When it comes to betting the Kentucky Derby, it seems too natural to choose one of the favorites. More often than not, it tends to be a horse that has shown itself to be a winner of big races leading up to the first leg of the Triple Crown, that winds up posing for pictures in the winner’s circle.
The morning betting line favorite for the 2011 edition of the race is Dialed In. The Nick Zito trained horse will be leaving from post position eight, and with jockey Julien Leparoux in the irons, is currently taking 4-1 odds. Dialed In did win the Florida Derby, and will now try to duplicate what Big Brown accomplished in 2008 – winning both the Florida Derby and then the Kentucky Derby.
Twice in the last five years, the winner has come from the eighth position, where Dialed In will start in the 20-horse field come Saturday. Long shot Mine That Bird with Calvin Borel aboard, won two years ago out of the eighth spot, and Barbaro in 2006 did so as well. Babaro’s hopes at winning the Triple Crown however were dashed after he shattered his leg two weeks later in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, ending his racing career and eventually leading to his death.
While taking the pre-race favorite may be a safe bet, it probably will not provide the big return, but it can be smart choice. Since 2000, four pre-race favorites went on to win the Derby.
The second-best choice on the board, according to the odds makers, is Uncle Mo at 9-2 odds. He was thought to be the pre-race favorite earlier in the season, but he was upset in the running of last month’s Wood Memorial. Uncle Mo will leave from the 18th starting position, a place that does not necessarily suit his running style. He will have to fight just to be in midfield by turn one.
In terms of horses starting in gates 15 or higher, meaning they are further away from the railing at the start, eight have won the Kentucky Derby since 1982. Yet only one, Big Brown in 2008, has done so in the last nine races. Prior to this stretch, three straight winners of the Kentucky Derby came from the 15-plus postpositions.
Nehro, which was the runner-up at both the Louisiana Derby and the Arkansas Derby, will head into the weekend as the third-best favorite for this race at 6-1. This horse is one to keep an eye on, and is currently the only other contender in single digits for odds. In the next group at 10-1 odds includes: Archarcharch, who drew the dreaded pole position; and Midnight Interlude, the lone Bob Baffert trained horse with Victor Espinoza aboard.
My trifecta bet for this weekend’s Run for the Roses for the favorites: Dialed In, Archaarcharch, and Nehro.