05/17/2012 12:09PM

Lucky's got burned this year by Derby, but likely to keep offering future wagers


After I’ll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, stories appeared about several people who had bet him at 200-1 in the future books here in Nevada.

Items ran in the Las Vegas Sun, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated. But remember you read it here first (or at least I hope you did) before the race in the Derby Day issue on Saturday, May 5.

In that issue, I quoted Dan Shapiro, marketing director of Lucky’s Race & Sports Books saying that I’ll Have Another was one of just three losers for his company’s future book: “We got hit at 200-1 on I’ll Have Another before he even won the Robert B. Lewis. Someone in Southern California knew something.”

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Shapiro said that because the bets were placed at the Lucky’s book in Primm, the first book you see when crossing the California/Nevada border. In Tim Layden’s Sports Illustrated article, he described trainer Doug O’Neill having a $100 ticket at 200-1, worth $20,100 on top of his other earnings on the day. The ticket was bought Feb. 3, the day before I’ll Have Another made his 2012 debut in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis. Shapiro said they had him at 200-1 at the start of the day and they also kept getting bets at 150-1, 100-1, etc. until they lowered him to 25-1.

“My personal regret is that I didn’t take that as a sign that he was an improved horse and bet him in the Robert B. Lewis at 43-1,” Shapiro said.

While Shapiro said the loss was “significant,” he said it was the first time Lucky’s has lost on its futures in the company’s four years of existence and it wouldn’t deter the book from offering them again if it was up to the current management team. He said he couldn’t speak officially for next year because a sale to William Hill, the English bookmaking giant, is pending state gaming approval. However, I’m under no such restrictions and will say that William Hill has long offered Derby futures of so it’s sure to be on the menu next year.

Obviously, next up for I’ll Have Another is the quest for the first Triple Crown since 1978. Both Lucky’s and Wynn Las Vegas re-opened the odds on him completing the feat at 7-1 (+700 expressed as a money line, with the line around -1,000 – odds of 1-10, or risking $10 for every $1 you want to profit – on those wishing to bet against him doing it). As of Wednesday night, Lucky’s had raised its price to +750 while the Wynn had been bet down to +650.

The Wynn’s John Avello, who credits Bob Gregorka of being the first in Nevada to book Derby futures in the early 1980s, said that his individual odds on all 20 Derby horses to win the Triple Crown also saw some money come in on I’ll Have Another as he was opened at 85-1 and bet down as low as 40-1 before closing at 45-1. Lucky’s opened and closed I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown odds at 75-1, so the book doesn’t have any extra liability on his success.

“We’ve never had to pay out on a Triple Crown winner here, so no one’s going to cry for us if we finally have to this year or any year,” said Avello, who also booked these wagers at Bally’s for years before moving over to Wynn. “Bodemeister is the obvious threat to I’ll Have Another, but beyond him there’s not much in his way to at least get to the Belmont. There were no Red Bullets or Bernardinis waiting in the wings this year for the Preakness, so I might have to sweat this one a little longer.”

On the parimutuel side (where the books are guaranteed their cut regardless of the outcome), the state considered Derby Day a success. Vinny Magliulo of Las Vegas Dissemination Company, which acts as the wagering hub for Nevada’s race books, said handle on the Derby was $5.5 million, up from $5.1 million last year. Total handle on the day was $9 million, up from $8.8 million in 2011.

The head-to-head matchups and prop bets (which are not included in those numbers) also worked out well for the books that offered them.

As mentioned in my Derby preview, both Wynn and Lucky’s offered the Steve Crist suggested prop of whether the Derby winner would come from the nine that ran in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The “yes” opened a -120 favorite at Wynn and was pick-em at -110 each way at Lucky’s and the “yes” got bet to -135 at Wynn and -140 at Lucky’s. The “no” cashed as I’ll Have Another was not a BC Juvenile runner.

I’ll Have Another, who drew post No. 19 and was the first to ever win from that gate, also cashed for the “odd” saddlecloth number. That opened -110 both ways at the Wynn before the draw but was adjusted to -175 after Bodemeister and Union Rags both drew even numbers and was still bet as high at -200 before the odd came in.

Other props included the winning time going over 2:01.40, the win mutuel being over $18.30, and the winner’s last race being in California at 5-1.

The Preakness doesn’t attract anywhere near the overall betting or the proposition wagers of the Derby, but head-to-head matchups and some props were expected to go up by Friday.

Tuley the Tout’s picks: Not changing much from my Derby picks as I had Creative Cause-I’ll Have Another running 1-2 (and wish I had flip-flopped them), but with a little racing luck that could have materialized. I see no reason to change my first impressions. 1. Creative Cause. 2. I’ll Have Another. 3. Bodemeister. Longshot: Daddy Nose Best.