04/05/2004 12:00AM

Field closes as 6-1 favorite in Pool 3


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Racing fans across America remained decidedly undecided about the top contenders for the May 1 Kentucky Derby when settling once again on the mutuel field as the favorite in the third and final pool in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

The field, or the 24th and "all others" option, closed as the 6-1 choice in Pool 3, which closed Sunday after the customary four-day run. Smarty Jones is the 10-1 second choice, followed by Master David (12-1), Eddington (13-1), and Rock Hard Ten (14-1). Twelve more horses closed at 25-1 or lower.

This is the first time since Churchill Downs began offering futures in 1999 that the field has been the favorite in all three pools. The field never has been the Pool 3 favorite.

"This is all very fascinating, considering how late in the game we've gotten," said Churchill vice president John Asher.

The Pool 3 field includes the winners of the two major Derby preps run last weekend: Castledale in the Santa Anita Derby and Pollard's Vision in the Illinois Derby.

Pool 3 handle was $386,244, more than half of it wagered on the final day. The aggregate total for all three pools was $1,282,168, third-highest in the six-year history of the Derby futures.

The field was the 9-5 favorite in Pool 1, conducted Feb. 12-15, and the 4-1 choice in Pool 2 (March 11-14).

In Pool 3 of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, Halfbridled closed as the 4-1 favorite over Madcap Escapade (7-1), Ashado (7-1), Silent Sighs (9-1), and the field (10-1). Handle was $45,635, bringing the three-pool total to $158,211.

This was the first year Churchill offered three pools on the Oaks. Last year, which was the first for any Oaks futures, the only pool offered was concurrent to Derby Pool 3. It attracted $117,368.