03/09/2010 12:00AM

Field still a wise investment in Pool 2

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Some handicappers believe it is less than thrilling to bet on the field, the grouping of all other 3-year-olds besides the 23 individual betting interests, in the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager. Three weeks ago in Pool 1, the field closed at 3-2 odds. That isn't a huge payoff, but it is already showing signs of being a clever investment.

A bet on the field is essentially a bet that change and chaos will reign, an acknowledgment of the reality that perceptions regarding which horses are and are not serious threats to win the Kentucky Derby can and usually do change significantly during the last couple of months prior to the first Saturday in May.

Those changes have already begun. In Pool 1, anyone who bet on the field had to beat the 23 individual betting interests that were believed to be the most logical candidates to win the Kentucky Derby. Now, just three weeks later, 10 of those 23 horses are no longer considered good enough to deserve to be listed as individual betting interests in Pool 2. Think about that for a moment. In just 21 days, 43 percent of the horses you need to beat to win the field bet in Pool 1 are no longer considered to be serious threats by the panel that chooses the leading contenders. That's an excellent start for field bettors, and there is still much more change likely to come.

There is more fun this week as betting on Pool 2, which opened Friday, continues through Sunday. Win and exacta bets are offered on the Kentucky Derby, and win bets are available on the Oaks. This is the only Oaks pool that will be offered, so make sure you get some money down if you have an opinion.

The field will be an attractive option once again in the Kentucky Derby pool with continued change likely, and the odds should be higher on the field this time, now that we are three weeks closer to the race. The morning line on the field is 7-2. If you aren't on board yet, consider a win bet on the field. I'll also use the field as a part of my exacta bets.

Eskendereya has won 3 of 5 starts. Better yet, he is a perfect 3 for 3 on dirt, including an 8 1/2-length triumph last time in the Fountain of Youth with a career-best 106 Beyer Speed Figure. Continued progress is possible with experience, so he might be the primary threat to the field horses. With that in mind, I'll use him on top of and beneath the field in exacta bets. If he wins and a field horse comes in second, I'd like to have enough money bet on that combination to show at least a small profit on all of my bets made in each of the first two pools.

Caracortado figures to attract good betting support following his win Feb. 13 in the Robert Lewis and because he is undefeated in five races. While he deserves respect in this pool, I also like the chances of Dave in Dixie, the second-place finisher in the Lewis. Dave in Dixie finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Caracortado, but he was gaining on that horse and figures to enjoy stretching out from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/4 miles if he manages to find his way into the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby. He'll be an attractive price, so I'll give him the call over Caracortado and will include him in my exactas along with Eskendereya and the field.