06/07/2012 1:19PM

Tuley: I'll Have Another's odds to win Triple Crown settling in at 8-5


What are the odds that I’ll Have Another completes his sweep of the Triple Crown series?

If you ask most people (and toss out those who go overboard in either direction by saying “it’s a lock” or “he has no shot”), they will probably quote the 4-5 odds given him on the Belmont morning line.

However, those here in Vegas know I’ll Have Another has been available at considerably better odds. Right after the Preakness, John Avello at the Wynn Las Vegas made him +180 (odds of 9-5) while offering a price of -210 (risk $2.10 for every $1 you want to profit) for those wanting to bet that I’ll Have Another won’t complete the feat. By the Monday after, the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (formerly Hilton) offered +210 on I’ll Have Another. There was even one offshore book that went as high as +300, but that was probably done for publicity and was gone quickly.

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So why the disparity?

“Everyone knows that the public is going to bet the horse going for the Triple Crown and that there’s going to be a lot of people buying souvenir tickets in case he does it,” Avello said. “Regardless of what he ends up being on the tote board, that’s not the same as his true odds. When you’re offering a ‘no’ side to the prop you have to be a little careful. With Union Rags coming back and Dullahan and others, there’s going to be plenty of people looking to take the 11 horses against one, so you can’t make that price too cheap.”

The Lucky’s Race & Sports Books chain opted to go lower, closer to what it thought would be I’ll Have Another’s parimutuel price, and had him at +135 (with the “no” at -165), but by that following Friday, May 25, the consensus line around town was +160 (odds of 8-5). There’s no doubt that there were some wise guys who grabbed the +210 at LVH or +180 at Wynn and laid the -165 at Lucky’s to lock in a profit or take a free roll on I’ll Have Another. For those who don’t what that means: if you bet $100 at +210 on I’ll Have Another and then $165 at -165 against him, you would break even if he loses the Belmont and profit $45 (with no risk) if he does win. Or you could have increased the bet “no” to, say, $198, and be guaranteed a profit either way.

So, if you ask me, I would say that +160 consensus (or odds of 8-5, or a 38.5 percent chance of winning) after the early bettors all weighed in, is the closest we will see to a true odds for I’ll Have Another. Over the past two weeks, the price has been slowly coming down with bettors taking value in anticipation of the parimutuel odds being lower and as of Wednesday morning’s draw, the Wynn had him at +135 with -155 on the “no” while Lucky’s went closer to the morning line with even money on I’ll Have Another and -130 on the “no.”

Lucky’s actually put up odds on all the Belmont contenders two weeks ago. They made Union Rags the 3-1 second choice, with Dullahan 4-1 and Paynter 6-1. Dan Shapiro of Lucky’s said action on Union Rags was “cold” (probably a good choice by bettors as they probably realized the price was too short, and now he’s 6-1 on the Belmont morning line) but that bettors were hot for Dullahan, who was bet down to 7-2 and then 3-1.

Avello said Dullahan has also been very popular in his head-to-head matchups, taking money against both I’ll Have Another, where he has been bet down to a +115 dog, and against Union Rags, where he has been bet to -135 favoritism. The question with Dullahan was always whether he would be able to transfer his form from turf and synthetic tracks to the dirt, and he showed in the Derby that he could with his late run for third.

As of Thursday morning, there weren’t many more matchups available, but Avello and Shapiro both said they would be adding more head-to-head matchups and prop bets for the weekend to capitalize on the big crowds.

When the Belmont doesn’t have a Triple Crown bid, it’s not much more than a regular Saturday stakes card, but it’s a whole new ballgame with a Triple Crown on the line. Vinny Magliulo of Las Vegas Dissemination Company, which acts as the wagering hub for Nevada’s race books, said statewide handle on last year’s Belmont was $1.5 million. But if you go back to Big Brown’s attempt in 2008 – in the depths of the recession – handle was $2.42 million. Smarty Jones’s 2004 bid brought a handle of $2.29 million. Magliulo is optimistic Nevada can at least approach if not beat those figures this Saturday.

“We always see an increase in handle with a Triple Crown on the line,” Magliulo said, “but also keep in mind that the last decade the Belmont has average around seven horses. Working in our favor is this year we have a 12-horse field and that helps with all the added combinations in the exotics.”

Yep, no matter people’s opinions about I’ll Have Another’s chances, they will be sure to be betting the race here and everywhere.

Tuley the Tout’s picks: 1. Dullahan, as the new shooters could set earlier fractions than we usually see in such a long race and set it up for a closer. 2. I’ll Have Another should be right there in the stretch, but can he hold on? 3. Paynter might be the speed of the speed in place of Bodemeister. Longshot: Street Life really benefits from a hot pace and has the look of a Sarava or Da’ Tara upsetter.