01/14/2010 12:00AM

Derby future pool dates trimmed

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are being reduced from four days to three for each of the upcoming sessions that precede the 136th Derby on May 1, Churchill Downs announced Thursday.

The dates for the 2010 future wager will be Feb. 12-14, March 5-7, and March 26-28. Exactas will be available on each pool, an offering that began last year with Pools 2 and 3. Also, one Kentucky Oaks pool will be available, coinciding with Derby Pool 2.

The timing of the 2010 pools mirrors the 2009 schedule except for Pool 3, which was conducted last year on the first weekend of April. This year, Easter Sunday is April 4, and Churchill officials did not want to lose that Sunday, when most tracks and wagering outlets are closed. They decided to move Pool 3 to an earlier date, which means all future wagering will be concluded before the last two weekends of major Derby prep races are run, including the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, and Illinois Derby on April 3, and the April 10 Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby.

Churchill's president, Kevin Flanery, said in a media release Thursday that "the shorter three-day pools we've scheduled for 2010 for both wagers will sharpen the focus of our players, generate new excitement, and add to the fun of betting experiences that are now a part of the traditions of both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks."

This is the 12th year that Churchill has offered the unique parimutuel future wager. As usual, 23 separate wagering interests will be available in each pool, along with the mutuel field, the 24th, or "all others," selection. Both win and exacta wagers carry a $2 minimum.

Future wagers on the Oaks have been available in different forms since 2003. There is no exacta wagering on the Oaks. The win pool for the Oaks typically attracts less than 20 percent of what is handled in the corresponding Derby pool.

Aggregate handle on the three Derby pools last year was $1,236,299, seventh-highest since the 1999 inaugural. The record for aggregate handle is $1,665,990, set in 2005.

Last year, Mine That Bird won the Derby as a field horse in all three futures pools, with Pioneerof the Nile finishing second. The $2 exactas returned $256.80 and $554.60 in the two pools.