Orb, who won the Kentucky Derby, is the favourite to win the 138th Preakness Stakes on Saturday. The morning line odds have him at evens — which means there’s absolutely no point in betting on him. (Why bet $10 just to win $10?)
Orb ran such a good race — coming from behind, and going the long way around the pack on the outside — that everyone just wants him to win tomorrow so he can have a shot at the triple crown at Belmont.
Plus, people seem to love owner Shug McGaughey, an old school gent who doesn’t dope his horses.
But there’s an obvious problem for Orb. He’s got the No.1 inside track position. If he runs from behind again, he might get boxed in by the other horses and not be able to find a way through to the front. The Preakness (9.5 furlongs) is shorter than the derby (10 furlongs) so Orb has less time to repeat his round-the-outside trick from the last race.
So we have turned to our trusty horse-racing Excel spreadsheet for some non-Orb “investment” ideas on the race. Horse racing is, after all, really boring unless you have money riding on it.
Here’s how it works.
There are 9 horses in the running Saturday. So at the outset, assuming you know nothing about horses (guilty), you have a 1 in 9 chance of picking the winner.
Those are NOT good odds.
Some horses have better chances than others at winning — some might not like longer races, for instance — and the odds adjust on each horse bettors place their bets.
But the bottom line is that in theory, any horse can win.
So a person approaching the Preakness as if it were a probability problem might want to ask, how many horses can I bet on and still come out ahead if any one horse wins? Put another way, can I spread my bets among as many horses as possible and still come out ahead?
The formulas in my spreadsheet ask, for a $10 bet on each horse, how many horses can I bet on and still be able to win more than the total amount of money I’ve wagered?
This year, you can bet on five of the 9 horses at the current odds, and if any of them win you’ll come out nicely ahead. That reduces your overall odds to something better than a 50/50 coin flip.
Now that’s an interesting bet.
Of course, your portfolio will contain NONE of the favourites. In other words, you’re betting on all the horses the bookies think will most likely lose, because they have the longest odds. But you’re covering as much of the field as possible. Remember, you only need ONE horse to come in good, and horses have a funny way of defying expectations.
The horses you must bet on are these: Titletown Five, Oxbow, Will Take Charge, Governor Charlie and ItsMyLuckyDay.
A $10 bet on each one to win will cost you $50. If any of them come first you will win at least $120 and as much as $300. (I’ve built in a margin to give the betting a purpose.)
Personally, I use the spreadsheet as an advisor, not a decider. Remember the Edwards Quant Fallacy: There’s a difference between having good data and applying judgment to good data.
So at post time consider picking only three or four horses, some at good odds and some at long odds. That limits your losses but makes your gains interesting. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll add some genuine excitement to a race that is, otherwise, two minutes of chaos.
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