With just over nine weeks remaining until the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), uncertainty surrounds some of the Derby’s major contenders and it is reflected in the morning line odds for this week’s third of four pools of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), which launches its three-day run on Friday, Feb. 27 and concludes on Sunday, March 1.
The Mutuel Field, or “All Others”, which includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses among Pool 3’s 24 wagering interests, is the 3-1 favorite in Churchill Downs’ handicapper Mike Battaglia’s morning line. That’s a customary, though not exclusive spot for that wagering interest in the next-to-last pool of the wager that was introduced in 1999. Battaglia’s 3-1 odds reflect increased interest in individual horses in the pool, but given, late starts on pre-Derby racing campaigns by some of the pool’s individual stars, “All Others” should emerge as a clear fan’s choice in Pool 3.
Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert appears to be in an enviable spot with nine weeks remaining before Kentucky Derby 141 as he conditions both of the 8-1 co-second choices in KDFW Pool 3: Zayat Stables LLC’s reigning Eclipse Award 2-year-old champion American Pharoah (#1) and Kaleem Shah Inc.’s unbeaten Dortmund (#6).
While the latter has run off four wins since his Nov. 2 racing debut that include the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) and the recent Robert B. Lewis (GIII) at Santa Anita, American Pharoah is one of the wagering interests with some questions to answer. He has not raced since Sept. 27, when he rolled to victory in the FrontRunner (GI) at Santa Anita. American Pharoah missed a planned start in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Santa Anita because of injury, and is now training toward a planned return to competition in the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (Grade II) on March 14 at Oaklawn Park.
The other major player in KDFW Pool 3 that is surrounded by a bit of mystery is Erich Brehm, Wayne Detmar, Lee Michaels and J. Keith Desormeaux et al’s Texas Red, who romped to an easy victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was the 9-1 favored individual horse in early February’s second Derby Futures pool. He made his 3-year-old debut in a strong runner-up finish to Peachtree Stable’s Lord Nelson (#15, 30-1) in the seven-furlong San Vicente (GII) on Feb. 1 at Santa Anita, but Texas Red suffered a foot abscess following that race. Trainer and co-owner Keith Desormeaux still has the May 2 Kentucky Derby as the colt’s target, but Texas Red has not worked since the ailment was discovered. Battaglia placed his Pool 3 odds at 12-1.
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager enables fans to wager on the Kentucky Derby well in advance of the race at odds that could be much more attractive than those offered on the day of the race. Winning payouts in all KDFW pools are determined by the odds that are in place at the end of each respective betting pool. Those winning mutuel payouts for the $2 minimum win and exacta wagers placed in each Kentucky Derby Future pool will be made following the running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 2 at Churchill Downs.
Pool 3 of the Derby Future Wager will run concurrent to the only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool of 2015. Wagering on both pools is set to open at noon (all times Eastern) on Friday, Feb. 27. Betting on the Kentucky Derby pool will close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, while the Kentucky Oaks pool will remain open for an addition 30 minutes before closing at 6:30 p.m.
Wagering on Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager will be offered at Churchill Downs and racetracks throughout North America; on the web via TwinSpires.com, the official online wagering site of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs Incorporated, and other advance deposit wagering sites; and at other simulcast centers and off-track wagering sites. No scratches or betting refunds are permitted in the Kentucky Derby Future wager, but betting will be suspended immediately on a wagering interest in any KDFW pool if Churchill Downs determines that injury, illness or other circumstance revealed during a pool would prevent a horse from competing in the race.
Wagering was brisk in the second KDFW pool that ran from Feb. 6-8. A total of $448,598 in win and exacta wagers was placed during the three days of betting, which was an 18 percent increase in betting from the same pool in 2014. The “All Others” interest was the odds-on 3-5 favorite in Nov. 28-30 opening KDFW pool, which attracted total wagering of $234,574.
Total wagering in the earlier two pools of this year stands at $683,172. Total betting in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, the first to feature four wagering pools, was $1,324,466.
Todd Pletcher, who saddled Super Saver to a Kentucky Derby win in 2010, is the trainer of five of the 23 individual horses on the Pool 3 betting roster. The Pletcher group includes WinStar Farm LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Carpe Diem (#3, 12-1), the winner of Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI) and runner-up to Texas Red in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Carpe Diem is another colt who has yet to make his racing debut in 2015, but is scheduled to compete in the Tampa Bay Derby (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs on March 7.
Pletcher, who trained six of the 23 individual horses in KDFW Pool 2, also trains the unbeaten Itsaknockout (#12, 20-1), who won last week’s Fountain of Youth (GII) at Gulfstream Park via disqualification; Champagne (GI) winner Daredevil (#5, 30-1); unbeaten Withers (GIII) winner Far From Over (#8, 15-1); and unbeaten Khozan #14, 15-1), who won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.
Along with the highly-regarded American Pharoah and Dortmund, Bob Baffert trains a third Pool 3 betting interest in San Vicente winner Lord Nelson.
Another horse expected to attract strong support in the upcoming pool is Ralph M. Evans’ Upstart (#22, 15-1), the winner of Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull (GII) who was disqualified from first to second in last week’s Fountain of Youth. Trainer Rick Violette Jr.s’ New York-bred son of Flatter has a record of 3-2-1 in six career races. Another New York-bred star likely to garner increased support in the pool is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star (#11, 20-1), a son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus who won last week’s Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds after winning the Lecomte (GIII) over the New Orleans track in his previous outing.
Other prominent players heading into Pool 3 include Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Ocean Knight (#17), the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained winner of Tampa Bay Downs’ Sam F. Davis and a 15-1 risk in Battaglia’s morning line odds; DP Racing’s Ocho Ocho Ocho (#18), winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot (GIII) and listed at 20-1 as the James Cassidy trainee prepares for his 2015 debut; and Robert V. LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum’s Far Right (#9, 20-1), winner of the Southwest (GIII) and Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park for trainer Ron Moquett.
KDFW Pool 3 wagering interests that were not a part of Pool 2 include Golden Pegasus Racing’s Bolo (#2, 50-1), winner of the Eddie Logan on turf at Santa Anita; John C. Oxley’s recent maiden winner Danzig Moon (#4, 50-1), Far From Over, Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice (#13, 50-1), third in the Risen Star; and Christopher T. Dunn and Loooch Racing Stables Inc.’s War Story, runner-up to Far Right in both the Southwest and Smarty Jones.
Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager were chosen by Churchill Downs committee that included Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, Senior Director of Communications and Media Services Darren Rogers, Director of Programming and Senior Racing Analyst Jill Byrne, Player Services Manager Gary Palmisano and Vice President, Racing Communications John Asher.
After the closing of KDFW Pool 3, one Derby Futures pool will remain on the schedule prior to Kentucky Derby 141. The fourth and final KDFW pool is set for five weeks before the Derby and will run from Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29.
Real-time odds during the three-day run of KDFW Pool 3 and other information the wager and the Kentucky Derby are available at the official event Web site at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/racing-wagering/future-wager/pool-3-final-odds.