03/31/2008 11:00PM

Big Brown jumps from field to favorite


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Big Brown was not even a separately listed interest in the first two pools of the 2008 Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but the colt was so impressive in winning the Florida Derby last weekend that he is listed as the morning-line favorite in the third and final pool, which opens for the customary four-day run Thursday at noon Eastern.

Big Brown, one of eight new horses displacing others from Pool 2, has been tabbed as the 3-1 favorite by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia. Pyro, who closed last month as the 4-1 favorite in Pool 2, is listed as the Pool 3 second choice at 4-1.

Although Big Brown and Pyro will not race this weekend, closing odds on quite a few of the other separate interests will be largely determined by how they perform in three Derby preps on Saturday: the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, and Illinois Derby. Odds on the parimutuel futures are not locked in until 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Besides Big Brown, the new names for Pool 3 are Adriano, Atoned, Big Truck, Liberty Bull, My Pal Charlie, Salute the Sarge, and Tomcito. The eight horses displaced from Pool 2 are Elysium Fields, Fierce Wind, Georgie Boy, Giant Moon, J Be K, Majestic Warrior, Monba, and Nikki'sgoldensteed.

Meanwhile, there is even more turnover in the lineup in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Oaks futures, which runs simultaneous to the Derby futures, with the exception of a 6:30 p.m. closing time Sunday. Proud Spell and Country Star are the morning-line choices at 4-1 and 5-1, respectively, but those odds are subject to change since both are scheduled to run Saturday in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland.

Ten of the 23 separately listed fillies in Oaks Pool 3 are new: African Violet, Ariege, Armonk, Awesome Chic, Elusive Lady, French Kiss, Gentle Audrey, Little Belle, Robbie's Gal, and Valentine Fever. They replace Backseat Rhythm, Final Fling, Game Face, Indian Blessing, Lovely Isle, Rated Fiesty, Sky Mom, Tasha's Miracle, Tizaqueena, and Vaulcluse.

Pool 1 for both the Derby and Oaks futures was held Feb. 7-10, and Pool 2 was held March 6-9. The $2-minimum win-only wager is available at tracks and wagering outlets in more than 40 states and in some Canadian jurisdictions.

Aggregate handle on Pools 1 and 2 for the Derby futures this year is $764,685, the smallest total since Churchill first began offering futures in 1999.