02/17/2003 1:00AM

Field again Future choice


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Reflecting the collective uncertainty of horseplayers regarding contenders for the Kentucky Derby, the mutuel field once again was made the favorite in the first of three pools in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager - the fifth straight year the field has been favored in Pool 1.

At $2.20-1, the field, which comprises all 3-year-olds except the 23 horses listed as separate betting interests, is the shortest favorite in Future Wager history. If a field horse wins the May 3 Derby at Churchill Downs, the return for $2 in the win-only wager will be $6.40. The previous low favorite in the five-year history of the wager also was the field, in Pool 1 last year, when the final odds were $2.80-1.

Handle on Pool 1, which closed Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Eastern following four days of wagering, was affected to an unknown degree by the major winter storm that hit several key racing states last weekend. On Sunday, key outlets such as Trackside in Louisville was closed, and live racing was canceled in New York and Maryland, leading to decreases in those states.

Nevertheless, total handle was $516,906, third highest of the 13 pools ever conducted; the record highs were both set last year, with $577,889 in Pool 1 and $524,847 in Pool 3. Nearly half of the handle on Pool 1 this year was bet Sunday.

Easily the greatest movement in odds came Sunday after Badge of Silver posted his 10-length romp in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Before the race, Badge of Silver was 35-1, but after his win, he was pounded down to 11-1, good enough for second choice in the pool.

After Badge of Silver are four horses listed at 12-1. In order of favoritism, they are Toccet, Kafwain, Sky Mesa, and Empire Maker. Next in line are Indy Dancer (18-1), Trust N Luck (19-1), Domestic Dispute (19-1), and Lion Tamer (20-1).

Trust N Luck, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, was 35-1 before his impressive victory Saturday.

Pool 2 of the Future Wager is set for March 13-16 and Pool 3 for April 3-6. A revised lineup of horses is chosen before each pool is opened. The Future Wager is available in 34 states and through the TVG wagering network.

Churchill president Steve Sexton said he and other track officials "could not be more thrilled" with handle on Pool 1, "given the fact we battled a winter storm that hampered wagering in key markets on the pool's biggest wagering day."

129th Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Pool One Final Odds

No.HorseFinalWin Pool Total$2 Payoff
1 Apalachian Thunder62-16,822127.20
3Badge of Silver11-135,08724.60
4Domestic Dispute19-120,81641.60
5Empire Maker12-131,33727.60
6Funny Cide93-14,619188.00
7Indy Dancer18-121,82439.60
9Lion Tamer20-120,22442.80
10Man Among Men29-114,40260.20
11Ministers Wild Cat24-116,85151.40
12Offlee Wild34-112,08871.80
13Ozzie Cat50-18,394103.40
14Peace Rules66-16,450134.60
15Saintly Look65-16,550132.40
16Seattle Hoofer42-19,98486.80
17Senor Swinger43-19,72189.20
19Sky Mesa12-132,89926.20
20Ten Cents A Shine34-112,25570.80
22Trust N Luck19-121,50240.20
24Field - all other 3-year-olds2-1133,4356.40