02/16/2004 1:00AM

Field tops Derby futures; Halfbridled leads Oaks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The mutuel field was the 9-5 favorite over the 23 other betting options when Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed Sunday.

Eurosilver closed as the distant second choice at 11-1, followed by his Nick Zito-trained stablemate Birdstone at 12-1. Three horses followed at 14-1: Action This Day, Lion Heart, and Read the Footnotes. Results of the Future Wager are predicated on the 130th Derby, to be run May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Final handle of $536,958 was the second highest for a Pool 1 in the six-year history of the Derby Futures. A little more than half of that total was bet Sunday, the last of four days of wagering. The Pool 1 record of $577,889 was set in 2002.

Futures wagering on Second of June was suspended early Sunday after it was learned he had been injured following his second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park. Second of June was 15-1 and had attracted $13,661 when betting was suspended.

In the previous five years of the Derby Futures, a field horse has won the Derby twice: Charismatic in 1999 and War Emblem in 2002. In Pool 1 this year, the field had been the heavy favorite since minutes after wagering opened Thursday, when a $30,000 wager was made on the field.

Halfbridled, who closed at 24-1, was the only filly listed as a separate betting interest in the Derby Futures lineup. She also closed as the 7-2 favorite in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. In the Oaks, Halfbridled was followed by the field (5-1), Madcap Escapade (7-1), and A.P. Adventure (9-1).

Handle in Pool 1 of the Oaks Futures was far lighter than that of the Derby, attracting just $66,425. This is the first year that Churchill has offered three separate Oaks Futures to coincide with the Derby Futures. One Oaks pool was offered last April to coincide with Derby Pool 3. Handle on the Oaks Futures last April was $117,368.

Pool 2 for both the Derby and Oaks Futures is set for March 11-14, and Pool 3 is April 1-4.