02/10/2012 2:50PM

Klein: Taking a shot with two value plays in Pool 1 of Kentucky Derby Future Wager

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Benoit & Associates
Listed at 20-1 on the morning line, Sham winner Out of Bounds is an appealing longshot for Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

The future is now for handicappers bold enough to make an early bet on the Kentucky Derby. Pool 1 of the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Futures wager opened at noon Eastern on Friday and will close at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

As always, 23 horses have been chosen to be individual betting interests, and the 24th option is the field, which is a bet on all of the other 3-year-olds. For those who believe that selecting the winner of the May 5 Kentucky Derby this far in advance isn’t enough of a challenge, exacta wagering is also available.

Ever So Lucky is an individual betting interest in Pool 1 who is scheduled to run in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at Gulfstream on Saturday, so remember to factor the results of that race into your wagering strategy.

Change is a certainty from this start point, 12 weeks prior to the running of the Kentucky Derby. Some of the contenders from Pool 1 will disappoint in one or more prep races, and will be taken off the Derby trail by their connections. Some horses whose connections wish to run them in the Kentucky Derby will fail to earn enough graded stakes money to guarantee them a place in the starting gate. One or more other horses might sustain an injury that will prevent them from running in the race. And over the next few weeks a number of horses whose names are not listed among the 23 individual betting options in Pool 1 will run improved races that point them out as being serious contenders.

For all of those reasons, the field is a smart bet. But the field bet falls short in one significant way for the average bettor. How excited would you have been about the winning field bet in Pool 1 last year? The $6.20 win payoff on Animal Kingdom was only a significant win if you made a large bet.

Handicappers who plan on making small bets will probably want to take their chances on longshots in this pool. But before we examine the possible upsetters, let’s take a quick look at the favorites.

Algorithms has the lowest morning-line odds of the individual horses at 8-1. He’s unbeaten in three races, and won the one-mile Holy Bull by five lengths on a sloppy track at Gulfstream in his last start. He will have to prove that he can beat good company around two turns at longer distances on a fast track.

Union Rags, 10-1, was unbeaten prior to a narrow loss to Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He raced wide, and was probably best in that race. I prefer him among the lower-odds contenders, but his price won’t be a bargain.

Hansen, 12-1, lost ground late and barely prevailed over Union Rags in the Juvenile. That late ground loss turned into a trend when he wilted down the stretch while finishing five lengths behind Algorithms in the Holy Bull. He will have to show more to convince me that he can beat good horses going 1 1/4 miles.

I’m interested in a couple of lightly raced horses.

Out of Bounds hasn’t won by impressive margins, but I still like his victory in the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita. He was fourth of five early in that one-mile race. He moved into third on the backstretch, then was stuck in traffic turning for home. He found running room at the top of the stretch, but didn’t get rolling until midstretch when he caught and kicked strongly away from 1-2 favorite Secret Circle to win more impressively than his half-length victory margin suggests. Based on that performance I suspect that he will be effective at longer distances. He earned $60,000 in graded stakes money in that race, which is a good start. His 20-1 morning line price offers value.

Fed Biz defeated maiden specials by 1 3/4 lengths in his second start, then tackled optional $80,000 claimers at the same one-mile distance at Santa Anita on Thursday. He tracked the 7-5 second betting choice, then pulled away from him to score by 5 3/4 lengths without being asked for his best. He should be ready to do battle with graded stakes company at longer distances. You probably won’t get his 20-1 morning line odds, a price that was made prior to that win, but I’m willing to give up a few odds points based on that convincing effort.

I will bet on No. 19 Out of Bounds and No. 10 Fed Biz, and play No. 24, the field, on top in the exacta over both of those horses.