Big Brown Looks Pretty Good

I just ran my horse racing model for the Belmont Stakes.

It predicts that Big Brown will go off at odds of 1/5…even lower than his morning line odds of 2/5. I estimate that a $2 bet on Big Brown has an expected value of $1.81. Although the expected value is negative (you will lose an average of 19 cents per $2 bet if I’m right), after the track takes its cut, the typical horse only returns $1.64. So relatively, my model likes Big Brown more than the bettors do.

There is one horse in the race that does have a positive expected value: Anak Nakal. The model says that $2 bet on him will yield $2.08. I also liked Anak Nakal in the Kentucky Derby, where he went off at 53-1 and finished seventh.

If I were betting a trifecta, I would throw in Tale of Ekati along with the other two horses.

My final prediction: no horses get badly injured, although I would be more confident on this one if trainers gave this new technology a shot.

Jeffrey L Carstens

Deb, the reason these stupendous creatures even exist in the first place is for sport, which can be a noble but brutal pursuit. Ask any athlete.

If horse racing didn't exist, Big Brown would not be alive.

Let the big horse run tommorrow. He wants to.

Deb Davis

Excuse me, the horse has a cracked hoof and is being glued with acrylic, so it can still run a race so more people can make money. Isn't the horse racing community tired of watching horses kill themselves on the racetracks? At least today, before a race, we know this horse isn't in shape, no matter what the paid vets, paid trainers and greedy owners say in contradiction. Why take a chance on damaging such a stupendous creature? Money.


At what point will sports books open lines to bet on betting lines? On Levitt's advice, I'd put $100 on BB going off lower than 2/5.

Maybe I should register right now and get it started.

cliff jones

Big Brown will tire in the stretch. Casino Drive will wear him out and Dennis the Cork will win by a length or two.

Michael Webster

If you are confident about your model, then you should bet bb and an to show/place.


Did you run the numbers without Casino Drive? How much does that affect the odds?

R. Mac

HELP !!! We placed an early wager on the Belmont Stakes this morning. we boxed 5 horses for the Perfecta, Trifecta, & the Superfecta. One of those horses happened to be Casino Drive who is now scratched. The guy holding the tickets is now at a graduation and can not get back over to the track where he placed the bet in time to change it.My question is what happens to our tickets. What if the other 4 horses we picked come in the cash. Do we win or are the tickets no good... Thanks for your help... RonnyMac


I'm impressed how close you came to the trifecta, with the exception being Big Brown's freak results which no one predicted. Just wanted to say thanks as you gave me 3.8:1 on Anak to show. :)

Witty Nickname

I bet a friend $100 to $100 that Big Brown would loose. I made the bet having never watch a horse race and hearing the announcer on ABC say, "This should not even be a betting event, Big Brown will win."

Maybe it was a stupid bet, but I now have another $100. Lets here it for conventional wisdom. Anyone want to take me up on this bet, Gas prices will NOT hit $7 in the next 2 years.


Where they got that "Anak Nakal" name? It means "bad boy" in Indonesian.


The interesting follow up piece for you now is an analysis of the conspiracy theory opportunity. Given the odds on Big Brown and the amount of money wagered, there were numerous parties who would benefit greatly from Big Brown's loss (and failure to place)--including the track owners. The fact that Casino Drive was scratched early in the day futher boosted the opportunity for profit on those betting against Big Brown.

It would also be interesting to know the marginal increase in profitability between a triple crown winner compared to a Derby/Preaknes winner. And, who receives that profit? Its probably not the jockey.


Paul, because as an economist, he knows that sports betting is not a losing proposition when done properly. There are +EV bets that can be made if you know how to find them.


my horse racing model runs faster than yours


I give you credit for posting your prediction on the internet.
Even though it turned out horribly wrong.

But my real question:

as an economist you must realize that gambling is a losing proposition-- why do you keep encouraging it? Whether it's a casino or a track the house takes all the profit. and over time nearly every bettor will lose.


Off topic From today's WSJ:

This could be the worst data extrapolation I have ever seen.

The latest, carried out by Jason Matejkowski and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, found that individuals with serious mental illnesses are responsible for 10% of all homicides in Indiana. That translates into approximately 1,700 out of 17,034 total homicides in the U.S. in 2006. Over the past 20 years - during which time the public mental-health system has progressively deteriorated - that would mean 38,000 of 388,311 total homicides.


You want a sure thing? Lakers win game three and Kobe has more than twelve free-throw attempts.


Big brown all the way