03/15/2009 11:00PM

Field, Dunkirk favored in Future Wager

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The flurry of weekend activity on the Kentucky Derby trail - which included the Louisiana Derby, San Felipe, Rebel, and Tampa Bay Derby - helped to leave a wide-open odds board when Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed Sunday after the usual four-day run.

Pool 2 was the first in the 11-year history of the parimutuel futures that Churchill Downs also offered exacta wagering, and fans responded in somewhat apathetic fashion, as only $104,017 was bet into the exacta pool.

In the win pool, the mutuel field, the 24th or "all others" option, closed as a lukewarm 9-2 favorite on $276,403 in handle. Dunkirk, who was not in action over the weekend, closed as the 7-1 second choice, followed by the Larry Jones-trained pair of Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire and Rebel Stakes runner-up Old Fashioned, both at 8-1. Then came The Pamplemousse (9-1), I Want Revenge (10-1), San Felipe winner Pioneerof the Nile (12-1), and Quality Road (14-1).

The combined handle of $380,420 was fifth-highest for a Pool 2 since the inaugural year of 1999, but up markedly from the $325,309 bet to win last year. The highest pool 2 handle came in 2005 when $511,655 was wagered.

Pool 2 typically draws the lowest handle of the three Derby futures pools offered each year. Pool 1 was held Feb. 12-15, and Pool 3 is set for April 2-5.

The only Kentucky Oaks futures pool for this season also was offered last week, closing 30 minutes after the Derby futures closed Sunday. In something of a surprise, Justwhistlindixie closed as the 5-2 favorite, followed by Rachel Alexandra (3-1), Stardom Bound (9-2), and the field (7-1). No other filly was lower than 22-1.

Handle on the Oaks futures was $72,628, marginally higher than the strongest pools offered from 2004-2008, when three pools were offered each year, but well short of the 2003 record of $117,368, when only a single pool was offered.

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