11/25/2013 12:41PM

Kentucky Derby Future Wager starts with first November pool

Barbara D. Livingston
Honor Code, who runs Saturday in the Remsen at Aqueduct, is lowest-priced individual interest in the morning line for Pool 1 of the Kentuck Derby Future Wager.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs will offer parimutuel future wagering on the Kentucky Derby in November for the first time when Pool 1 for the 2014 Derby opens for a four-day run Wednesday at noon Eastern.

While track officials readily concede that the 24th or “all others” alternative to 23 separately listed interests figures to be a huge favorite when wagering closes Saturday, they still wanted to explore the marketing possibilities of “being able to offer a futures pool while we’re conducting a live race meet for the first time,” according to Churchill spokesman Darren Rogers, while also simply “seeing what it’s like to have a futures pool this far out from the Derby.”

The mutuel field (No. 24, all others) has been listed as a 2-5 morning-line favorite by Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, and with more than five months until the 140th Derby is run May 3, 2014, surely there will be a vast chasm back to the others.

Honor Code, the heavy favorite for the Remsen Stakes on Saturday at Aqueduct, is listed as second choice on the Churchill line at 15-1. He is followed by two others at 20-1: Almost Famous, the likely favorite for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Saturday at Churchill, and New Year’s Day, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile earlier this month. The other 20 horses are all pegged at 30-1 or 50-1.

Pool 1 will close Saturday at post time for the Remsen or KJC, whichever comes first. Rogers said the traditional Sunday-evening closings for futures pools have been scrapped and that Saturday closings linked to post times for prep races will now be used.

This is the first time Churchill has had a futures pool earlier than February. The standard offering has been three pools, very similar to the schedule that will ensue early next year, with Pool 2 set for Feb. 6-8; Pool 3, Feb. 27-March 1; and Pool 4, March 27-29. All three of those will run from 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.

Lineups are chosen by John Asher of Churchill, Brad Free of Daily Racing Form, Ed DeRosa of Brisnet, and freelance racing writer Gary West.

As with any parimutuel wager, odds are not locked in until the pool closes.

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.

This is the 16th year for the future wager, which was first offered in 1999. 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.

Rogers said Churchill continues to explore possibilities to expand the futures lineups beyond 24 interests and to expand the wagering types (such as trifectas), but computer hardware limitations have hindered those efforts.

Rogers said it was difficult to predict what handle might be on this first November pool. Combined handle on Pool 1 for the 2013 Derby last February was an all-time single pool record of $621,493, just shy of the record of $631,304 set with the first pool in 2012.