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Books Expecting Huge Triple Crown Handle

By Mike Hayes of Doc's Sports Picks

The 132nd edition of the Kentucky Derby did not disappoint as Saturday's Run for the Roses not only provided huge pay outs but also a winner that has people talking about the Triple Crown.

"We had a record breaking Kentucky Derby, up 140 percent over last year," said Bodog spokesman Greg Jorssen. "There were the lucky few who cashed in the big payoff as the trifecta and superfecta didn't disappoint in the Derby. One Bodog member cashed the $29,919 superfecta ticket off her $1 bet."

The trifecta with 30/1 Bluegrass Cat, second, and 16/1 Steppenwolfer, third, returned $11,000. A dead heat for fourth resulted in two superfecta payouts, more than $85,000 with the late running Jazil and better than $50,000 with Brother Derek.

Sent off as a healthy 6/1 second choice behind Sweetnorthernsaint, Barbaro and jockey Edgar Prado made the rest of the field look as if it didn't belong on the Churchill track en route to a 6 1/2 length win -- the largest margin of victory since Assault won the first leg of his eventual Triple Crown in 1946.

Barbaro's performance was so impressive that Pinnacle Sportsbook has made the horse 5/6 to win the Preakness and 9/4 that he will become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

"Trainer Michael Matz has stuck to the game plan of resting Barbaro for the three Triple Crown races and defied critics by becoming the first Derby winner in 50 years that didn't run within five weeks of the race," said Simon Noble of Pinnacle Sportsbook. "After winning the Run for the Roses by the largest margin of victory in 60 years, Barbaro appears poised another visit to the winner's circle in Pimlico which would set up the seventh Triple Crown attempt in 10 years at June's Belmont Stakes."

Jorssen said it is likely that handle will be up for the Preakness as well thanks to Barbaro. "We are definitely preparing to see the same number of bettors on the Preakness as we saw for the Derby. With it being more than 28 years since the last Triple Crown winner, people are excited that Barbaro is a horse that has true potential in winning all three races. If you weren't a fan before the Derby, you are now."

To date, just five horses are expected to challenge Barbaro's Triple Crown bid in the May 20 Preakness, and even then trainers have indicated they are doing so with the hope of collecting second money.

In addition to Barbaro, those confirmed are Brother Derek, Sweetnorthernsaint, Like Now, Berndini and the George Steinbrenner owned Hemmingway's Key.

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On the fence are the Bob Baffert trained Bob and John and Point Determined as well as Lawyer Ron, who had planned on making the trip to Baltimore but could be kept away due to a minor ankle ailment.

The obvious question to be asked is whether Barbaro, who would become just the second undefeated Triple Crown winner in history, is really this good or whether his dominating Derby performance was at least in part due to other forces.

A look at the Derby chart is an indication that the answer is probably lies somewhere in between. Bumped, bobbled and steadied are the words most often used in detailing each horse's trek over the 1 mile Churchill strip. Barbaro too, was not immune to these traffic problems as he stumbled at the start and bumped. As a result he was no doubt the class of the field on Derby Day.

A look at the Florida Derby shows, however, that Barbaro was just a half-length better than Sharp Humor, who at 30/1 finished second-to-last in the Derby and prior to that was about four lengths better than Flashy Bull, who at 43/1 managed a 14th place finish.

Both Sweetnorthernsaint and Brother Derek had ample excuses in the Derby and in spite of their troubled trips did not fair all that poorly.

Sweetnorthernsaint, who steadied after bumping A.P. Warrior at the start and forced out on Private Vow, was steadied again under the wire the first time due to tight racing quarters. Sweetnorthernsaint was fourth at the top of the stretch before running out of gas and fading to a seventh-place finish.

Brother Derek, who if not for the 18th post might have been the public betting choice, was six-wide in the first turn before being steadied twice on the backstretch and forced even wider as they turned for home. Even still, he managed to close for a fourth-place dead heat with Jazil.

My guess is that by the time they enter the starting gate for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, these factors will have had a big impact on the tote board. Barbaro will no doubt be a solid favorite, but you will likely get a much better price then you will now, with Sweetnorthernsaint and Brother Derek getting significant support from those who hope a shorter field and the likelihood of a much smoother trip will result in a winning ticket at a healthy price.

Send questions and comments to mike@docsports.com

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