by Kevin Stott | So what is the hottest ticket you can possess in Las Vegas right now?
Is it one to see "Blue Man Group" or "La Reve"? Or maybe Cirque du Soleil’s "LOVE"? How about a ticket to see comedians George Carlin or Don Rickles or Jerry Seinfeld?
Sorry. The ticket to have right now is a 125-1 futures bet on Big Brown to win horse racing’s Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) offered up at Wynn Las Vegas by Director of Race and Sports Operations John Avello, the Grand Pooh Bah of Horse Racing and Other Exotic Bets in Sin City. (Who else is going to set odds "for entertainment purposes only" on "American Idol" or "Dancing With The Stars"?)
As he does every year, Avello offered a number of creative proposition wagers for this year’s Kentucky Derby at the Wynn as well as a menu of the 20 Kentucky Derby entries and their "Odds to Win the 2008 Triple Crown" that ranged from early opening favorite Pyro (15-1) to perceived longshots Eight Belles, Anak Nakal and Z Humor (300-1).
Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown opened up at those mouth-watering 125-1 odds and Avello said there were a bunch of bettors who jumped at the chance to bet the 3-year-old before he ran in and won the Florida Derby from the No. 16 post on March 29.
"We wrote quite a few (tickets on Big Brown at 125-1)," Avello said. "But remember, he was also bet all the way down to 10 (-to-1 odds). Not everybody got a ticket at all those numbers all the way down the line. 125 (-to-1) was the first number and that was put up in March before his Florida race. But a couple people got some good pops."
After Big Brown trounced the field in the Kentucky Derby, Avello put up a new prop, "Will Big Brown win the Triple Crown?" with the opening odds on the NO at -185 and the YES at +165. The public jumped at the chance to back Big Brown and bet the "NO" up to -120 and the YES all the way down to EVEN money.
"We’ve taken quite a bit of action that he will (win the Triple Crown)," Avello said 10 days before Pimlico and the second Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Avello added that he thought Big Brown’s odds at the Preakness would be around 2-5 and then if he won there set around 1-5 at the Belmont on June 7.
"That means that he’ll pay roughly $2.60 (if he wins the Preakness)," Avello said.
Besides the two above props, Wynn offered another prop before the Kentucky Derby, "Will Any Horse Win The Triple Crown?" The NO opened at -1000 and closed at -800 while the YES opened at +700 and closed at +600. It’s likely those who bet the NO are a little bit more nervous now after watching the Kentucky Derby and then seeing the prospective field for the Preakness.
Other props offered by Avello before the Kentucky Derby included "Will Kentucky Derby Winner Win the Preakness Stakes?" (YES +210, NO -240); "Official Winning Time" (over 2:02.20" +105, under 2:02.20" -120); "Winning Saddle Cloth Number" ("odd number" opened -110, bet down to +200, "even number" opened -110, bet up to -240); "Winner of Derby’s Previous Race on Which Surface?" (synthetic -105, dirt -115); and "Official Win Mutuel Payoff" (over $16.70 began -135, bet down to -155, under $16.70 began +115, bet up to +155).
"We wrote quite a bit on that one," Avello said of the mutuel payoff prop for the Kentucky Derby although he said "nobody cared" about some of his other unique first-time offerings.
One other prop Avello said Wynn wrote some tickets for was "Winning Saddle Cloth Number" which had four groups of five horses: "1-5" 4-1 odds; "6-10" 7-5; "11-15" 9-2; and "16-20" which was 8-5.
For the record, Big Brown – whose previous race was the Florida Derby (dirt) – wore saddle cloth No. 20 (even number, 16-20) and finished the 1¼-mile Run for the Roses in 2:01.82 (under) with jockey Kent Desormeaux riding for trainer Richard Dutrow.
Along with these fun types of prop bets for the Kentucky Derby, Avello also offers various matchups between horses, something he’s been doing since 1990.
The main man at the Wynn Las Vegas sports book said those are always the most popular and revealed that the house ended up losing money on the Kentucky Derby primarily because of favorite Big Brown winning.
And if Big Brown does go on to win the Triple Crown and then faces 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin in a dream matchup in the 25th Breeders’ Cup Classic scheduled for Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park, will The Sport of Kings’ favorite linesmaker come up with some more interesting proposition wagers to whet the appetite of Las Vegas horse gamblers?
"Without a doubt," Avello said without hesitation.