04/06/2006 12:00AM

Discreet Cat leads Derby bet


While many fans were sitting tight while waiting to see what unfolds Saturday in several crucial prep races, early betting in the opening hours of the third and final pool of the Kentucky Derby Future was understandably light. As of 5:15 p.m. Eastern, handle was just $20,074 in the Future Wager, which opened at noon Thursday at racetracks and wagering outlets throughout North America.

Discreet Cat was the 6-1 favorite, followed by Barbaro (9-1) and Cause to Believe and Lawyer Ron (both 11-1). Of those four, the only one scheduled to race this weekend was Cause to Believe, who is entered in Saturday's Illinois Derby.

One of the 23 separately listed interests in Pool 3 was scratched before wagering opened: Achilles of Troy (No. 2), who was declared from Derby consideration Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager Pool 3 had drawn $2,646 in handle as of 5:15 p.m. Balance was the 2-1 favorite over Wild Fit (7-2) and India (12-1).

The Derby futures close Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern, and the Oaks futures close 30 minutes later.