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Borel reprises Derby win

Las Vegas Race and Sports Books just completed their busiest weekend since the opening round of March Madness. Saturday’s Kentucky Derby crowd spilled over into the excited anticipation of the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley bout for a dream day that only Las Vegas can create.

If you couldn’t be at Churchill Downs on Saturday, the next best place to be at was any one of the dozens of race books across Las Vegas. If fact, some who attended the rain soaked muddy surroundings at Churchill Downs might have even wished they had been in a nice climate controlled environment of a Vegas race book just for the comfort.

There were mixed reports around Las Vegas race books in regard to the comparative year-over-year race handles. Overall state handle should be known later in the week from the Nevada Pari-mutuel association. Some books reported strong handle beating 2009 numbers easily, while others reported flat or decreased numbers.

MGM MIRAGE Race and Sports Book Director Jay Rood had a thought on why some race books could have seen a decrease.

“With the way the sloppy conditions of the track were and no clear cut favorite, many bettors had to alter their strategies and change what they had intended to wager. When there is that big of a favorite many bettors feel more comfortable betting larger amounts taking the best of the best, and we didn’t have that on Saturday.”

Churchill Downs reported that total pari-mutuel wagering from all sources on the Kentucky Derby, which includes on-track and off-track wagers, was $112.7 million, a 7.8 percent increase from the $104.6 million all-sources total in 2009.

Total wagering from all sources on the 13-race Kentucky Derby Day card was $162.7 million, an increase of 4.3 percent from the $156.0 million wagered a year earlier. Handle amounts for 2010 are preliminary and do not include separate pool wagering in international markets such as Hong Kong, which simulcast the Kentucky Derby for the first time.

Jockey Calvin Borel rode Super Saver to win his third Kentucky Derby in four years. The win paid out $18 for a $2 wager.

Regardless of what percentage the race books were over or under from 2009, it’s still the most bet racing day of the year in Nevada. The greatest thing about horse racing from the race book’s perspective is that they never lose and are guaranteed around 18% of the overall write.

Unlike sports betting where the house can lose, the house is rooting for all players to win with hopes that part of those winnings will roll over and churn more action.

Just when the excitement of the Derby was over around town, another vibe was taking shape around all the sports books with everyone talking about the big fight. Anytime Floyd Mayweather puts his undefeated record on the line, everyone has an opinion and they all love to talk about why someone will win and analyze as though they are Ferdie Pacheco.

Even though Mayweather never loses, somehow, the masses always believe and hope it’s going to happen, judging by the way they bet at the window. Since Mayweather is usually a prohibitive favorite, everyone he fights gets a good price, making the underdog seem attractive.

“Our tickets counts were unbelievably one-sided with action on Mosley,” said Palms Sports Book Director Fred Crespi. “We were in the 8 to 1 range in favor of Mosley.”

Over at the MGM, which hosted the fight, Rood said their ticket counts were in the 10 to 1 range in favor of Mosley. While the small money all came in Mosley, the large money was on Mayweather, keeping the line balanced.

“We went as low as minus –360 on Mayweather, but by fight time he was a strong –400,” said Rood, who originally opened the fight three months ago with Mayweather as a minus-280 favorite. “It was typical strong handle for us with significant late action.”

For the uninitiated, –400 means the odds are 1-to-4, and you have to bet $400 to win $100 (plus your original $400 back), which means you only win 25¢ for every dollar bet.

Over at the South Point, a favorite of many locals, they had dropped Mayweather to as low as minus-320 with lots of small money pushing the line down until eventually, late Mayweather money come in larger chunks pushing the line back up to minus-380.

Rood said some of the strongest action of the day was on the props, especially taking Mosley to win by knockout which would have paid 12 to 1. Probably one of the soundest bets of the entire card based on Mayweather’s past history was taking him to win by decision, which Rood set up at minus-160, but that option got the least amount of action in the five-way prop that lets you choose from each fighter by decision, knockout or draw.

The way it’s gone the last decade with Mayweather because of the public always betting the underdog, when he wins, the sports books win and Saturday night was no different.

The one possibility in which the books could lose with Mayweather is if he eventually fights Manny Pacquiao, a fight everyone wants to see happen, and if it does happen, have it in Las Vegas.

“I have to think that would be the biggest fight ever in Las Vegas, at least since I’ve been in the business,” said Rood, who has seen all the big Mike Tyson bouts first hand while beginning his career at the MGM when it opened.

“Not only from a betting standpoint, but just overall international appeal, this fight could resemble some of the epic early 80’s bouts involving Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns.”

Las Vegas Hilton Super Book Assistant Manager Jeff Sherman agrees. “In this day and age, it would be the biggest fight garnering world wide attention. Between the respect level of everyone who follows sports, boxing fan or not, has for both Pacquiao and Mayweather, this would grab everyone’s attention and force everyone to take a side. The handle for this event would be record breaking, and I can’t even imagine what the pay-per-view sales would be like.”

The bigger question beyond whether this dream matchup takes place or not, is where it will be held. The new Cowboys Stadium with owner Jerry Jones would love to fill his massive arena for the fight of the century and would pay handsomely to get it as might the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“We have to get that fight, if it happens, in Las Vegas,” said Rood, “There’s no place like Vegas for a prize fight just because of what our city offers that others can’t. When a crowd has a vested interest in a bout, where everyone has money on one side or another, it makes that event better. The Vegas boxing crowd has a buzz and energy to it that can’t be duplicated.”

As for pre- and post-party action that attracts people from all over the world, there is nothing in the world that compares to Las Vegas. Arlington is a nice city, and fun place to tail-gate before a football game, but it’s hard to imagine a beautiful woman with an evening gown and heels on going to a post fight party where the club has peanut shells on the floor.


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