05/12/2010 11:00PM

Super Saver pegged at 7-1 to sweep Crown


LAS VEGAS - Of all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail this spring, Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver is the only one with a chance to sweep the series as we head to the Preakness this Saturday.

Now, that's an obvious statement, but the point is that a horse wins the Derby every year, and, except in rare cases such as being injured (Grindstone in 1996), we except that the victor will be sent to Pimlico. Before the Derby, the odds were around 6-1 that there would be a Triple Crown this year, rising slightly to 6.5-1 after pre-Derby Week favorite Eskendereya was declared from the race. The uneducated would assume that once a horse won the Derby that the odds would drop significantly since they already have one of the three races out of the way. But knowing what we know, it wasn't too shocking when the Wynn Las Vegas posted the updated odds after Super Saver's victory and put it right at 6-1. You could also lay 1-8 that he wouldn't accomplish the feat. In fact, he has since been raised to 7-1 instead of having the odds drop.

Of course, the odds on any one particular horse will change dramatically. A week before the Derby, Super Saver opened at 75-1 to win the Triple Crown at the Wynn. After Eskendereya's defection, Super Saver was dropped to 50-1, and he's now down to that 7-1.

Super Saver was a popular winner in the race books here, both from bettors and from bookmakers behind the counter. Clearly, from the fact he went off at 8-1 after a morning line of 15-1, you could tell he was a popular selection. For those who bet him in futures, he also paid off nicely, though not as nicely as you might think considering he opened at 275-1 when the Wynn began its Derby future book on Sept. 9. He won his maiden by seven lengths just two days after those odds were posted and was dropped to 150-1. After a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont, he won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28 and plummeted to 50-1 at the Wynn. By the time other race books in town posted their first Derby futures, Super Saver was well on everyone's radar.

When Eskendereya was still on the Derby trail, the odds on Todd Pletcher training his first Derby winner were set at pick-em by the Lucky's race books (-115 either way). After the favorite was declared from the race, he was raised to 4-1 at the Wynn and Super Saver came through for Pletcher. Super Saver's win in 2:04.45 went well over the over/under of 2:02.40 and his mutuel price of $18 was under the over/under of $20.10.

Proposition wagers won't be as prevalent in Las Vegas for the Preakness, but head-to-head matchups will be available at most race books by Saturday. Super Saver vs. Derby losing favorite Lookin At Lucky will probably be the most popular.

* Consider yours truly in the camp that isn't ready to move Super Saver into superstar status off one winning race this year, even if it was the Derby. Jackson Bend has been just as consistent overall, is a much juicier price, and should be closer to the pace as he obviously prefers. I'll also look to take Lookin At Lucky in a head-to-head matchup vs. Super Saver. Tuley's Preakness picks: 1. Jackson Bend. 2. Lookin At Lucky. 3. Paddy O'Prado. Longshot: Aikenite.

Sports book notes

As of presstime Thursday, the pre-playoff favored Cleveland Cavaliers were fighting for their lives with a Thursday night Game 6 vs. the Boston Celtics. The Orlando Magic, who are awaiting the Cavs-Celts survivor, has actually taken on the favorite's role in the Las Vegas Hilton NBA future books at 7-5 heading into Thursday night, with the Los Angeles Lakers at 8-5, the Cavaliers at 6-1, and the Boston Celtics at 10-1. Obviously, the latter two will change dramatically depending on Thursday night's result. The Western Conference Finals are set with the Lakers taking on the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers are -300 (risk $3 for every $1 you want to profit) with the Suns at +230 (win $2.30 for every $1 wagered), according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

* If the NBA playoffs seem surprising, it's nothing compared to the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens, the last team to make the Stanley Cup playoffs and the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, has pulled off back-to-back series upsets of the top-seeded Washington Capitals and the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. They await the winner of Friday night's Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins are a slight -120 favorite at home. In the West, the top two seeds have reached the conference finals, which starts 3 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. The San Jose Sharks, the No. 1 seed and holding home-ice advantage, are just a -125 (odds of 4-5) favorite to take Game 1 as well as the series vs. the Chicago Blackhawks.

* The Gamblers Book Shop has been a required stop for many horseplayers and sports bettors (as well as students of all gambling games). After 45 years at its 11th Street location near downtown Las Vegas, it moved to Tropicana Avenue last year. Now, it has moved again to 5473 S. Eastern Ave. (just south of Tropicana).