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American Lion
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Mathea Kelley

Haskin's Derby Report: Early Overlays

American Lion looks to be the early overlay in the wide-open betting.

It is early Saturday morning and the rains, thunder, and lightning have begun. A look at the early odds reveals one unmistakable fact: no one has a clue who to bet. In one of the most wide-open Derbys in memory, only one horse is over 25-1, and that is Risen Star (gr. III) winner Discreetly Mine from the Todd Pletcher stable, who is a surprising 40-1. That’s right, Pletcher has the longest shot in the field and by a wide margin, and with a top-class horse who shouldn’t be totally ignored.

On the other hand, there are numerous horses whose odds appear extremely low when you look at their accomplishments compared to the others. Although we’ve been high on Super Saver  all year, no one expected him to open as the early 7-1 favorite. There really hasn’t been much buzz surrounding the colt all week, so the early betting comes as a bit of a surprise.


The one horse who whose odds look to be way out of line is American Lion , who is one of the longest prices in the field at 24-1. I will take those odds right now. American Lion is a colt who is improving rapidly, has the tactical speed to get a good trip, will get the distance, and looks to be one of those ready to peak. He is one of the physical standouts in the field, and although his work in the slop was nothing to rave about, it wasn’t bad, and his gallops have been strong. He wasn’t in our top three selections, but he was close enough to make him an extremely attractive betting proposition at these odds.


One of our picks, Mission Impazible , also is 24-1 and certainly has to be considered for the exotics. Our slop selection, and boy is it going to be sloppy, is Stately Victor and he is a fairly attractive 16-1.


We are, however, disappointed in the 11-1 odds on Paddy O'Prado, which makes him co-fourth choice. Those odds obviously are attributed to the glowing reports on his works and gallops.


These are early odds and likely will change, but Derby odds as a whole don’t change that dramatically. When you have 50-1 morning line horses and see those horses between 15-1 and 25-1, you know it’s a wide-open race.


So, as of now, American Lion is the overlay of the race, and if his odds don’t change much, he will be the bargain horse.