After Ruler on Ice's upset yesterday--on a day full of upsets on the Belmont card, there's been some chatter that this year was the most unpredictable ever because all three winners (Animal Kingdom, Shackleford, Ruler on Ice) were double-digit odds, which hasn't happened in 100 years. That sounds like it might be correct. Is it?
To find out, we took the odds of the winners for the 3 TC races from 1993 - 2011, and figured out what one would make if they parlayed the winners. For those unfamiliar with the term, "parlaying" means betting $2 on the Derby winner, then betting all of the winnings and the original $2 on the Preakness winner, and then doing the same into the Belmont. Our thought is that this would separate years with just one upset winner and more conventional results (like Giacomo and Afleet Alex in 2005) from years where everyone was confused 3 times.
Here are the results, sorted by total payoff.
Based on this methodology, this year's Triple Crown was the second most unpredictable behind 1999, where Charismatic upset the Derby at 31-1, was an overlayed 8-1 in the Preakness, and was then upset by longshot Lemon Drop Kid in the Belmont. The third one that stands out, unsuprisingly, is 2002, where Sarava was a 70-1 winner of the Belmont on the heels of War Emblem's 20-1 Derby upset.
We may expand this list if we're able to find the odds of more Triple Crown races, this was just based on what was easy to find at 9:00 in the morning while nursing a mild hangover. But yes, this year's races will go down as one of the more unpredictable in recent memory.
UPDATE: here's the list from 1960 - 2011. The top 3 remains unchanged. What's really neat is check out the bottom of the list. Parlays on Seattle Slew and Secretariat would have returned $5.88 and $7.15, respectively.