by Tom Carley
This week’s edition of BABYTALK examines the results of the first Kentucky Derby Futures Pool. This is a first glance at what the bettors think of the possible field for next year’s Kentucky Derby. I will make this quick, light reading since we are in the Christmas Season and this author still has to do his shopping.
The Kentucky Derby Futures Pool was created to give bettors an opportunity to get better odds on a horse they might identify early as a Derby horse as the odds could be lower on Derby Day if the horse wins Derby prep races. There are four pools (one in November, one in February, March and early April). The field is usually limited to 20 betting interests with an “All Other 3- Year-Old” Category as well to account for all the horses not named. Due to the risk of injury, distance limitation, etc., the “All Other 3-Year-Old” is usually the favorite in at least the first 2 pools. Last year, California Chrome did not show up on anyone’s radar screen until late February. You can make an individual wager on any 3-year-old at the Wynn Sports Book in Las Vegas. The pool does not refund money if the horse does not start the race. You are being asked to wager that the horse wins the Derby, no more, no less.
I have always found this bet to be interesting if the horse you like is high odds in the Futures Pool. Personally, I require a return of 30 to 1 in the First 2 pools and 25 to 1 in Pools 3 & 4 before I wager on a horse. I feel that to accept less than this does not reward a bettor for taking the risk of injury, not getting enough points for inclusion in the Derby field, or connections not entering in the Derby field.
Listing of Favorites in 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Pool
Dortmund – 9 to 1
The Baffert trainee that I can’t figure out why he is backed so strongly. He did win a 7 furlong race on the Kentucky Jockey Club undercard. I am not yet convinced. The horse has not yet run 2 turns and has faced little competition. He will face his first test in the Los Alamitos Futurity the Saturday before Christmas.
- Undefeated in prior starts.
- Did show ability to rate in last race.
- Won at Churchill Downs
- Has never run 2 turns.
- Has not beaten high level competition.
American Pharoh – 12 to 1
Another Baffert trainee. This front runner was the morning line favorite for the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile until he had to be scratched. Twelve to 1 seems a little short on this horse given that he has only run from the front and it has been years since a horse has taken the Kentucky Derby in gate to wire fashion. The injury that required the scratch is also a slight concern.
- Undefeated in prior races
- Derby winning connections
- Well thought of morning line favorite in Breeder’s Cup Juvenile
- Front running style
- Had to be scratched from Breeders Cup Juvenile
Texas Red – 14 to 1
Upset winner of the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. The pendulum swung the other way and he was slightly over bet in the first futures pool. He does have the potential to improve as the last race was only his second on dirt and his breeding appears to support the fact that he will improve as the races go longer. This horse will possibly face the two previously mentioned horses in the California prep races; and if he loses any of these preps, his odds could be higher come Kentucky Derby day.
- Won Breeder’s Cup Juvenile
- Improved since moving from turf
- Turf background
- Bred to run longer distances
- Might have peaked on Breeders Cup Juvenile day
- Will face increased competition in California
Carpe Diem – 15 to 1
Todd Pletcher contender that won the Breeder’s Futurity at Keeneland and ran second in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile after a rough trip. He is improving and is planning a Florida path to the Derby. Would have to win both prep races to be bet to lower than 10 to 1 on Derby Day.
- Looked dominant in the Champagne Stakes.
- Good record of works.
- Connections have won Derby in the past with Super Saver
- Did not win in biggest race of career.
Imperia – 27 to 1
A horse that I would wager on in the pool. While he came up a head short in his first race on dirt, the Kentucky Jockey Club, he passed the winner within 2 lengths past the wire on the gallop out and looked very strong. If he continues to run well in the preps, you won’t see 27 to 1 on Derby Day.
- Improved in debut race on dirt.
- Ran well at Churchill Downs.
- Potential to improve as races get longer.
- Closing style has not shown good past results in the Derby.
Ocho Ocho Ocho – 29 to 1
He is undefeated in 3 starts, but what caused him to be so well supported at the windows was his win in the Delta Downs Jackpot after winning his first 2 races at distances under 1 mile. He has an upside, but will face many rivals in California preps. Because he is not from a well-known trainer/owner combination, he will be overlooked by many bettors.
- Undefeated in 3 starts.
- Showed ability to rate in the past.
- Quality of competition.
- Only went around 2 turns in last race.
The three horses that I would bet in the Futures Pool #1 are: