May 2, 2009

How You Could Have Bet the Derby...

When a long shot like Mine that Bird wins, all the handicappers are left scratching their heads. Especially when you consider that handicapping was unnecessary..

$2 to win on ALL = 19 horses x $2 or $38. Payout - $103.20. Return - 272%.

$2 exacta, ALL over ALL = 19 horses x 18 horses x $2 or $684. Payout - $2,074.80. Return - 303%.

$2 trifecta, ALL over ALL over ALL = 19 horses x 18 horses x 17 horses x $2 or $11,628. Payout - $41,500.60. Return - 357%.

$2 superfecta, ALL over ALL over ALL over ALL = 19 horses x 18 horses x 17 horses x 16 horses x $2 or $186,048. Payout - $557,006.40. Return - 299%.

If only you could have seen the future and had about $200,000 lying around. Although, if you could see the future you a) could focus your bets better and b) would have more than $200K lying around anyway.

And, yes, I know that the $557,006.40 probably represents the entire superfecta pool, so you'd really only have made about a $75,000 profit.

What Happens to Placed Bets When a Horse Is Scratched?

Jeremy asked me today what happens to live betting tickets when a horse bet upon is scratched prior to the race. I assume others have the same question, so I'll answer it here.

When a horse is scratched prior to a race, win, place and show tickets (bets that the horse will win, finish in the top two or finish in the top three, respectively) are refunded. Even after the race, attempting to "cash" those tickets will result in a refund.

Exotic tickets are a little more complicated. Essentially the scratched horse is dropped from the ticket. Sometimes, that makes the ticket dead. If you had a boxed 13-6 exacta ticket, and 13 is scratched, the ticket as a whole is dead and will be refunded. If, however, you had a 13-6-7 boxed exacta ticket, giving you 13-6, 13-7, 6-13, 6-7, 7-13 and 7-6, only the bets involving the scratched horse, again we'll use 13 because of I Want Revenge, would drop. Your ticket would refund the four bets involving 13, and essentially become a 6-7 boxed exacta. If 6-7 or 7-6 hits, you would get the exacta payout PLUS the amount bet on the four bets involving horse 13. For trifectas, the same system is in place.

Some bettors like to do the Daily Double or Pick Six, wherein they pick the winners of two or six consecutive races. The system here is a bit different, since a scratched pick would normally nullify the entire ticket and the bet must be placed prior to the first of the two or six races depending on the bet. At most American tracks, the scratched horse is substituted with the odds-on favorite in the win pool.

I do not know what happens to futures tickets (those purchased weeks in advance of a big race) in the event of a scratch. Basic internet research did not uncover the answer, but I suspect if you are betting futures you probably have taken the time to ask someone at the track in the know.

The term scratch presupposes that the decision is made before the gate opens. Once a race begins, the tickets are live and the result counts, no matter what it is. I have personally witnessed races where the horse throws the jockey just as the gate opens and then goes on to win. Tickets containing that horse are still losers, even though the horse crossed the line first. A winning horse must contain his or her jockey.

Likewise, if a horse is disqualified or downplaced due to its behavior during the race, or, more often, that of the jockey, the tickets are still live because the horse left the gate. If your horse wins, but the track stewards downplace it due to conduct, the artificial order of finish established by the stewards determines the outcome of your bet. It is possible that a horse disqualified and placed fourth due to conduct could make your superfecta ticket, just as it's possible that your horse could cross the line third and be declared the winner due to a disqualification.

Dead heats are not uncommon. Despite the sophisticated nature of finish wire cameras, horses occasionally cross the line at the same time. When this occurs in a win-place (first-second) situation, both horses are deemed to have won and to have finished second. If horses 1 and 2 tie for the win, 1-2 boxed exacta tickets win on both bets, though obviously the payout is reduced because there were two payout scenarios.

If there are any other questions, post them in the comments. Hopefully this will clear everything up.

Live - The wager can still be a winner
Dead - The wager cannot win, but is refundable
Winner - The outcome predicted on the ticket is reality, and the race has been declared official.
Loser - The outcome predicted did not occur, and the race has been declared official.

Please only tear up losers.

2009 Kentucky Derby Picks without I Want Revenge

A little under ten minutes ago, ESPN reported that 13-I Want Revenge has been scratched from this evening's Kentucky Derby. That's going to lead to some scrambling and erratic betting, so the Derby is even more intriguing from a profit perspective. Here are some amended picks...


Now that we're closer to post time, we have a little more reliable weather forecasting to go by as well. According to The Weather Channel's hour-by-hour forecast, the chance for rain peaks between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., but it does not look to be a soaker. I am going to assume that we'll see a damp, but not sloppy, track.

Based on internet buzz and the possibility of rain, I think 6-Friesan Fire will now go off at about 3-1 and 16-Pioneer of the Nile will pick up less of the betting slack in the wake of I Want Revenge's refunded tickets. Still, 7-Papa Clem should remain a good value selection at around 12-1 to 15-1. Strict Beyer handicappers might be drawn more to 15-Dunkirk's race-high 108. He remains a wild card, like the UAE horses, due to his lack of experience.

My B-Team horses remain 1-West Side Bernie, 2-Musket Man, 11-Chocolate Candy, 12-General Quarters, 15-Dunkirk, and 16-Pioneer of the Nile. I am reintroducing the synthetic horses now that I don't have to play with I Want Revenge being the clear class of the race.

I think I will shift gears a little and hit hard with exactas that have 6-Friesan Fire and 7-Papa Clem on top. I am thinking $4 6,7 OVER 1,2,6,7,11,12,15,16 for $56. I'll hedge with $2 15 OVER 6,7 to keep us at the original $60 budget.
On a $100 budget, I'd add in a $1 trifecta box of 2, 6, 7, 15 for $24. 2-Musket Man would be a great value exacta winner, so I'd try $2 exactas 2 over 6, 7, 15 for and add him to my Dunkirk hedge for an additional $2. We have $8 to play with, so how about some pot shot trifectas? Let's try $1 on 6, 7 over 1, 2, 15, 16 over 6, 7 for the rest of it.
On a $200 budget I'd play $50 to win and $50 to place on 7-Papa Clem.


With I Want Revenge Out, the race becomes much more fo a crapshoot. I'm going to stick with my original picks, and just drop out I Want Revenge. The strategy here is to take horses that look pretty good and are likely to go off at decent odds.

I'll take a $2 box exacta on the long shots - Musket Man, Hold Me Back, Papa Clem, and Desert Party. That's a $24 bet.

BREAKING NEWS: I Want Revenge Scratched from Derby

According to ESPN, favorite I Want Revenge will be scratched and will not run in this evening's 135th Kentucky Derby.

Amended picks to come in this space shortly...

May 1, 2009

2009 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide

***13-I Want Revenge SCRATCHED! Go here for updated selections***

It's hard to believe the Kentucky Derby is upon us already, but this Saturday marks the 135th run for the roses.

It's time to make our 2009 Kentucky Derby Picks, one of our favorite posts of the year.

For an idea of how good our picks are, here's what we said about Big Brown last year:

Brien: Looks good but I hate to be the favorite
Russell: Not worth the money, in my opinion
J-Red: This horse is the class of the race, but unfortunately he's hanging out in the 20th spot

So we liked him, but we didn't quite see the greatness (and certainly didn't make any money off him [J-Red's Note: Until Preakness that is. I took a picture of the pile of cash.]). On to this year's picks:


The rule, as always, is to look for distance.

My thoughts on the field:

1-West Side Bernie - Decent performances in grades stakes, but seems to end up with a lot of really bad trips. Bad news in a 20 horse field. No

2-Musket Man - Five wins in six lifetime starts, but speed figures aren't the best. Maybe

3-Mr. Hot Stuff - Broke his maiden in Feb, never run off synthetic before. No

4-Advice - Looks like a closer, but only 1 good race to show for it. No

5-Hold Me Back - Good results from bad positions. Maybe

6-Fresian Fire - Three very impressive runs this year, but hasn't run 9f. Maybe

7-Papa Clem - Makes the money against good competition. Maybe

8-Mine That Bird - No business being here. No

9-Join in the Dance - Ditto. Looked tired at a mile and a sixteenth. No

10-Regal Ransom - Long ride from the Middle East, speed doesn't look that great. No

11-Chocolate Candy - Against the best competition isn't up for the challenge. No

12-General Quarters - Two good races aren't enough to make up for a new jockey. No

13-I Want Revenge - Riding a huge hot streak coming in. Yes

14-Atomic Rain - Weakened at 1 1/8 in the Wood against Derby competition. No

15-Dunkirk - One amazing place in the Florida Derby isn't enough. No

16-Pioneer of the Nile - No runs on natural dirt. Good results, bad speed figures. Maybe

17-Summer Bird - Outclassed. No

18-Nowhere to Hide - Not sure what Zito's thinking here. No

19-Desert Party - I hate handicapping the foreign horses. Maybe

20-Flying Private - Nothing there. No

Here's what we're left with:

Yes: I Want Revenge
Maybe: Musket Man, Hold Me Back, Fresian Fire, Papa Clem, Pioneer of the Nile, Desert Party

That's too many horses to bet, so let's look for value in the morning lines. Unfortunately, I Want Revenge is the 3-1 favorite in a 20 horse field. Musket Man is 20-1, Hold Me Back is 15-1, Fresian Fire is 5-1, Papa Clem is 20-1, Pioneer of the Nile is 4-1, and Desert Party is 15-1
For me, I Want Revenge is the clear favorite, so let's put $5 to win on him. For the rest, we'll take a $2 box exacta on the long shots - Musket Man, Hold Me Back, Papa Clem, and Desert Party. That's a $24 bet. To reach an even $30, we'll take a lottery-ticket style $1 trifecta on I Want Revenge, Fresian Fire, and Papa Clem.


Capitals in 6.


I have broken down the horses I believe to be contenders into A, B & C groups. Nine horses, including 3-Mr. Hot Stuff, 4-Advice, 8-Mine that Bird, 9-Join in the Dance, 10-Regal Ransom, 14-Atomic Rain, 17-Summer Bird, 18-Nowhere to Hide and 20-Flying Private I felt did not warrant any consideration except as pace factors.

6-Friesan Fire
. I have a thing for steadily climbing Beyers in young horses approaching the Derby. I like it even more when the distance has increased in the same fashion. Friesan Fire meets both those requirements, keeps the jockey, and took a little break. The break is my primary concern, and the only thing keeping me from making him my clear value favorite.

13-I Want Revenge. This horse is the class of the race and has shown that the ability carries over to dirt after a career on synthetic. The distance training is appropriate and the Churchill workouts are reassuring. The jockey is consistent. Unfortunately, bettors will identify him too.

1-West Side Bernie. Not consistent enough to put on top, but with a clean rail trip could be a factor.

2-Musket Man. The Beyers are not inspiring, but it's a dirt horse at a great price and trained for the distance. Not the class of the race, but in a good post and well positioned to possibly upset.

7-Papa Clem. This is my B+/A- horse. Everything points to him rounding into form and the value looks fantastic. I am having a hard time talking myself out of taking a flyer.

11-Chocolate Candy. Beyers increase every time out, as does the distance, but the horse has enver raced on dirt. Churchill works are good, but traffic may pinch off the horse's shot considering he has NO early speed. Still, a definite contender for the board.

12-General Quarters. This is the most erratic horse of those capable of posting a 100+ Beyer. First time with Leparoux on board as well. Not inspiring, but dangerous.

15-Dunkirk. Thanks Pletcher, you asshat. After three races, this could be a superhorse or he could throw Prado in the gate. No idea what to expect, so he clogs up the tickets.

16-Pioneer of the Nile. This may well be the second favorite on Saturday, but I am concerned by the all-synthetic career followed by poor Churchill works. Add in the 16th spot and I'm not feeling it.

5-Hold Me Back. Strong closer with one outing on dirt that was unimpressive. Tends to run wide, which would be fatal in a 20-horse field. In a different race, maybe. Here, only on the deepest tickets.

19-Desert Party. Not way out in the auxiliary after making the trip over the pond. I really just write off the UAE horses based on history.

This is how I would bet it. 13-I Want Revenge is the clear class of the race, and I am going to accept that like I did with Big Brown in the Preakness last year. The best way to monetize that this year is with declining value exactas using the other horses I like on the bottom for more money and on top for less money.

I'm also going to toss my two synethetic-only B-Team horses, Chocolate Candy and Pioneer of the Nile.

That leaves me with $5 exactas of 13 over 1, 2, 6, 7, 12, 15 for $30. Then I want $2 exactas with 1, 2, 6, 7, 12, 15 over 13 for another $12. If 13 doesn't fire, I'll hedge with $2 6, 7, 15 boxed exactas for $12. We've got $6 to play with on a $60 budget, so let's go ahead and $1 box trifecta I Want Revenge, Friesen Fire, and, my favorite value underdog, Papa Clem (6, 7, 13). If your significant other brought home a lot of singles from her "other job", feel free to take some $1 pot shot straight trifectas and superfectas.


The lesson for me from last year is that horses cannot be expected to transition smoothly from the synthetic surface to dirt. Last year, I really liked Colonel John and we all know how that turned out. This year, Pioneer of the Nile fits the same mold, and I'm not going to put a cent on him or any of the other synthetic surface horses. I'm also not betting any horses from Dubai until one of them shows that the long journey can be overcome. The lack of information doesn't help either. So who does that leave?

6-Friesan Fire. I love this horse, especially since the track may be sloppy. Very few of the other horses have run in the slop, and Friesan Fire excelled in the Louisiana Derby on a sloppy track. With a horse that likes to stalk and is expected to be near the lead, he shouldn't get too much mud in his face and clearly has the speed to pull away from the field.

7-Papa Clem. Increasing Beyer numbers and two good showings on dirt are nothing to sneer at. Should be considered.

12-General Quarters. Clearly not the favorite, but has shown good speed in the past and could be peaking at the right time. I think this is a good value at 20-1.

13-I Want Revenge. The favorite for obvious reasons, it's hard not to like this horse. Any horse that can win a G1 after rearing at the start is worth strong consideration. Has the highest Beyer figure and has been especially dominant in his two dirt races.

15-Dunkirk. This horse's only loss was to the Derby favorite, who's not in the field. The lack of experience is certainly concerning, but the upside is clearly there.

So how would I bet?

If the track is sloppy, I'd spend my $40 on a Friesan Fire with the field Exacta and put $2 to win on General Quarters as a chance to break even.

If the track is fast (or close to it), $4 on 7,12,15 to win, $3 on 6,13 over 6,7,12,13,15 Exacta, and 6 lottery-style $1 trifectas of 6-13-7,12,15 and 13-6-7,12,15 puts you at $42.

April 29, 2009

Last 30 seconds of Caps-Rangers Game 7

You don't need to turn up your speakers that loud to get the effect. I think D.C. officially has adopted the Caps as their team.

April 28, 2009

Sorry folks...

No Idol Recap tonight... I was out at the bar watching far better reality TV. GO CAPS!!!
Oh, and you wanna talk all-time great collapses? No, not the Rangers. How about the New Jersey Devils... up by a goal, in Game 7, in their own house, with a minute and a half left in the game. Give up two goals in 40 seconds and lose Game 7, and the series. How clutch, Marty Brodeur. It's too bad, even though I love the Caps-Penguins matchup and can't wait to see Sidney Crosby whining like a little bitch, I know that we would've matched up better with the Devils.

April 26, 2009

How to lose job prospects and alienate your team...

No, shockingly, this has absolutely nothing to do with Sean Avery. This has everything to do with his head coach, John Tortorella.

As we all know by now, John Tortorella was suspended for today's critical Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Rangers and the Capitals. The Rangers could have eliminated the Capitals on their own home ice at the garden after enjoying 2-0 and 3-1 series leads. Instead, John Tortorella watched from a skybox as the Rangers were again manhandled by the Capitals and now have to head to the Washington National Zoo (aka the Verizon Center) for Tuesday's Game 7 against the hottest goaltender in the playoffs and a team that is full of confidence.

What did Tortorella do to get himself suspended? Well you know it had to be something pretty insane for the NHL to take such unprecedented action. You know right. See for yourself:

(video is a little annoying in how it is constructed, but offers the best view of Tortorella's batshit craziness)

Now when this first took place, the broadcasters on both Versus (U.S.) and TSN (Canada) speculated that Tortorella had beer thrown on him, as if this would justify the batshit crazy behavior of Tortorella. Not so fast, my friends...

From NHL League Disciplinarian Colin Campbell:

“We do not take this action lightly. It is the result of an entire day of investigation and evaluation that included the retrieval and review of videotape of the incident and discussions with Mr. Tortorella, other Rangers’ bench personnel and a number of other people, including the security personnel at the Verizon Center.... That investigation revealed that Mr. Tortorella squirted a fan with water before Mr. Tortorella was doused with a beverage.”

Are you fucking kidding me?!?! So let's replay. Tortorella is getting heckled in a visiting arena when his team is getting blown out. So instead of letting it go, he squirts a fan with water. THEN he gets a beer thrown on him. THEN he goes batshit crazy, spiking his water bottle into the crowd (hitting a female fan in the face, no less) and then grabs a hockey stick and shakes it menancingly at the crowd (who I'm sure were really scared with that giant piece of glass separating Tortorella from the crowd). And oh yes, as The Washington Post reported, after event staff and D.C. police interviewed members of the crowd, not a single spectator was ejected for any misconduct.

Tortorella, who in the same game had scratched Sean Avery to send a message, totally and completely snapped. No doubt about it. He lost it. And then he gets his ass suspended for the next game and leaves his assistant coach (Jim Schoenfeld who the Caps tossed aside like yesterday's newspaper a few years ago) completely unprepared and in the head coach's role for a critical playoff game.

Here's to you, John Tortorella. Good luck explaining this one away in your future job interviews. You better pray to God, Allah, Jesus, Vishnu, and Jobu, that your team wins Game 7.

On behalf of Caps fans though, we thank you for your support.

Breaking News: Dan Snyder Kidnapped


Breaking news this afternoon out of Raljon, Maryland, as Prince George's County Police are reporting that Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has been kidnapped. To date, no ransom demands have been made and his captors are unknown.

Police were alerted to the possible kidnapping at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 26, about 25 minutes after the Redskins drafted cornerback Kevin Barnes out of the University of Maryland with their third-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

"Our suspicions were aroused last night when we got the go ahead in our war room to not worry about trading up to draft Marc Sanchez and we were then instructed to draft Brian Orakpo out of Texas, which made complete and total sense, and was reacted to with great joy by our fans," said Redskins head coach Jim Zorn. Zorn noted that team officials didn't conclusively believe that something had happened to Snyder until shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, after the Redskins were instructed to draft Barnes. "I was waiting for instructions to draft the speediest wide receiver, running back, or tight end on the board, despite the fact that we have absolutely no need at those positions. Then I get these instructions to draft another player for an actual need position," said Zorn. At this point, Zorn and Redskins authorities searched Snyder's Potomac home and found Snyder missing, amid signs of a struggle.

It should be noted that Vice President of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato is also missing, as of press time.

Raljon authorities have released an early sketch of the suspect in the kidnapping:

The suspect seen crying outside last year's Redskins NFL Draft Party after the Redskins selected Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly.

The suspect should be considered feathered and dangerous.

It's a tough time for Redskins fans everywhere, and Zorn expressed the team's situation, stating, "Right now, we're really all just trying to keep it medium."