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Derby future action heats up
LAS VEGAS - The Kentucky Derby future book at Wynn Las Vegas has been quiet the past month, but John Avello knows that is about to change.
"I get a bunch of action when I first put it up in October and November, but it's soft through the holidays," said Wynn, the director of race and sports. "About the only action I took in December was on people buying them for Christmas presents. In the past month, I've maybe added two or three to the list. But starting now, the so-called season is really starting."
As of Wednesday, Nobiz Like Shobiz was the 7-1 favorite in the Wynn future book with Tiz Wonderful at 10-1 and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense at 12-1.
"We took a lot of early action on them," Avello said. "Their odds are shorter than I'd like, but I have a lot of exposure on them. Plus, people are still betting them at those prices."
Other Derby hopefuls taking early money are: Circular Quay (15-1), Any Given Saturday (15-1), First Defense (30-1), Scat Daddy (30-1), Minefield (30-1), Great Hunter (35-1), Unbridled Express (40-1), Jalil (50-1), and King of the Roxy (50-1).
Of course, the dream is to find the diamonds in the rough at 100-1 or more. You're on your own trying to find those.
If a 3-year-old isn't on Avello's list, he will add it for a customer and offer a fair price.
More odds on the future
Avello is known in our world for his horse racing futures, but he also is kept busy creating odds for all sorts of things outside of racing and sports. He has made odds on the Academy Awards for the past decade and has made appearances on "Entertainment Tonight," "Extra," and "The Daily 10" on E!, among others. He is also the go-to guy of the entertainment industry in setting odds for the Grammys, Country Music Awards, and reality shows such as "American Idol," "Survivor," "Big Brother," "The Apprentice," and "Dancing with the Stars." He'll be adding the new "Grease: You're the One that I Want" to his list this month.
But he still devotes time to his first love, horse racing, and he's come out with odds for the Eclipse Awards, which are not available for wagers. He says "some are no-brainers," and then he leans on people he knows in the industry who have votes in trying to sort out the rest. His odds:
Two-year-old male - Street Sense (1-5), Circular Quay (8-1), Nobiz Like Shobiz (10-1).
Two-year-old filly - Dreaming of Anna (1-9), Octave (12-1), Point Ashley (15-1).
Three-year-old male - Bernardini (4-5), Barbaro (even), Discreet Cat (12-1).
Three-year-old female - Pine Island (1-2), Wait a While (5-2), Bushfire (10-1).
Older male - Invasor (1-20), Lava Man (15-1), Premium Tap (40-1).
Older female - Fleet Indian (1-3), Round Pond (7-2), Asi Siempre (20-1).
Sprinter - Thor's Echo (3-5), Henny Hughes (3-1), Discreet Cat (5-1).
Male turf horse - Miesque's Approval (6-5), English Channel (8-5), The Tin Man (4-1).
Female turf horse - Ouija Board (1-9), Wait a While (8-1), Gorella (40-1).
Steeplechase - McDynamo (1-20), Mixed Up (25-1), Sur la Tete (30-1).
Owner - Darley Stable (even), Lael Stable (8-5), Shadwell Stable (6-1).
Breeder - Adena Springs (4-5), Darley Stable (9-5), Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jackson (8-1).
Trainer - Todd Pletcher (3-5), Kiaran McLaughlin (8-5), Doug O'Neill (30-1).
Jockey - Garrett Gomez (4-5), Edgar Prado (even), Russell Baze (12-1).
Apprentice Jockey - Julien Leparoux (1-20), Martin Garcia (18-1), Rosie Napravnik (40-1).
Horse of the Year - Invasor (1-20), Bernardini (25-1), Barbaro (40-1), Discreet Cat (75-1), Ouija Board (300-1), Lava Man (500-1), Fleet Indian (1000-1), Dreaming of Anna (2000-1), Thor's Echo (5000-1), Pine Island (10,000-1), Street Sense (25,000-1), Miesque's Approval (50,000-1).
We'll see on Jan. 22, when the Eclipse Awards are presented, how well he has handicapped those races.
Sports book notes
Florida's 41-14 victory over Ohio St. on Monday night capped an exciting college football season. The Gators won as 7 1/2-point underdogs, dominating on both sides of the ball, especially considering that Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for an Ohio St. touchdown and then the Buckeyes gained only 79 yards from scrimmage the whole game. The sports books did well on the game, with balanced action on the spread and a lot of money on the under, which opened at 48 points and was bet down to 46 before drifting back up again late. The two teams matched that total of 48 in the first half alone before a fourth-quarter TD by Florida pushed it over.
* On the "Leroy's Sports Hour," co-hosts John Kelly and Jimmy Vaccaro made a good point about how everyone (meaning the media, specifically Fox Sports) was calling the Boise St. win over Oklahoma a huge upset and a David vs. Goliath matchup, while Florida-Ohio St. was considered a battle of two great teams from two great conferences. The point spread on both games was nearly identical, in the 7 to 7 1/2-point range, and money lines on both between 2-1 and 5-2, they pointed out.
* Bookmakers were already sitting pretty with their future books before the game, as both Ohio St. and Florida were among the preseason contenders to win the BCS title. When Las Vegas Sports Consultants released its 2007 BCS title game odds last January, Ohio St. was the 6-1 second choice (behind Notre Dame at 5-1). Florida was co-fifth choice at 12-1. The books faced little liability on either team at such low odds, and dozens of teams got action on the prop, more than making up for any big payoffs.
* The Pinnacle offshore book has odds for the 2008 BCS title game with USC at 5-2, followed by Michigan (13-2), Florida (7-1), Texas (10-1), West Virginia (14-1), LSU (15-1), Oklahoma (17-1), Arkansas (19-1), Ohio St. (28-1) and Nebraska (38-1). The Las Vegas Hilton will be putting up its odds soon, according to Jeff Sherman, the sports book supervisor there.
o Sherman also mentions that he has taken four bets at 9000-1 on Michelle Wie to win the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu this weekend. Has he dropped the odds? "Nahhh," Sherman said. "She has to make a cut in a men's tournament before we worry about her possibly winning one." Vijay Singh is the 6-1 favorite in the tourney.
* A final note on college football: the all-star games for seniors are coming up. One you probably never heard about - the Las Vegas All-American Classic, scheduled for for Monday at Sam Boyd Stadium - has been cancelled. The official cause is lack of funding, but judging by the fact that hardly anyone knew the game existed, it could be for lack of interest.