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December 20, 2014

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Winners, losers and break evens from the Kentucky Derby

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I’ll Have Another has a shot to win the first Triple Crown since 1978.

With two legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown remaining, here’s a look at winners, losers and a break-even entry from the Kentucky Derby.

Winners

Value-seeking gamblers willing to “fade,” or bet against, brand-name trainers and jockeys: More so than nearly any form of gambling, horse racing, due to its parimutuel betting structure, requires bettors to outwit their fellow gamblers. That often means thinking creatively. On Derby day, it meant looking past celebrity trainers like Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert and Hall of Fame jockeys like John Velazquez.

Doug O’Neill, trainer of Derby winner I’ll Have Another, said so himself in his insightful analysis of the odds after the race. With unheralded jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard, I’ll Have Another paid $32.60 to win, or better than 15-1. “I think he was such a (good) price because of me training and Mario riding,” O’Neill said. “If it would have been a Pletcher or Velazquez, I bet you it would have been 9-2.”

Losers

Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and New York: All four went off at lower odds than California, a 5-1 shot, in a proposition on the location of the most recent race of the eventual Derby winner. I’ll Have Another was coming off a victory in the Santa Anita Derby.

Breaking Even

The Derby was essentially a “push” for bettors who wagered either for or against any horse winning the 2012 Triple Crown prior to the run for the roses. Depending on when they placed their wager, bettors in Las Vegas locked in odds of about plus 575 to plus 700 that a horse would win the Triple Crown. Bettors playing against a Triple Crown risked anywhere from minus 775 to minus 1100.

After Saturday’s race, the newly revised Las Vegas odds on I’ll Have Another completing the Triple Crown were right in the same neighborhood: plus 700 that he will win the Triple Crown, and minus 1000 on the “no” option. The (barely) adjusted odds reflect the fact that I’ll Have Another was neither a fluky long shot nor a chalky favorite.

The price of plus 700 on the “yes” side offers a glimpse at the likely odds of I’ll Have Another in his next two races, provided he keeps winning. That payout is equivalent to odds of 3-1 in the Preakness and even money in the Belmont, for example, or approximately 7-2 in the Preakness and 4-5 in the Belmont.

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