Every race book across Nevada is going to be jam packed on Saturday for the Belmont Stakes.
Thousands of bettors want to see if they’ll witness history with American Pharoah winning the first Triple Crown since Affirmed did it in 1978. Affirmed was the third Triple Crown winner of the decade.
Wynn Las Vegas has American Pharoah listed as a -115 favorite. The Belmont Stakes has been the true test of a champion and the past 13 horses that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in the same year have failed to win on the much longer 1.5-mile course, including California Chrome last season.
If you wish to side with recent history of the horse failing, you can lay 105 at the Wynn that American Pharoah won’t win.
But who wants to do that?
The majority of us who aren’t regular horse racing bettors wagering at a race book only on the big days, much in the same way many show up for church on Easter or Christmas, want to see some history made.
We want to be part of it with a wager. We want to yell and scream at the big screen TV’s for two-and-half minutes with everyone else and hope to cash a ticket with American Pharoah at the end. Some of us will even go as far as making a $2 wager with plans of not cashing the ticket just to hang on to it as a souvenir to commemorate the day of being part of history.
The Las Vegas race books know the majority of people in their books on Saturday will be people just like me who only bet on the big days. A large portion of people will be coming in for the excitement and have never bet a race before and need an explanation on how to wager.
Then, of course, they have to accommodate their regulars who bet horses every day in the book, most of whom like the excitement but don’t like all the novices invading their spaces and tying up the bet windows.
In order to get every dollar possible from the experienced and novice bettors, several books will be giving away items to entice a Saturday visit. The more cash handled for each book the better. Pari-mutual action tied into the track gives the book back 18 percent of their overall handle, win or lose.
Station Casinos race books in just about every neighborhood in Las Vegas have been the leader in the city, luring that new money into their books by giving away some kind commemorative item tied to the race.
Station will always give something away for free if betting, so if bettors only go to bet once or twice a year, they might as well get something for it. This year’s offering is a free six-pack of Budweiser to anyone who makes a $30 wager on the race. They’ve also upped their daily Twin-Quinella house wager to a prize of $33,333, which is an all-time high for an initial offering without a carry-over.
Naturally, I want to have a wager on American Pharoah, but I would like to cash something big with a boxed tri-fecta with several horses. Who those horses are, I don’t know yet. While I’ll get a Daily Racing Form just to get in the moment of game day, my only honest strategy is to follow experts who know a lot more than I do about horses and let them lead the way.
The first expert who’s opinion on the matter I’ll eagerly await is GamingToday’s Richard Saber. I saw first-hand the type of damage he can do at the bet windows as a regular at Palace Station when I worked there.
Saber can still be found holding court regularly there. I want to know his thoughts and apply them. Then there’s Patrick McQuiggan over at the South Point race book who has been regularly helping the small bettor win big with massive trifecta and superfecta payouts for the past two decades.
The final mix of my all-or-nothing exotic wagers will come from the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Richard Eng, who nailed the Kentucky Derby trifecta cold and has been streaming winners my way for years. Eng, along with handicapper Steve Davidowitz (a GamingToday analyst), will be giving out their info at a free seminar Friday (6 p.m.) at Sunset Station. You don’t want to miss it.
Once I make my wagers at the South Point race book, which is the only one in town that is not attached to the sports book (and I absolutely love the concept), I’ll dig in and wait for the Belmont.
I’ll have a few beers, bet a few other races with some buddies, and enjoy one of their unbelievably good $1.25 hot dogs which is still the best value in Las Vegas. Hopefully, I’ll come out a winner and get to see history. Either way, I’m okay with it just because I know I’ll be having a great time due to the event with over a thousand new friends.
Super Bowl matchups
The Golden Nugget sports book opened odds on every possible Super Bowl matchup, where you don’t have to pick the winner, but just who the two participants will be.
The favorite of the 256 combinations is Seattle to go against Indianapolis which pays out at 10-to-1 odds. Green Bay meeting Indianapolis is the second choice at 12-to-1. A rematch of last year’s participants, Seattle and New England, pays out at 14-1.
Obviously, those numbers are heavily influenced by Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games with the chance his appeal will make it only two.
If you really want to swing for the fences, the longest shot on the board in Tampa Bay meeting Tennessee which pays out 1,000-to-1. The matchup that caught my eye was Dallas meeting Denver at 35-1.
The AFC is wide open and Peyton Manning just might show up this postseason and Dallas is a team that plays extremely well on the road (8-0 in 2014) because of having the best offensive line in football. Seattle should have home field in the playoffs, but Dallas can beat them there just like they did last regular season.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].