05/05/2008 10:22PM



Life goes on:

--Big Brown received a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 winning the Kentucky Derby, which means that runner-up Eight Belles (beaten 4 3/4 lengths) received a 102 and third-place Denis of Cork (beaten 8 1/4) got a 97. The chart below shows how those stack up with the other Derby 1-2-3- finishers of this decade:

It was a slightly tricky figure to make because there was a strong headwind that horses had to race into twice in two-turn races, and the Derby horses did so for 3/16ths of a mile longer than the horses in the day's two other dirt routes, both at a mile and a sixteenth. Those who like to see speed figures adjusted for ground loss will further upgrade Big Brown's performance since he was wide on both turns. Big Brown fans will also point out that he did all this with seemingly disdainful ease in just his fourth career start.

--The decline in this year's Derby betting -- 3.2 percent on the main event and 2 percent on the overall Derby Day card -- involved a number of factors: the lack of signal and/or wagering through some account-wagering companies (though there were similar issues last year), a decline from 30 to 22 in the number of starters in the three stakes preceding the Derby -- and a single late scratch in the 11th race. As the chart two posts down illustrates, betting was up as much as 16 percent year-over-year early in the card, then began to slip on the three short-field stakes, and then fell off dramatically in the 11th race before rebounding in the finale. In the 11th, the late scratch of second choice Solemn Promise prompted massive refunds, causing year-over-year declines of 25 to 45 percent in the intrarace (exacta, tri and super) pools.

Also, nearly a third of the gross full-card decline was due to a drop in pick-six betting from $1.42 million to just over $676,000, probably a function of there having been a $300k carryover last year and none this year.

--Speaking of pick-sixes:

*That $676k invested on the Derby Day pick-6 did not include a correct 6-of-6 combination, so there's a $410,599 carryover when racing at Churchill resumes Wednesday. The lineup:

Race 4: 3+F AlwC/OC100k 6f (field of 7)
Race 5: 2yo MdSpWt (8, including 6 firsters)
Race 6: 3+F Clm50k 1 1/16m-Turf (8)
Race 7: 3+F Clm10k N2L 6f (10)
Race 8: 3+F Alw N2x 1m-Turf (7)
Race 9: 3+M MdClm15k 6f (12+4 AE's)

That full field of maiden claimers in the finale will be the decider of two big carryovers -- there's also $331,928 in the Super High Five pool, which went unhit on the Derby.

*Belmont's Sunday card included $23.40, $54.50 and $22.80 winners in the pick-six sequence, so there's a $48,557 carryover into Wednesday.

*At Hollywood Sunday, a $387,386 carryover attracted an additional $1,57 million and one heavy investor took it down for $1,262,507 on a $24,192 ticket purchased at Santa Anita. After withholding, the poor whale only got about 38-to-1 on his money -- or less, if that was only his main ticket. Or maybe just a backup.

--Z Humor scored a mild upset winning the Longest of the Long honor at the mutuel windows, going off as the biggest price in the field:

63.60-1 Z Humor (14th)
53.90-1 Anak Nakal (7th)
49.00-1 Recapture the Glory (5th)

If there had been trifecta betting on this curiosity, the payoff would be inflated due to the absence of Big Truck, the lone 50-1 shot on the morning line and a seeming cinch to be one of the three longest shots. Instead, the 18th-place finisher inexplicably went off at only 28.60-1, the 10th rather than 20th choice. The best theory I've heard is that some julep-swilling patrons got their Bigs mixed up and thought they were betting on Big Brown and not Big Truck.