02/06/2014 6:09PM

Kentucky Derby: Field is even-money favorite early in Pool 2 of Future Wager

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The mutuel field opened as a strong favorite in the early hours of Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which opened Thursday at noon Eastern.

As of 4:45 p.m., and with just more than $30,000 in the win pool, the field – the 24th or “all others” option – was the even-money favorite, followed by Shared Belief (14-1), Strong Mandate (15-1), Honor Code (15-1), Cairo Prince (16-1), and Top Billing (17-1). Another $6,325 was in the exacta pool.

Pool 2 will close Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern, well before scheduled post time (7 p.m. Eastern) for the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. The Lewis is the only prep race with Derby points (10 to the winner) this weekend.

Fourteen field horses from Pool 1 are now separately listed for Pool 2, meaning only nine horses were held over as single betting interests.

A Derby futures pool in early February usually is the first of the season, but last fall, Churchill Downs moved Pool 1 back to November for the first time. The field closed as the 4-5 favorite in that pool.

Pool 3 will run Feb. 27 through March 1 and Pool 4 from March 27-29. All pools will run Thursday to Saturday, as opposed to the Friday-to-Sunday schedule used in prior years. A single Kentucky Oaks futures pool will be offered concurrent to Derby Pool 3.

Real-time odds and exacta will-pays are available on selected monitors at tracks and wagering outlets where futures are offered, as well as on kentuckyderby.com.

Minimum wagers are $2 to win and $2 for exactas, although $1 boxes or part-wheels may be used to reach that $2 exacta minimum.

As with any parimutuel wager, odds are not locked in until the pool closes. There are no refunds.

This is the 16th year for the future wager. Exacta wagering was added in 2009. In the case of field horses filling both exacta slots, the next-best finish by a separately listed horse will count toward the winning combination.

The 140th Derby is scheduled for May 3 at Churchill.