My biggest takeaway from wagering on tthis year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is that it actually is possible to be dead on the board in the most bet on race in North America.
Like anything with racing, we got some things right and some things wrong with our odds line for this year’s Kentucky Derby (see chart below). Kudos to actual morning line odds make Mike Battaglia for correctly identifying the top four wagering choices (which also just so happened to be the cold superfecta). I pegged actual fifth choice Mor Spirit and Gun Runner as the third and fourth choices, respectively, behind Nyquist and Exaggerator, but Gun Runner was third choice and Mohaymen was fourth choice. Battaglia had them as co-third choices (along with Creator, who was sixth choice).
The biggest surprise among those both Mike and I thought would take money was Blue Grass Stakes winner Brody’s Cause, who actually went off at higher odds than the horse he beat in that race, My Man Sam. Brody’s Cause was dead on the board as the tenth choice at 24.9-to-1 while My Man Sam—perhaps bolstered by the public selection of several prominent handicappers—was the eighth choice at 19.5-to-1.
The biggest surprise to me, though, was Gotham Stakes winner Shagaf as the longest shot on the board at 56-to-1. This turned out to be especially prescient, as the beaten favorite from the Wood Memorial could not even complete the course after pulling up inside the eighth pole.
The biggest question going forward is what this run of favorites will do to Derby betting next year. From 1980-1999 not a single favorite won, and we’ve had eight in the past 17 years, including the last four. Was it this run of favorites that helped encourage the betting public to bet undefeated champion Nyquist down to 2.3-to-1 when both Mike and I thought he would be 3-to-1? Will next year’s clear choices (even Exaggerator at 5.1-to-1 was low) take even more money then?