Thursday, May 16
LAS VEGAS – Two weeks ago in my column, I gave advice to novice horseplayers to not just go with the crowd and bet the “most-likely winner” in the Kentucky Derby as the longshots come in just as often.
That seemed to have backfired when Orb went off as the 5/1 betting favorite in the 19-horse field and won in convincing fashion.
So, yes, if you were just betting to win and weren’t trying to make a big score like we usually see from the exotic wagering on Derby Day, then you came up empty. However, the fact is that most of the day another horse, Revolutionary, was the betting favorite and as the race drew closer, you would have had to guess which was going to be the favorite so there’s no guarantee you would have made the right choice if trying to be conservative.
I feel further vindicated that looking for longshots on big-racing days like the Derby is usually the way to go by the fact that Golden Soul ran second and was the reason the payoffs were so high in the exotic pools: $981.60 for a $2 exacta, $1,731.40 for a 50-cent trifecta with Revolutionary running third, and $28,542 for a $1 superfecta (first four finishers). Even though Golden Soul didn’t win the race and will be a difficult trivia question such as “Who finished second to Orb in the 2013 Derby?”, he was the horse that most bettors needed to find in order to make a score. In fact, in the forums on my ViewFromVegas.com website, we had a free contest where entrants made $200 in mythical wagers on the races. Even with the favorite winning, only 5 of the 95 players ended up showing a profit.
Now, having said all that, the Preakness – being run this Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland – is the exception to my rule about looking for live longshots on big-race days. As opposed to the Derby with its history of longshots and huge payoffs, the Preakness has been much more formful. The last 48 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 39.6 percent of the time. And that actually doesn’t include last year when I’ll Have Another won the Derby at 15/1 and didn’t get the respect from the morning-linesmaker who made Derby runner-up Bodemeister the favorite. The public went the same way and let I’ll Have Another win at 3/1, though obviously that didn’t lead to many big paydays, especially with Bodemeister running second.
My advice on the Preakness is to still take a shot, but don’t go overboard or attempt to spread your money around trying for a big score because they’re much rarer than on Derby Day.
Orb is deservedly the even-money favorite off his Derby win and undefeated in four starts this year. But even though I respect him and agree he’s the most-likely winner, my top choice is Goldencents at 8/1 on the morning line. For starters, he’s the best speed horse in the race and the shorter distance should suit him better and there’s no real speedballs to push him to a suicidal pace this time (hopefully). Forget this is the Preakness for a second . . . if there’s any 9-horse field where I can get 8/1 on the horse that should be able to control the pace, I’m going to make that bet.
As for Goldencents’ 17th-place finish in the Derby, I’m not worried by that as he was pushed really hard on the front end by Palace Malice and it looked clear to me that jockey Kevin Krigger made the decision to “save him for another day” when he wasn’t going to be able to win. I believe we can throw out that race.
I’m also going to use my losing Derby horse, Itsmyluckyday as I also feel his 15th-place finish can be excused. The longshot I’m going to use with those is Govenor Charlie, a lightly raced colt from the Bob Baffert barn that has a lot of upside. I was eyeing him for the Derby, but obviously Baffert felt he wasn’t ready and aimed him for this spot instead.
Again, I’m not going to go crazy with my bets, but feel free to follow along or find your own approach. It should still be a fun racing day (and look at the undercard races for live longshots as there will be some quality horses going off at longer odds than we normally see just because so much of the public will be loading up on the favorites).
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, 46, 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.