05/01/2014 12:40PM

Futures pool offers best wagering value for Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Candy Boy likely will be the biggest underlay in the Kentucky Derby futures pool, as he was 12-1 in Pool 3 and most likely will be a bigger price for the Saturday race.

Derby futures players holding tickets at 30-1 and 32-1 on California Chrome are among those with the best long-term wagering value on Kentucky Derby 140.

This was the first year Churchill Downs had four pools in its Kentucky Derby Future Wager, offered annually since 1999. The pools were offered Nov. 27-30, Feb. 6-8, Feb. 27-March 1, and March 27-29.

California Chrome, the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Derby, was 30-1 in Pool 2, 32-1 in Pool 3, and 9-1 in Pool 4 after he easily won the San Felipe Stakes but before he won the April 5 Santa Anita Derby.

Other value plays in the futures include Intense Holiday, 69-1 in Pool 2; Tapiture, 38-1 in Pool 2; Uncle Sigh, 73-1 in Pool 2; Vicar’s in Trouble, 52-1 in Pool 3; and Ride On Curlin, 49-1 in Pool 4.

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Probably the biggest underlay is Candy Boy, who was just 12-1 in Pool 3 and most likely will be a bigger price Saturday.

The mutuel field, the 24th or “all others” option in each pool, closed as the favorite every time, at 4-5, 3-2, 3-1, and 5-1.

By far the best bets in all four pools are the 24-17 and 24-18 exacta combinations of the field over Pablo Del Monte and Ride On Curlin in Pool 1; those $2 exacta will-pays are $229.20 and $203. Remarkably, Pablo Del Monte and Ride On Curlin are the only separate betting interests to make the Derby lineup from the first pool. When field horses occupy the top two or more spots, the futures exacta payoff is completed with the highest finish of a non-field horse.

Seven of the Derby starters were separately listed in Pool 2, eight in Pool 3, and 12 in Pool 4.

Even with four pools, aggregate handle was $1,324,467, well short of the 2005 record of almost $1.6 million.

** For yet another year, it appears there will be a Derby without an outrageous longshot. Even with the mathematical implications of 20 starters, there almost certainly will be no horse above the 99-1 threshold, perpetuating a trend of recent years.

The last time a horse was higher than that was 2001, when Startac ran 10th at 102-1 and Arctic Boy was 12th at 101-1. The all-time Derby record for highest odds was set in 1958, when A Dragon Killer ran seventh of 14 at a whopping 294-1.

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There are four horses listed at 50-1 for this Derby: Harry’s Holiday, We Miss Artie, Commanding Curve, and Pablo Del Monte. Churchill’s Battaglia won’t list a horse any higher out of respect for the connections.

“I think our horse will be the longest shot on the board,” said Terry Raymond, one of the co-owners of Harry’s Holiday. “But I think he’ll outrun his odds.”

Perhaps the main reason for the dearth of huge prices is that horses don’t have nearly as many career races as in the bygone era, when form typically was well established with 20 or more starts going into the Derby.

** Ken Ramsey has been eating up all the attention he’s gotten this week as the owner of two Derby starters. At the Wednesday post draw, Ramsey consented to as many interviews as requests after Vicar’s in Trouble was assigned post 1 and We Miss Artie got post 7.

“We’re here, which is a lot more than most owners can say,” said Ramsey, who with his wife, Sarah, won 2013 Eclipse Awards for top owner and breeder. “Winning the Derby is at the top of my bucket list. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Saturday.”