MGM Resorts race and sports director Jay Rood picked I’ll Have Another for the second straight race and for the second straight time got bettors to the window with his selection.
As excited as Rood was to give the public a winner in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, he’s even more so about the possibilities that now exist not only for his race books across Las Vegas, but the entire industry as a whole.
“I’m hoping with the all the media attention I’ll have Another brings to the Belmont Stakes over the next three weeks it will stir some more awareness with people everywhere wanting to be part of it,” said Rood. “Hopefully, with everything we’ll be reading and seeing over that time it creates some new fans.”
Rood’s optimism for more exposure to the horse racing industry has always been something he’s passionate about. However, there really isn’t any precedent set in Las Vegas race books that show spikes in handle after a horse wins a Triple Crown. It last happened in 1978, a time when all races were booked and not run through the tracks’ pools like they are now.
What Rood does have is an expectation on what kind of handle he might get in the Belmont Stakes just because he’s seen the effects of seven horses since 1997 win the first two legs of the Triple Crown with Big Brown being the last in 2008.
“I would conservatively estimate our Belmont Stakes handle will be about double what it has been each of the last three years average without a horse running for the triple crown,” said Rood. “It could even triple if I’ll Have Another gets an extraordinary amount of publicity coming in and hits that younger market we’ve been searching for.”
The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978, one year after Seattle Slew did it and five years after Secretariat in 1973. Since then, 11 horses have won the first two legs, but failed at Belmont.
Spurs ruin books
When a team wins 18 straight games like the Spurs have, it creates a lot of attention with bettors, which makes most of the games one sided for the sports books.
That’s bad news for the house when a team like the A’s or Rockies go on huge runs in baseball because it’s only about wins and losses on the money-line. But when dealing with a point-spread, it usually evens things out a bit more as the win streak becomes littered with inflated spreads that become almost impossible to cover.
Unfortunately for the sports books, that hasn’t happened with the Spurs, no matter how they have adjusted their rating. They are a covering machine with a 10-man well-rested rotation that rarely looks tired.
During their 18-game winning streak they have gone 15-2-1 against-the-spread. For the casual bettor it has been like an automatic in their two and three team parlays with little decision mading needed; you simply take the Spurs and hope your other teams come through.
“We’ve been hurt by the Spurs during the playoffs, not just from the smaller money on parlays, but also from high end house players who have also been riding them,” said Rood. “We’re actually fortunate some of the other popular teams haven’t been as easy to figure out because we’re still holding close to what we historically do in May for the NBA.”
Had it not been for the Spurs, the books would be doing extremely well. Bettors came into the playoffs high on teams like the Heat, got burned by them a few games and then jumped ship altogether by the time they arrived in Indianapolis for Game 3, and bet the Pacers.
“They (public) were betting against the Heat and taking the Spurs Sunday,” said Rood. “The parlay risk to those two sides was enormous.”
Needless to say, Sunday was a very good day for the house.
Although the Clippers were Rood’s least favorite team to win the NBA Championship because of large future exposure, the next worst decision for him is the Spurs, who he currently has listed at even money.