Derby Key Factors (04/28/15)

It's Kentucky Derby Week and for the 141st time, the top three-year-olds in the world converge on Louisville, Kentucky looking to get their picture taken in the Churchill Downs Winner's Circle. Along with a $2mm purse, with $1.2mm to the winner, the Kentucky Derby provides enough notoriety to change the course of history and turn a racehorse into a stallion with the potential for a nine figure career.

There were about 30,000 thoroughbred racehorses born in 2012, all of which are now three-years-old (all racehorses celebrate their birthday on January 1st). To be eligible to race in the Derby, the owner of each of these horses has to make a stake nomination payment of $600 by January of its third year, in this case January 31, 2015. There were 438 horses who were nominated to this year's Kentucky Derby, here is the entire list.

The funnel from thirty-thousand 2012 foals to 438 nominations to 20 starters is what makes the Kentucky Derby Trail special. The final step to setting the Kentucky Derby stage is the post position draw. A random ping-pong ball draw (not to far from the Saturday night lottery) assigns the post positions for each of the twenty Derby starters. You can watch The Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw live on NBCSN on Wednesday, April 29 at 5:30pm or check back here shortly afterward to see the full field list.

I'll provide a horse-by-horse analysis on Friday which can be found right here, but for now, let's touch on what I see as the key factors.

American Pharoah Hype –Churchill Downs, published a press release with the sub header, 35-YEAR CLOCKER SAYS HE MIGHT BE BEST HE'S EVER SEEN. There was something about the quote that seemed fishy to me so I decided to call Gary directly and get his personal take on American Pharoah and the rest of the Derby field. Listen to the Gary Young podcast here.

Plenty of longshots – Last year, California Chrome was the race favorite with odds of exactly 5/2 while Wicked Strong was the second choice at almost 13/2. There were 16 horses with double-digit odds including the longest shot in the field at odds just under 50/1.

This year's tote board will look different and here's why; American Pharoah will go off as the favorite and based on the hype it's reasonable to expect 5/2 odds. His odds could go up if he draws the 1, 2, 19 or 20 post and go down if he draws the 10-15 post. However, what makes 2015 different on the tote board is we have another potential co-favorite in Dortmund, followed closely by Carpe Diem who will likely be 7/1 or less. With all of this financial pressure on just three horses, odds will be elevated on a number of the outsiders, providing for juicy longshots that will be overlays (odds higher than they should be).

Horse Race Betting Online is Legal – Of the approximate $10B bet on horse racing, 30% (and growing) is wagered online. This oligopoly is led by three major players –, and In addition to playing online, you can also visit the local racetrack or off-track wagering establishment. No matter where you decide to “lay wood,” remember it's only the most exciting two-minutes in sports if you're in action.


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