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Favorites have tough weekend, even ones that won

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

A tough weekend for big favorites, even when they won. Jordan Spieth stumbles, but survives. Arrogate shocked. Kershaw and Strasburg hurt. Mexico stunned by Jamaica. Read all about it Monday in VSiN City!

British Open: It wasn’t easy, but Jordan Spieth survives early collapse to lift the Claret Jug

After an errant tee shot led to an unplayable lie on the 13th hole, Jordan Spieth was in danger of suffering another fourth-round collapse with a big lead in a major. He opened the day a -400 favorite over the field at Royal Birkdale. He had become an underdog to Matt Kuchar, a temporary -165 favorite in live betting. 

Spieth “saved” bogey, then went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par to coast to a 3-shot win. Spieth can become the youngest golfer to win a “Career Grand Slam” at next month’s PGA Championship. That will be played August 10-13 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte. Sunday, the Westgate had already posted its future prices for that event.

Westgate’s 2017 PGA Prices

  • Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy: 8/1 (11% apiece to win)
  • Dustin Johnson: 10/1 (9% to win)
  • Jason Day and Rickie Fowler: 15/1 (6% apiece to win)
  • Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm: 20/1 (5% apiece to win)
  • Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, and Sergio Garcia: 25/1 (4% piece to win) 

A great weekend for Spieth. For legendary racehorse Arrogate, not so much…

Horse Racing: Arrogate finishes fourth in Saturday’s San Diego Handicap at Del Mar to cost “bridgejumpers” and Plus-EV bettors big money

Shocking development at Del Mar this past Saturday, where super-horse Arrogate didn’t even show as a 1-20 favorite in a five-horse field!

VSiN’s Ron Flatter posted two articles direct from San Diego this weekend in the aftermath. We encourage horse racing fans to read both by clicking here, and then here

If you follow sports bettors on twitter, or read prominent sports betting forums, you probably saw many pictures expressing the theme of “bridge jumping” before and after the race. If you’re not familiar with the term as it relates to the Sport of Kings, here’s an entry from the “sports betting acumen” website.

“Bridge Jumper - A betting situation where an inordinate amount of money is bet on a favorite to show, but the favorite then fails to run in the money. This results in abnormally large show payoffs for the top three runners in the race.”

The Arrogate shocker cost a lot of people a lot of money. We contacted professional horse race bettor @InsideThePylons for guidance.

VSiN City: Can you explain what happened in layman’s terms?

InsideThePylons: Bettors were attempting to get a 5% return on something happening with a probability of approximately 99%. Obviously, this was the 1%, and people who bet against that happening did well. 

VSiN City: Trying to get a 5% return on a 99% likelihood sounds like a smart bet. Is it true that sharps were betting Arrogate to show because it seemed like “free money?”

InsideThePylons: actually was a Plus-EV bet. I don't think anybody could possibly argue he had less than a 98% chance to finish third and you were getting 5% return. Everybody who bet against Arrogate thinks they were smart and they got the money. But if they did the old trick of betting all other four horses to show they were huge Minus-EV.

VSiN City: Can you explain the math behind that? 

InsideThePylons: Let’s say they bet $20 to show on the other four horses....that's $80 bet total. Two of those horses finish on the board....two are out...the two that finish on the board pay $2.10 to show. So, $20 to show pays $21 twice which is $42 return for $80 bet. That’s a loss of $38. That means 98% or 99% of the time the race is run, they lose $38. But Saturday, they won $1,256. 

VSiN City: If we imagine 100 races, that’s a losing strategy.

InsideThePylons: Yes. Losing 99 times at -$38 is -$3,762, compared to the one win where they make $1,256. Losing 98 times at -$38 is -$3,724, compared to two wins that add up to $2,512. 

VSiN City: And Arrogate’s such a dominant horse compared to this field that it doesn’t seem possible he would fail to show three times or more in 100 tries. 

InsideThePylons: Nobody could ever argue it would be more likely than that. Arrogate is a huge favorite to show 100 times out of 100 when compared to missing more than two times out of 100. 

Thanks to ITP for helping explain the betting angle to Saturday’s shocker.

We’ll check in often at the big summer meets at Del Mar and Saratoga in the coming weeks. And you know Ron Flatter will keep you updated on “My Guys in the Desert” and with his “Pick of the Day” from Saratoga sponsored by NYRA Bets.

MLB: Awful news for baseball fans, as both Clayton Kershaw and Steven Strasburg leave early Sunday with ailments

Virtually moments apart, two of the top pitchers in the Majors had to leave the field Sunday. 

  • Clayton Kershaw had a return of back issues that have bothered him throughout his career. He only lasted two innings in what would turn out to be a 5-4 Dodgers win over the Atlanta Braves (3-1 on the five-inning prop). LA has already announced he’ll be sent to the Disabled List for rest. 
  • Steven Strasburg also only lasted two shutout innings, in what would also turn out to be a win. Washington beat Arizona 6-2 (5-2 in the five-inning prop). Strasburg reported arm stiffness after an inability to get loosened up before the game. The team called his removal “precautionary.” No word as of deadline whether he’ll spend any time on the DL. 

Both teams have huge leads in their respective divisions, and enough depth to at least soften the blow of any high-profile absences. NL and World Series futures prices won’t likely be effected…but these common market-favorites could become less likely to dominate down the stretch. 

MLB: Updating the crowded AL Wild-card race 

Though their best baseball may still be in the rear view mirror, the New York Yankees reminded handicappers and bettors that they’re very capable of earning at least a Wildcard spot this coming October. 

Here’s an updated look at the Wild-card standings. We’re going to focus on two keys to keep it digestible. By each team’s name you’ll see how many games over or under the .500 mark they are. Easier to sense distance that way then trying to mentally add and subtract won-lost records. In parenthesis, we’ve noted how many extra home or road games are ahead on the remaining schedule. We have some very large splits right now that bettors MUST notice when they try to get a true read on each team. 

AL Wild-card Race

  • NY Yankees: plus 5 (11 extra home games ahead)
  • Tampa Bay: plus 3 (1 extra home game ahead)
  • Kansas City: plus 3 (9 extra road games ahead)
  • Minnesota: plus 1 (9 extra road games ahead)
  • LA Angels: minus 2 
  • Seattle: minus 2 (6 extra road games ahead)
  • Texas: minus 2 (8 extra home games ahead)
  • Baltimore: minus 4 (4 extra road games ahead)

A huge stretch just finished for the Yankees. Going 2-2 in Boston, 1-2 in Minnesota, and 3-1 in Seattle since the All-Star Break only adds up to 6-5…so you may be wondering why that was a “huge stretch.” Treading water during those 11 games on the ROAD now sets up the Yanks to really do some damage when they play the home games that equalize their schedule (43 home games played, 54 road games at the moment). 

Also helping the Bronx Bombers, Tampa Bay got swept at home by Texas. That makes it much easier for NYY to be one of the two teams who qualify. Just below those two AL East teams are a pair of AL Central teams who both have nine extra road games remaining. That means the Yankees edge is much bigger than it looks if you only glance at the standings. 

Texas is best-positioned of those below water because of the extra home games ahead. Do they keep Yu Darvish after sweeping the weekend? The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to make them an offer they can’t refuse. 

The only head-to-head meeting from those eight early this week is the Baltimore/Tampa Bay series that begins Monday night. 

Having it easy: The Yankees host Cincinnati (begins Tuesday), Texas hosts Miami.

Having it hard: Kansas City visits Detroit, Minnesota visits the LA Dodgers, Seattle hosts AL East leading Boston.

A quick look at run-differentials for the eight teams listed above: NY Yankees plus 104, Tampa Bay plus 13, Texas plus 11, Seattle -7, LA Angels -18, Kansas City -21, Minnesota -66, Baltimore -74. 

MLB: Updating the NL Central logjam

The Chicago Cubs continued their dominant post-All-Star Break play by taking two of three vs. divisional rival St. Louis. Since the Break…

Chicago swept Baltimore

Chicago swept Atlanta

Chicago went 2-1 vs. St. Louis 

While they were going 8-1, Milwaukee was enduring this disaster…

1-2 vs. Philadelphia

0-4 vs. Pittsburgh

1-2 at Philadelphia

That’s 2-4 against one of the worst teams in baseball, and a four-game sweep that launched a divisional rival back into the race. All that WHILE the Cubs were getting hot. About as bad as it gets for Brewers fans.

The standings after Chicago’s win Sunday night over St. Louis, using the same “games above .500” format as above…

  • Cubs plus 5 (3 extra home games ahead)
  • Milwaukee plus 5 (3 extra road games ahead)
  • Pittsburgh minus 1 (1 extra road game ahead)
  • St. Louis: minus 4 (2 extra road games ahead)

Chicago has the most talented roster of the group…a slightly more favorable schedule…and they now have the look of a playoff team while the rest still seem to be pretenders. Milwaukee gagged at a horrible time. And check out what’s ahead the next few days!

Early Week Series

Cubs: four games vs. the White Sox (who have lost 9 in a row)

Milwaukee: three games at surging Washington

Pittsburgh: three games at San Francisco

St. Louis: three home games vs. likely Wildcard entry Colorado

Could be the week Chicago hits the gas pedal to leave the division in the dust. 

Gold Cup Soccer: United States…and JAMAICA(?) score weekend wins, advance to Wednesday’s Final

Here in VSiN City, we planned on picking up the Gold Cup soccer tournament once the prohibitive favorites finally started playing each other. We thought that was locked in once the semifinals began. Long shot Jamaica had other ideas!

Saturday: U.S. 2, Costa Rica 0

Time of Possession: U.S. 57%, Costa Rica 43%

Total Shots: U.S. 10, Costa Rica 7

Shots on Goal: U.S. 4, Costa Rica 2

The U.S. was favored by about 0.4 of a goal given that Costa Rica backers had to lay a little juice at plus a-half-a-goal. A much more impressive night from the Americans than the market had projected. If you watched, you know that time of possession fairly well captures the flow of play. The U.S. had more and better chances in this semifinal played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. 

Sunday: Jamaica 1, Mexico 0

Time of Possession: Mexico 68%, Jamaica 32%

Total Shots: Mexico 12, Jamaica 9

Shots on Goal: Mexico 5, Jamaica 5

You can deduce that Mexico controlled the flow of play most of the night. They also led corner kicks 7-2. But multiple great chances failed to find the back of the net. As both teams were fading in the Pasadena heat, Jamaica connected on a free kick just outside the box in the eighty-eighth minute. 

Mexico was favored by just under a full goal given that Jamaica backers had extra vig if they took plus one. The U.S. will probably be favored by slightly more than a full goal in Wednesday’s final to be played in Santa Clara. The U.S. has an extra day of rest, home turf, and Jamaica is in a letdown spot after a surprising upset. 

CFL: Favorites hold serve in Week 5, but only half cover the spread

No surprises yet in Week 5 of the Canadian Football League season. There’s still one game to go Monday night when Ottawa visits Toronto. We did have three tight games. But favorites ending up winning all four. Here’s a quick look at key stats.

Week 5 Stat Summaries (with MNF still out)

Ottawa (-4.5) beat Montreal 24-19

  • Total Yards: Montreal 493, Ottawa 420
  • Yards-per-Play: Montreal 7.8, Ottawa 7.8
  • New Records: Montreal 2-3, Ottawa 1-3-1
  • Against the spread: Montreal 2-3, Ottawa 4-1

Odd for Montreal to gain so many yards. But, they were playing from behind all night…and Ottawa had a knack for tightening up defensively in scoring territory. Tough to fail to reach 20 points when you gain almost 500 yards on almost 7.8 YPP! Note that Montreal threw two interceptions, and had one third down failure (another virtual turnover), which helped keep them off the board. Ottawa has been money this season. You’d have to say the market has caught up. The Redblacks have covered the last two games by a point or less. A blown opportunity for Montreal to get some distance at the top of the East standings. We mentioned last week that we’ll have a three-way tie if Ottawa can win at Toronto Monday. 

Edmonton (-3.5) beat Hamilton 31-28

  • Total Yards: Edmonton 391, Hamilton 313
  • Yards-per-Play: Edmonton 6.9, Hamilton 6.0
  • New Records: Edmonton 4-0, Hamilton 0-4
  • Against the spread: Edmonton 1-3, Hamilton 1-3

Hamilton is still horrible, but managed to get its first cover of the season thanks to a blocked punt return for a TD. At least they’re regressing back toward respectability given how bad their numbers were in total yardage and YPP in their prior three games. Edmonton is doing what it takes to win games. But, barely beating Montreal and Hamilton suggests they’re not quite championship class yet. 

British Columbia (-4) beat Winnipeg 45-42

  • Total Yards: Winnipeg 361, British Columbia 473
  • Yards-per-Play: Winnipeg 6.4, British Columbia 8.0
  • New Records: Winnipeg 2-2, British Columbia 4-1
  • Against the spread: Winnipeg 3-1, British Columbia 3-2

Wild one, with BC coming from way down in the fourth quarter to steal a victory. Note that Travis Lulay was behind center again for BC. He can clearly move the ball well, as we saw last week at Hamilton and here. But, this week he threw two interceptions and 15 incomplete passes. That’s A LOT of incompletions for this league because defenders are spread so far out. Now we know why Jonathan Jennings is the starter when healthy. 

Calgary (-10) beat Saskatchewan 27-10

  • Total Yards: Saskatchewan 220, Calgary 394
  • Yards-per-Play: Saskatchewan 4.8, Calgary 6.8
  • New Records: Saskatchewan 1-3, Calgary 3-1-1
  • Against the spread: Saskatchewan 2-2, Calgary 2-3

This was the “range-finder game for us, with Saskatchewan ranking worst in “market” Power Ratings playing on the road against the top-rated team. The line was -10 (representing a TD better on a neutral field, then three points for playing at home). The stats show very clear dominance for the superior host. A stranglehold on the game…though it was only 20-10 until Calgary scored a fourth-quarter TD. This is what “best vs. worst” looks like in boxscore form. Calgary won rushing 141-38, which helped them grind clock and shorten their workload. 

With one game left this week…

Underdogs: 14-6 ATS

Totals: 9-11 to the Under 

Updating composite offshore odds to win the Grey Cup…

Offshore Odds to Win the Grey Cup

Calgary 11/4

Edmonton 4/1

British Columbia 5/1

Winnipeg 8/1

Montreal 8/1

Ottawa 8/1

Hamilton 17/2

Toronto 10/1

Saskatchewan 12/1

We’ve settled in pretty well now. Still not clear why Hamilton is getting more respect than Toronto and Saskatchewan. Granting that it’s easier to win the East with a mediocre team. You still have to win some games!

The Week 6 schedule (after Week 5 ends Monday night in Toronto)... 

Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET): Montreal at Winnipeg 

Friday (9:30 p.m. ET): British Columbia at Edmonton

Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET): Toronto at Saskatchewan 

Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET): Hamilton at Calgary 

Obviously, BC at Edmonton is the game of the week. The CFL might need a mercy rule for Hamilton/Calgary unless the Tiger-Cats can get their act together. 

Busy weekend in the world of sports! If you haven’t yet subscribed to VSiN City, you can do so by clicking here. Don’t forget that all subscribers are automatically registered in a free drawing (to be held August 19) to win a spot in the Westgate SuperContest (a $1,500 value). Click here to follow us on twitter. If you have any questions or comments, please drop us a note.

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