Cross-Sport Championship Odds (05/29/14)

John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
Comparing the odds of a Triple Crown Winner to the four major professional sports as well as College Football and College Basketball. Odds courtesy of Bovada.

California Chrome is expected to be even money (bet $100 to win $100) to win the Belmont Stakes and complete the sweep of horse racing's crown jewel. The racehorse with a modest pedigree follows twelve predecessors, since Affirmed in 1978, looking to capture immortality by winning the mile and a half race. California Chrome, favored in the Kentucky Derby and heavily favored in the Preakness, is not expected to be as big of a favorite in the Belmont compared to past Triple Crown hopefuls (2004 Smarty Jones 2/5, 2008 Big Brown 2/5, and 2012 I'll Have Another 4/5).

The week prior to the Kentucky Derby, the odds of a Triple Crown occurring were 8 to 1, which implies that there was approximately an 11 percent chance of one horse winning all three races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes).

To put the odds of a Triple Crown Winner in perspective, we compared them to the most recent champion's odds from the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL) as well as College Football and College Basketball.

Note: The three "Will there be a Triple Crown" odds are from September 2013, January 2014 and the week of the Kentucky Derby.

Team Preseason Mid-season Pre-Postseason
Seattle Seahawks 17/2 5/1 11/4
Miami Heat 9/4 3/2 2/3
Boston Red Sox 30/1 9/1 15/4
Chicago Blackhawks 14/1 9/2 15/4
Florida State Seminoles 22/1 12/1 2/7
UConn Huskies 33/1 50/1 66/1
Triple Crown 12/1 10/1 8/1

There have only been eleven Triple Crown winners due to the grueling schedule, three races in five weeks and at increasingly longer distances than most horses have run in their careers. As such the odds of a Triple Crown Winner even before the Kentucky Derby when California Chrome was a considerable favorite on a four race winning streak, are longer than the pre-postseason odds in other sports.

The odds imply that all cross-sports champions, except UConn, were much more likely to win their respective championship than any one horse was to win the Triple Crown.

To come up with the early odds of any Triple Crown winner at 12/1, a linesmaker estimates the Derby Favorite at 4/1; the Preakness winner at 3/2 and the Belmont Stakes winner at 1/1 (mathematically speaking, 4 x 1.5 x 2 = 12/1). To reset the odds prior to the 2014 Derby taking into account California Chrome as the favorite, the updated odds mathematically speaking are: 2.5 x 1.6 x 2 or 8/1.

Here are the post time odds of the last 12 Triple Crown hopefuls. Where will Chrome's odds and nose finish?

Year Horse Belmont Odds
1979 Spectacular Bid 3/10
1981 Pleasant Colony 4/5
1987 Alysheba 4/5
1989 Sunday Silence 9/10
1997 Silver Charm 21/20
1998 Real Quiet 4/5
1999 Charismatic 8/5
2002 War Emblem Even
2003 Funny Cide Even
2004 Smarty Jones 2/5
2008 Big Brown 3/10
2012 I'll Have Another 4/5


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