The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby takes place this Saturday at Churchill Downs, marking the official start of the Triple Crown racing season for the top three-year-old thoroughbreds in the nation that also includes the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
While picking "to win" bets in the annual "Run for the Roses" probably account for much of the betting action this race pulls in, some of the best chances to actually cash in on a winning ticket revolve around the betting odds that are released for any number of special prop bets in conjunction with horse racing's biggest betting event of the year.
After digging deep into an extensive list of Kentucky Derby props as released by Bovada, the following is a closer look at my top three bets that give you the best chance to cash some tickets on this race.
2016 Kentucky Derby Winning Time
Bovada has set the "over/under" for the winning time of this year's Kentucky Derby at 2:02.90, with the betting odds set at 5/6 for either bet.
Two of the greatest three-year-old thoroughbreds in recent memory have won this race the past two years starting with California Chrome in 2014 followed by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah last year. The winning time posted by California Chrome was 2:03:66 and American Pharoah's winning time in the 2015 Kentucky Derby was 2:03:02.
Any horse racing expert would tell you that speed is not one of the strongest attributes of this year's Kentucky Derby field in general, so I am going big on the OVER in this prop. Just to put things in better perspective, American Pharoah posted a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in his win in last year's Arkansas Derby, and this year Creator won that race with a speed figure of 96. Looking at the average speed figure for the winner of 14 official Kentucky Derby prep races, it came in at 93.4 this year as opposed to a 98.1 average in 2015.
2016 Kentucky Derby Winning Saddlecloth Number
The betting odds that the winner of Saturday's race has an odd number for a saddlecloth have been set at 10/27, and the betting odds that it will be an even number have been set at 9/5.
Going with the opening morning line odds, Nyquist is this year's favorite to win at 3/1, and he will break from the No. 13 post. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt is undefeated in the first seven races of his young career, including victories in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and this year's Grade 1 Florida Derby.
Exaggerator opened as an 8/1 second favorite, and his post-position draw was No. 11. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt is coming off a win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, and he has finished in the money in six of seven major stakes races over the course of his career.
One horse that I really like in this race is Gun Runner at 10/1 betting odds, and his starting post position is No. 5. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he has won his first two races as a three year old starting with the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in late February. He went on to win the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at that same track in late March.
Creator is another horse opened at 10/1 odds to win, and his post position is set at No. 3. Also trained by Asmussen, this three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt's biggest claim to fame was that victory in this year's Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 16.
If you happen to be a fan of trainer Todd Pletcher, one of his two entries in Saturday's race is Outwork at 15/1 odds to win. This is another one of my favorites to be in the mix following an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct his last time out. He will be starting this race from the No. 15 post.
I also like Pletcher's other entry, Destin, at 15/1 odds. This three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt will be starting from the No. 9 post following his victory in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in his last two outings.
The odds for a bet on an odd saddlecloth number winning this race are not all that great from a value standpoint, but I really like my chances to cash in given that my top six picks for this race are all starting from an odd-numbered post.
2016 Kentucky Derby Winner Won Their Last Race
Given that all six of the horses that I briefly profiled above are coming off a win in their previous race, it is basically a no-brainer to go with the "yes" in this prop even though the overall return is not that great.
If you want to add a few more horses to the list that add a bit more value to both of these prop picks, Brody's Cause at 12/1 odds is coming off a win in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes and his post position is No. 19. Oscar Nominated is a 50/1 long shot, but he just won the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes and his post position is No. 7.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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