, and yet the worst you could do is triple up your money! At no point, in any sport, in any game, in any wagering situation, under any circumstance are you afforded such an opportunity. You would be a damn fool to not at least grit your teeth and throw $10 on every stone-cold favorite every year, and in the long run you will make money. Period.
The Pick: Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn, a Kentucky bred colt, has won in the U.A.E., Britain, Ireland, and the U.S. He's won on dirt. He's won on grass. He's won on poly. He's won 3 stakes races in a row including the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf in Del Mar. His last race in the UAE Derby (ridden by Ryan L. Moore who’s riding him Saturday) set a track record by more than a full second and beat a Grade 2 field by 18 lengths. Oh yeah, and he posted a 106 Beyer Speed Figure in that effort which is only a record for any horse going into the first leg of the Triple Crown. All too good to be true, right?
Well, we always need to keep in mind that these are living, breathing animals, and they are affected by travel and jet lag just like me or you. This begs the question; how does he handle the plane ride over from the U.A.E.? It is certainly possible is messes with him and as a result he may not have enough in the tank to get down the stretch against a serious field and in front of 170,000 screaming drun...err uhh, lovely and well-mannered fans. In fact, no horse being transported over from the U.A.E. Derby has ever won the Kentucky Derby, and they are a collective 0-13. This is almost certainly the reason Mendelssohn isn't the chalk pick for this year's Run for the Roses.
However, this is not your average, run of the mill horse. This is a serious, major league horse who just looks way too good for his likely post price. His opening line was 5-1, but he could really go off as high as 8-1. A special thanks to all the east coast and offshore millionaires that dump stupid money on this race to horses that have no chance. We're happy to take your money. This colt has only been getting better as he races more, and you will never get a better price than what you will get on Saturday. For reference, there are offshore books in England (so not part of the pari-mutuel pools) that are listing him as a 2-1 favorite of the field. For those who don’t know, just realize those guys are extremely sharp handicappers.
One large factor is the weather and track conditions. It appears it will rain a lot on Friday with perhaps some carry over into Saturday morning. We noted that Mendelssohn is extremely versatile so this isn’t a deal breaker per se, but it adds many unknown variables into the equation. This includes the speed and consistency of the track. For the average bettor, take note about the speed of the track. If the track is fast, then hammer away on Mendelssohn. If the track is off, then probably dial it back from a money management standpoint.
The bet: $100 total
$20 across on Mendelssohn
$20 Exacta-Box Mendelssohn-Justify (others to potentially stack on top of Mendelssohn in exactas include Magnaum Moon, My Boy Jack (who will be closing), Audible, and Solomini … Remember what we said about the betting pools. They are so large that you can make these multiple combination exotics and if you hit any of them they will pay you off. These are not hedges. You are simply giving yourself multiple ways to get paid.)
If Mendelssohn-Justify land 1-2 as we suggest, look to make better than 10-1 on your total $100 bet. If you can find a better return on a wager when picking the best a field has to offer, I am all ears. Best of luck!