For those of you who haven't seen the Derby weather forecast the track very well may come up sloppy or at least less than fast. There is a good chance of rain on all the three days leading up to the Derby as well as the big day itself.
A lot of people hate off tracks. They don't bet them and they think it's a shame that a good race like this is ever run over off going. The theory that I hear most commonly is that it's impossible to tell which horses are going to like it or hate it and anyone could win. The races are supposedly less formful.
I was wondering about this over the weekend and decided to look at some of the numbers. I looked at the average odds of every Derby winner from 1950 to the present then separated those Derby's that were run on tracks rated anything less than fast. The results revealed the following.
Average odds of a Derby winner since 1950: 8.88/1
Average odds of a Derby winner on an off track since 1950: 6.66/1
Average odds of a Derby winner on a fast track since 1950: 9.21/1
Derby winners on off tracks were, on average, shorter prices than those on fast tracks. While favorites did win on fast tracks at a slightly higher percentage (29% compared to 25%) there were simply fewer longshots winning on off tracks. Only 2 of the 8 off track winners were more than 10/1.
I also looked at the odds of the top 3 finishers in each of the Derby's since 1950. The results were not all that different.
Average odds of a Derby ITM finisher since 1950: 11.40/1
Average odds of a Derby ITM finisher on an off track since 1950: 10.21/1
Average odds of a Derby ITM finisher on a fast track since 1950: 11.58/1
Once again the average odds of the "In the Money" finishers was lower on off tracks than on fast tracks. The favorite hit the frame in off track races at a slightly better percentage than they did in fast track races.
None of this means that the Derby this year will be dominated by the first three betting choices but I think if you were to draw any conclusion from these figures it would be this. Off tracks don't mix things up as badly as you may think. In fact it would seem that the public has a decent handle on how to bet off track Derby's. I would probably not let the weather affect my choices very much. Odds are, most of the good ones will still be good in the mud.