With heavy favorites looming large in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1), the popular Oaks/Derby double wager is shaping to be a low-paying proposition.
Unless, of course, you decide to shake things up with a longshot or two.
There’s something to be said for playing against popular opinions. It’s hard to make a long-term profit betting favorites. Certainly one could play an Oaks/Derby double pairing #1 Swiss Skydiver (8-5) and #5 Gamine (1-1) in the Oaks with #17 Tiz the Law (3-5) in the Kentucky Derby, but you’ll be lucky if such a bet returns a payoff greater than 2-1.
Case in point—remember 2014, when Untapable won the Oaks at 1-1 and California Chrome claimed the Derby at 5-2? The $1 Oaks/Derby double returned just $5.70. With even shorter prices in play for 2020, we could be looking at a payoff in the ~$4 range if Gamine and Tiz the Law both win as expected.
So if we want to think outside the box and aim for a higher payoff, where do we begin? Playing against Tiz the Law might seem like a logical starting point. He’s facing 17 talented rivals, and if we can get second choice #16 Honor A. P. (5-1) or third choice #18 Authentic (8-1) home on top, we’ll be rewarded with a much higher return on investment.
But Tiz the Law looms as the most formidable Derby favorite in decades—the shortest morning line favorite since 1989—and after drawing favorably in post 17, the runaway Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) winner might be too tough to beat.
As a result, the Oaks could actually be more likely to produce a surprise winner. Though there are only nine fillies in the fray, anything could happen if Swiss Skydiver and Gamine hook up in an intense early speed duel. Gamine is a pure front-runner, and Swiss Skydiver pretty much has to send after drawing the rail. If they burn each other out, couldn’t a longshot come running to pick up the pieces?
It’s not out of the question. #4 Speech (5-1) is an obvious candidate after breaking Keeneland’s 1 1/16-mile track record in the Ashland (G1). Though Speech has finished behind both Swiss Skydiver and Gamine this season, her tactical speed and tractability should ensure she sits a perfect tracking trip before getting first run at the leaders down the lane.
Indiana Oaks (G3) winner #7 Shedaresthedevil (20-1) is also intriguing. A two-time graded stakes winner capable of running well with a variety of running styles, Shedaresthedevil could be surprisingly dangerous if she settles off a fast pace and unleashes one sustained rally in the homestretch.
So if you’re keen to play against a favorite or two in the Oaks/Derby double, I suggest pairing Speech, Shedaresthedevil, and Gamine with Tiz the Law. If you successfully catch a longshot winner in the Oaks, you’ll be rewarded with a solid payday. And if Gamine and Tiz the Law both deliver, then the small payoff should at least be sufficient to cover the cost of your tickets.
$10 Oaks/Derby double: 4,5,7 with 17 ($30)