Now that the Kentucky Derby prep season has come to an end, handicappers can focus on the 20 probable starters and try to decide which one of them will be fortunate enough to win the run for the roses.
That quest for success at the betting windows promises to be as challenging as ever, but there is one somewhat logical way to start.
Bet against the favorite – at least to win.
That might sound foolish on one level, but the law of averages would seem to mandate it.
Let’s face it. In the last four years most handicappers have probably improved their Kentucky Derby batting average. That tends to happen when favorites win the Derby in four straight years. The ball started with Orb in 2013, then kept on rolling with California Chrome, followed by American Pharoah and Nyquist.
What has also been obscured in recent years is that the last three decades have been a little bit hard on Kentucky Derby favorites.
After six of eight favorites captured the run for the roses from 1972-79, Spectacular Bid’s win in 1979 ushered in a steak of 20 straight years to close out the 1900s in which the favorite went down to defeat.
Fusaichi Pegasus ended the drought in 2000, and since then eight of 17 favorites have won the Derby. That’s a winning percentage of 47 percent, which is well above the standard odds of victory for a favorite on a typical day of races.
After his disappointing three-year-old debut, a foot abscess, bad back and a couple of aborted workouts, many horseplayers were jumping off Classic Empire’s bandwagon, but the 2016 champion juvenile struck back in a big way last Saturday.
The Mark Casse trainee won the $1-million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park and has returned to become a top contender again for the Kentucky Derby (G1) on the first Saturday of May.
The colt is the current co-favorite along with Always Dreaming at 5-1 in the latest online odds.
Classic Empire was the rock-solid early betting favorite after his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall at Santa Anita, as low as 5-2.
However, his price drifted up to 12-1 after his third-place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park in February.
Just last week his odds were still at 12-1, but now he could end up the betting favorite for the Run for the Roses.
The colt earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for his win, rallying from the back of the pack to win by a half-length, running down long shot Conquest Mo Money.
Always Dreaming will go into the Kentucky Derby off a victory in the Florida Derby (G1) on April 1 that earned the Todd Pletcher trainee a 97 Beyer Speed Figure.
At Wagerweb.ag you can place your bets on all thoroughbred tracks. Don’t miss out on your Triple Crown action this year starting with Kentucky Derby, then Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.