03/14/2002 1:00AM

Johannesburg leads Future betting


Johannesburg, the Eclipse Award winner for top 2-year-old last year, was the 7-2 favorite in early betting of Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

As of 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, the first of four days of wagering on Pool 2, Johannesburg was the 7-2 favorite, followed by Repent (6-1), Siphonic (9-1), Harlan's Holiday (11-1), Came Home (13-1), Booklet (14-1), and Saarland (15-1). The handle was only $21,632.

Pool 2 is open until Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Before closing time, bettors will be able to take into account the results of three Triple Crown preps - the Florida Derby on Saturday, and the Gotham Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby on Sunday - but not a fourth prep, the San Felipe, which will be run later Sunday evening at Santa Anita.

In Pool 1, conducted Feb. 14-17, the mutuel field closed as the 5-2 favorite. The field was 16-1 in early wagering Thursday.

Pool 1 attracted a handle of $577,889, a record for a single pool since the Future Wager was inaugurated in 1999.

Results of the Future Wager are based on the 128th Kentucky Derby, to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The win-only wager has a $2 minimum with a 16 percent takeout. The wager is available in 34 states, including all major racing jurisdictions. Pool 3 is set for April 4-7.