Kentucky Derby Obscure Betting Methods

It’s Derby Week and the question all over town from experts to novices will be:  Who You Got?  As of today it looks like there will be a full field of 20 horses for the 138th Kentucky Derby and as ever, there will be plenty of options and justifications.  As far as picking horses goes there are literally a multitude of methods for picking horses.  Some people like grey horses, some people just pick the chalk (favorite), some people have a favorite trainer or jockey.  My favorite methods are the unconventional, nonsensical, and implausible methods that people use.  The best example of this is Richard Dreyfus’ character Jay Trotter in the movie “Let It Ride” who goes into the paddock and asks every patron who they like while eliminating their selection for himself.

I couldn’t find the full scene, so the trailer will have to do. But “Let it Ride” is a classic movie on betting culture and horse racing and I usually always find time to watch it leading up to the First Saturday in May. As for me, I have my own selection process. And it isn’t always dedicated to breaking down Beyer Figures or Fractions.

Looking at the Race from a Bird’s Eye View

The thing I like to tell people with the Derby is that really anything can happen.  The race is run once per year and it is literally a once in a lifetime experience for the horses and it is an impossible scenario to simulate or re-create for them.  The horses have never run the mile and a quarter distance, they’ve never been in a full field of 18+ horses, they’ve never run in front of 160,000+ screaming and inebriated fans who have been sipping on Mint Juleps.  The 3-year olds only have one opportunity in their lifetime to win the Kentucky Derby and the conditions during a Kentucky Spring can be nearly impossible to predict.

So when you start throwing trends at me I am bound to just believe that trend is due to be stopped.  Take for example the Favorite Curse where no favorite was able to win the Derby for what seemed to be an eternity and then Fusaichi Pegasus came through to bust that myth, while .  Then a gelding hadn’t won the Derby since 1929 when Funny Cide hit the reset button on that in 2003.  Followed by Big Brown winning the first leg of the triple crown out of the #20 position, something that had never been accomplished.

Aside from the trends here is what we know:  It’s a long race. It’s a big crowd both on the track and in the stands.  You can look at front runners, horses that sit off the pace, deep closers, tactical jockeys, polished trainers, etc. But even good horses fold in the final turn when they hit the wall of noise that greets them from the grandstand.  The horses that win the Derby are resilient and mentally tough and that’s what I really look for in a race horse to be a Kentucky Derby Champion.

The race takes its toll on any thoroughbred.  The first turn is essential for most horses (outside of deep closers) and the race can literally be won or lost in the first 1/2 mile as some jockeys choose to compete for position along the rail while others get shuffled to the outside, clip heels, have to start and stop, etc.  This first turn can typically eliminate about 6 horses every year which makes the post position draw very important.

I guess my point is that I can literally draw up a hundred different scenarios that would make an argument for every horse in the field to win on Saturday, but the fact is that no one knows what is going to happen.  I would have never selected Mine That Bird in 2009, even after the race was run and Calvin Borel was throwing Roses into the crowd I sat in my box at Churchill Downs with my program open asking myself, “What Did I Miss?” Fact is I saw the race with my own eyes and still didn’t believe that the 50-1 shot nor would I have wagered on him if the race had been won the following week.

The guy who had the most logical rationalization for betting on Mine That Bird in 2009?  Cal Ripken, Jr.  The Hall of Fame Shortstop of the Baltimore Orioles justification for picking MTB was extremely easy:  Ripken wore #8, so did MTB.  Ripken played for the Orioles, a bird.  Ripken’s first name is Cal, short for Calvin, and MTB’s jockey was Calvin Borel.  Outside of that, I still can’t imagine why anyone would have picked Mine That Bird, but I think you get my point.  ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

We’ll breakdown the horses as the week goes on, but for now here are my favorite non-analysis methods for picking horses at the track and for the Kentucky Derby specifically.

-Repeating Letter Horses: Super Saver, Big Brown, Street Sense, Go for Gin, Sunday Silence.

Sticking with your Number(s): Some people have their numbers and they never stray. In the Derby, historically speaking, the #5-#9 starting positions are the sweet spot.

-Have a Phrase to Put with Every Horse:  It can really be anything, I’ve heard of folks put a phrase after each horse’s name and whichever sounds best that’s who they pick. i.e. “In Bed” or “With Bourbon”.  So for the Derby, Daddy Knows Best “In Bed”, Done Talking “In Bed”, El Padrino “In Bed”, even Optimizer “In Bed” could be nice options for that phrase.  Or Creative Cause “With Bourbon”, I’ll Have Another “With Bourbon”, Prospective “With Bourbon”, Went the Day Well “With Bourbon” could all work as well.  But you can have your own, and when using this method it’s important to make it yours and have as much fun as possible.

-Pick A Horse in the Paddock Based on Looks:  Because it’s rare to have time off from work, why spend your entire day looking in a racing form breaking down everything?  Just show up choose the best looking horse and move on.

-Bet the Chalk OR Bet the Longest Shot on the Board All Day. Just don’t deviate.  Typically the favorite wins 1/3 of the races in horse racing, which is a really good percentage.  So if you want to cash some tickets and don’t want to think too much, just go with the shortest odds horse. Trouble is, you won’t win much money.  So you could go the route of just betting the longest odds each race, if it hits just one you’ll likely made money on your afternoon (depending on how much you spent on alcohol).



Cards in 2013: What does History suggest?

I reviewed the past 5 seasons to compare a host of factors to see if we can see what 2013 will bring.
While it could determine some of what the Cards will be bringing, it doesn’t compare what other teams (the competition) will bring. I do feel the competition will be slightly down next year. The 2012 high school crop is considered slightly down, and many are leavining early for the NBA.

This could be a special season for the Cards.

For this article I look at the following:
• How many starters (reduction of prior impact players)
• How many return of total rotation (overall familiarity of off/def system)
• How much do we return of points, rebounds, minutes, assists, steals (% returning)
• How many wins/losses did each team have (overall record record/%)
• What round did it finish in the NCAA (what round did they reach)

They will be graded (good, neutral, bad)

2008 team: 27-9 (Elite 8, loss to UNC) – Solid Year, Solid Tourney
Summary of 2008: Fun year, a top contender for Final Four.
Rollover Profile: What did 2008 send to 2009?
• Returning Starters: 4 (good)
• Major minutes players: 7 out of 10 (good)Need 7 mpg minimum to be considered major contributor.

o 3 Major Minutes losses (included in rotation): Lost Padgett, Caracter, Palacios (bad)
• How much of Offense and Defense do they return? Offense: 71%, Defense: 73% (good)
• What this means for 2009: Interior depth takes a hit, guards and wings well built. Recruiting fixes Interior depth issue with new Samuels and Jennings. Strong team, but Frosh rotation at center. Should be contending for a Final Four again (good).

2009 team: 31-6 (Elite 8, BE tourney Champ) – Solid Year, Solid Tourney

Rollover Profile: What did 2009 send to 2010?
• Returning Starters: 2 (bad)
o Edgar split time with Andre, so an argument for 3 can be made.
• Returning major minutes players: 5 out of 8 man rotation (neutral).
o Need 7 mpg minimum to be considered major contributor.
o 3 Major Minutes losses (included in rotation): Lost Twill, Earl Clark, Andre (bad).
• How much of Offense and Defense do they return? Offense: 48%, Defense: 43% (bad).
o Huge production hit, and that spells problems.
• What this means for 2010: Cards will need to replenish production with people that were not responsible for it in 2009. The wing position takes a hit (critical post in Pitino offense), as Twill/Earl are replaced by Delk, and newcomer Buckles. The season will have growing pains and be defined by whether or not they can deliver the goods. Cards add a potential star in Siva, but he backs up Edgar, so limited in minutes (bad).

2010 team: 20-13 (RD64) – Disappointing year, Disappointing Tourney
Rollover Profile: What did 2010 send to 2011?
Returning Starters: 1 (bad, but an argument could be made for good based on 2010 results).
o Swop was the sole returning starter, who was later hurt, and missed the season. After a season like 2010 – not all that bad to reboot all 5 starters.
Returning major minutes players: 7 out of 11 man rotation, but only 6 if you can’t Swops future injury (good).
o Need 7 mpg minimum to be considered major contributor.
• 4 Major Minutes losses (included in rotation): Edgar, Jerry, Delk, and Samardo to Bizarre NBA early entry (bad).
• How much of Offense and Defense do they return? Offense: 44%, Defense: 57% (bad).
o Huge production hit, and that spells problems. Returned slightly more than end of     2009, and returned more of the rotation.
What this means for 2011: Complete reboot. Pitino makes this the year to rebrand the cardinals to the full speed, pressing style we hired him to do. The Big East will slow the pace down, but if we get a chance….we run. 2011 was a big unknown. Cards were opening the Yum! Center by all accounts with less talent than we expected. The Cards were walking into what Pitino sold as “the bridge year” (neutral).

2011 team: 25-10 (RD64, BE tourney runner up) – Solid Year, Disappointing Tourney
Rollover Profile: What did 2011 send to 2012?
• Returning Starters: 3 (nuetral, strong players, no apparent all stars).
o Siva, Kuric, and C. Smith were a strong returning core to a successful team.
• Returning major minutes players: 9 out of 14 man rotation (good).
o Need 7 mpg minimum to be considered major contributor.
o 2 Major Minutes losses (included in rotation): Preston (!), and Terrence Jennings to a bizarre early entry in NBA (fail). PK was instant offense, and that will be missed.
• How much of Offense and Defense do they return? Offense: 75%, Defense: 74% (good).
o Most of production returning. A lot of returning players. The year has promise.
• What this means for 2012: Strong core of players, huge recruiting class, and some offseason frustration with Fuller leaving the cards, TJ bolting for NBA, and Woods spurning Louisville last minute leaving the center position without much depth. Still, the Cards were projected top 20 by most polls, and the tournament did not match the season’s excitement. The hardworking Cards were a 4 seed, and wanted to fix what happened against Morehead State in 2012 (good).

2012 team: 30-10 (Final Four, BE Tourney Champs) – Solid Year, Solid Tourney
Rollover Profile: What did 2012 send to 2013?
• Returning Starters: 3 (good, all three potential all stars).
o Chane, Gorgui, and Siva a tough 1,2,3 punch for anyone.
• Returning major minutes players: 6 out of 11 man rotation, but 7 if you count returning SVT (good).
o Need 7 mpg minimum to be considered major contributor.
o 4 Major Minutes losses (included in rotation): Kuric, C. Smith, Swop, and Buckles (out/injury) will be sorely missed depth.
 Justice, while only used in certain situations falls below the “major minutes” limit of 7, but will be missed as well.
• How much of Offense and Defense do they return? Offense: 68%, Defense: 68% (good).
o Major production returning, injured players returning (Marra, SVT), and the lone signee Rozier will add depth.
• What this means for 2011: Cards are not returning quite the punch they did in 2009, but I feel the competition is lower than what that team faced. The contributions of Ware, Nunez, Price, and Rozier will be more important than people realize as they are the backups to any foul trouble. Especially if SVT, and Marra return slow. We have the depth – but it is either hurt, or not coming with much experience. I believe in them, but we will likely have some midseason rowing pains. It should round out nicely by end of year. Championships are won in the offseason, and that is what the cards are doing (good).

2013 Team: What is history suggesting?

Rollover Profile Match: I find the 2008 “rollover” profile is most similar to what 2012 will push into 2013.

I made an algorithm to predict the record off of returning starters, returning rotation, based off previous wins, etc. It seems to predict slightly less than what the Cards have done in the past 5 years when applied year by year (save 2010). As you know, it is HIGHLY COMPLICATED. Scientists could not crack the code.

It is predicting a 29-7 season for the Cards, which means we will contend for another Final four, and with a little luck, Louisville’s third national title.

Go Cards.

Jones Brings UofL Cheerleader Flowers

(Photo By Maggie Ruper of WHAS-11)

Staying true to his word, Terrence Jones, delivered on his promise. If you all remember March 31st, Jones stated…

Louisville cheerleading coach Todd Sharp said Logue needed stitches before she could return to the court because the wound on the top of her head bled so much.


Jones had no idea he’d injured Logue in the first-half collision, but he was very apologetic after the game.

“Tell her I’m sorry,” Jones said. “I’ll drive down there and tell her myself with some flowers or something.”


Here’s the video of the actual play.

Jones has been amazing in his brief stint following his UK career. He’s stayed after hours to make sure everyone gets an autograph (sometimes 2 hours over the allotted time frame), excellent in the community and as stated above; he’s even backed up every promise. Continue to do BBN proud Terrence. I can’t wait to watch you in the league.

Kentucky Athletics Making Noise

As of today, the University of Kentucky athletic department currently ranks second in The Capital One Cup standings.  For those that are not familiar with The Capital One Cup, it is an award that is given annually to the nations most successful athletics department.  Kentucky is in great shape to win the overall title.  With the tennis team playing for the SEC title this week and the way the baseball team is playing, this achievement is certainly withing grasp. 

There are a lot of people who like to bash everything Mitch Barnhart does but the amount of criticisim he receives is undeserving in my opinion.  Before Mitch got to UK, the only program that was consistently successful was the basketball team.  Since he has arrived, Kentucky has won conference titles in mens and womens basketball, golf, baseball, simming/diving, riffle, and tennis.  This is all being done in the most difficult conference in the NCAA.  Although the football team is struggling now, the most consistent success the football team has seen has come under Barnhart.  He deserves criticisim for the Billy Gillispie hire (he would agree) and the jury is still out on the Joker hire.  However, in his ten years at Kentucky he has done a marvelous job upgrading the entire athletics department and it’s time the fans recognize this.

Posted in UK