05/08/2011 6:58PM

Derby Day Betting


Commingled handle on Saturday's Kentucky Derby Day card was up $2.1 million (1.33 %) from 2010 despite a $1.1 million drop in bets on, or ending with, the Derby itself.

Handle for the 13-race card totalled $161.1 million, up from $159.0 in 2010. (This includes all money merged into he parimutuel pools with the exception of the two-day Oaks/Derby double and Oaks/Turf Classic/Derby pick-3, for which reliable figures are as yet unavailable.)

On one hand, any increase at all is good news in an industry where handle has been declining by 7 to 10 percent annually in recent years. It also was accomplished in the absence of a pick-6 carryover, which attracted $1.3 million in pick-6 bets last year as compared to just $847,131 this year.

On the other, this year's Derby Day was conducted in perfect weather and with slightly larger fields than a year ago, when rain forced two races off the grass and turned the main track sloppy. This year's Derby drew an announced record crowd of 164,858.

ARTICLE: Kentucky Derby betting numbers mixed but positive »

The only change on this year's betting menu was the addition of a 50-cent pick-5, which attracted a strong inaugural handle of $792,396. The Derby declines came in the intrarace pools, including a $1.82 million drop (3.79 %) in straight betting and a $1.06 million drop (4.93 %) in exacta betting. These were somewhat offset by gains in the double, pick-3 and pick-4 ending with the Derby. The full year-over-year comparison appears at the bottom of this post.

The win betting on the Derby was stunning in terms of the amount of money that flowed to two longshots because of their riders. Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said he had planned to make Twice the Appeal 50-1 until Calvin Borel got the mount, after which Battaglia dropped the winner of a weak Sunland Derby to 20-1. Bettors entranced with Borel's recent Derby successes made him the 11.90-1 fifth choice in the race. Just as skewed was the price on Pants on Fire, who was slammed from a reasonable 20-1 to be the 8.10 second choice in the field of 19, apparently due to the presence of jockey Rosie Napravnik.

While the victorious Animal Kingdom was the 11th choice in the betting, the public did a better-than-random job of handicapping the race: The six longest shots in the field, who went off at between 32-1 and 39-1, finished 6-13-14-17-18-19:


 (Note: Percentages add up to slightly more than 100 percent due to the rounding of odds to the nearest lower 0.10 increment, i.e. a horse who goes off at 16.80-1 could have actually been anywhere from 16.80-1 to 16.89-1.)

 Here's the complete pool-by-pool comparison:


cigarvacation More than 1 year ago
Steve, Thank you for the clarification on the $100k win bets. Looks like I will be on a mac and cheese diet for the next few months. Follow up question to these archaic (and nothing short of criminal) IRS regulations is this.... Since the Mucho Macho Man $100k bettor was the recipient of this PRIZE and it was technically his money, albeit very briefly, (technically speaking of course) I would asume he is liable for the taxes on this $100k Prize(Gift) etc. as it was income, even though he lost the wager. He then could NOT itemize and take a $100k loss (unless he has winnings of $100k, which for most of us is not reasonable) but (Obviously I am not even close to being an accountant), would he be OUT about $30k in taxes on money that just literally rolled thru his hand ? I hope I am not confusing you but I am just daydreaming of one day being "THE GUY" that wins this opportunity but not if it's a tax burden if I "lose" the wager ? I'll be sure to buy you a Five Finger Members Mark if I get the chance to run into you on a big race day, for putting up with these burdensome questions of mine. Much Appreciated !
woodridgephil More than 1 year ago
steve, what were the takeout rates on derby day. Can,t find info anywhere . A friend said 25 percent across the board! [Takeout was 16 percent on WPS, 19 percent on multis/exotics, as per Kentucky regs. -SC]
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Wayne: You have a point on NYC OTB and a lot of that money not being recovered, and also as has been noted TVG's system crashing, causing refunds on some wagers. That said, NYRA did recover a large chunk of that handle while some of it went to Yonkers (and TVG through Yonkers, as TVG has a deal with Yonkers Raceway) while some went to The Meadowlands and more went to Nassau OTB. It will be interesting to see how much each of those regions were up. As has been noted since I wrote the 9.7 rating on the Derby, the national number came in at 8.5, down 13.3 percent from last year (though that in turn was the highest since 1989). NBC can attribute it all it wants to the weather and lack of a Stanley Cup Playoff Game, which in the latter case is legitimate as NBC likely did not have because both Eastern Conference Semifinal series (Tampa Bay Lightning-Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins-Philadelphia Flyers) ended in four game sweeps (the Western Conference Semifinals could not be moved into the earlier time slot due to what would have been 9:30 or 10:00 AM local time starts had NBC insisted on that). That said, I think the bulk of that can be directly attributed to being opposite a second-round NBA playoff game (Thunder-Grizzlies) that was up 71% from a year ago, when a similar second-round game (Magic-Hawks) was NOT opposite the Derby. Given ALL FOUR NBA Playoff games that aired this weekend were up a minimum of 25% over last year and the fact every other sporting event that aired opposite NBA playoff games was down considerably, I think you can directly attribute the drop in TV ratings to the massive surge in popularity the NBA has having ever since LeBron James's "decision" last July sparked interest in the NBA not seen in over a decade, as the ratings have been up all year and even more so with the playoffs as LeBron and the Miami Heat are clearly now the villains in the eyes of many. If I'm at Comcast/NBC, I'm very pleased with this number and would now insist on the 2012 Derby being at night so it qualifies for the prime time TV ratings.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Mike, re: superfecta coming up "light". It wasn't a true 8-1 and 9-1 in 2nd and 3rd, it was the 2nd and 3rd shots in the race. Probably lower than that in tri betting, since the morons betting Rosie and Borel in win pool weren't doing the same in exotic pools.
El Angelo More than 1 year ago
For everyone unsure why the exotics came back "short", let's bear in mind that Nehro was the 3rd choice in the race and Mucho Macho Man was the 4th choice. In fact, they were probably the 2nd and 3rd choice in exotics wagering, as Pants on Fire was almost certainly the bet as heavily as she was in the win pools because of Napravnik, and I doubt that most playing her to win were backing her up in exactas and superfectas.
Tony More than 1 year ago
I have not heard anyone else comment on the official chart of the Derby. It mistakenly states that Nehro could not keep up with Shackleford, it was Animal Kingdom that he could not keep up with. He already had gotten past Shackleford. I hope Steve Crist will see fit to correct this oversight in the year's most important race. Thanks, Tony [Watch the race again. It IS Shack who surges clear of Nehro in upper stretch, as the chart says. Animal Kingdom goes by both inside the furlong pole, and Shack tires late. -SC]
cigarvacation More than 1 year ago
Steve, I have an expensive steak and lobster dinner riding on this one. Remember the guy last year that had a FREE $100k win bet on the Derby and he nailed it by wagering on Super Saver ? The fella that won the chance this year bet Mucho Macho Man. My question on this FREE $100k wager is this......... What is the responsibility on taxes regarding this situation, ie. was the Super Saver wager AND winnings taxable or was he just liable for taxes on the $100k ? Obviously this year's winner lost his wager. I am aware , I think, you are only liable for winnings over 600-1, right ? Therefore the Super Saver guy should have had to only pay taxes on the initial $100k, correct ? I can taste the lobster already. Appreciate your help on this topic. [Sorry about the dinner. The $602/300-1 threshhold only applies to whether a W-2G must be filed by the bet-taker. According to IRS regs, ALL gambling winnings are subject to taxation. They're so insane that if you win $8 on the first race and lose $80 on the seond race, you're supposed to report $8 in gambling winnings and, if you itemize your return, take an offsetting $8 deduction. No one actually does this, but them's the rules. -SC]
matt More than 1 year ago
I have gone over AKs pps again after the race, nothing there jumps out enough for me to have put him on top of my exactas (just not enough there, there i guess...) Congratulations to all of you who did. I suppose i didn't give enough weight to the abscence of The Factor and Uncle Mo in the pace scenario. I had Nehro w/ AK 4x in my Exacta plays. AK is no Big Brown though... not yet anyway
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Dave: A rolling four on both Derby and Breeders' Cup Days would work, since the handle is so big it allows people to spread around looking for the big payoff.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
And if the reasons noted weren't enough to have the 2012 Derby at Night: The Derby rating this year was 9.7, but it was opposite an NBA Playoff Game (Oklahoma City Thunder-Memphis Grizzlies) on ESPN that started at 5:00 PM ET and did get a 2.9 rating on ESPN, that game being up substantially from last year (Orlando Magic-Atlanta Hawks) in the same time slot (and NOT opposite the Derby, which last year was a week earlier than it was this year). Given the huge surge in NBA TV ratings this spring, continuing a trend from the regular season (that perhaps started with LeBron James's "Descision" last July that on ESPN actually was the overall highest-rated program in prime time that week, the first time I believe outside of Monday Night Football that has ever happened for a cable program?), the drop in Derby ratings from 10.3 the past two years to 9.7 was not really that surprising (especially since a NASCAR race that aired opposite an NBA Playoff game on ABC was down 10% from a year ago when similar programming went head-to-head), however, that 9.7 rating on the Derby likely was still good enough to be in the top five TV programs of the week if it qualified for prime time, and for a severely ratings-challenged network like NBC, good enough to be the top-rated show if it were in prime time. This has been one of the reasons why I think we will see the Derby in prime time in 2012 for the first time, most likely with NBC's telecast moved back to 7:00-10:00 PM ET with post time for the Derby at 9:30 PM ET. NBC's new parent Comcast I'm sure is going to want the Derby in prime time whether Churchill wants it or not.