Year after year, the Patriots are short odds to win the Super Bowl. New England has been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL for a long time, but betting against them has been the better option recently, seeing as Tom Brady has won exactly one title in the last 11 years.
In this year’s Kentucky Derby, Nyquist is the Patriots. He looks the best and will be the favorite. In a companion piece, I examined how to bet the Run for the Roses if you think Nyquist will take the win. Here, I examine how to play the race if you think Nyquist is going to fall short.
History Favors Non-Favorites
There was a long stretch where favorites were DOA at the Kentucky Derby; just four faves won between 1979 and 2013. That’s changed in recent years; favorites have won the last two, and six of the last ten winners were 6/1 or better. But there are still a lot of obstacles that Nyquist will need to overcome, and it’s fair to ask whether 3/1 is a price you want to pay.
Like everybody else at Churchill Downs on Saturday, this will be Nyquist’s first race at a mile-and-quarter. He looked strong on a good track during the mile-and-an-eighth Florida Derby, but there have been many horses who have thrown in the towel down the stretch at the Derby. The pace of the Kentucky Derby is likely to be the quickest he has ever seen. As a frontrunner, will he have any gas left in the tank as they head for home?
Additionally, with 20 horses on the track, it’s easy to get squeezed, bumped, or forced wide. A horse’s talent doesn’t control racing luck and, as said, 3/1 is short odds given what can transpire.
If Not Nyquist, Then Who?
If Nyquist runs into trouble, who does that open the race up for? His top competition appears to be Exaggerator and Mohaymen. While Nyquist has beaten both of them, there is reason to think they can turn the tables.
Exaggerator exploded around the turn at the Santa Anita Derby. That came at an off track, but if he makes the same move in Kentucky, any sort of pace pressure or issue with the distance could be a big issue for Nyquist.
Mohaymen used to be the sexy name for this year’s Derby. He was five for five, lifetime, but then threw in a clunker in early April at the Florida Derby. What if it was just a bad day? (The track wasn’t fast and he ran wide on the first turn.) If we can excuse one bad afternoon, Mohaymen’s credentials suggest he’ll be in the mix; he may get a perfect pace scenario, too, sitting just off the leaders and getting the first run around the turn.
How to Bet the Field
Of course, betting on any given horse to beat Nyquist is not going to lead to huge margins. If you’re after a bigger score, the strategy is going to have to be to toss Nyquist from the board entirely (and hope that, whatever issue he encounters, is a significant one). If Nyquist doesn’t finish top-three, exactas and trifectas will pay a fortune.
How should you set your ticket?
First order of business: narrow down who you think can win, and what candidates are your secondary choices. Something like Exaggerator/Mohaymen over Mohaymen/Exaggerator, Outwork, Destin, Mor Spirit, and Danzing Candy is not terribly expensive exacta ($12 for a $1 exacta). Playing a 50¢ trifecta (Exaggerator/Mohaymen over Mohaymen/Exaggerator, Outwork, Destin, Mor Spirit, and Dazing Candy, over the same group) costs $20. If you add in another contender or two to finish third, the ticket grows to $30. But if you feel like Nyquist is vulnerable, it is a small investment for a potentially huge score.
(Photo credit: PandamicPhoto.com (_MG_0081-1) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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