The Brock Talk

Monday, April 19, 2010

TBA Kentucky Derby Morning Lines Show Differences and Similarities


Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance has released our 2010 Kentucky Derby Morning Line where fans can go to our website for different morning line odds as calculated by our bloggers and other turf writers and guest.

It is an interesting exercise in opinions and perceptions with each line unique, but also with obvious similarities. Some differences may be as subtle as a point between to odds or as different as the definition or purpose of a morning line.

I define a morning line as simply the line maker's prediction of how the betting public will perceive and thus place win wagers in a given race. A perfect morning line is one in which the morning line odds on each horse exactly match the final win odds of that horse.

However, I have known morning line makers employed by tracks that emphatically believed the morning line should reflect their opinion of how the public should bet the race or worse, a reflection of the probably of winning they assign each horse. Some tracks somewhat provide a version of both with the published "program selections" corresponding to the morning line and "handicappers selections" reflecting the line makers top three picks.

Many track morning line makers are also severely restricted by management and must not assign odds above or below a given guideline. Generally they prohibit any horse being assigned morning line odds of less than even odds nor higher than 20-to-1. The belief behind this policy is that races with heavy favorites or big long shots reflect poorly on their product as being competitive. As flawed as that practice is, it remains a strong held policy at many tracks.

As of Monday afternoon, nearly every line maker on the TBA site has made Eskendereya the favorite with only one blogger making Santa Anita Derby (gr. 1) winner Sidney's Candy their top choice. Most have Eskendereya in the 5-2 or 3-1 range with Rebel Stakes (gr. 2) winner Lookin at Lucky second at around 5-to-1 odds. Sidney's Candy is the only other horse averaging less than 10-to-1 odds, receiving around 7-1 from the panelists.

As of Monday afternoon, I was the only author to make Eskendereya less than 2-to-1. I have him at 9-to-5 based on two things. First, no horse has come into the Kentucky Derby as impressive as Eskendereya since Point Given in 2001, who went off at 9-to-5 in a field of 17. Ekendereya and Point Given prepared for the Derby with similar dominance, just on different coasts.

Point Given won the grade 2 San Felipe Stakes by 2-1/4 lengths with a 110 Beyer speed figure. Eskendereya won the grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes by 8-1/2 lengths with a 106 Beyer. Point Given then won the grade 1 Santa Anita Derby by 5-1/2 lengths with 110 Beyer while Eskendereya made his final prep in the grade 1 Wood Memorial, winning by nearly ten lengths with a 109 Beyer number.

Having three additional betting interests in 2010 compared to 2001 would usually drive Eskendereya's odds above 2-to-1 during a year of relatively normal prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. But this year, three big preps produced winners with double digit odds. Stately Victor won the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. 1) at 40-1 odds, Ice Box won the grade 1 Florida Derby at 20-1 and Line of David took the Arkansas Derby (gr. 1) at 17-1. Endorsement, who seems to have plenty of support as an upset candidate, won the grade 3 Sunland Derby at 11-1. Having so many long shot winners qualify for the Kentucky Derby will help drive down the odds of a prohibitive favorite like Eskendereya even further.

There are also six horses in this year's Derby who were beaten favorites in their last race. Interactif, Discreetly Mine, Conveyance, Rule, Noble's Promise and Lookin at Lucky were all defeated last time out as the most popular betting choice. I expect Lookin at Lucky to be the only one to hold any resemblance of his popularity and have him listed at 5-1 in the morning line. Sidney's Candy at 8-1 in my line, defeated Lookin at Lucky in the Santa Anita Derby as the 3-1 second choice and is the only other horse in the Derby I have listed less than 15-1.

Producing a morning line for a race just less than two weeks away is risky business at best, so I must disclose that conditions, horses and my morning line will change as developments occur. It is also notable that the formula used in the TBA Morning Line devised by Handride author Patrick Patten is in line with the generally accepted morning line formula used by line makers throughout horse racing which takes into consideration factors such as the number of betting interest and track take-out in order to best reflect an actual pari-mutuel betting pool.

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3 comments:

railrunner said...

This year's Derby offers some incredible wagering options with so many good horses at higher odds. Colts like Ice Box, Endorsement and Awesome Act could be forgotten somewhat at the windows with the "big three" taking up most of the publicity.

Philip said...

I gotta think that it's going to be tuff for any horse in a 20-horse field to get below 5/2.

Tony_Fig said...

Will Eskendereya be able to get below 5/2 with all of the random money bet on horse who have no chance to win? I say no because Homeboykris will not be 99-1 like he should be.