Betting on the 2016 Kentucky Derby is going to be like betting on the NBA Title in a way; before you start clawing away with analytics, observations, and overall handicapping, you have to ask one fundamental question.
In the Association, that question is: can the Warriors be beaten? There’s no point in looking at the pros and cons of San Antonio and Cleveland if, at the end of the day, you don’t think anyone can run with Golden State. Same goes for the Derby. Unless you see another horse (literally) being able to run with prohibitive early favorite Nyquist, you can save some time and energy by focusing on how to squeeze the most money out of the bay.
Today, I examine how to bet the race if you think Nyquist is a standout and likely winner. (In a companion piece, I look at how to wager if you think Nyquist will disappoint.)
The Case for Nyquist
Nobody wants to be a chalk-eating weasel. That said, pouring money on outclassed horses is a losing strategy. I’m not saying you should lay everything on Nyquist, but there are reasons to think he’s a cut above (who’s already moved from 4/1 to 3/1, very short odds considering Nyquist will have 19 rivals).
Not only is Nyquist seven for seven, career, he has run in the toughest races and already beat likely second and third choices Exaggerator and Mohaymen with relative ease. He also handled a less-than-perfect surface at the Florida Derby. A lot of knowledgeable bettors will see him as the only viable candidate.
If you count yourself among them, there are several ways to go about betting the Derby. The simplest is putting a significant amount of cash on Nyquist and feeling good about your chances to triple-up. However, there are bigger prizes with the exacta and trifecta.
The best-of-the-rest isn’t as clear as the favorite. If you aren’t all that high on Exaggerator (ran one great race and it came in the mud), or Mohaymen (finished fourth and didn’t look good when competition ramped up), consider a simple exacta with several longshots to finish second, or a trifecta that mixes the second-tier group.
An exacta with Nyquist on top is very inexpensive. For a buck or two, you can play Nyquist to win and round out the ticket with some longshots. Some decent options include:
The trifecta is trickier, though the payout could be large. You’ll single Nyquist as the winner, and then try to place who finishes second and third. If you were to take all of the longshots we mentioned, plus the two primary challengers, and put them all in as possible second and third-place options, you’d be looking at a $64 trifecta (at $1 per combination).
You might also want to consider Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner, Blue Grass Stakes winner Brody’s Cause, or Arkansas Derby champ Creator, too.
However you opt to bet the Derby, don’t psyche yourself out. If Nyquist is the best horse, in your opinion, don’t try to get cute. If Steph Curry is healthy, would you rather take the 73-win, record-breaking Warriors, or somebody else when the going gets tough?
(Photo credit: Jeff Kubina (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)
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