Itsmyluckyday won the 2013 Holy Bull Stakes for 10 points (Photo courtesy Bob Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin)
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager might seem like an odd spot to find a lesson in the risk/reward ratio that determines value, but in spite of all those double-digit odds there were some horses that were quite simply bad investments last weekend.
Value in a wager is best described as placing your money on a horse that figures to be 4-1 in a race but is dismissed at 8-1. Betting on 3-5 shots that should be 2-1 might generate a higher win percentage but if a handicapper stays true to the principles of value, there’s a better chance for long-term profits as opposed to backing underlayed favorites.
In the third and final edition of the Future Wager, value took on an added meaning because it involved more than a horse’s chances of winning the Kentucky Wager. That runner, in most cases, also had endure another race and then avoid the injury bug during six demanding weeks of training just to make it to the starting gate on Derby Day.
Winning the Derby? That only adds to the degree of difficulty and risk.
For example, take Itsmyluckyday. He was the 10-1 co-second choice among the 23 individual entries in the wagering.
If he wins Saturday’s Florida Derby that 10-1 price might seem like a bargain, but is it?
Unless Itsmyluckyday wins by a furlong, at best he’ll probably be 5-1 in the Run for the Roses, which seems like a deal, but, remember, that’s a best case scenario.
On the flip side, because Itsmyluckyday has only 10 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and is currently in 20th place, he most likely will need to finish first or second in a field that will also include Orb and Shanghai Bobby to wrap up a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby. A third-place finish, which is worth 20 points, might be enough, but there are no guarantees.
Aside from his weak position in the points chase, Itsmyluckyday figures to be around 12-1 or more in the Derby if he runs second or third in Gulfstream’s Derby.
So where’s the value? Weighing the upside and the downside, even a hard-core Itsmyluckyday fan can see there was little reward for backing their horse last week. The best strategy was to wait for Derby Day, when a bettor would know for certain if Itsmyluckyday was running and could get fairly similar odds as opposed to locking in a wager in mid-March.
Another idea that would probably pay off better involves a parlay wager starting with the Florida Derby. A $2 win bet on Itsmyluckyday in the Florida Derby might return, say $7, which, if reinvested at 5-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby, would increase to about $42 if he also takes the Run for the Roses.
Revolutionary, at 12-1, offered the same weak risk/reward ratio. He, too, has just 10 points (he’s 24th in points on tiebreakers), and also needs a strong effort in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby just to nail down a spot in the field. Given the weaker nature of the field he’ll face, as opposed to the Florida Derby, his odds seem destined to be no lower than 8-1 on May 4. Thus 12-1 was no bargain, even though I’m rather keen on his chances of winning the opening leg of the Triple Crown. Instead, I’ll opt for the Louisiana Derby-Kentucky Derby parlay, which gives me a chance to keep my money if an injury sidelines him.
REVOLUTIONARY (#2) OVERCAME TROUBLE TO WIN THE WITHERS STAKES
Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire
Meanwhile, while Orb was 13-1 his risk/reward ratio is better than either of the other two. Helping his cause is that he has 50 points and can start in the Derby whether he wins, loses or finishes in a draw on Saturday.
One obstacle avoided.
His late-running style is also well-suited for a mile-and-a-quarter and a win in the Florida Derby could lead to him being about 9-2 or 4-1 at Churchill Downs, depending on how Verrazano fares in the Wood. It’s not an optimum risk/reward ratio due to the six-week gap, but at least it comes with the safety net of knowing a loss by two noses in the Florida Derby will not sidetrack him.
There’s surely some value in that, right?
And what are your thoughts on a value in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager? Which horse interested you the most?