05/05/2011 9:59AM

Kentucky Derby trail littered with ripped Futures tickets


LAS VEGAS – The long and winding road to the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby comes to an end Saturday, and there has been no shortage of casualties along the way.

Consider this: Of the 110 horses listed in the first future book at the Wynn Las Vegas last Sept. 7, only three made it to the entry box: Uncle Mo (40-1), Stay Thirsty (85-1), and Soldat (150-1). By Thursday afternoon, there was some doubt whether Uncle Mo would be in the starting gate. All of the others fell by the wayside, including the original 30-1 favorite, Boys At Tosconova, as well as Premier Pegasus, To Honor and Serve, Jaycito, The Factor, and Toby’s Corner.

John Avello closed his future book Wednesday, when the field was drawn. Dialed In was the 4-1 favorite, followed by Uncle Mo at 9-2 and Nehro at 5-1. The Lucky’s race and sports books, the second Las Vegas outfit to post futures in October, adjusted its futures to include only the 20 in the Derby field and went with Dialed In at 3-1.

“We have a lot on Dialed In, so we have to look at our liability and chose to keep it that low,” said Dan Shapiro, marketing director for Lucky’s. “Besides, there’s the question about whether or not Uncle Mo will run, and if he scratches Dialed In might be 3-1 after all.”

Shapiro said Uncle Mo is Lucky’s only other real liability. Avello said Uncle Mo “would not be good” for his future book either, and he also listed Archarcharch and Mucho Macho Man as horses he is secretly cheering against.

Uncle Mo has also been a big factor in wagering on whether there will a Triple Crown winner this year. When he was looking like a superhorse and the hype was building earlier this spring, Avello opened the odds at +650 (6 1/2 to 1) on any horse sweeping the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, with the “no” at -900 (odds of 1-9). The prices are currently up to +700 on the “yes” and -1100 on the “no.” Dialed In has the lowest odds of individual horses to accomplish the feat at 15-1, with Uncle Mo at25-1 after being as low as 9-1, Nehro at 30-1, Archarcharch at 60-1, and Midnight Interlude and Mucho Macho Man at 75-1.

Like any big sporting event, the Derby also opens itself up to proposition wagers. Most books won’t be putting them up until this weekend, but the Wynn posted its props last week in advance of the draw. Avello has the official winning time over/under 2:02.20. He opened it -110 each way but adjusted it to -120 on the over after seeing there was a 50 percent rain this weekend in Louisville. He also opened his prop of whether the winning saddlecloth will be odd or even at -110 each way but adjusted to even -125 and odd +105 after the draw.

“You don’t get a lot with the even-numbered posts, but you do get the top-two choices: No. 8 Dialed In and No. 18 Uncle Mo,” Avello said.

Another prop is over/under the winning mutuel price. Avello set it at $20.10 with a premium of -240 on the over and the under priced at +200. On Thursday, it was at -220 and +190.

“We took some money on the under,” Avello said. “Right now, there’s just three horses that will likely pay under that number,” he said, referring to Dialed In, Uncle Mo, and Nehro, “but maybe there will be a wise-guy horse, or maybe Soldat will get bet lower if there’s an off-track.”

The Derby Week festivities started here this week with a lot of horseplayers arriving early for the Pick the Ponies tournament Wednesday through Friday at the Las Vegas Hilton. There were four seminars scheduled: at Palace Station at 6 p.m. Thursday with Ralph Siraco, Richie Saber, and Vic Viveo; at Terrible’s at 6 p.m. Friday with myself, Richard Eng, and Shapiro; at 6 p.m. Friday at South Point with Patrick McQuiggan, Tom Quigley, and John Kelly; and at Texas Station at 6:30 p.m. Friday with Jerry Jacovitz.

The only scheduled seminar for Saturday morning is at the Orleans at 10 a.m. with Ralph Siraco and Jon Lindo. The Orleans is also opening its ballroom for a free viewing party, as is the South Point. Those are the biggest public parties in town – if you’ve received your invitation to a private party, then you don’t need me to tell you about that.

The race books will be crowded Saturday with most offering Derby T-shirts or mint julep glasses with a minimum bet, for which the industry standard is $20.

Tuley’s Derby picks

1. Comma to the Top: He could be the speed of the speed, and since this isn’t the best Derby field we’ve seen, I’ll see if the others can catch him. He gets upgraded if Uncle Mo scratches.

2. Mucho Macho Man: He should be in the second tier of horses and in position to get first run on pacesetters.

3. Midnight Interlude: He ran down Comma to the Top in Santa Anita Derby. Although he has only four starts, he is on the improve.

Longshot: Brilliant Speed is a turf/poly horse who could be rounding into form at the perfect time. He has the look of Mine That Bird and could drop back and make one big run.