09/20/2012 2:18PM

Tuley: Wynn Las Vegas makes Uncaptured the early 30-1 favorite for Kentucky Derby

Michael Burns
Uncaptured opened as the 30-1 Kentucky Derby favorite at Wynn Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS – We interrupt this football season to bring you the 2013 Kentucky Derby future book openers.

This is a horse racing publication, after all.

John Avello, director of race and sports book operations at the Wynn Las Vegas, posted the first futures in town when his book opened at 8 a.m. Pacific on Wednesday. Avello made Uncaptured the 30-1 favorite on his initial list of 162 soon-to-be-3-year-olds, with Shanghai Bobby at 40-1; superfilly Dreaming of Julia in a group at 60-1 along with Micromanage and Violence; Tizracer at 50-1; Know More at 65-1; Fortify at 75-1; and Jococity and Tesseron both at 85-1. The other 150 are all at least triple digits.

“I made Uncaptured the favorite because I was really impressed by what I’ve seen,” said Avello of the Mark Casse trainee with three stakes wins at Woodbine. “We didn’t take any big bets on him, so many other bettors aren’t as sure he’ll transfer his form to the dirt, or maybe I set the odds too low. If no one bets him at 30-1, I’ll raise him.”

The contender to get bet down first was the Todd Pletcher-trained Shanghai Bobby, winner of the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. He was bet down from 40-1 to co-favoritism at 30-1. Pletcher has six on that list of 10 horses that opened under 100-1.

What does it take for Avello to move a number? He said he’s letting customers bet “to win $20,000.” So, if you want to bet a horse at 100-1, you can bet up to $200 before he’ll move the line (and let you bet again if you accept the adjusted price). Avello said he’ll take $100 no matter the price, so a horse at 300-1 could put his exposure at $30,000.

Avello said he’s already on the hook for $80,000 on yet another Pletcher trainee, Archwarrior, who opened at 150-1 and was bet all the way down to 50-1 on the first day. Of course, time is on Avello’s side as any big bets he has to pay off are usually offset by all the other wagers on what could approach 300 horses by the end of the winter before the candidates start to whittle down leading up to the first Saturday in May.

But the house doesn’t always win. Avello points to 2000, when Fusaichi Pegasus was the winter-book favorite and took steady money leading up to his Derby win as well as 2003, when Funny Cide’s owners cashed in at the expense of Avello’s book when he was at Bally’s. Last year, Lucky’s Race & Sports Books, now owned by William Hill PLC, lost when Doug O’Neill and his stable bet on I’ll Have Another. William Hill’s futures should be up later this month or early October.

Avello said others receiving early action included O’Neill-trained Know More (lowered from 65-1 to 60-1), Revolutionary (bet from 100-1 to 60-1, Palace Malice (bet from 100-1 to 75-1), and Patacky Kid (125-1 down to 100-1). He said he was happy with the early action, especially since he doesn’t know how changes in the rules to qualify for the Derby will affect the process. Instead of horses getting credit for earnings in any graded stakes race, they must earn them in 17 designated races with a weighted point scale for the major prep races.

“In the past, a horse could win some graded stakes at 2 and pretty much be assured they would have enough earnings to make the Derby starting gate, so bettors would feel comfortable betting those horses early,” he said. “Now, we might have to wait longer to know what horses for sure are going to make it to the starting gate. When it’s new, it’s new for me, too. I’ll be able to answer that question about its impact better in the spring. All we can do is adjust as we go along.”

Back to the betting board . . .

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled look at the NFL. It has been an exciting start to the season (we’ll leave the replacement referee discussions for others) with underdogs going 19-12-1 against the spread so far. Unfortunately, I’ve somehow started on the losing side of the ledger so far with my underdog picks here. I went 2-2 with my plays last week as I won with the Rams and Seahawks winning outright as home underdogs, but lost by including the Chiefs and Lions. I’ll try to get back to .500 with these two.

Vikings +7 vs. 49ers

The bandwagon is filling up and has driven this number to a full touchdown (it was 4.5 over the summer at Cantor Gaming books here in Vegas and “opened” 49ers –6 this past Sunday). I’m hoping home dogs continue to bark after going 5-1 ATS last Sunday, but even if the Vikings can’t pull the outright upset like those five teams did, I feel they can keep it close enough to get the money. Despite showing an improved passing attack, the 49ers are still mostly a team that is going to beat you with their defense and grind out the victories. The Vikings have an overtime win over the Jaguars and a last-second loss to the Colts – granted, not the greatest strength of schedule – but they looked more competitive than many had assumed they would be. This line saw some resistance at 7, and some books have gone down to 6.5, but it’s pretty certain the public will bet back to 7 by Sunday.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit.

Seahawks +3.5 vs. Packers

After losing to the Cardinals in the opener (and that loss doesn’t look as bad now, does it?), the Seahawks showed they’re a much better team at home as they routed the Cowboys 27-7. If you thought the 12th man was loud, wait until Monday night. Now, the Packers aren’t going to be intimidated (though we can expect a few extra false start penalties), so I’m not just banking on that. The Seahawks also should be able to match the Packers score for score with Marshawn Lynch’s tough running inside and Russell Wilson off the play-action.

PLAY: Seahawks for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-2 for net loss of 0.2 units (risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL overall: 2-4 for net loss of 2.4 units.