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The Kentucky Derby & Belmont Stakes
Dr. Z’s Mathematics of Gambling
by William Ziemba

I am a fan of dosage analysis for these two classic races whose entrants have never run the 114 and 112 miles before. Steve Roman (www.chef-de-race.com) provides data, results and commentary. Rod Bain, Don Hausch, and I have been evaluating dosage and Dr. Z bets on the Kentucky Derby. We merge the public’s odds with dosage to generate better odds. For win bets the best results are in the 1970s and 1980s with poorer results since. Still, you multiply your money many times. The place and show results are even better and have consistent profits throughout with one exception. Arazi, the two-year-old wonder of 1991, who came into the 1992 Derby with only one race in his third year and a knee operation, finished out of the money. No horse has ever won the Derby with one three-year-old race and only a few with two races. We knew that about Arazi in 1992 but the computer did not.

For this year’s May 4, 2002 race, Johannesburg, the top rated two-year-old colt in 2001 has only one 2002 race planned, probably a seven-furlong prep at the Curragh. This is hardly the route to the grueling Derby. Even though he is a DQ, it is unlikely he will win if entered. Also no winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile has ever won the Derby, a double knock!

Among the DQs, Came Home (Santa Anita Derby winner) and Saarland (fourth in the Wood) currently look the best. Saarland has a beautiful pedigree and most of his dosage points are in the classic category with six professional points. Buddha (Wood Winner), Equality, Blue Burner, Harland’s Holiday (Blue Grass Winner), Medagha d’Oro and Sunday Break may have strong showings.

This year’s crop of horses is weaker than 2001 and the best horses are running final times in the 76–7712 range. Last year, my top pick, Monarchos at 10-1 won, and he and the main contender, the DQ, Point Given, were running 78-79s. Monarchos was an asterik qualifier whose two-year-old form did not qualify him as a DQ since he was not rated within ten pounds of the highest rated horse. However, he won a three-year-old Grade I race and had a dosage index of 4.00 or less. His Equiform® numbers were similar to Point Given’s and his odds were five times higher. Point Given was fifth in the Derby but won the Belmont.

My best year was 1997 when the script pointed to Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit and Freehouse in that order. I took a risk but the 1-2-3 finish came in perfect. It’s not always so good. On average the DQ and asterisk horses return profits with the DQs the best.

Of course much can happen before this column appears—the Derby will have been run and the results known. Watch for the DQs in the Belmont, Lemon Drop Kid was 35-1.

Editor’s note: 2002 Derby winner War Emblem paid 43.00-22.80-13.60. Proud Citizen ran second paying 24.60-13.40 with Perfect Drift finishing third paying 6.40. Came Home finished sixth, Johannesberg eight, and Saarland tenth.

EFH* Name Sire Broodmare Sire Dosage Profile Dosage Index
Dual Qualifiers
126 Johannesburg Henness Ogygian 5-3-6-0-0 3.67
119 Came Home Gone West Clever Trick 12-6-12-0-0 4.00
116 Saarland Unbridled Danzig 7-12-19-0-6 1.84
Classic Contenders
  Blue Burner French Deputy Alydar 10-4-12-0-0 3.00
  Buddha Unbridled’s Song Storm Cat 2-6-8-0-2 2.00
  Equality Mt. Livermore Gone West 12-1-8-1-2 2.43
115 Essence of Dubai Pulpit Summing 7-2-7-0-0 1.00
114 harlan’s Holiday Harlan Affirmed 7-2-10-1-2 2.33
  Medaglia D’Oro El Prado Bailjumper 2-6-14-4-0 1.36
  Sunday Break Forty Niner Storm Cat 11-5-12-0-3 2.37
*Experimental Free Handicap


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