02/13/2012 10:28AM

Pool 1 Future Wager Thoughts

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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.

Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
MW, attempt # 2 for comment re: "Gemologist", just read new top 20 KD list w/coments...there is some indirect feedback there, happy to see "Gem" is near top and relate to JP comment over your's...not sure what you are looking for but who did UR beat his first two (non stakes) races as well. he deserves numbero uno, but looking at "Gem" last race (and all of them in fact) = beyer/times as top ones race at CD, big fields, + won with bid and driving....and beat a near/top level class/group at the time last Nov 26...this gem ain't no turkey and if he stays healthy and gets to makes it to the KD starting gate, I believe you be writting about him with a much different and open perspective....for now glad JP's input got you to move him up a bit instead of up the track.....any comments? Thanks Don
Pete More than 1 year ago
With the souped up track at Santa Anita I think any horse from CA is probably an auto toss. Being from CA I hate to say it, but to me as long as SA is the way it is the west coast 3 year olds might as well start pointing for the Sunland Derby instead of the KY Derby.
lou catoggio More than 1 year ago
Liason is a pig. He doesnt have what it takes to win BLACK TYPE races. (MW - Liaison won a Grade 1 race - a Grade 1 - only two months ago.)
Kip More than 1 year ago
Call it want, intuition, some handicapping, but, at this stage looking for a juiced overlay seems the better axiom. Seems like Florida is the way to Churchill, but I am going to take the way through Arkansas and the Hot Springs.
sleepingfish More than 1 year ago
Mike , As I do every year , I placed a win bet on the winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes , Gemologist this year . My fun bet . I also bet on Empire Way . Of course the breeding played into that choice big time . What if he's a little bit ahead of where his sister was last year ? It was only 13 days after the Derby last year she won the Black Eyed Susan . I thought he moved forward in his last out . And speaking of moving forward , I also placed a win bet on Out Of Bounds . I suspect he will be putting it all together in May . Then I boxed those three with Rags and all others .
alan rice More than 1 year ago
The most amazing thing to me is that there were exacta combinations paying under $30. I know you get "all others" but it still seems like a bad bet.
Tony the Bat More than 1 year ago
I bet I'll Have Another in Pool 1. Winning in his two-turn debut off such a long layoff was impressive in itself, but doing so with so much ease is what gained my backing. I have watched the Lewis replay probably ten times, and it is a thing of beauty watching him kick home. Some read the long layoff and the horse going straight into the S.A. Derby as a sign of too many physical issues, I feel that it is a sign of confidence. I also made small wagers on Mr. Bowling and Battle Hardened. I would select neither if the race were this weekend, however these are horses getting better at the right time for expert horsemen. They both have graded stakes earnings in two-turn races, which is more than can be said about Algorithms and Discreet Dancer, offered at much shorter prices. Finally I did a couple exacta wheels with five horses on top of those same five, plus the field in for second. The only horse that was in both of my exacta tix was I'll Have Another. I wagered 95 dollars total, which is the most I have ever put into a future pool. I figured I would get more enjoyment out of putting my handicapping abilities towards a bet that will keep me interested for three months as opposed to wagering on a Sunday card at Turfway, where the stewards' rulings over the past few weeks have left me crying for the return of John Veitch, or the promotion of Billy Troilo, but alas, that is a little too off the subject. I get kicked in the face by this game, yet keep exclaiming, "I'll Have Another!"
RoMo More than 1 year ago
. . .. I guess it all depends on the runner(s) you like .. and if you think the odds on that runner(s) will be higher or lower when the gate opens on May 6 ..? If your not yet of the mind that a horse your not going to back/wager on .. what difference does it make what the odds are ..? . .. It's interesting to me which 9f preps will have run before the final pool is closed and which will not have been run before the final pool closes on April 1.. The odds tend to follow last out "prep" winners .. that looked good getting the job done ..? As it is .. you have to back a runner(s) on how they do going 8 or 8.5f .. That a long way and a lot of difference to going 10f ..? . .. What I found interesting was the "Exacta" pay-outs.. Say you like 3 runners .. at around 30-1 so you wager $6 (times 3 is $18) to win for a return of $180 .. for the same $6 win wager you can do and Exacta Box on the three runners .. and the return is about $600 (so times 3 is $1,800) .. So I'm seeing the $18 worth of "crap-shoot wager" as better .. playing the $1 ExBx times 3 ..?
Phil More than 1 year ago
Liaison is a STEAL at 56-1. Amazing what a poor, off the layoff performance can do.
Don from PA/ More than 1 year ago
Interesting write up Mike, points noted well taken. I am a devoted DD/Pick-3+ player, so am experienced in the "Agony and the Ecstasy' of such future bets, and have yet to hit the KD future, usually due to late injury/scratches before the gate opens. I couldn't resist, once again though, and put $10.00 win on #11 Gemologist @ 22-1. Love the horse and his CD liking, and gets the chance to run, but feel it may be a handicap being trained by a man who has so so so many top contenders? What is your take please? Don