Friday, May 4, 2012

Kentucky Derby Preview

Apparently we got a bunch of hits for this picture last year... might as well include it again!
With the Kentucky Derby coming up tomorrow, it's time to resurrect Gym Class All Stars' horse racing coverage for the 2nd year. If you were one of our early readers last year, you'll remember that my Triple Crown picks were nothing short of disastrous, as each winner came from one of my "Stay Away" picks - oops. (To see the carnage from last year, click here, here, or here).

So, what are some takeaways from last year? Here's a few:

1) Because all of the entries are 3-year olds, these horses all have minimal experience, so historical results should be evaluated with caution.
2) With a massive field of 20 entries, absolutely anything can happen.
3) The fact that this is the race with the largest "public" betting must be considered.

Considering these lessons, my picks strategy this year will focus on finding value rather than thinking too hard about jockey/trainer combinations and past results. In particular, I think the greatest value will be found in those horses with "mid-range" odds. The longshots are probably going to be bet down by the betting public (since the public loves the underdogs and is rooting for a big payday). The favorites will also get plenty of action, so that should leave the middle-of-the-pack horses as the undervalued picks.

One other interesting tidbit before getting to the horse-by-horse rundown. In the last ten Kentucky Derbies, if you placed a $2 win bet on every single horse, you would have generated a profit in 4 out of the 10 years:

2002 War Emblem: $43.00 payout - $36.00 bets = $7.00 profit
2005 Giacomo: $102.60 payout - $40.00 bets = $62.60 profit
2009 Mine that Bird: $103.20 payout - $38.00 bets = $65.20 profit
2011 Animal Kingdom: $43.80 payout - $38.00 bets = $5.80 profit

In fact, if you actually placed $2 win bets on every horse entered in the last ten years, you still would have ended up positive (by $1.20) thanks to Animal Kingodm's victory last year. This is truly a testament that anything can happen in the Derby, so read on at your own risk.

High Potential

3 - Take Charge Indy (15-1): I like the "mid-range" odds, and you can never count out Calvin Borel; just hope that the Borel factor doesn't bet down the final line too much
5 - Dullahan (8-1): Wish the odds were a little higher (4th favorite right now), but seems to be peaking at the right time
8 - Creative Cause (12-1): Love the odds, beat the favorite (Bodemeister) back in March
10 - Daddy Nose Best (15-1): Another "mid-range" odds pick, strong jockey/trainer combination, coming off two wins (although against weaker fields)
11 - Alpha (15-1): Good odds, nice results, post position shouldn't be a problem
13 - Went the Day Well (20-1): Nice payout potential, exact same jockey/trainer/owner as last year's winner Animal Kingdom
14 - Hansen (10-1): Has won big on this track (Breeders' Cup Juvenile), consistent results, undervalued?


1 - Daddy Long Legs (30-1): Coming off a huge $1.2 million win in Dubai, and the odds are tempting, but post position is a killer.
4 - Union Rags (9-2): Odds don't give much value; with 20 horses, might get pinned in like last time out and leave him with no chance
6 - Bodemeister (4-1): The favorite - would be the first horse in 120 years to win the Derby without running as a 2-year old, but who knows? Not much value as a win pick, but definitely a consideration for the exotics
12 - Prospective (30-1): A couple of wins in 2012, but hasn't shown up for the biggest races; at least he has experience racing on this track before
15 - Gemologist (6-1): Undefeated, experience at Churchill, but not sure the odds justify a pick
19 - I'll Have Another (12-1): Like the odds, good momentum, but hasn't even touched Churchill Downs surface before, and will have to come from way outside

Stay Aways

2 - Optimizer (50-1): Last horse to sneak into the field, ran poorly last time out
7 - Rousing Sermon (50-1): Hasn't won this year, odds are not tempting enough
9 - Trinniberg (50-1): Sprinter who has never run the 1 1/4 miles, so probably will run out of gas?
16 - El Padrino (20-1): Has the "stats" (100 Beyer Score), but seems to have peaked too early
17 - Done Talking (50-1): First time at Derby for trainer and jockey; very inconsistent results
18 - Sabercat (30-1): Has struggled recently, nothing special?
20 - Liaison (50-1): Would have to come from way outside, best results were last year

The Picks:

$2 Win - 8 (Creative Cause), 10 (Daddy Nose Best), 11 (Alpha), 14 (Hansen)
$2 Exacta Box - 11, 14 (Alpha, Hansen)
$2 Exacta Box - 8, 11 (Creative Cause, Alpha)
$1 Exacta box - 8, 11, 14 (Creative Cause, Alpha, Hansen)
$1 Exacta Box - 3, 5, 11 (Take Charge Indy, Dullahan, Alpha)
$0.10 Superfecta Box - 8, 10, 11, 14

Total Bets: $30.40

Other Fun Bets To Consider: This year's Derby has one "also eligible" for the first time (My Adonis). Since I'm a homer, I would probably throw at least a $2 Show bet on My Adonis if he's able to sneak into the race. The last time I ignored a New Jersey-based horse with the same owner/trainer combo, Ruler on Ice won the Belmont Stakes.

Another fun bet would be the 1, 10 Exacta Box (Daddy Long Legs, Daddy Nose Best). The call down the stretch would be reminiscent of this race a few years ago:

Video courtesy of,


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