Did the Tampa Bay Derby make sense?

Handicapper Art ParkerBy ART PARKER

The Tampa Bay Derby was not on my docket of possible races to play so I didn’t examine the race at all the day of the event. I caught the replay that night just trying to keep in touch with the Kentucky Derby trail. Upon watching the replay of the Tampa Bay Derby I was motivated to find out why the public let the winner, King Guillermo, go off at odds of 49-1.

We all know that hindsight is 20/20 but some things must not be overlooked when examining a race, such as the company line of previous races. The 2020 Tampa Bay Derby is a prime example.

First take a look at the clear favorite, Sole Volante, who went off at 3/2 in the 12 horse field. Any horse that goes off at odds that heavy, especially in a full field, must look almost invincible to the bettors. Sole Volante was three of four and his trio of wins came from noticeably off the pace.

There were only two horses in the race not nominated to the Triple Crown, the winner King Guillermo and Texas Swing (almost 20-1), the latter finished third behind Sole Volante. Maybe the two runners not nominated lost some pari-mutuel appeal when the players failed to see the TC nomination next to their name.

It is true that the last two races by King Guillermo were on the turf, including his maiden victory and the Tampa Bay Derby is run on the main dirt track. King Guillermo’s second turf race saw him close up and in possession of the lead from the half mile call until the final furlong. He finished third that day in another big field and was the beaten favorite. In fact he finished third, just 3 ½ lengths behind the winner, Sole Volante, who went off the board at more than 13-1.

How can a horse in his last start be bet so heavily and lose to a 13-1 by just 3 ½ lengths, and now be at 49-1, while the other horse is 3/2?

The public gave a 40% probability of winning the Tampa Bay Derby to Sole Volante. The public gave a meager 2% probability of victory to King Guillermo.

It’s easy to miss longshots, but it is easier to hit just a few more by asking the question, “Does that make sense?”

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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