04/12/2007 11:00PM

Betting strategy for Pool 3


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The first rule that all Kentucky Derby Futures Wager bettors should follow is to wait until all of the Kentucky Derby preps that are going to be run during the time the pool is open have been run.

The question is, Once the results are in, who should you bet on?

Let's start out with who not to bet on. I recommended a bet on the field in Pool 1. That is when the timing is right to make that wager, because of all of the change that is likely to occur from the time the original list of 23 Pool 1 participants is determined. That same bet isn't nearly as promising for this last betting pool.

By the time Pool 3 comes around, you have a pretty good idea of who the contenders are. That isn't to say that an upset isn't possible, because it certainly is. But if you have your eye on a live longshot who is not among the 23 individual betting interests, you are much better off waiting to see if he makes it into the gate on Derby Day, and then collecting $40, $50, or more on your win bet, rather than the much lower odds the field bet is likely to offer in this pool.

If your plan is to watch the Blue Grass Stakes and the Arkansas Derby this weekend and then bet on the winners, you must understand that there will be a flood of money coming into this pool from bettors who will be reacting to the same information you are, most likely with a very similar point of view. If you like the horse who won by five lengths with speed to spare, so will most of the handicappers you will be betting against. As a result the betting value will disappear.

Rather than following the flood of money bet on the winners of this last round of major prep races, the best hope for finding betting value could be to sort through the contenders who are not running this weekend. Most of them have already made their last start before the Kentucky Derby.

At this point, some of you might believe that ignoring an impressive five-length winner of the Blue Grass Stakes or the Arkansas Derby is much easier said than done. Chances are good that if there is such a winner, he will be so visually impressive that some bettors will find him irresistible. I can understand that temptation. But if that scenario occurs, there are two words you can repeat to yourself that should enable you to resist: Bellamy Road.

Recall that Bellamy Road won the Wood by 17 1/2 lengths, with a remarkable 120 Beyer Speed Figure. The Wood was his second consecutive facile victory by a large margin. He was expected by some observers to be the second coming of Secretariat. The difference was that Secretariat won the Triple Crown, while Bellamy Road never won another race. He finished seventh at 5-2 in the Kentucky Derby.

Let's take a look at some of the contenders who aren't running this weekend who might offer a fair price.

Hard Spun will go straight to the Kentucky Derby. There was legitimate reason for doubting him when he finished fourth of nine as the 1-2 favorite in the Southwest at Oaklawn, but he rebounded with a 3o1/4 length win in the Lane's End at Turfway,and deserves respect, with 5 wins from 6 career starts. He is also one of only six horses among the 23 individual betting interests to show a triple-digit Beyer at a distance of 1 1/16 miles or longer. When the money comes in on the horses who run well this weekend, Hard Spun might offer some value.

Sam P. added blinkers last out in the Santa Anita Derby and changed tactics, showing more early speed than he had in his recent races. He battled for the lead then weakened and finished third as the 2-1 favorite. Rate him on his contending second-place finish behind Great Hunter in the Robert Lewis, and his large odds in this pool make him interesting.

Tiago beat only two horses when he finished seventh of nine behind Great Hunter and Sam P. in the Robert Lewis. But he surprised most handicappers when he won the Santa Anita Derby at 29-1. His lack of seasoning, just four career starts, will be a concern - so it will be a good idea to hold out for an overlaid price.