The Worst Overlay in History

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Derek Simon

May 16th, 2014

Ever since California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby in a time rivalled by wooden horses on a merry-go-round, the dissenters have been out in force.
Racing fans and pundits alike have been quick to label California Chrome as “overrated” or “the best of a bad lot.” Hence, it should come as no surprise that nine rivals have lined up to challenge the Derby champ in the Preakness Stakes, including seven who did not compete in Louisville.
Now, I’m no chalk-eating weasel and I applaud those who perpetually look for legitimate knocks against short-priced favorites — in any race. But I must admit to rolling my eyes a bit when folks claim that they are “looking for value” by eschewing the Derby winner.
Value is not determined solely by price.
One makes a profit at the races by betting on propositions that offer odds over and above their “real,” or actual, odds — period. If a horse has a 90 percent chance of visiting the winner’s circle, a win bet at 2-5 odds is a great wager. Conversely, an exacta that stands to pay $100 for a buck is a horrible bet if the combination is likely to connect fewer times than Donald Sterling at an NBA meet-and-greet.
The fact of the matter is the Derby runners (and California Chrome in particular) are holding all the aces when it comes to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
In the past 50 years, horses that did not compete in the Run for the Roses are just 7-for-242 (2.9 percent) at Pimlico. Horses that did compete in the most exciting two minutes in sports have won 43 times (16.6 percent) during that span.
And it gets even worse if the “new shooter” did not win its last race, as only Bee Bee Bee (1972) and Red Bullet (2000) managed to capture the Preakness after failing to get the job done in their previous start. Worse, just nine percent of these horses have even hit the board in Baltimore.
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Which brings me to Social Inclusion, everybody’s upset special in this year’s Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.
Simply put, I think Social Inclusion may be the worst “value” play in the history of organized horse racing.
Look, I get it: next to California Chrome (the Derby notwithstanding), the son of Pioneerof the Nile has the best overall speed figures in the field. But to understand why I think Social Inclusion is such a terrible bet in the Preakness Stakes, we have to dig deeper:
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This is a horse that has never been headed early and, according to his connections, he’ll be on the engine again in Maryland… yet he’s not very quick. His early speed rations (ESRs) rank fourth in the Preakness field — behind California Chrome, Pablo Del Monte and Ring Weekend. And the only time he met today’s late speed (LSR) par was when he set a dawdling pace (0 ESR) in an allowance win at the notoriously speed-favoring Gulfstream Park.
2013 WIRE-TO-WIRE RATES (main track)
Aqueduct (AQU): 26 percent at 1-1/8 miles (23 races).
Gulfstream Park (GP): 27 percent at 1-1/16 miles (97 races).
Pimlico (PIM): 20 percent in all routes (100 races).
Then there’s that stat I shared before: Non-Derby starters who didn’t win their last start are just two-for-144 in the Preakness over the past 50 years. And 5-1 (according to the morning line) is value on Social Inclusion? Value? (Picture Jim Mora asking the question to get the full effect of what I’m saying here.)
If you’re seeking “new shooters” that have a chance at a good price, look at Dynamic Impact, Bayern or — one I really like — Kid Cruz. And, of course, don’t forget about the other Derby starters: General A Rod and Ride On Curlin.
History has shown that they’re the ones that typically offer the real value.
My Plays:
EXACTA BOX 1,2,3,5,7,10.
TRIFECTA 3 with 2,7,10 with 1,2,5,7,10.

To get my Win Factor and Pace Profile Reports for ALL of Saturday's races at Pimlico, click HERE.