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Finding Value in Kentucky Derby Betting

With just a week to go before the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah is the betting favorite at 13/5 at Bovada, looking to become the third consecutive favorite to win the Run for the Roses.

Orb got the job done as the lukewarm favorite in 2013, returning $12.80 for the win. California Chrome made chalk players happy last year, paying $7.00 as the betting favorite.

While the two favorites have won the past couple of years, dating back three decades the average payoff of the Kentucky Derby winner is $28, and just six betting favorites in the last 29 years have landed in the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.

As talented as American Pharoah is, it is going to be tough to take his short odds of 13/5, and there are several others in the Derby field a week out that look to offer more bang for the buck.

One is International Star, who finished in first in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings with 171. The colt is trained by Mike Maker and will be ridden by Miguel Mena.

The colt swept the three Derby prep races at Fair Grounds, the LeComte (G3), Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2).

While those races did not come up as deep as the major Derby preps in Florida, New York and California, his price has drifted up from 16/1 last week to 20/1 this week.

Frosted is currently at early betting odds at Bovada at 16/1. The colt started his three-year-old campaign with a solid second in the Holy Bull (G2) behind Upstart, and then looked as if he was going to win the Fountain of Youth (G2) but faded in the stretch to finish fourth.

The colt bounced back by winning the Wood Memorial (G1) in his last start with a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 103, just two points short of American Pharoah's figure for his win in the Arkansas Derby.

The colt is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who nearly pulled off a huge upset in 2005 with Closing Argument, who rallied late to finish second at betting odds of 71-1.

Far Right won the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) and then skipped the Rebel. He came back in the Arkansas Derby where he was no match for American Pharoah in a runner up finish, beaten eight lengths.

However, it was his first start in nearly two months and he looks capable of moving forward off that effort and is sitting at a generous 33/1 for the Kentucky Derby at Bovada.

Danzig Moon ran second to Carpe Diem in the Toyota Blue Grass, beaten three lengths. While Carpe Diem is the third choice in Derby wagering at 15/2, Danzig Moon is bred to handle the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Kentucky Derby and is sitting at betting odds of 40/1.

It looks as if we are going to have a field of 20 on Derby Day, and taking American Pharoah now at 13/5 offers little value. The colt may end up closer to 3/1 by the time the gates spring on the first Saturday of May.

Odds to Win 2015 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs at Bovada as of April 26:

American Pharoah 13/5
Dortmund 4/1
Carpe Diem 15/2
Mubtaahij 10/1
Materiality 14/1
Firing Line 16/1
Frosted 16/1
International Star 20/1
Upstart 20/1
El Kabeir 33/1
Far Right 33/1
Bolo 40/1
Danzig Moon 40/1
Itsaknockout 40/1
Mr Z 40/1
Ocho Ocho Ocho 40/1
Keen Ice 50/1
Ocean Knight 66/1
Tencendur 66/1

Michael Dempsey will be providing full analysis of the Kentucky Oaks and Derby Day cards at turfnsport.com.

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