At this time last year the talk was hot and heavy with Rachel versus Zenyatta and their Horse of the Year battle. And in the words of our UK pals, it was easy to get a "punt" on who you thought would win.
Wynn's casino had it up in November (Zenyatta favored at 1-3), betfair was rocking for awhile, with plenty of action as I remember it . Zenyatta was favored early, then Rachel by a scant hair late. Ehorse and other offshore books had odds up as well fairly early.
This year? Betfair has the Derby odds up (there seems to be a 15-1 arb opportunity for about $18 on To Honor and Serve if anyone is interested), and some others have it as well, including the Vegas books. But I can not find one book offering odds this year on the Horse of the Year (other than a passing reference on a chat board with no link).
It is a super-strange battle to begin with. Usually offshore books are damn close on things like this. If you read "The Political Punter" there are some great stories on how accurate the odds are. Intrade is quoted on places like CNBC and the Fox Business Network on current events, elections and more because of their laser-like accuracy on elections and events. As I have always noted and believed, you can tell how someone truly feels about an event (politics is the best since people have their favorites) by asking them to wager money - they might hate Bush or Obama, but when you ask them to vote with cash on an election return, they suddenly like 'em. Last year in the Horse of the Year vote many places made Zenyatta a strong favorite, and were very wrong. That is very rare.
Are offshore books gun shy? They might be. Quite frankly last year (when if I had a vote I would have cast it for Rachel Alexandra) I would have played her at even because a) I thought she deserved it and b) the east coast boys loved her. This year if I had a vote it would go to Z, but at even would I bet her? I have no idea what I would do at even. I think, perhaps, the goofiness of this betting, year over year, but especially last year when bettors and oddsmakers were pretty wrong has scared off a lot of people predicting this vote. Any good bookie knows, when you offer something out and are so wrong, you don't want to come back a next time. Markets that don't make sense are markets you want no part of.
For what it is worth, the votes on the web polls are the same as last year. Queen Z is loved by fans and a lot of bettors in this sport and she wins those easily, yet the ballots that have been made public seem pretty split. In my informal look this year from three people who play professionally, they are 2-1 for Zenyatta over Blame, while being 3-0 for Rachel last time (if that means anything at all). But I know one thing, like some offshore books it appears, I could not make a fair odds line on it. I have no idea which way this vote goes.
If you see an odds line anywhere out there, please let me know, because I can't.