In a Feb. 10 piece for Bloodhorse entitled “How About a Trainer Derby Future Wager?” Steve Haskin goes about handicapping the Kentucky Derby in a very unique way — by analyzing the trainers with potential Derby entrants.
Well, since US Racing does, in fact, offer trainer odds on the Run for the Roses, I thought I would add my two cents to Haskin’s and see if, between us, we can make readers some dollars on the first Saturday in May.
First, let me explain my methodology:
- I began by analyzing the horses included in the Brisnet past performances for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 — all 79 of them — using my Win Factor method (a computer-based system that helps me determine the fair betting odds for each race entrant).
- Next, I grouped the horses based on who trained them.
- Lastly, I re-calculated the odds (in effect, considering horses saddled by the same trainer to be part of an entry).
I then compared Haskin’s odds and my WFR odds to the odds being offered by US Racing to identify the underlays (trainers with odds less than I deemed fair), fair value plays (trainers with odds that I considered fair) and overlays (trainers with odds greater than I thought fair).
Let’s start with the underlays, i.e. the trainers I would not bet:
Although the animals under his care have generally outperformed their Derby odds, I think both Haskin and US Racing have overstated his chances to be in the winner’s circle following the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. Romans’ two main prospects — Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine — are 30-1 and 50-1 on the morning line of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2, making his 18-1 price at US Racing seem dubious at best.
Stable star Mohaymen is likely to be the favorite single-horse betting option in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but 11-2 is simply too low. I’ll pass.
He trains undefeated BC Juvenile champ Nyquist and, on that basis, his 12-1 odds are probably fair, as the son of Uncle Mo will probably close at or near that price in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager this weekend. However, I have grave concerns that Nyquist will not be able to carry his speed 1 ¼ miles and am therefore unwilling to take a short price.
We’ll look at the fair value plays next. These are trainers I might bet on:
There are a lot of guys who have done well in the Triple Crown series over the years, but only one who has owned it — Bob Baffert. Not only did Baffert become the first trainer to win the Triple Crown since Laz Barrera captured all three jewels with Affirmed in 1978, but he has also saddled three of the 13 horses that failed to seal the deal in the Belmont after annexing both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness during that time frame. So, while he has no standout right now, he is always a force to be reckoned with on the Derby trail.
He’s got a few Derby hopefuls under his care, including Airoforce, who was a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf before winning his main track debut in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28.
And last, but certainly not least, here are the overlays — the trainers that I would bet on at the prices listed above:
First gained notoriety as a “turf trainer,” but has since expanded his resume. While he doesn’t have a Derby contender that makes me weak in the knees, Brown does have some improving types in his barn with great bloodlines, including Gift Box, who was third in the Remsen, and Shagaf, a fine-looking son of Bernardini.
Granted, Pletcher has a lousy record in this race, but, as usual, he has a lot of ammunition and, for that reason alone, I think he is a massive overlay and a must-use on any Derby trainer futures bet. Horses to keep an eye on include the rapidly-improving Gettysburg, Stonestreet Stable’s lightly-raced Zulu and Rally Cry.
Other trainers that bettors might want to keep in mind are Anthony Dutrow, who counts the talented NY-bred Get Jets among his potential Derby starters, and the obscure Juan Andres Rodriguez, who saddles El Charro, a colt that has been steadily improving.