Phil Jackson coaching the Lakers or Joe Torre managing the Dodgers won't do much to budge a betting line, but a jockey? It makes a difference in certain situations.
"Phil Jackson and Joe Torre are telling their players what to do," said John Avello, director of the race and sports book at the Wynn in Las Vegas. "Jockeys are actually doing the work, deciding whether to lay back or move now."
Due to his success at the Kentucky Derby, Jockey Calvin Borel certainly factored into the line on Super Saver, according to Mike Battaglia, the NBC Sports commentator who has been setting the morning line odds at Churchill Downs since 1974.
"Calvin definitely affected the odds in this year's Derby," Battaglia said. "If Super Saver closed at 8-to-1, the horse probably would have been 11-to-1 without him."
While it's hard to separate the horse from the jockey, Battaglia said that he doesn't think Borel gets a three-point jump on an average race in Churchill Downs. Borel has after all won three of the last four Derbies, but doesn't win 75 percent of his races there.
Part of the Borel hype has to do with a different type of bettor betting at the Kentucky Derby, the casual fan who might take the jockey into account more than the sharp wagerer, who gets in on the action every day.
Battaglia also said that, even though Borel proved his versatility by riding Mine That Bird to victory at the Derby last year and Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, he doesn't get as much of a betting bump at Pimlico for the Preakness.
"The truth is that Calvin is so much better at Churchill Downs than he is anywhere else," Battaglia said.
Avello agrees. "If you are betting Super Saver at the Preakness, you should betting it more for the horse than Calvin."
Super Saver's odds will depend on who else winds up in the field of the May 15 race. It's possible, Avello says, that Derby favorite, Lookin At Lucky, should he enter the race, could also be the Preakness favorite.
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