2014 Kentucky Derby Prop Bets and Futures Odds
by Dave Schwab - 4/29/2014
This Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville is the running of the 140th Kentucky Derby, which signals the start of the Triple Crown horse racing season for the country's best three-year-old Thoroughbreds. This Grade I stakes race is on a dirt track over a distance of 1 ¼ miles with a total prize purse of $2 million. The "Run for the Roses" is often referred to as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports".
While millions of bettors will be focusing their attention on picking this year's Kentucky Derby winner, there is also a wealth of opportunity to cash in on any number of props bets and futures odds that have been released by the sportsbooks for this race. The following is a closer look at a few of my top bets based on odds released by Sportsbook.ag.
Kentucky Derby Winning Time
The betting odds for this prop currently have the moneyline on both the "over" or "under" 2:02.50 set at -115. There are a number of factors that can have an impact on the winning time; most notably track conditions and the actual size of field due to any late scratches.
Looking back at some historical data for the Kentucky Derby, the winning time has stayed under this total time in five of the last seven races. Orb won the race last year in 2:02.89, and in 2010 Super Saver crossed the finish line first in 2:04:45, but the other five winning times came in below this figure, including I'll Have Another's 2:01:89 run in 2012, which was the fastest time since Big Brown's impressive win in 2008.
Given that Saturday's forecast is calling for a fast track coupled with the quality of some of the horses in this year's field, I am taking the -115 odds on the under in this prop.
Kentucky Derby Margin of Victory
The odds for this prop are graduated as follows:
1 length to 2 ¾ lengths: +200
3 lengths to 5 ¾ lengths: +300
½ length to ¾ lengths: +400
6 lengths to 7 ¾ lengths: +700
8 lengths to 10 ¾ lengths: +800
11 lengths to 14 ¾ lengths: +1000
15 lengths or more: +1200
Dead Heat: +3000
The largest margin of victory in a Kentucky Derby over the last 20 years was in 2009 when Mine That Bird won by 6 ¾ lengths. Barbaro won by 6 ½ lengths in 2006, and three other horses have won by four or more lengths during that time span. The majority of the races over the past 20 years have been won anywhere between two and three lengths, and Orb's 1 ½-length victory last year was the tightest margin of victory in the last seven years.
The historical date supports a tight race that would suggest a play on 1 to 2 ¾ lengths in this prop for a chance to double your money at +200. My gut instinct for Saturday's Derby tells me that we are in for a tight race behind a hotly-contested field that is loaded with a number of solid contenders. Despite California Chrome being opened as the early odds-on favorite , I am going with a play on a ½ to ¾ length margin of victory at +400.
Some of the best props to bet on in this race are the odds set for head-to-head matchups. Right now it would cost you -180 to bet $100 on California Chrome finishing ahead of second-favorite Wicked Strong, whose moneyline in this matchup is set at +135. Each horse's post position should have an impact on these odds after Wednesday's draw, but sight unseen, I would go with Wicked Strong in this matchup.
Sportsbook.ag has odds listed for a number of different head-to-head matchups involving all of the top contenders for Saturday's race. They return on hitting a few of these could be just as lucrative as betting on the race itself.
Triple Crown Futures
The big futures bet for Saturday's race is will the winner go on to win the Triple Crown. The current odds on "yes" are +800 and they are -1000 on "no". Considering that the last three-year old to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978, it is little surprise that there is such a disparity in the odds.
Since 1997 there have been eight horses that have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown before coming up short in the Belmont Stakes. I'll Have Another was the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but he was a late scratch for the Belmont. Smarty Jones captured everyone's attention in 2004 by finishing second to Birdstone in the Belmont, which was the closest run at the Triple Crown since 1998.
The bottom line is that unless you have money to burn, do not take the bait on yes for this futures bet no matter how much you would love to see it happen.
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