Reub's journey

01 May 2012

Off to the track

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend. Just for fun let's say that you have been invited to attend. You know nothing about horse racing, but you will be sitting in the most coveted box seats at Churchill Downs with an entourage that includes seasoned fans of this race. The ladies will be wearing fabulous hats and everybody will be drinking mint juleps.

They have gifted you with $100 with which to place bets. You do not have the option of pocketing the money.

You discover that betting is complicated and you seek your mother's advice. She doesn't know what to say. She wonders: Should you hedge your bets? Is there time to do research? Should you throw this money at the horse with the coolest name?

But she has a blog, so she randomly puts out this post.


  1. This made me laugh. :) What a cool invitation, though. Lucky them.

    I'd be betting for the name that touches me in some way.. and statistics be damned. ;)

  2. After I buy the racing form on Friday I will have some specific betting ideas and will convey them to you here.

    First, is one trying to get a small return on their money? Are you seeking a large risk/reward ratio? Are you willing to split the money into a lot of small bets?

  3. Hypothetical son here.

    In answer to your questions...

    1. No.
    2. Large risk/reward all the way.
    3. Yes.


  4. No idea. Just enjoy the occasion and wear your biggest and boldest hat.
    And how about a bit of beginner's luck? you never know.

  5. Do they walk the horses before the race? Go down and watch and pick the one that is eager to run but also follows his trainer's hand on the bridal. They reveal certain personalities in this.

  6. twg: The pressure is fun!

    Hilary: The invitation is awesome and i am soooo jealous. I've loved the Kentucky Derby for as long as I can remember. The drinks, the hats, the bets, most of all the horses. This year the names are super cool: Daddy Long Legs, Done Talking,Gemologist, Rousing Sermon...omg I wish I were there.

    Laoch: I was hoping you would show up. Thank you! Chris is, in fact, more than hypothetical, and has answered your questions.

    Chris: Absolutely! Why not? Go for the large risk/no reward! I'm so proud of you.

    Friko: Beginner's luck would be fabulous. What do young men wear to the Kentucky Derby though?Not sure.

    Tabor: Whoa! You sound like you actually know something about racehorses. In a race like this I don't think the public gets to see much of the horses immediately beforehand. But I do know that the condition of the horse at the starting gate is a factor. Not to mention their starting position, and the type of jockey in charge.

  7. if this is CB we're talking about, hypothetically, he's got it in the bag. the hat, the style, the bet...i just wanna hear about it afterwards!!
    (really, Daddy Long Legs??? Sone Talking? Rousing Sermon? swoon. awesome.)

    ah, and here's a question - what would you name *your* Kentucky Derby horse???

  8. Yep, CB, and you're right, at least about the hat and the style. Aren't the horse names awesome?

    I have given SO much thought to horse names, mostly in my teen years. They're like band names, cropping up at the weirdest times! F'rinstance:

    "Love In the Time of Cholera"!
    "Faculty Meeting"!
    "Stir Fry"!
    "Pink Martini"!

  9. In movies, they go to the bar where the jockies hang out, buy them drinks, and pump them for information. Other times, in movies, they ask cabbies. I know nothing more to tell you.

  10. Snow: It must take nothing at all for a jockey to get drunk. They're so small.

    Cabbies know everything. He should ask a cabbie.

  11. I would say spread the risk - bet $10 on each of the horses. Then sit back and enjoy the race. Cheer for every horse on the race course because you have put your money on every fella. Tuck into your favorite burger or pizza. Sip your favorite wine. Have a splendid time.

  12. RR: Yeah, that way you would be assured of coming home without losing every nickel! Unless you over-ate!

    That's nice philosophy; you should be a teacher.

  13. Still thinking about RR's strategy. This year the field of 20 is so deep that a lot of the horses have the possibility of winning. It's never happened before, but what if it were a photo finish of 20 horses. RR would be as rich as a Saudi prince.

  14. Working on your picks, will have something by this evening.

  15. Laoch: cool. He did some betting today at Kentucky Oaks Day One, and says he's in the green. I was worried he might not have $100 left for tomorrow.

  16. Ok, I have thought about it a lot and have some observations. I think there are ten horses or so who can win the race if everything goes their way. The Derby is unusual in that the best horse isn't necessarily likely to win. The fields are large (in this case there are 20 horses) and as such there is a lot of traffic and more luck needed to win than you would find in a normal seven horse race. In addition these horse are running further than they ever have run before so there is some guesswork as to whether they will stretch out and get that extra distance.

    Thus I am going to break the horses into categories:

    category 1 - the most talented of the horse are likely: 4 - Union Rags and 6 - Bodemeister. Bodemeister has run the fastest race of the bunch. I think they are the most likely horses to win from a probability standpoint but will not be very good prices considering their probability of prevailing and how the early money is coming in. Still if you said to me I want to bet a lot of money on a horse to show, who should I pick in this race? I would probably say Union Rags and then I would try and talk you out of making the bet.

    2nd tier - these are horses who might be improving at the right time and who could ultimately be better the the first tier. I would say these might include: 8 - Creative Cause, 11 - Alpha, 10 - daddy know's best, 19 - I'll Have another. Of these I like Alpha the best followed by Daddy knows best, Creative Cause and I'll have another.

    third tier, horse who I think have a chance to be in the money but I would surprised if they win. They include 16 - El Padrino, 14 - Hansen, and 15 - Gemologist. If I were betting trifectas or exactas I would use these horses mostly on the bottom of my tickets.

    fourth tier - a long shot who could be wonderful or awful but will pay a lot if he wins is the 1 - Daddy long legs from Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. This horse won a big race in Dubai at close to this distance. The trainer is competent and as such I give him some shot.

    If I were not sick and could attend and bet the race I personally would just use all of these horses in a daily double with the previous or subsequent race. My ability to narrow down the other races would be superior, and the inflated pools on Derby day are such that in the past such a strategy betting doubles or bet threes has produced windfall profits.

    I am not sure this has been helpful. Nonetheless I hope you do well and have a nice time.

  17. Fantastic. I'll post back if I win anything...

    Bet $70 during the course of yesterday's races and came away with $100, so here's hoping I can replicate that modest success...

  18. Alrighttttt had a $5 across the board on I'll have another, so came out on top. Woot woot!


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