April 30, 2010

Kentucky Oaks - Blind Luck's last to first victory

What a rousing start to Derby weekend with heavy favorite (and yet another Oaklawn Park graduate) Blind Luck ridden confidently by Rafael Bejarano from dead last to first by the slimmest of margins on the line. I never thought she would get there in time considering the slow fractions of the race. But clearly the Churchill strip was still a tad thick from the rains earlier in the week. A similar slow pace led to another shocking defeat of Rachel Alexandra earlier in the race card. After Rachel shared the dawdling pace of :24.79, :48.81 and 1:12.53 (all at least a full second slower than her remarkably consistent splits from last year), she still couldn't hold off the stalker Unrivaled Belle through the stretch, losing by a headbob. Based on Steve Asmussen's definition of running her "only if I was sure she was going to win," I don't see how they could even return her to the track with a pretty salty mare division shaping up this season. But I digress.

Speaking of rain, even though there are forecasts for rain about every three years on Derby day (yet it rarely leads to a "sloppy" or "muddy" track), it appears that this year may be the real deal with flash flooding alerts Saturday and Sunday for Louisville. Several people told me today that they listened to the radio and DJs were talking about betting the mudders. In my opinion, this is about the most over-hyped betting angle for this particular race, since most of these horses have never even ran on an off surface and many others have run as much on synthetics and/or turf as dirt. So this angle may apply better to a race for older horses who have multiple races on an "off" track to sample from. Regardless, this will surely impact the wagering as many "average joes" will be betting this race rather than your hard core New Yorker OTB bookie.

Take a peak at how the odds have already been affected by the first day of action for The Derby...

Kentucky Derby advance-wagering odds:

(No., Horse, Odds)
1. Lookin At Lucky, 9-1
2. Ice Box, 11-1
3. Noble's Promise, 21-1
4. Super Saver, 7-1
5. Line of David, 15-1
6. Stately Victor, 16-1
7. American Lion, 25-1
8. Dean's Kitten, 18-1
9. Make Music for Me, 25-1
10. Paddy O'Prado, 11-1
11. Devil May Care, 11-1
12. Conveyance, 25-1
13. Jackson Bend, 22-1
14. Mission Impazible, 24-1
15. Discreetly Mine, 41-1
16. Awesome Act, 13-1
17. Dublin, 21-1
18. Backtalk, 20-1
19. Homeboykris, 17-1
20. Sidney's Candy, 11-1
Total win pool, $340,544

As you can see, there are some juicy odds out there and multiple overlays with expected favorites. But even a better indication than current pari-mutuel win pool is the established Oaks-Derby double pool, where the professional gamblers have already tipped their cards. The win pools seem to be the preferred choice of the locals who came out today and made all their Derby bets since they will sell their boxes for Derby Day for tens of thousands of dollars. Thus, the first day odds are usually atypical of the core betting patterns. (It seems like local hero General Quarters was a favorite last yeat at this time.) In the "smart money" camp, the favorites (in order) are Lookin at Lucky, Awesome Act, Sidney's Candy, Super Saver and Ice Box. Keep this in mid as you make your selections tomorrow.

Until then, as Robin Leach used to say, "may you have 'mint julep' kisses and 'Derby pie' dreams...

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