Monarchos: Not a Given

May 8, 2001 9:03 AM

At the start of the Kentucky Derby, there were cheering bettors.

During the race, there still was plenty of noise.

But at the end of race, there was little cheering.

Those were the consistent reports around Las Vegas race books Saturday.

That’s because Monarchos won the 127th running of the Derby in Louisville, Ky. Most experts did not predict him, and the public, for the most part, followed suit.

Monarchos, winner of the Florida Derby, went off at 10-1 and paid $23. He was ridden by jockey Jorge Chavez and won by 4¾ lengths.

Monarchos also ran the second-fastest Derby in 1:59.97, second only to Secretariat’s 1973 Derby performance.

Invisible Ink, who went off at 55-1, placed and paid $55.80. The exacta with Invisible Ink paid $1,229. Congaree’s show finish paid $7.20.

The trifecta paid $12,238.40. The $1 supertrifecta paid $62,986.

At Bally’s, race and sports book director John Avello said, "We had at least one, if not a few that hit the trifecta. We had a player hit a Pick 6. We had quite a few exactas."

There were winners at The Mirage as well.

"We had some people cash some big tickets," said Robert Walker, race and sports book director. "But with Invisible Ink in there, you’d have to have a great handicap method.

"I was happy with the (betting) handle, but it was about the same as last year," he added.

Post-time favorite Point Given (9-5), finished fifth.

In fixed odds, it depended on the sports book as to how the house performed.

At Bally’s, Monarchos opened 125-1, then was moved to 40-1, then to 25-1 and closed 6-1.

"We broke even," Avello said. "We had hardly any bets at 125-1. That was the only horse we wouldn’t do well on. Any other horse would be much better."

The story was different at Imperial Palace, where he opened on fixed odds at 100-1 and closed 6-1.

"We did well [on our fixed odds]," said Jay Kornegay, IP race and sports book director. "There was some action on [Monarchos], but he was one of the names that we wanted to see pop up."

Kornegay and his book held their breaths when Invisible Ink made his move.

"We did not want him to win," he said. "With Congaree, we weren’t pulling for him either because we would break even. But we were in good shape with just about all the horses."

All books around town offered pari-mutuel betting on the Derby, while not all offered fix odds.

"Hey, we want everyone to win," said Walker, whose book did not offer fixed odds. "It was an exciting race, but for the most part, it was a tough race for the public.

Crowds large

Race books around Las Vegas were filled, and empty chairs in race and sports books were hard to find Saturday.

At Mandalay Bay, spectators filled the entire book at post time. But at the end of the race, when Monarchos was officially named the winner, there hardly was any cheering. A report at Arizona Charlie’s West had the same crowd reaction.

The story was nearly the same at The Mirage.

"After the race, it thinned right out," Walker said. "There was a steady crowd here all day. About 2:30 p.m., it got crowded."

Before the race, The Orleans and Caesars Palace books were filled with betting windows six bettors deep most of the afternoon. Hot dog stands were in both books.

At the Fiesta, just about every individual television set was taken two hours before the 3 p.m. PST post time.

Kornegay said all horse betting picks up on Derby day.

"They’re not just betting Churchill, they’re betting everything," he said. "Our crowds were steady. It wasn’t overwhelming. It was a steady, solid crowd."

Triple Crown trail

The next leg of the Triple Crown is May 19 with the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.

The last leg is at the Belmont Stakes in New York June 9.

"It will be interesting to see the Preakness because the Derby pace was so quick," Walker said.

The last time there was a Triple Crown winner was in 1978 when Affirmed won all three legs.

Here is a list of possible PREAKNESS entrants:

HORSE Derby finish or top prep


3rd Derby


5th Derby


7th Derby


13th Derby


Won Laurel Futurity


Won Illinois Derby


Won Gotham


Won Lone Star


Won Tesio


2nd in Gotham


2nd in Lexington