04/07/2010 1:59PM



There's a lot of loose talk about how Eskendereya's going to be a "heavy," or "prohibitive" or "odds-on" favorite in the 136th Kentucky Derby May 1. Even putting aside that there's still an Arkansas Derby and a Blue Grass to be run, and 3 1/2 weeks of unforeseeable twists and turns ahead, I think people may be overestimating how strongly he'll be bet. The following chart, listing the last 25 Derby favorites in order of their odds, may provide some context:

Some nuggets:

--Only two of the last 25 Derby favorites have been less than even money, none since Arazi in 1992.

--Only five of the last 25 Derby favorites have gone off at less than 2-1.

 --Since the parimutuel lineup was increased from 14 to 20 separate betting interests, no one has been shorter than Big Brown's 2.40-1 in 2008.

--All eight Derby favorites in this span who were 2.20-1 or less lost. The last Derby favorite to win at less than 2-1 was Spectacular Bid at 3-5 in 1979.

I happen to like Eskendereya, and think his Fountain of Youth and Wood are the two best performances we've seen from a 3-year-old this year. Everything else being equal, though, the more I stare at the chart above, I just can't see him being much less than 2-1 on Derby Day. And of course it's a long 24 days to go: It was about a year ago today that we were all wondering whether I Want Revenge or Quality Road was going to be the Derby favorite and neither made it to the gate.