04/29/2007 11:00PM

Curlin 7-2 future-book favorite


The Kentucky Derby Draw is an interesting little reality TV show on ESPN2 the Wednesday before the first Saturday in May.

The connections of the 20 3-year-olds pick their post positions and viewers get to second-guess along with the selections. It's even good for a little comic relief, with at least one owner or trainer doing the ole fake "I'm going down here, oh, but wait, I'm really going here" move, and the 20th and final person pretending like they have a big decision to make.

It's no NFL draft or NBA lottery, but it's the best horse racing's got.

My favorite part is when Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia releases his morning line. They try to make it look like he's making it up on the spot, but he obviously already has odds in mind for each horse with slight adjustments for particularly bad draws.

In case he doesn't, or if you want odds to compare to Battaglia's, here are the Derby future-book prices that were available at noon Monday at Wynn Las Vegas:


Street Sense 9-2

Nobiz Like Shobiz9-2

Scat Daddy6-1

Circular Quay 8-1

Hard Spun 12-1

Any Given Saturday 12-1

Great Hunter 12-1

Cowtown Cat 18-1



Zanjero 25-1


Sam P.40-1


Cobalt Blue50-1

Storm in May75-1



Bwana Bull75-1

On the bubble

Teuflesberg 40-1


Those odds are made and adjusted by John Avello, director of race and sports book operations at Wynn. The odds have been up since last October and updated daily, based on not only on ontrack performances but more importantly on the amount of wagers the book takes in on each horse.

Since the last prep races, those odds have remained pretty steady with the only changes this past weekend being Hard Spun dropped from 15-1 to 12-1 and Bwana Bull being lowered from 100-1 to 75-1 after his connections announced he was going to run in the Derby. Teuflesberg and Imawildandcrazyguy would need defections to make the field.

Avello has Street Sense and Nobiz Like Showbiz as the co-second choices behind Curlin, but said he expects Street Sense to be a solid second choice and perhaps challenge Curlin for favoritism.

"Street Sense has been working great, and I'm just hearing a lot of buzz from people talking about him," Avello said.

Avello usually waits until after the draw to release his head-to-head matchups but he's already posted some. He opened Nobiz Like Shobiz -130 versus Curlin at even-money, and the public has made Curlin a -120 favorite as of Monday.

Great Hunter also has been taking action in his matchup versus Tiago, being bet from -140 to -150. Dominican opened at +105 versus Cowtown Cat but has been bet to -105. The other matchups have Scat Daddy -140 versus Circular Quay +110, Street Sense -150 versus Any Given Saturday +120, Hard Spun -125 versus Zanjero -105, and Liquidity -125 versus Stormello -105. Avello will match up the rest of the field after the draw.

Avello also has several proposition wagers posted. The Derby is known as the most exciting two minutes in sports, but he has set the over/under for the running of the race at 2:02, with the over favored at

-115 and the under offered at -105. Another prop asks if the winner will have an odd or even number. Both were -110 but will be adjusted if more contenders fall into one of the categories. The win mutuel payoff has an over/under of $18.50, while you can also bet if Todd Pletcher, who is expected to have five starters, will be the winning trainer. The "no" is -270 with the "yes" at +230.

But, as everyone knows, the Derby is just the first leg of the Triple Crown and the Wynn also has odds on whether this will be the year someone sweeps the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. The "no" is -850 with the "yes" at +650.

Obviously, if you bet the "yes," you'll be stuck with the Derby winner as he'll be the only one with a shot after Saturday. But if you want to lock in a better price on a specific horse, you have to bet before the race. Avello has Curlin at 12-1 to win the Triple Crown, with Street Sense at 18-1 (down from 20-1 over the weekend, which could be another indicator why Avello think he'll be the wise guy horse), Nobiz Like Showbiz at 22-1, Scat Daddy at 35-1, and Hard Spun and Great Hunter both at 40-1. Hard Spun also has seen money in this pool as he was 50-1 prior to the weekend.

The odds to win the Triple Crown for the rest of the anticipated Derby field are Any Given Saturday at 45-1; Circular Quay at 50-1; Tiago at 75-1; Cowtown Cat, Dominican, and Zanjero at 100-1; Stormello and Liquidity at 150-1; Sam P. at 200-1; Cobalt Blue at 250-1; and Teuflesberg, Sedgefield, Storm in May, and Bwana Bull at 300-1.

* The Derby festivities here in Vegas start Wednesday with the Pick the Ponies handicapping tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton. The field for the event is sold out, as all 200 registered before the early-bird deadline and had to pay only $400, which is $100 less than the regular entry fee. The total purse is $100,000 and the winner will receive $38,000. Contestants make 10 mythical $100 across-the-board bets each day of the three-day tourney, which ends Friday.