02/14/2002 1:00AM

Big early bet on Derby future field

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Following a familiar pattern in the brief history of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, a large bet was placed on the mutuel field early in Pool 1, making the field the solid favorite during the first of four days.

As of 6:20 p.m. Eastern, the field, or "all others" besides the 23 3-year-olds specifically listed, was 6-5, followed by Johannesburg at 7-1. Then came Repent (12-1), Siphonic (12-1), Came Home (14-1), and Maybry's Boy (16-1).

A bet of about $5,000 in the opening minutes made the field a temporary 1-10 favorite. "We are almost certain it came from the New York City OTB network," said Greg Bush, manager of Louisville Trackside, the wagering hub for the Future Wager.

The strategy paid off once (Charismatic, 1999) since the wager began three years ago.

The wager is a win-only bet predicated on results of the 128th Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs. Pool 1 closes Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.