04/05/2012 3:08PM

King: Taking a stand against the Derby prep favorites

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Tom Keyser
My Adonis will be making his third start off a layoff in Saturday's Grade 1 Wood Memorial.

Chances are likely that either Gemologist or Alpha will win Saturday’s Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Similarly, Creative Cause is the most logical winner of the Santa Anita Derby.

However, that doesn’t make them great wagers. Because their virtues are so apparent in the past performances, they are almost assured of going off at odds below their true chances of winning.

Three-year-olds make such more sudden improvement at this time of year, resulting in surprising stakes upsets (see last week’s Florida and Louisiana derbies), that taking 8-5 on Gemologist or 5-2 on Alpha in the Wood – or 6-5 on Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby – just isn’t worth the risk.

So this Saturday, my rule to betting the major Kentucky Derby preps is simple: no favorites.

I’m looking for undervalued horses, those without the flash and hype. I’ll instead look to back a horse that already has some flaws in his past performances, enough to scare off some bettors.

In the Wood, that horse is My Adonis, sitting at 8-1 on the line. Although yet to win a graded stakes race, this is a horse with distance experience and who is making the third race off a layoff, often the peak race of a horse’s form cycle.

[WOOD MEMORIAL: News updates, contender replays, watch the race live]

He also is in good form, having run third in the Grade 3 Holy Bull after a troubled start and then finishing second to juvenile champion Hansen in the Gotham.

While never a win threat in either start, he did well to earn minor awards by even getting back in the race in the Holy Bull and then by finishing six lengths clear of third-place finisher Finnegans Wake in the Gotham when the runner-up.

At equal odds, I wouldn’t think of betting him over Gemologist or Alpha, but the odds will be anything but equal. The latter two horses are sure to get pounded, particularly Gemologist, and my suspicion is that My Adonis will stick to his 8-1 price, if not drift higher.

That’s acceptable on a horse that has a better-than-average chance of winning the eight-horse Wood.

Santa Anita Derby: I’ll Have Another may offer value

Out west in the Santa Anita Derby, Creative Cause is a deserving headliner and favorite. But facing nine rivals, some of whom are talented, he would need to start at 9-5 or higher to be a palatable price. And that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

[SANTA ANITA DERBY: Early look video, news updates, watch the race live]

Alternatively, I’ll try I’ll Have Another – the 5-2 second favorite in the race on Jon White’s morning line. With the exception of a poor effort over a sloppy track in the Hopeful last year, this is a horse who has done little wrong and who won the Robert Lewis emphatically to begin his year.

The Robert Lewis win does leap out of the past performances, which will attract some support, but the hope here is that with Mario Gutierrez in the saddle – an accomplished rider in British Columbia but a jockey rarely seen in Grade 1 races like the Santa Anita Derby – that I’ll Have Another could be overlooked a smidge. Presumably, he’ll start a tick higher on the board than if he had one of Southern California’s leading jockeys aboard.

Expect I’ll Have Another to get a favorable trip, having won on the lead or from just off the pace – and that kind of tactical speed is what you want at speed-favoring Santa Anita.

Illinois Derby: Z Rockstar brings top last-race Beyer

Last up among the major Derby preps Saturday is the Illinois Derby, a $500,000 race that drew an overflow field and lacks a clear-cut favorite.

A horseplayer could go any number of ways in this race and find square odds on a horse. I know I went back and forth a couple times between whom I liked most.

[ILLINOIS DERBY: Early look video, news updates, watch the race live]

In the end, I settled for Z Rockstar, who owns far and away the top last-race Beyer Speed Figure, a 96, earned in winning a first-level allowance at Oaklawn last month.

That race, which represented a 20-point jump in figures off his prior top, puts him at risk of regression. But at 10-1 odds on the morning line, that’s a forgivable fault. Because if he pairs that race, or even backs up just a little, he should prove the winner of the Illinois Derby.

Last-race number aside, he has other virtues, having raced five times around two turns (counting both turf and dirt). He also has the quickness to be situated near the pace, allowing for jockey Quincy Hamilton to work out a good trip.

He warrants a win wager if he starts at 8-1 or higher and should be backed up underneath in the exactas and trifectas as a horse that has regularly been second or third over his career.

David Craighead More than 1 year ago
I don't make money that away!..it's crazy to suggest that at 8/5 odds against a legit itmate bet be down played because of the apparent low odds is a risky wager. However, that's your money and do what you want but I think it non-sense !
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
David , if your remark was towards my selections - no offense taken . We all have our point of views in wagering . Myself - Predicting my selections - and wagering on my selections ( sometimes ) dont happen . What I mean is : I never wagered on the Santa Anita Derby because I found very little value among playing CREATIVE CAUSE on top at 4 / 5 , 3 / 5 . I am not a must wager person . My grandfather taught me a leason many years ago the meaning of ( Risk n Reward ) . There will always be another race down the road for value . If my Top Pic does not go off at EVEN MONEY where you can double your money on a $2 dollar ticket , then take a deep breath and move forward toward another race or another day . Betting $2 to Win knowing you getting back $2.80 is a very risky business . You know what I mean ! Im sure your a very bright loyal racing fan . I did have ok odss if I was to put CREATIVE CAUSE with my other two selections , but then again - my point is in wagering ( 3 / 5 - 4 / 5 ) horses are not smart plays at any cost . So my attitude was - if by chance my selection was correct in the Santa Anita Derby - I would just remember what my grandfather taught me , and just go on to my next ( Value Race ) . Yes , My Selection Was Right On For The Ex reguarding ( Wood Memorial & Illinois Derby ) . In Fact , my selections ran One Two in both , with a nifty $2 Ex pay-off of ( $185.20 ) .......................................... In All Honesty - I Truly Believed Done Talking was ONE of the best ( WAGER PLAYS OF THE DAY AT 20 - 1 ) morning line . But horse racing is just pure luck in selecting and winning - know matter how smart a person may think they are at betting , BECAUSE , these horse go to sleep and wake up just like we do , and they all have their mood swings just like we do , and everything has to fall just in place to be correct - know matter what the Daily Racing Form shows . Most people at the track as fan wise has no clue if a horse eats and drinks well the morning of the race , and other things ............... so as much as Any Racing Fan Thinks They Know It All - WE ALL KNOW ( How Hard Being Right Truly Is ) and enjoy every minute when it does happen and you are right , because there are times - Nothing Goes Right . Good Luck David At The Races
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
SANTA ANITA DERBY : 1 Creative Cause - 2 Liaison - 8 Midnight Transfer / WOOD MEMORIAL : 6 Gemologist - 1 Alpha - 2 Casual Trick / ILLINOIS DERBY : 13 Done Talking - 12 Morgans Guerrilla - 8 Z Rockstar ...................... In all Honesty : IF BY CHANCE 13 Done Talking health issues have been cured with the work of trainer Smith : R Rusell ought to be able to cruise on home with Authority ! By Far , the Best Colt in this Derby . At morning line odds of 20 - 1 ( Could Be A Gift ) !
kaufmanjsk More than 1 year ago
Kentucky Derby 2012 Your source for great tips for the Kentucky Derby 2012
kaufmanjsk More than 1 year ago
Kentucky Derby 2012 Amazing tips for the Kentucky Derby 2012
james More than 1 year ago
I like it!
james More than 1 year ago
I like it!