The Curious Case of Arrogate as an Overlay at 1-to-20

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Ed DeRosa

July 21st, 2017

Arrogate will be 1-to-20 odds in the San Diego Handicap on Saturday at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Those odds indicate he should win this race 95.24% of the time. It's an extraordinary statement that might actually shortchange last year's champion three-year-old male and reigning Breeders' Cup Classic winner.

My ALLWAYS database gives Arrogate between a 96%-98% chance of winning, which means he's an overlay in any part of that range given the lowest odds he can be is 1-to-20. This is a tricky spot for gamblers because making $0.05 on the dollar is not exciting for most people, but if you are someone who pushes edges trying to grind out a profit then betting Arrogate to show could be attractive (we have shifted from the win pool to the show pool because he will pay $2.10 in all three straight wagers; if by some miracle he's 1-to-10 instead of 1-to-20 then win is a better bet).

Using the Kelly Criterion calculator found at, it's easy to see that one should wager on a 1-to-20 shot with a 96% chance of success. In fact, such a scenario is an even better edge than a horse who has a 50% chance of winning who is 7-to-5 in the betting or even a horse who's 8-to-1 with a 25% chance of winning.

That's right, If you think Arrogate has a 96% chance of winning the San Diego, then he is a better bet to win at 1-to-20 than a horse who you think should be 3-to-1 that is actually 8-to-1.

All this isn't to say you should bet him to win or show (you definitely should NOT bet him to place), but as someone who was willing to look for a straight exacta to play and couldn't find one, I am saying that this is a very rare instance for me that if you don't want to take the 5% to show then just watch the race.