10/16/2008 1:53PM

Pre-entry Odds

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The table below lists the first sets of odds on Breeders' Cup pre-entered fields, and there are some interesting differences between them in almost every race. (Only 10 of the 14 fields are listed: Ladbrokes has not put up lines for the four Juvenile races and these are tricky propositions given the number of horses cross-entered between the main-track and grass versions of both the male and distaff events.)

The first lines are those done yesterday by DRF handicappers Brad Free (Friday races) and Mike Watchmaker (Saturday races) for DRF's Breeders' Cup Advance. (Click here for their full pre-entry graded handicaps.) The second are prices released this morning by Ladbrokes, the British bookmaking firm.

The comparisons are not entirely apples-to-apples, on two counts. First, the DRF prices are a conventional morning line, meaning that they are purely a prediction of how the public will bet regradless of the handicappers' personal opinions about the merits of the entrants. Ladbrokes, on the other hand, is accepting wagers at their posted prices and there may well be some strategy involved in trying to get the better of their customers, including a different effective takeout and no refunds on non-starters. Second, the DRF lines include every horse pre-enetered for each race, even those who were cross-entered in two races, while Ladbrokes is offering prices on horses only in their "first preference" races.

Still, there are plenty of interesting and instructive differences of opinion. In the table below, horses being offered at sharply higher prices at Ladbrokes than the DRF handicappers are predicting are highlted in green, while those being held at much lower odds than DRF predicts you'll get on raceday are highlighted in pink.

The biggest Ladbrokes bargain to my mind, is 3-1 on Curlin(as opposed to Watchmaker's 8-5.) I have my reservations about whether he'll run as well on Pro-Ride as he does on dirt, but given that he'd be legitimately 3-5 if the race were at Belmont or Churchill, 3-1 just seems like an enormous price.

[Update 2:30 pm: I've added a third set of prices, just received from British bookmaker William Hill.]