On Tuesday, Mike Battaglia will set the Kentucky Derby morning line for the 48th consecutive year. He told the Louisville Courier Journal last week that he had Essential Quality as the likely favorite at “around 3-1 or 7-2.”
Cue Eddie Olczyk: “Stop it right there.”
Olczyk, the Blackhawks analyst and horse racing handicapper, is leaning toward a different horse in the 147th Run for the Roses on May 1.
“If the Derby was tomorrow, I would be in the direction of Known Agenda,” said Olczyk, who will be on the NBC broadcast from Churchill Downs and recently extended his partnership with the betting and handicapping platform 1/ST BET. “He won the Florida Derby and seems to be coming into his own since he put blinkers on.
“[Essential Quality] won the Breeders’ Cup last year, has been perfect so far. The only concern I have is that [April 3] in the Blue Grass, I don’t wanna say he was all out, but he was all O-U- in trying to win that race. Can he bounce back? I just wonder how much that took out of him that would have an effect going a mile and a quarter at Churchill.”
Skeptics might think Olczyk likes Known Agenda because of the hockey connection – the horse is owned by Vinnie and Teresa Viola, who own the Florida Panthers. But that’s irrelevant.
“The race to me, at least right now, is setting up for a horse that can be tactical, can be relatively close and has the ability to accelerate,” Olczyk said. “Obviously, depending on what happens between now and then and the weather and post position, I’ll be building a lot of my plays with Known Agenda.”
Olczyk also is eyeing Essential Quality, Rock the World and Sainthood and figures to bet those four horses in some fashion. But he likes Known Agenda’s potential value most.
“I think you get every bit of north of 5-1, maybe 6-1 if Known Agenda’s the third choice,” Olczyk said, “because I would feel a lot of the experts and wise guys will be looking at that number and going, Wow, that’s a pretty good number to be betting on an undefeated horse and a horse that’s got so much class.”
Olczyk has handicapped for NBC since 2014, and his relationship with 1/ST BET dates to 1996, when he became a client. He began working with the company in 2013, providing picks, insights and wagering strategies.
“The [1/ST BET] app is another resource to put in certain information,” Olczyk said. “You could set up your own formula on what you like, and it spits out the horses that have the best percentage of what you asked for. I rely on the eye test, but getting up to speed and gathering more information off the app helps me make decisions.”
His Kentucky Derby decisions can change before race day. Check back in a week for the latest from Olczyk.