Having Kentucky Derby winner Authentic as the favorite in its opening Preakness Stakes odds did not make Circa Sports in Las Vegas unique. But making him a more than a 2-1 favorite (+225) Saturday probably caught the attention of some futures shoppers.
The first domestic odds for this year’s last Triple Crown race offer more value on Authentic than the foreign futures that have him best priced at 3-2 (+150). Working with sportsbook director Matt Metcalf, risk supervisor Paul Zilm said that is because Circa is carving itself less takeout.
“We currently are offering a 20 percent theoretical hold on the odds to win,” Zilm said. “As we approach race day that will only get lower. The market will determine if we are way off on where we have anyone, including Authentic.”
As he was saying that, Zilm was taking his first Preakness bet Saturday morning on Art Collector. The Blue Grass Stakes (G2) winner was posted as the second choice at more than 4-1 (+425), not quite the 9-2 (+450) on offer in Europe.
Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law opened at more than 9-2 (+475) even though he is uncertain to start at Pimlico on Oct. 3 after his second-place finish in the Derby. He is no better than 3-1 offshore.
Also complicating the bookmaking for Tiz is the “No” prop that Circa offers on its shortest-priced horses. Bettors may lay $725 to win $100 that he will not win the Preakness just as they may lay $290 for the same result with Authentic. Since all bets made before the draw are action, a “No” ticket would cash even if a horse did not start the race.
“There’s a lot of unknowns about whether Tiz will run,” Zilm said. “We can’t just hang really low numbers on him, because people can come back and bury us on the ‘No.’ If anything Art Collector may be the wild card as far as the ‘Win’ odds go.”
Authentic’s stable mate Thousand Words (+740) and eighth-place Derby finisher Ny Traffic (+850) are also shorter than 10-1. Then comes the filly Swiss Skydiver (11-1), whose trainer Ken McPeek said that the Preakness is one of several races that he is weighing for the Kentucky Oaks runner-up.
Circa made six would-be starters its Preakness long shots, including Dr Post (14-1), Mr. Big News (14-1), Pneumatic (20-1), Happy Saver (30-1), Mystic Guide (30-1) and Liveyourbeastlife (40-1).
Zilm said Circa’s lower takeout is a double-edged sword. “We are usually very aggressive with our hold percentage on our futures markets,” he said. “We want to take bets, but it does require us to constantly manage it.”
Since it also allows players to parlay racing futures into bets on other sports, Circa opens itself up to more exposure. But it worked out in the Derby. Tiz The Law’s loss meant that a lot of those parlay tickets became worthless – except, that is, for the house.
Circa actually had a false start on its Preakness futures. It posted them Tuesday for about 20 minutes before there was an unspecified procedural question that required them to be withdrawn for four days. Rival bookmaker William Hill Nevada is also expected to post odds for the race in the coming days.
2020 Preakness Stakes Future Odds (courtesy of Circa)
Tiz the Law, +475
Art Collector, +425
Thousand Words, +740
Ny Traffic, +850
Mr Big News, +1400
Dr Post, +1400
Mystic Guide, +3000
Happy Saver, +3000
Swiss Skydiver, +1100
Will this horse win the 2020 Preakness?
Tiz the Law: Yes +475, No -725
Authentic: Yes +225, No -290
Art Collector: Yes +425, No -625
Thousand Words: Yes +740, No -1265
Ny Traffic: Yes +850, No -1475