The Kentucky Derby is weeks away, so it's time to get serious about your handicapping. Here's a look at a few long shots we're excited about, and tips to consider when making your betting pick.
The Kentucky Derby is not only one of America's most lucrative horse races, but it offers humongous pools and potential life-altering payouts for bettors. With the field all but set, let's take a look at some long shots with real potential to win the Run for the Roses.
The Derby offers the highest average winning odds (7.9-to-1) of any race in America. Since 1980, the typical field size is slightly more than 17 runners, and payouts can reach well over 50-to-1 on the most unlikely of winners. Take advantage of it!
If placing a bet on the winner, history teaches us that one should probably fade the favorite. The American Pharoah romp of last year is not the norm. Factoring in track takeout and vigorish, if a bettor placed a $2 win bet on every post-time Derby favorite since the race first ran in 1875, one would have netted a loss of roughly five percent on their investment.
Since the inaugural race, 83 winners (58 percent) have come home at betting odds of 9-to-2 or less; 30 (21 percent) between 5-to1 and 10-to-1, and 28 (20 percent) at 11-to-1 or greater.
Off tracks tend to drop the biggest bombs (think Mine that Bird, 2009 or Giacomo, 2005), but avoid spending too much on the most improbable runners. A horse paying better than 20-1 has only won 14 times with an average payout of 34-to-1.
Dark Horses to Consider
Danzing Candy – The fourth-place finisher of the Santa Anita Derby is arguably the fastest three-year-old in the field. Winner of the G2 San Felipe Stakes, Jockey Mike Smith struggled to rate the colt in his last effort, as he got caught on the lead alone and wilted late. He'll need a smarter trip on the first Saturday in May, but can duel with any horse in the field upfront. With Bob Baffert scratching Cupid, there's one less quick horse to go at the Cliff Sise-trained colt in an already speed-deficient field. He'll likely go off near 15-to-1 odds come post time.
Creator – Likely to fall into the 20-to-1 or 30-to-1 range, the “second” of two Steve Asmussen-trained colts in the Derby has just two wins in eight starts, taking home the Arkansas Derby in a last-to-first effort this past weekend. Jockey Ricardo Santana caught a hot pace in Oaklawn, and will need another to stand a legitimate chance at winning the roses if conditions are standard. He's not a bona fide mudder per say, but his plodding, run-all-day style is advantageous if the Churchill surface devolves into a peanut-buttery goo due to wet weather.
Suddenbreakingnews – Runner-up to Creator in the Arkansas Derby, this three-year-old son of Mineshaft won the G3 Southwest Stakes back in February. Perhaps victimized by poor piloting in his last two efforts, a good trip could see this horse contending for a Derby win. The gelding will likely go off in the 30-to-1 range.
There's still a lot of time between now and the race—injuries and scratches will happen—so hold off pouncing on any futures if backing a particular outsider. You'll likely get the same price, if not better when public money starts flowing in on the top two or three choices come race day. The morning line has not been set, but Nyquist is a legitimate favorite.
Gun Runner, Exaggerator, and Mor Spirit will likely draw the most interest after. Nonetheless, the 3-year-old crop seems a bit slow this season, and a longer-priced horse is ripe for an upset. Some colts take to Churchill Downs' surface better than others, so make sure your betting pick gets over the track well. Although training all over America, most will touch the surface at least once before the race.