As soon as Dennis’ Moment crossed the finish line first in the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last Saturday, I received a few texts and emails from horseplayers. They wanted to know where they could get down on the horse in a Kentucky Derby future book.
I guess I should appreciate the notoriety. For 20 years, I was the horse racing writer at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I’m now retired from that gig.
Also, before the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve I had mentioned to a few friends that I had a really live Derby future book bet. The horse’s name was Justify and I bet him at 100-1 odds. After he won the Derby that was no longer a secret.
But the lore of the Derby future book lives on even though there are fewer outlets to get down with. When I worked at Santa Anita Park, I had people tell me about the scores that were made when Winning Colors won the 1988 Derby. Apparently, certain folks drove down to Tijuana and bet on the D. Wayne Lukas trained filly with both hands.
The future-book marketplace has changed. I don’t hear of anyone driving to Tijuana anymore. Instead they drive to Las Vegas, and now those options are fewer.
The largest Derby future book had always been at Wynn Las Vegas. Johnny Avello, its former race and sports book director, offered the most horses and the highest odds. That is now gone since Avello joined FanDuel.
Here in Vegas, William Hill will now inherit that mantle. I was told their Derby future book will open up one week prior to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. A word to the wise. As in any year with any horse, those who are first in line get the best odds.
The William Hill future book is a book bet and not pari-mutuel. Thus, as the money comes in on a horse the odds will keep dropping.
An example of a pari-mutuel pool is the Kentucky Derby Future Wager offered by Churchill Downs. They have a number of pools spread throughout the winter and spring.
It is a useful pool but has a couple of drawbacks. One is they are limited to 23 individual horses and a field. Thus the odds are usually a tad lower. And you do not know your final odds until the pool closes on late Sunday afternoon.
But since the object is to first, find the Derby winner, and second get value from higher odds than you would on Derby day, it is still very viable.
On a closing note, I would not recommend a Derby future book bet on Dennis’ Moment. It’s not that I don’t like him. It’s that he will open at 10- or 12-1 odds, which offers little value at all this far out from the first Saturday in May.
Richard Eng is the author of “Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies," an introductory book for newcomers to the sport of horse racing. For two decades, he was the turf editor and handicapper for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He still handicaps the Southern California tracks and his picks are for sale at www.racedaylasvegas.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @richeng4propick and on Facebook.com.