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2020 Kentucky Derby Picks: 3 Longshots To Tie Into Exactas and Trifectas with Favorite Tiz the Law

2020 Kentucky Derby Picks: 3 Longshots To Tie Into Exactas and Trifectas with Favorite Tiz the Law article feature image

Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

  • Horse racing expert Jeremy Pond delivers three Kentucky Derby long shots you need on your exotic tickets to go along with favorite Tiz The Law in Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
  • He's looking at Max Player, Ny Traffic and Thousand Words to hit the board in the Run for the Roses.

Horse players and pundits alike have pretty much conceded the fact that a whole lot has to go wrong Saturday to deny Tiz The Law a victory in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The annual “Run for the Roses” is scheduled to go off at 7:01 p.m. ET, with 15 others hoping to spoil the Derby favorite’s parade in the 146th edition of horse racing’s premier event.

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To be perfectly transparent, I have been all in on Tiz The Law after placing a Futures wager on the 3-year-old star months ago and won’t be looking in any other direction when it comes to my Win-Place-Show tickets.

However, I have spent countless hours handicapping “the fastest two minutes in sports,” searching for multiple options to bring in potentially sizable exacta, trifecta and superfecta hauls in the exotic wagering.

With that in mind, I have circled three long shots with legitimate chances to finish underneath Tiz The Law or potentially pull off the monster upset.

New to Horse Racing?
For those of you that might be new to horse racing, the wagering pools are pari-mutuel, which means that, unlike in sports betting, you aren’t trying to beat the house but rather the public at large. The key to long-term success in betting the ponies is being disciplined in identifying value in the pools.

Speed Ratings and Beyer Speed Figures
Speed ratings are relative performance indicators that allow us to compare performances across tracks where not all factors are even. Some tracks might be naturally faster like Gulfstream or Santa Anita, where the surfaces are harder, compared to a track like Belmont or Aqueduct, where the surfaces are generally a bit deeper.

They also account for the condition of the track as most horses will travel slower over softer ground. This means that simply comparing times is ineffective as they need some kind of leveling factor.
That’s what is built into speed ratings and they give a nice, although imperfect indicator of relative performance and ability.

Class Rating
A relative strength index for the field of a specific race. This gives you an idea of the level of the competition the horse was facing, as it can vary wildly from track to track even with the same win conditions.

How often do favorites win in horse racing?
Generally speaking, the favorite in horse racing wins at about a 35% rate but that number varies depending on the number of horses in the field. Armed with that knowledge you might want to just pick the favorites, frequently known as the chalk, but a closer look at the implied odds shows that you’d need average odds of 2-1 or better to break even on “win” bets.

So, in order to profit horseplayers must pick and choose the horses that they feel have a better chance to win than their implied odds, which is known as positive expected value (+EV). Expected value is not unique to horse racing and something that all bettors should get familiar with if they want to succeed.

Let’s take a look at this sneaky trio of contenders:

Top 3 Longshots

No. 10 — Thousand Words (15-1)

Talk about getting no respect.

A two-time graded stakes winner, Thousand Words is coming off a huge win in the Shared Belief Stakes back on August 1 at Del Mar. And who did Thousand Words beat that day? That would be Honor A.P., who is likely going to wind up entering the starting gate as the second betting choice.

Jockey Florent Geroux, who is still looking for his first Derby win, will likely put Thousand Words in a stalking position off the leaders (and close to Tiz The Law) before launching his bid as the field approaches the far turn.

Add in the fact Thousand Words is the son of Pioneerof the Nile, who finished second in the 2009 Derby and sired 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and you have a horse bred to get the distance.

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No. 15 — Ny Traffic (20-1)

The best horse to come out of the Haskell Invitational entered in the Derby isn’t Authentic.

It’s Ny Traffic.

The New York-bred just missed nailing Authentic at the wire and only needed another 50 yards to find his way into the winner’s circle in the Grade I event, which tells me he can get the distance in this spot.

Just as impressive were the numbers Ny Traffic posted in the Haskell, highlighted by a career-best 109 Equibase Speed Figure and 120 TimeForm US speed rating.

Add in the fact the gelding’s speed figures have improved his last six times out and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. could have his charge sitting on another big effort.

A New York-bred exacta is possible and Ny Traffic is a must use in all exotics.

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No. 2 — Max Player (30-1)

This colt is the definition of a dead closer and should be passing tired horses when he comes charging late down the stretch.

Max Player wound up well back of Tiz The Law in the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes, finishing third in both Grade I affairs. However, the horse’s ownership made the switch from trainer Linda Rice to Steve Asmussen after the Travers, which makes him an intriguing long shot in my opinion.

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. will take the mount for Asmussen, who has a contender that’s produced better Brisnet Speed figures in every career effort.

Max Player will break from the rail, which won’t hurt his style of running, and should allow Santana to position him in the right spot throughout the race.

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