02/11/2009 12:00AM

Derby Future Wager's Pool 1 opens Thursday


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It was in February 1999 that Churchill Downs introduced the Kentucky Derby Future Wager as a new twist on an old concept. Renowned oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough said at the time that "parimutuels and futures mix like oil and water," but here it is, 10 years later, and the Future Wager has become an institution of sorts among Derby watchers.

True to a trend that has held firm every year, the mutuel field - the "all others" option among 24 available betting interests - surely will be favored when Pool 1 runs its four-day course, Thursday through Sunday, at racetracks and wagering outlets throughout North America. With no clear-cut favorite for the 135th Kentucky Derby on May 2, the field promises to draw heavy action in the 11th annual Derby futures, a $2-minimum, win-only wager with a 16 percent parimutuel takeout.

Churchill linemaker Mike Battaglia has made a morning-line of 5-2 on the field, with none of the 23 separately listed interests set lower than 10-1. In four of the past 10 years, the Derby winner has been a Pool 1 field horse, including last year, when the late-blooming Big Brown returned $8.60 as part of the Pool 1 field. The other years were 1999 (Charismatic), 2002 (War Emblem), and 2004 (Smarty Jones).

Two horses are pegged at 10-1 on the morning line for Pool 1 this year: Old Fashioned, an impressive winner of the Remsen Stakes last fall, and Capt. Candyman Can, winner of the Jan. 30 Hutcheson Stakes in his 3-year-old debut.

A gang of horses is listed together at 12-1: Friesan Fire, Midshipman, Pioneerof the Nile, Stardom Bound, This Ones for Phil, and Vineyard Haven.

This Ones for Phil is trained by Rick Dutrow, who won the Derby last year with Big Brown, and Stardom Bound will run for Dutrow after her stint in California, where she has been running in the name of trainer Bobby Frankel. Both horses represent somewhat rare Pool 1 interests in that Stardom Bound is a filly and This Ones for Phil has not yet been nominated to the Triple Crown. Occasionally, a filly or non-Triple Crown nominee has accomplished enough to merit a separate listing, but none has won the Derby since 1999.

As for the longer-priced listings in Pool 1, some fans will be hoping to get as lucky as the handful of fans who backed Funny Cide in the first pool in 2003. The $2 return on Funny Cide was $188, which remains easily the record for any payout in a futures pool.

Wagering on Pool 1 starts Thursday at noon Eastern and ends Sunday at 6 p.m.

Pool 2 in the 2009 Future Wager is set for March 12-15, with Pool 3 set for April 2-5.

Lineups for all futures pools are chosen by the three-man committee of John Asher of Churchill Downs and Brad Free and Mike Watchmaker of Daily Racing Form.

In recent years, Churchill had offered parimutuel future wagering on the Kentucky Oaks to coincide with all three Derby pools, but the track announced last month it is reverting to the format used initially in 2003 by offering just one Oaks pool to coincide with Derby Pool 2. Oaks futures typically had drawn less than 15 percent of what the Derby futures would handle.

Although the slumping general economy and recent industry wagering trends do not bode well for what the futures will handle this year, Churchill officials have said they are hoping to surpass the aggregate 2008 handle of $1,056,520, which was the second-lowest total in futures history. The highest handle was in 2005, when $1,665,990 was bet.

Real-time odds on the futures can be followed on television monitors at tracks and wagering outlets or on . Wagering statistics and payoffs from prior years also are available on the website.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the timing of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. The bet will coincide with Derby Pool 2, not Pool 3.

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Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1

Program No., Horse, M/L

1. Beethoven 15-1

2. Big Drama 30-1

3. Capt. Candyman Can 10-1

4. Chocolate Candy 50-1

5. Flying Pegasus 30-1

6. Friesan Fire 12-1

7. Giant Oak 15-1

8. Haynesfield 50-1

9. Hello Broadway 50-1

10. I Want Revenge 50-1

11. Midshipman 12-1

12. Notonthesamepage 30-1

13. Old Fashioned 10-1

14. Papa Clem 20-1

15. Patena 20-1

16. Pioneerof the Nile 12-1

17. Silver City 50-1

18. Stardom Bound 12-1

19. Taqarub 30-1

20. The Pamplemousse 30-1

21. This Ones for Phil 12-1

22. Vineyard Haven 12-1

23. West Side Bernie 50-1

24. Mutuel field (all other 3-year-olds) 5-2

- odds by Mike Battaglia of Churchill Downs

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the availability of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. It will coincide with Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, from March 12-15, not Pool 3.