02/10/2005 12:00AM

Field the early Future pick

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A sizable mid-afternoon wager made the mutuel field the 2-5 favorite when the first of three pools in the annual Kentucky Derby Future Wager opened Thursday at tracks and wagering sites throughout North America.

As of 5:35 p.m. Eastern, the field, or the 24th and "all others" option, had attracted $28,427 of nearly $50,000 bet into the win-only, four-day wager. Afleet Alex was the 14-1 second choice, followed by Harlington at 19-1 and Declan's Moon at 22-1.

Pool 1 of the Derby futures closes at 6 p.m. Eastern Sunday.

Meanwhile, in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, Sweet Catomine was the 8-5 favorite after a total handle of just $3,334.

* Balletto, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, has been taken out of consideration for the Kentucky Oaks. She suffered a condylar fracture while training at the Dubai compound of her owners, Godolphin. Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manger, said Thursday that the injury "will keep her out of action until July."

- additional reporting by Alan Shuback