05/01/2010 9:41AM

Derby Day 2010


10:40 a.m.: I don't believe the Kentucky Derby favorite is going to be 8-1 or named Super Saver. I know, I know, the odds don't usually change radically from the early returns of Oaks Day betting, but common sense and the Oaks-Derby probables suggest there are going to be some major market adjustments in the next eight hours.

Consider the chart below, which lists the Oaks-Derby double willpays and then converts those payoffs to equivalent win-odds. Lookin at Lucky, 9-1 in the win pool at the close of Friday betting, is effectively 3-1 in the double pool. Do you really think he's going to pay $20.00 to win the Derby while completing a $22.40 double from Blind Luck?

(Update: Payoffs changed to reflect $2 rather than $1 willpays.)


So if you're trying to figure out what price your horse is likely to be by post time, I would suggest using the Friday win odds and the implied-double odds as a reasonable range, i.e. Lookin at Lucky will be higher than 3 but lower than 9, with Awesome Act (7-1 to 13-1), Super Saver (7-1 to 10-1) and Sidney's Candy (8-1 to 11-1) vying to be the second choice.

As for the weather situation, described here by DRF's Marcus Hersh, races 3 and 5 have been moved from the yielding turf to the sloppy main track. The only early scratches in the six graded stakes so far are Hooh Why from the Distaff Turf Mile, Dr. Zic from the Humana Distaff, and Cool Coal Man (who ran yesterday) from the Churchill Downs.

12:15 pm: The first four races on the Derby card were run pretty formfully despite the wet track, with winners coming from on and off the pace, inside and out. Not that it's likely we'll have the same track by 6:24 p.m. They're harrowing the track right now for the first time, and the current meteorological wisdom seems to be that it will be clear for the next couple of hours, uncertain thereafter.

That's one of the reasons I'm still struggling with how heavily, if at all, to get involved in the pick-6 with $154k carryover that starts in a little more than an hour with the 6th race, the Eight Belles. Some of the races in the sequence were really tough even without the uncertainty of the weather, and how much do you really want to spend to get alive to a reasonable number of Derby horses?

1:10 pm: So I played, not much more than yesterday despite the carryover and a tougher-looking sequence. The only single A is Hot Dixie Chick in the upcoming Eight Belles. Here's the matrix:


The Eight Belles begins not only the pick-6 but also the portion of the day where the time between races starts stretching out. The gaps between the next six races are 42, 51, 53, 54 and 98 minutes. The two remaining pick-4's start with the 8th (2:59 pm ET) and 10th (4:46 pm) races. Network television coverage switches from ESPN to NBC at 4 p.m.

1:25 pm: Buckleupbuttercup? Never mind. Alive for five.

2:30 pm: Phola? Not my day.

2:45 pm: Handle through the first three races was down 22 percent against last year, from $5.8 million to $4.5 million. I'll update the chart below as the day goes on. (Update: Through race 7, handle is down 11 % from last year at $20.5 million vs. $23.1 million.)

3:45 pm: With $17.80, $15.40 and $19.20 winners in the first three legs of the pick-6 and the Derby still to come (with 19 horses currently between 8-1 and 28-1), it's not too soon to be thinking about a possible $800k-plus carryover. Churchill is dark for four days after today, so the carryover card would be Thursday, May 6.

5:15 p.m.: Looks like there are three live pick-6 combos into the Derby: a $947.640.60 payoff if Devil May Care, Jackson Bend or Awesome act wins, otherwise a $947k carryover into Thursday:

Congrats to those cashing tickets today. I can't make heads or tails out of most of the results. It looks like I will be only technically correct about not having an 8-1 favorite, as Lookin at Lucky is now the choice at 7-1. This year will almost surely obliterate Harlan's Holiday's 2002 mark of being the longest-priced Derby favorite at 6.00-1. That year, however, there were SIX horses who went off at between 6.00-1 and 8.10-1. There has never been a Derby bet like this one.

Heading into the Derby, handle is off just 4 percent from last year. Through the first 10 races, the total is $42.4 million vs. $44.2 million, with over $100 million expected to be in the pools on the day's last three races. [Update 9 pm: As the updated pools chart above shows, handle ended up being UP 4 % year over year due mainly to gains in Derby betting.]

6:15 pm: With only $229k separating Lookin at Lucky and Super Saver in the win pool at the moment, the guy who won the $100,000 free bet from Churchill Downs just cut that gap almost in half by betting it on Super Saver to win. A safe and lucky Derby to all.

7:05 pm: A few very quick afterthoughts on Derby 136:

*A week ago, WinStar's top Derby hope was Endorsement and Pletcher's was Eskendereya. Both suffer untimely injuries, but WInStar and Pletcher end up in the winner's circle anyway with Super Saver.

*Ice Box and Lookin at Lucky will get plenty of support in the Preakness off their rough trips today, while Super Saver and Paddy o'Prado both appeared to have dream trips.

*Despite the perception (and betting) that this was an almost random Derby, the top three finishers were all among the top seven betting choices.

*Will we have to hear about Pletcher's dismal 1-for-28 Derby record next year?

*Super Saver was the second choice but not one of the three live pick-6 horses, so there will be a $947,640 carryover when racing at Churchill resumes Thursday. They haven't drawn the card yet, but I'm guessing that after two days of racing that included 12 graded stakes and seven allowance races,the sequence is going to be heavy on maiden and conditioned claimers.

*I'll fill in the late results and pool totals later. Time for a julep or something.