The prohibitive favorite entering the 140th Derby attracted way more action to win the race than any other horse in the field and by the time Saturday arrived, it became clear which horse Vegas books weren’t rooting for.
But California Chrome proved that the hype was real, pulling away from the competition in the stretch to win the Run for the Roses and sending a lot of people home happy. Two Vegas sports books, though, weren’t all too thrilled with the outcome of the race.
At William Hill, California Chrome attracted three times as many bets to win the Derby as any other horse, forcing William Hill to slash Chrome’s price to 2/1 in the days leading up to the race. None of it matters now because the sports book stands to pay off a lot of happy bettors.
Another Vegas sportsbook could stand to lose even more than what William Hill lost. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Wynn Las Vegas decided to post future odds to win the Derby last September. At that time, with about 150 horses on the board, California Chrome was posted at 300/1 to win the Kentucky Derby. To be fair, nobody knew that California Chrome would turn out to be such a stud on the track, maybe except for those few people who had tickets of Chrome at that price. But once the colt started winning one race after another from December to April, Wynn slashed down his price, down to 12/5 a day before the race began. Still, it wasn’t enough to dissuade bettors, who responded by continuing the action on Chrome. Ultimately, California Chrome was the only horse that Wynn was rooting against and you can only imagine the frustration of seeing California Chrome break away from the rest of the pack.
Final figures haven’t been released yet, but we can at least surmise that William Hill and Wynn Las Vegas took a huge hit off of California Chrome’s Derby win.