02/13/2012 10:28AM

Pool 1 Future Wager Thoughts


A few thoughts on what turned out to be a very popular Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which concluded Sunday:

I wasn’t surprised that Union Rags wound up the favorite among individual betting interests over Algorithms, closing at 7-1 and 12-1, respectively. Although Algorithms became the new Derby future book favorite in Las Vegas over Union Rags late last month right after he walloped Hansen in the Holy Bull, the spread between the two really wasn’t that big, generally being 8-1 vs. 10-1. But early last week, after the “newness” of Algorithms’s Holy Bull wore off and betting stabilized, Algorithms and Union Rags were both 10-1, at Wynn Las Vegas, anyway.

It was no surprise the “All Other 3-year-olds” option wound up the favorite at 3-2 because that has been the case in Pool 1 every year since the wager was introduced in 1999. For the record, the “All Others” option was the Pool 1 winner 6 of 13 times. The only time the “All Others” Pool 1 win return was higher than that year’s actual Derby win payoff was in 2008. Big Brown, who was not an individual betting interest in Pool 1 that year, paid $8.60 as part of the “All Other 3yos” option, and $6.80 on Derby Day.

Incidentally, three of the last four Derby winners – Big Brown, Mine That Bird in 2009, and Animal Kingdom last year – were not individual betting interests in Pool 1 of the KDFW. There are a variety of possible explanations for this, but the two I buy into are these: It could just be a weird statistical anomaly from what is still a very small sample size. It could also be proof of how the Derby has evolved so that now literally anything can happen in the race.

To the best of my recollection, this might have been the first of any Pool in the KDFW where an individual betting interest did not race during the betting period. While Fed Biz was a most impressive allowance winner at Santa Anita the day before betting opened on Friday, Ever So Lucky was the only individual betting interest who was scheduled to race during the betting period, but he was scratched from Gulfstream’s Hutcheson Stakes.

Since there was no pertinent racing action during Pool 1 of the KDFW, there were no real “steam” horses during the betting period. That said, the odds of 18 individual betting interests either dropped or stayed the same from the close of KDFW betting Saturday night to the close of Pool 1 wagering Sunday evening. It is notable that all of this movement came when Future Wagering betting is most brisk. Win pool handle on Friday was $104,126. It was $169,391 on Saturday. But on Sunday, Future Wager win pool handle was $220,746. In any case, it’s interesting that most of downward odds movement Sunday came at the expense of the “All Others” option, which drifted from 6-5 Saturday night to close at 3-2.

In looking over the closing odds of the individual betting interests, there were six horses I would put into the overlay category. I’m not saying I do or don’t like any of these horses. I just thought their odds were a little higher than I thought they should be. Given the way he galloped in his first two starts, I thought 30-1 was high on Discreet Dancer. Dullahan at 40-1 seemed high considering that the two horses who finished immediately in front of him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Union Rags and Creative Cause, who closed at 17-1) were much lower. I wasn’t crazy about Hansen’s Holy Bull, but 26-1 on the 2-year-old champ and BC Juvenile winner? I know I’ll Have Another was a big surprise when he won the Lewis, but he ran very well in that race, so 29-1 seemed generous. And I know Liaison and Rousing Sermon did not run well in the Lewis, but they did before that race, so 56-1 and 71-1 seemed out of whack.

Conversely, there were two horses in particular who I thought were underlays. Maybe El Padrino, who closed at 16-1, has made giant progress from 2 to 3. It’s entirely possible. But his big allowance win in his first start this year was so drastically better than anything he did last year that it’s hard not to wonder if it wasn’t a function of a wet track. And I don’t quite get all the support for Alpha, who closed at 19-1, and who has been strongly supported in Las Vegas. I know Alpha looked good winning two inner track stakes at Aqueduct with Lasix on, but he beat little, and did not run fast doing it.