02/21/2011 11:57AM

Analyzing Derby Future Wager Action

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The total win pool of pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which concluded Sunday at 6 pm, Eastern, was $480,375. As win pools go, this isn’t a huge one. But it is enough to see what the general betting public thinks about some of the more prominent contenders for the Kentucky Derby.

The all other 3-year-olds beside the 23 who were selected to be individual betting interests option was made the 2-1 favorite. This was certainly no surprise as “all other 3-year-olds” has been the favorite in pool 1 of the KDFW in all 13 years of its existence. Nor was it a surprise that Uncle Mo received steady action to close as the strong second choice at 7-2, or that Dialed In was supported all the way to be third choice at 8-1. During his undefeated championship campaign last year, Uncle Mo displayed the kind of rare brilliance that has a way of capturing the public’s imagination. When he won the Holy Bull last month, Dialed In showed the sort of big late kick that many tend to fall in love with when all of these 3-year-olds (with the exception of the isolated foreign shipper) are asked to go 1 ¼ miles for the first time in the Derby.

What was interesting was how the betting public responded to the Risen Star Stakes, the one Triple Crown prep that was run during the pool 1 betting period. For example, To Honor and Serve wasn’t even in the Risen Star, but he was the horse bettors seemed to flock to in response to the outcome of that race. To Honor and Serve was a surprisingly cold 17-1 after betting closed Friday night, but he dropped down to 10-1 by the time betting closed Saturday night after the Risen Star had been run, and he remained at 10-1 through Sunday’s wagering. Why would a horse who didn’t even run in the Risen Star get played because of that race? To Honor and Serve did because Mucho Macho Man, who relaxed nicely in his second start of the year and with blinkers off, won the Risen Star decisively, and To Honor and Serve soundly whipped Mucho Macho Man in two stakes at Aqueduct last November.

As for Mucho Macho Man and the second and third finishers in the Risen Star – Santiva and Rogue Romance, who both ran okay, not great but okay, in their first starts since November – all of their odds fell as a result of their performances Saturday. Mucho Macho Man, who was a ridiculous 99-1 at the close of betting Friday, dropped to 66-1 at the close of betting Saturday, and was the biggest downward mover Sunday, finally closing at 30-1. Santiva went from 66-1 Saturday night to close at 37-1, and Rogue Romance went from 49-1 Saturday night to close at 34-1.

Conversely, we have the case of Machen. Machen, whose fourth in the Risen Star was his first loss from three starts, was far from disgraced Saturday. However, in his first start against stakes company, he simply did not stay the 1 1/16 miles. This trip will certainly be no problem for Machen as he matures in the future, but it was an issue Saturday. And as a result, bettors backed away from him Sunday as he drifted up eight points from his Saturday price to close at 49-1.

It should be noted that The Factor was played steadily through all three days of pool 1. But he certainly would have closed lower than the 25-1 he did close at if the San Vicente Stakes he won Sunday with such an impressive display of speed was not run a little more than an hour AFTER pool 1 closed. But those who backed the “all others” option had to love the way Sway Away ran in the San Vicente. In his first start since August, Sway Away came from far back on a track that was decidedly tilted toward speed to be a fast closing second, beaten less than a length. Sway Away is already a serious horse, and he hasn’t even had the opportunity to go the two turns he is bred for yet.

There were a few other individual betting interests in the KDFW whose odds dropped meaningfully Sunday. Indian Winter, who was scratched from the San Vicente because the track was playing against his closing style, went from an absurd 99-1 Saturday to close at 71-1. Silver Medallion, the El Camino Real Derby winner, went from 89-1 Saturday to close at 66-1. In the cases of these two, however, I think these odds drops were simple market corrections. Their odds were just too high Saturday.

More mystifying were the odds drops Sunday on Astrology and Stay Thirsty. Astrology, who at least was a narrowly beaten second to Santiva in the Kentucky Jockey Club last November, went from 64-1 Saturday night to close at 48-1. Stay Thirsty, who was second in a four horse Hopeful and then a distant fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, went from 51-1 Saturday night to close at 40-1. What’s weird about these drops is that Astrology and Stay Thirsty have yet to race this year, and it is getting late for that. And while it is true that Uncle Mo and To Honor and Serve have also yet to race this year, unlike them, Astrology and Stay Thirsty still have much to prove.