New Jersey horse bettors eye two major factors impacting Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
One is the fast track and sunny skies expected at Churchill Downs for the 147th running of this 1 1–4-mile event, televised by NBC at 6:57 p.m.
And the course should not affect the $3 million showcase, known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports” because of the race duration.
Two, the post position draw will shuffle some money around. Florida Derby-winning Known Agenda drew the dreaded rail, which hasn’t produced a Derby winner since 1986, with Ferdinand. Money initially targeted at him may be directed elsewhere.
Garden State bettors can access the action via 4NJBETS, powered by TVG. Betting on one’s tablet, app or phone is extraordinarily convenient, especially on major-race days that attract throngs to OTB facilities.
Advanced technology enables gamblers to handicap, stream races, view replays and bet on a moment’s notice. Plus it eliminates worry about parking fees, lines, or shutouts.
2021 Kentucky Derby Post Positions
|2.||Like The King||50-1|
|9.||Hot Rod Charlie||8-1|
|15.||Rock Your World||5-1|
|19.||Soup and Sandwich||30-1|
What about the race?
It’s difficult to pinpoint the winner in a 20-horse field. It might be wise to first target an area.
Here’s one: Beyer Speed Figures project four horses, Rock Your World, Hot Rod Charlie, Essential Quality, and Highly Motivated, as the ones to beat.
Beyer figures assign each horse a number based on his race performance measured into variables like the track record at the distance and the surface on that day (fast, heavy, sloppy, etc).
Rock Your World has the highest in this field, 100. Hot Rod Charlie is next at 99. Essential Quality and Highly Motivated are right there at 97. Most of the field is several points lower.
Rock Your World may have more upside. He’s only run once on the dirt. And when he did, Rock Your World ran a faster time in the Santa Anita Derby than Justify, who won it in 2018 en route to snaring horse racing’s last Triple Crown.
Lightly-raced Rock Your World has enough improvement potential to win here. But if that does not happen, the field remains balanced.
Beyer figures indicate that little separates the top horses, who may be wagered freely in boxes or in key-entry bets. (More on that later).
Kentucky Derby has an exceptional field
The data also suggests this is not an exceptional crop of 3-year-old thoroughbreds. You’d need three or four horses over 100 to conclude that.
These horses can take turns beating each other and bettors will thus demand value on the win line.
Essential Quality was the 2-1 early favorite and is unbeaten in five starts. But in a field this large, the favorite should not be less than 5-2, maybe 3-1.
Rock Your World becomes the second choice based on the Santa Anita victory. The question for him here will be pace.
Can Rock Your World run a slower first half-mile than in the Santa Anita Derby, preserving some stamina for the homestretch?
The Santa Anita half-mile time was 46.11 and he was being pressed on the lead. If he can somehow run that about a second slower, he’ll be formidable down the lane.
Highly Motivated was nipped at the wire by Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes and could easily return the favor. Hot Rod Charlie ran the longest prep-race distance, 1 3-16 miles, in the Louisiana Derby.
He is closest to the Derby distance of 1 1-4 miles.
All four of these horses should at least run well.
Looking at superfecta wagers
Who else entices support, possibly for the bottom of superfecta wagers?
King Fury was a strong winner of the Lexington Stakes.
Midnight Bourbon and O Besos were necks apart behind Hot Rod Charlie and it’s hard to bet one without the other.
Super Stock defeated Concert Tour, who had previously beaten him, to capture the Arkansas Derby. Any improvement is valued in lightly-raced 3-year-olds.
Bourbonic won’t get much respect but won the Wood Memorial at a record 72-1 by going from last to first in the stretch.
Kentucky Derby wagering considerations
Somewhere between the highest-Beyers group of Rock Your World, Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, and Highly Motivated will be a win bet of exceptional value. That’s a good starting point. Rock Your World’s 100 Beyer also merits play.
A $1 trifecta key means putting one horse in the first position over the other three, who can produce any combination of second and third. It costs $6. For $6 more, putting your key horse second means that the three others will fill in the first and third spots and the key horse is second.
This model fits all key-entry wagers and is most effective if a longshot hits the top three.
You can even expand the ticket. Take your key in the first and second positions with four other horses for $24. But you want a long shot in that mix. You don’t want this bet if you like a pair of 2-1 shots.
Boxes are another way to play even fields. Say you believe Rock Your World and Essential Quality will finish in the top 3. Take any number of $1 trifecta boxes that include both of them and add a different third horse on each new ticket. Each ticket costs $6
Take backup wagers to account for racing luck.
The Derby is notorious for traffic problems because the field is too big. Honor A.P., a 6-1 contender, was shuffled back to last in 2020 because N.Y. Traffic cut in front of him at the start.
The incident ruined Honor A.P., who rallied for fourth but was never in the race.
If all of your betting is based on one horse or combination, that’s high risk
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel