04/26/2008 3:19PM

No Oaks/Derby Dimes


In case you've been mapping out an elaborate multi-horse dime-super play for the Kentucky Derby, please be advised that the minimum bet for superfectas is being raised from a dime to a dollar on all races Friday and Saturday for the Oaks and Derby cards at Churchill Downs.

There haven't been dime supers in the past, but the bet has become a staple of American betting menus over the last year. Most track managers have come to realize that their initial fear that confused customers would tie up mutuel lines slowly calling out individual 10-cent combinations was unfounded. Instead, customers who previously could not afford the bet make exactly the same kind of boxes and partwheels that they do in trifectas, while getting more bang from a buck that buys 10 combos rather than one.

Obviously Oaks and Derby Day are unsusually crowded and there's extra concern about long lines, but most of the Derby betting is done at simulcast outlets and OTB's or through telephone and online accounts. Churchill could have simply banned dime supers ontrack rather than punishing the majority of bettors. If it was uncomfortable not offering something to on-track patrons that was available elsewhere, why not make ontrack dime supers available only at self-service machines?

It's depressingly typical of the racing industry's dysfunctionality that the sport's fastest-growing wager is simply banned on its biggest day -- and on the year's largest field, a perfect venue for a discounted multihorse wager. For a dime, you could have keyed one horse for first and second, surrounding him with eight others, for $67.20. Now that bet will cost $672.

---I feel obliged to bet a horse in today's featured Derby Trial on an otherwise hungry opening-day card at Churchill: Majestic Warrior. I was less dazzled than most by his victory in the Hopeful last summer because the colt struck me as a closing sprinter/miler who benefitted from a pace meltdown rather than a true classic prospect. He flopped stretching out in three subsequent starts but today he'll be back to what maybe he's best at, and will be coming from off the pace going 7 1/2 furlongs. He's the third choice on the morning line at 5-1, a very square price.

--Worth a click: This story, suggesting that the meeting between Frank Stronach and a supposedly representative group of California trainers last Sunday regarding the future of the track surface at Santa Anita, may not have been an entirely fair hearing.