Tag Archives: Deal or No Deal

Deal or No Deal: 2011 Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Soldat could end up being worth a look in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

There are few things that please a horse racing fan more than being the first in his or her group to pick the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

The first opportunity to put some money behind that boasting will come this weekend when betting opens for the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool.

The first of three pools opens Friday, Feb. 18 at noon and closes Sunday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.. There are 23 horses listed as individual betting interests, with the rest lumped together as “The Field”.

A lot can happen between now and the first Saturday in May. Horses can emerge from obscurity just as easily as they can be knocked off the Derby trail. The future pools allow bettors to do some long-term speculating and hopefully catch a horse at odds higher than they might be on Derby day.

Of course, these bets come at a time when no horse, even with enough earnings, is guaranteed to be in the gate for the big race. Like all long-term investments, those are just the accepted risks of the game. The trick is finding the horses with the best chance to reward that risk.

Each year, I take a look at the horses offered in the first pool and try to single out a few who might be worthy of such a ludicrous wager and others who will probably offer more value on Derby day.

The whole situation can feel like staring down the banker’s offer on the game show “Deal or No Deal”. A horse may look tempting at the odds it gives in this pool, but that price could change drastically depending on the twists and turns of the Derby trail, just like the banker’s offer can fluctuate depending on which suitcases are opened. Some horses are worth taking the banker’s deal at the odds you’ll see this weekend. Others should be held on to until the final suitcase is opened.

The question is…Deal or No Deal?

A verdict of “Deal” means a horse should be considered for a bet in this particular pool and could give a higher price now than it will later. “No Deal” means bettors should pass for now.

Please keep in mind these speculations are based solely on the morning line odds set by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battagalia. The odds can, and will, fluctuate according to the action in the pari-mutuel pools, which could negate some of my statements – especially if a horse is entered to race this weekend.

Also, unless otherwise noted, this is not an analysis of talent, but a projection of betting value. Just because a horse is labeled a “No Deal” does not mean I do not think it is capable of winning the Kentucky Derby, and vice versa.

For a full list of the future pool horses, along with free Daily Racing Form past performances, click here.

Deal

Anthony’s Cross
Odds: 30-1

Anthony’s Cross showed gritty determination edging out Riveting Reason for the win in last Saturday’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. The Indian Charlie colt has improved with added distance and appears to have overcome early difficulties with leaving the starting gate.

Above all, there is one reason to take a chance on this horse – He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs under Calvin Borel. Three wins out of the last four Derbies, including 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, means that any horse Borel chooses to ride in the race automatically becomes live. If Anthony’s Cross continues to improve throughout the spring, their past experience together could lead the rider to take a good, long look at riding this horse.

On that same note, any horse Borel chooses to ride will likely be bet into the ground on Derby day. It will take a long string of “No Factor” mounts for him to sneak in with another high-priced horse, just because every bettor in America knows what he’s capable of in that race. There are a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” in the equation, but if Anthony’s Cross makes it to the Churchill Downs gate and Calvin Borel decides to ride him, he won’t give anything close to what he’ll give this weekend.

No Deal

Decisive Moment
Odds: 50-1

A son of With Distinction, Decisive Moment kicked off his 2011 campaign with a win in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs. You know who took a detour through Southwest Louisiana on the Derby trail last year? Last place finisher Backtalk. That’s not the kind of company a Kentucky Derby winner tends to keep. Scheduling fashion faux pas aside, that race was Decisive Moment’s first victory since a narrow maiden score five starts prior, and he stepped back in class and distance to earn it. A second place finish in the rich Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) will keep him on the earnings bubble, but if Decisive Moment does manage to sneak in with a resume consistent to what he has shown so far, he should give one of the longest prices on the board on race day.

Decisive Moment also figures to be one of the most volatile propositions in the first pool by virtue of his start in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. His status as a viable future wager option and Derby contender could shift drastically in that race. Hold off on making too big of a judgement on him until we see what he is made of.

More keepers and tosses from the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool can be found behind the jump.

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Deal or No Deal – 2010 Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Eclipse Award finalist Noble's Promise is one suitcase to leave shut in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

People love action.

If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have bets like the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which requires horseplayers to forecast the winner of the classic race several months before it even draws.

It takes an awful lot of gusto to plunk down some hard-earned bones on such a risky venture. Each interest is like a numbered suitcase on the hit game show Deal or No Deal. Inside each one could be that million-dollar prize (a Derby winner at a better price than at post time) or just enough cash for the bus ride home (a Derby trail dud or injury defection).

From noon Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday, ambitious horseplayers will take their place on the proverbial stage before the 24 models holding numbered briefcases. The shadowy figure of the banker will be looming, asking players to accept his odds. Howie Mandel will be there, too. Whatever you do, don’t shake his hand.

The question is…Deal or No Deal?

Which entries in the first future wager pool appear to offer the best value? Which ones make it look like the banker is lowballing the contestants? Below are a few horses that fit into one of those categories.

Keep in mind these speculations are based solely on the morning line odds set by Churchill Donws handicapper Mike Battagalia. The odds can, and will, fluctuate according to the action in the pari-mutuel pools, which could negate some of my statements.

Also, unless otherwise noted, this is not an analysis of talent, but a projection of betting value. Just because a horse is labeled a “No Deal” does not mean I do not think it is capable of winning the Kentucky Derby, and vice versa.

For a complete list of the horses being offered in the Future Wager and their odds, a Thoroughbred Times story can be found here.

Deal

Vale of York
Odds: 30-1

Has a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner ever given odds this long in the first Future Wager pool? I debated long and hard about which category to place the Irish-bred Eclipse Award finalist. On one hand, an awful lot of planets aligned to put Vale of York’s nose across the line first in the Juvenile. He benefitted from a European turf-friendly surface, was a first-time Lasix user and got the best of a multi-horse head bob. Also, there is talk of sending the Invincible Spirit (IRE) colt to Europe instead of testing the Derby trail, which gives this wager an added risk. On the other hand, let us consider a scenario. In all likelihood, Vale of York will take the road to Louisville going through Dubai. If he cleans up the preps and shows a pulse in the UAE Derby, there should be no reason to expect he won’t go off at less than 15-1 on the big day. This has the potential to be a high-risk, high-reward investment.

No Deal

Noble’s Promise
Odds: 15-1

Aside from earning the bragging rights that go along with picking the Kentucky Derby winner several months in advance, one of the appeals of the Future Wager is trying to get a horse at a better price than on race day. Unless Noble’s Promise puts the throttle on his three-year-old campaign and notches a couple highlight reel-caliber wins, odds in the mid-teens ought to be a reasonable expectation on the big stage.

More deals and duds can be found behind the jump.

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Deal or No Deal

  Michigan-Bred Hot Chili (with T.D. Houghton aboard) was considered part of the field in the initial 2008 Derby Future Wager Pool. Though his time on the Derby trail was brief, a fellow field horse, Big Brown more than picked up the slack. 

Michigan-Bred Hot Chili (with T.D. Houghton aboard) was considered part of the mutuel field in the initial 2008 Derby Future Wager Pool. Though his time on the Derby trail was brief, a fellow field horse, Big Brown, more than picked up the slack.

 To paraphrase a banner ad for last year’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool, if you pick the winner in May, you’re smart. If you do it in February, you’re a freakin’ genius. 

The freakin’ geniuses of the world will once again have their shot to prove their superiority following the recent release of the odds for this year’s first pool. Though the figures will fluctuate by the end of the wagering period there are a few horses that stand out either positively or negatively based on their initial odds. 

With a limited time before the pool closes and with the silhouette of the banker ominously staring down at you, it is time to make a decision. Deal or no deal?

Listed below are a few of the horses I would press the flashing button for if I had the money, and some I would leave behind to open more suitcases.

For a look at the entire pool, click here.

Deal

I Want Revenge
Odds: 50-1

Firstly, do not take this as an endorsement that I like I Want Revenge to win the whole thing. He’s at 50/1 for a reason. However, he has shown marked improvement since stretching out over a mile a few races back, finishing no less than third since then. He has gotten caught in the stretch by Pioneerof The Nile in his last two races, but he turns out great works and could be sitting on a big race. At that price, he could be worth taking a small waiver on just in case.

No Deal

Midshipman/Vineyard Haven 
Odds: 12-1 

Some may call me crazy for turning down 12-1 on an Eclipse Award winner and another finalist, but if one of these two find the winner’s circle on Derby Day, they will have done so by taking the long road less traveled against what many would consider to be lesser competition. I would need higher odds than that to feel good about this bet.

Deal

Old Fashioned
Odds: 10-1

Unless he absolutely tanks as a three-year-old, this should be the last time he comes close to being offered at 10-1 between now and the Derby. Though I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid on this horse until I see how he handles early pace pressure, his wins have been impressive. If he can live up to the potential he showed during his juvenile campaign, this could be the easiest money offered in a long time.

No Deal

Stardom Bound
Odds: 12-1

That’s some awfully low odds for a horse that is only being considered for a Derby run. Also, despite the recent successes of Rags to Riches and Eight Belles, I still like to see some proof that a filly can run with the boys before I go throwing too much money at her. Even if she wins the Santa Anita Derby, she should leave the gates in Louisville at comparable odds to what she’s giving now. If you like her that much, wait until she is a sure thing to run.

Deal

Pioneerof The Nile
Odds: 20-1

The Zayat homebred has stepped up his game considerably since last year’s win in the CashCall Futurity, becoming the leader of the California Derby contingent. This fact alone makes him an incredible value at 20-1. Until someone proves otherwise, all of the California-based horses will bear the artificial surface red flag, but no one knows how that could change with the Derby preps at Santa Anita being run on a new surface. Either way, he is worth a play at this price.

No Deal

This Ones for Phil
Odds: 12-1

Do I need to tell you to avoid the horse who’s not even nominated to the Triple Crown? Even if IEAH Stables ponies up the six grand for a late entry, he ought to bring higher odds leaving the gates at Churchill Downs than he is giving here. Have patience with this one.

Deal

The Pamplemousse
Odds: 30-1

A gray horse who sets glacial opening fractions, then finds another gear in the stretch. Where have we seen this before? Granted, his San Rafael effort was hardly against world-class competition, but front-running winners with that extra gear are hard to come by on artificial surfaces. The same questions plague him that follow Old Fashioned, but he has the same upside with a higher payoff.

No Deal

The Mutuel Field (All Others) 
Odds: 5-2 

Give me all the smug remarks you want about how this was the ticket that was cashed last year, but at such low odds, making money at this proposition is near impossible. Big Brown barely made this bet profitable last year, winning the Derby at 5/2 after giving odds of 3/1 as a part of the mutuel field. Big Brown was also a freak that won out of the 20 hole. Barring someone coming out of nowhere and absolutely crushing everything in his path, no one in this category should go off at odds lower than 5/2. And besides, “the field” is such an unimaginative bet. Come on, get creative with your wager, people!

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