Monday, May 9, 2011

Kentucky Derby Recap

Out of the theoretical bets I had at the end of last post, only my $2 Show bet on Mucho Macho Man paid off ($7.00 payout), for a total net loss of $21.40 (-76.4%), ouch. I was done in by a horse on my "No Chance" list (Animal Kingdom) somehow winning the race even though many of the historical precedents pointed against him:

- Racing on dirt for the first time
- Running only his fifth race ever
- Coming off an extended 6-week layoff
- Multiple jockey switches (although if I had known John Velazquez was going to end up with the mount I might have given Animal Kingdom more consideration)

On the plus side, 6 out of the 7 horses on my "Definite Potential" list finished in the top 11, and at least the four that I liked the most (Dialed In, Pants on Fire, Twice the Appeal, Soldat) did finish in consecutive order...too bad it was 8th place to 11th place!

Any way, I think I've learned that the Derby is probably too big of a crapshoot to find consistent value since the field ever year is huge and the horses are all young with minimal past experience, but it's still fun to speculate each year.

Hopefully one day I'll actually get out to Lousiville to watch the Derby in person, but watching in HD isn't a bad alternative. The Derby is labeled as the most exciting two minutes in sports, but this creates a problem for NBC each year having to create filler for their coverage. Some thoughts on the filler coverage this year:

- The coverage always consists of the crowd singing of "My Old Kentucky Home" before the race. This year's singing featured repeated shots of Joey Fatone in some luxury suite??

- The coverage also features awkward interviews with the owners/trainers walking from the paddock to the track with their horses. They always have their kids walking with them (tradition I guess?), and I always feel bad for the sideline reporters because the owners/trainers are too nervous/excited to offer up anything insightful. At least no one was on crutches this year like two years ago when Mine That Bird's trainer decided to make the walk even though he had a broken leg.

- Speaking of sideline reporters, I have to give some extra respect to the horseback sideline reporter (Donna Brothers for NBC) who interviews the jockeys right before and right after the race. She has to to concentrate on asking the questions and holding the microphone in position all while making sure her horse keeps pace and doesn't run off. This year NBC also had a helmet cam, so somehow she had to make sure that was pointed correctly too...pretty crazy. I hope she gets paid as much as the NBA sideline reporters (Craig Sager, uggh).

- I also enjoy NBC giving one fan a chance to put in a $100,000 Win bet each year. Last year the guy actually picked Super Saver correctly and won almost $1 million, and he was back this year standing in the background whenever they checked in with this year's lucky fan. I also like the serious guy they have hanging around carrying a gold briefcase with the $100k in cash. He always looks really worried that someone's going to jump him for the cash, even though there are armed guards surrounding them.

Well, with the 2011 Derby over, the focus now switches to the Preakness. Almost as soon as the race was over, Gary Stevens proclaimed that Animal Kingdom would really like the surface at Pimlico, so I guess that means he has a chance? It's been a few years since we had a Triple Crown possibility going into the Belmont, so hopefully Gary's right. With a bunch of the Derby contenders dropping out, the field should be much more manageable to analyze, but there will probably a few new contenders too. Hopefully I can actually come up with some winning bets next time!


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