04/04/2002 12:00AM

Johannesburg leads Pool 3

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Even though his most recent race is still the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in October, Johannesburg took the most action during the first six-plus hours of wagering in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which opened Thursday in 34 states.

As of 6:10 p.m. Eastern, Johannesburg was the 7-2 choice, followed by Saarland (8-1), Harlan's Holiday, Repent, Medaglia D'Oro, and the mutuel field (all at 10-1), Essence of Dubai (14-1), and Came Home (14-1).

The handle on the win-only wager was $28,592.

Johannesburg, Came Home, and Repent are foremost among the handful of top Derby contenders scheduled to race this weekend before Pool 3 closes Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

Pool 3 is the last of three pools in the 2002 Future Wager, which is based on results of the May 4 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Favorites in the previous pools this year were the mutuel field - the "all others" option besides the 23 horses specifically listed - in Pool 1, and Siphonic, who since has been declared from Derby consideration, in Pool 2.