Brent Musburger gives his Kentucky Derby betting strategy

LAS VEGAS — Saturday’s Kentucky Derby boils down to two factors. Does Tiz The Law continue on his path toward becoming a super horse? Or do you find the horse that is going to beat Tiz the Law? There is no other major story here.

I normally recommend making a show bet in the Kentucky Derby, but I am going to suggest you avoid it this time. That’s because this is the first weekend in September and not the first weekend in May. Usually there are plenty of tourists and recreational bettors who are at Churchill Downs to put their $2 on colors and names and lucky numbers. I’m not sure that kind of action is going to be as prominent during a Labor Day weekend with no fans in the stands. From apps and laptops, you will not find as many people making a sentimental bet on a horse with an interesting backstory.

Main contenders

It starts with Tiz the Law, already a winner at the Derby distance of 1¼ miles when he ran 5½ lengths ahead of everyone last month in the Travers. But it does not end with him. Bettors will gravitate to Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A.P. despite his loss last month at Del Mar.

I like connections in a race like this, so I’m not going to overlook my buddy Bob Baffert and his two horses — Thousand Words with jockey Florent Géroux and Authentic with the legend, John Velázquez.

Because he has some speed, you must pay attention to Authentic. And because he starts next to Tiz The Law, he could disrupt the favorite’s strategy. You don’t know if Barclay Tagg and Manny Franco are going to set sale with Tiz The Law. It’s just one of the great unknowns when the gates open.


Value plays

If the race sets up the way it should with Authentic and the rest of the early speed, the deep-closing Max Player could pick up the pieces for his new trainer, Steve Asmussen. This is a 30-1 long shot on the morning line that ran third in the Belmont with a 100 Brisnet Speed Rating and then came back to finish third in the Travers and get a 107.

That was all for his old trainer, Linda Rice. Now he gets to Asmussen’s barn, which has had no shortage of wins over the years at Churchill Downs. This may not be the first Derby victory for the Hall of Famer, but it will come as no surprise if Max Player closes late to finish in the money.

$100 wagering strategy:

  • $2 exactas: Tiz The Law over “All.”
  • $2 exactas: “All” over Tiz The Law.
  • $10 to win: Tiz The Law, Thousand Words, Authentic.
  • $6 for cold beer to enjoy the race.

Top four picks: 1. Tiz the Law; 2. Max Player, 3. Thousand Words; 4. Authentic.