05/06/2009 11:00PM

Field the only logical Derby future bet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The wagering profits continue to grow for fans of Kentucky Derby chaos. Mine That Bird was tough to find, but his surprise victory produced another winning year for futures bettors who recognize the folly in backing an individual horse weeks beforehand.

Churchill Downs offers three Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools each spring; 23 horses are listed in each pool. No. 24 is "all others," and it remains the only sensible play.

Only five of the 23 horses from Pool 1 in early February reached the gate; only eight made it from Pool 2 in early March; and just 10 from Poolo3 in early April.

Mine That Bird was never listed individually. His victory made No.o24, "all others," the winner in all three pools. The payoffs were $5.80, $11.80, and $36.80.

It was not a fluke. Big Brown emerged from nowhere last year and made 24 the winning number in pools 1 and 2 of the future wager ($8.60 and $15).

The 2009 Derby was the 11th year of the future wager. "All others" has won 13 of 33 pools (three each year). The total return on $2 bets is $209, from $66 invested. Same time, next year.

* The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager was a loser for No. 24, as Rachel Alexandra won as the $8.40 second choice in the only pool. Just imagine if Jess Jackson had swept in and purchased Rachel Alexandra before Oaks-Derby weekend to run against colts. She might have won the Derby (a victory for "all others"). From the 23 fillies listed in the early March Oaks Future Wager, only three made the gate (Rachel Alexandra, Be Fair, and Nan).

* The sharp HRTV analyst Jon White perhaps went overboard in his pre-Derby hype of Pioneerof the Nile, but you have to give White credit. He supports his opinions with cash. White bet Pioneerof the Nile to win, and back-wheeled him in the exacta. The $1 payoff was $1,037.40. And yes, White had it more than just once. Nice hit.

* Mine That Bird was a longshot to win the Derby, but at least one offshore bookmaker had him favored - to finish last. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bodog.com had Mine That Bird as the 7-1 favorite to trail the field.

* If one race goes up, should the other go down? Most agree the ungraded Sunland Derby will gain graded status after producing the Derby winner. Not surprisingly, I haven't heard anyone suggest the Kentucky Derby be knocked down to a Grade 2.

* The Sunland Park running lines of Scorewithcater, entered Saturday in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, will depress his odds. Scorewithcater defeated Mine That Bird twice recently at Sunland, but can you like a horse with a career-high 81 Beyer such as Scorewithcater? Nope, didn't think so.

* There is little doubt Mine That Bird benefited from an inside bias winning the Derby, but he ran past the field like it was standing still. Was it a fluke? Probably, but who can tell?

* All due credit to Einstein, but his Derby Day victory in the Woodford Reserve would have been downright shallow if not for a stiff battle from dead-game Cowboy Cal. He might not win them all, but Cowboy Cal fires every time, and gave the country's top older horse a battle all the way to the wire before Einstein inched clear. Discounting two subpar starts on dirt, Cowboy Cal has finished first or second in 10 of 11.

* Turf Paradise announcer Frank Mirahmadi, who doubles as comedian and impressionist, delivered a race-call masterpiece Sunday in the $50,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap. He used nearly two dozen voice impressions during the 1 7/8-mile turf marathon: Marv Albert, Tony Calo, Mark Johnson, Richard Grunder, Michael Wrona, Larry Collmus, Keith Jones, Dick Stockton, Jack Buck, Hank Stram, Phil Georgeff, Dave Johnson, Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando, Andy Rooney, D. Wayne Lukas, Mike Battaglia, Vic Stauffer, Rodney Dangerfield, Trevor Denman, and Ed Burgart.

By the end of the marathon it was clear Mirahmadi is best-suited to a shorter trip. "I definitely was fully extended," he admits. Mirahmadi also saved the best for last. As the field raced to the wire, he ended with a touching impression of the late Luke Kruytbosch, former announcer at Turf Paradise and Churchill Downs. The entertaining and heartfelt call is recommended listening and viewing on Youtube.com and Calracing.com.

* Assuming jockey Jose Valdivia does not fall asleep in the stretch of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on Saturday at Hollywood Park, then Rail Trip might be the biggest cinch of the weekend. Valdivia gave Rail Trip flawless rides his first four starts, but he nearly got Rail Trip beat April 4 at Santa Anita when he eased up in the final furlong of the Santana Mile. Rail Trip won by a nose after leading by three at the eighth pole. On Saturday, the unbeaten gelding figures to win his sixth straight as the odds-on favorite.

* Jockey Alex Solis had a big winter at Santa Anita, where he ranked fifth in the standings with 45 wins from 271 mounts. But the momentum stalled at Hollywood Park, where Solis entered Thursday 2 for 46.

* A five-length maiden win Aprilo23 by the Empire Maker filly Alpine Empire remains the largest margin by a 2-year-old at the Hollywood meet, but her trainer, Mike Harrington, has one even better. Teacher Teacher has outworked Alpine Empire and might have been favored Sunday in race 4. However, a minor injury will delay Teacher Teacher's debut by four months. You have been warned.

* The race 1 debut victory Thursday by juvenile Track N Attack ($14.60) made the Hollywood rail 4 for 7 this meet at 4 1/2 furlongs.