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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Triple Crown Odds

Days before Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby, one Las Vegas casino was offering a generic proposition wager on whether any of the 20 3-year-old thoroughbred horses running in the Derby would win this year’s Triple Crown.


In other words, if you were a so-called futures bettor who thought a Triple Crown horse was going to emerge in 2010, meaning the Derby winner would win not only on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, as Super Saver did, but follow that up with victories in the Preakness Stakes in Maryland on Saturday, May 15, and the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, NY, on Saturday, June 5, there was a nice profit to be made.

The Daily Racing Form reported last week that Wynn in Las Vegas set the pro-Triple Crown odds at +$650, meaning individuals who bought that ticket before Super Saver’s victory will earn $6.50 for every $1 wagered, if Super Saver can win his next two races. Considering that these three races are run every year, and there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since the Carter administration, I expected the odds to have been steeper. Affirmed last accomplished the feat in 1978.

Still, when you look at what supporting the conventional wisdom pays out, the pro-Triple Crown proposition wager looks more attractive. To give you some sense of the odds against any horse winning a Triple Crown, the Wynn casino, prior to May 1, put the odds of the Kentucky Derby winner sweeping the Preakness Stakes, and then the Belmont Stakes, at -$900. The bettor who accepted those conditions will win only $1 for every $9 wagered if Super Saver finishes anywhere other than in first place a week from Saturday in Maryland, and three weeks later at Belmont Park, hardly worth the effort.

A Triple Crown bid always generates interest in the sport so the New York Racing Association (NYRA), which operates Belmont, has to be rooting for Super Saver’s success on May 15 in Maryland.

Belmont opened its spring season on Friday, April 30, and thoroughbred racing continues there until Sunday, July 18. The action then moves northward to Saratoga, NY. Belmont is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the exception of Monday, May 31, and Monday, July 5.

Many area racing fans received in March their reserved ticket seating application for the Belmont Stakes. These tickets are priced anywhere from $20 a head for the upper grandstand to $120 per person for clubhouse seats. While there are definite advantages to planning ahead, the Belmont Stakes is one of the few major sporting events that allows for a walk-up crowd, with general ($10) or clubhouse ($20) admission tickets sold on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the big race.

The day before the Belmont Stakes, Friday, June 4, is another date to mark on the calendar. Both the Floral Park and Garden City Belmont festivals will be held on that night, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Tulip Avenue, Floral Park, and from 6 to 10 p.m. along Seventh Street, Garden City.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: