The 141st Kentucky Derby will be run this Saturday, May 2, at Churchill Downs in Louisville. This race officially kicks off the start of the 2015 Triple Crown horse racing season for the country's best three-year-old thoroughbreds that also includes the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
The storied "Run for the Roses" is a Grade I stakes race on a dirt track over a distance of 1 ¼ miles with a total prize purse of $2 million. Given the overall quality of this year's field, this year's Kentucky Derby should easily be able to live up to the lofty billing as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports".
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The Kentucky Derby also attracts millions of bettors. While most of them will be focusing their attention on picking this year's winner, there is a tremendous opportunity to cash in on any number of props bets and futures odds that have been released in conjunction with this race. The following is a closer look at a few of my top bets based on the prop odd and futures released by a few of the top sportsbooks in the game.
Wining Horse's Name begins with a Vowel
Sportsbook.ag's betting odds that the Kentucky Derby's winning horse's name begins with a vowel (a,e,i,o or u) have been set at +165, and they are set at -185 that it begins with any other letter. When you look at the list of contenders that fall into the vowel category, I believe there is some tremendous value in this prop bet.
At the top of the list would be American Pharoah, which just so happens to be a 5/2 morning-line favorite to win this race. Some of the top experts in the world of horse racing have compared this three-year-old colt to Big Brown, which carries some lofty expectations coming into this year's Kentucky Derby. He has already posted dominating wins in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park as part of prep race schedule for the Triple Crown racing season.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza, the value in American Pharoah alone is probably reason enough to play this prop, and it's a major bonus to add horses such as International Star, Upstart, El Kabeir, Itsaknockout and Ocho Ocho Ocho to the mix.
Parlay Special- Horse Racing and Boxing
Bovada has decided to release some parlay prop bet odds for Saturday afternoon's Kentucky Derby and Saturday night's blockbuster boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The bulk of the betting odds cover a number of combinations that parlay the winning horse with the winning boxer. While going chalk with a wager on either of the favorites in each event will not provide much of a return, this parlay bet makes perfect sense to me to try and draw the maximum value out of the odds.
Bovada has listed American Pharoah as a 13/5 favorite to win the Derby, and its money line odds on Floyd Mayweather Jr. to win the fight are set at -210. Its betting odds on parlaying these two in a prop bet are set at 4/1.
Triple Crown Futures
Horse racing's Triple Crown is probably one of the most elusive titles in all of sports with just 11 horses accomplishing this feat over the past 140 attempts. Affirmed was the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes back in 1978.
A $100 wager that the winner of this year's Kentucky Derby goes on to win the 2015 Triple Crown would bring in $500 on Bookmaker's current betting odds for this prop. If you want to bet that we will not have a Triple Crown winner this year, you would have to risk $650 on this prop bet to win $100.
Since I do not like the value in either of those bets, a logical play when it comes to the Triple Crown futures is to take the +750 betting odds that American Pharoah does go on to win all three races. These odds will go down dramatically if he wins the Kentucky Derby, so now is the time to squeeze the maximum value out of the numbers.
This horse has already shown that he is big enough and strong enough to handle the rigors of winning three major stakes races during the span of five weeks. So while the risk remains high, the reward is much higher.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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