03/06/2007 1:00AM

Newcomers populate Derby Futures lists


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager opens Thursday with 10 horses that were not in Pool 1 last month. The changes among the 23 individual wagering interests illustrate the sizable changes that already have occurred in the wide-open outlook for the 133rd Derby.

Wagering lineups for Pool 2 for both the May 5 Derby and its sister race, the 133rd Kentucky Oaks on May 4, were released Tuesday by Churchill Downs. The morning-line favorite for the Derby is once again the mutuel field, the 24th and final interest that encompasses "all others" besides the 23 separately listed. The field, which closed as the 5-2 choice when Pool 1 closed Feb. 11 following the customary four-day wagering window, was established by Churchill oddsmaker Mike Battaglia as a lukewarm 4-1 choice for Pool 2.

Pool 2 for both the Derby and Oaks opens Thursday at noon Eastern at tracks and wagering outlets throughout North America. The Derby futures close at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, and the Oaks futures close 30 minutes later. The win-only pari-mutuel wager carries a $2 minimum and a 16 percent takeout.

New interests for Derby Pool 2 are Birdbirdistheword, Cobalt Blue, Curlin, Flying First Class, Imawildandcrazyguy, King of the Roxy, Officer Rocket, Sam P., Summer Doldrums, and Teuflesberg. They replace the following horses who had been separately listed in Pool 1: Belgravia, Buffalo Man, Day Pass, Dreaming of Anna, Drums of Thunder, E Z Warrior, Exhale, Forefathers, Lawrence the Roman, and Out of Gwedda.

None of the displaced horses were among the favorites in Pool 1. Exhale, at 27-1, had the lowest odds of any of those 10, meaning that all of the lower-priced runners from Pool 1 are back again for Pool 2. Among those major contenders are Great Hunter, Ravel, and Street Sense, all of whom are listed at 8-1 on the Pool 2 morning line. Four more horses are grouped next at 12-1: Any Given Saturday, Circular Quay, Scat Daddy, and Stormello.

Circular Quay figures as a solid favorite for the Louisiana Derby, the lone major prep scheduled for this weekend.

Handle on Pool 1 of the Derby futures was $520,688, slightly below the $552,627 handled on Pool 1 last year, and fourth-highest since Churchill first began offering futures in 1999. Historically, Pool 2 handle tends to be lightest of the three pools annually conducted leading up to the Derby. The Pool 2 record handle of $511,655 was set in 2005; the Pool 2 handle last year was $464,236.

Pool 3 in the 2007 Derby and Oaks futures is set for April 12-15.

As for the Oaks, there are nine new interests in Pool 2: Autobahn Girl, Christmas Kid, Dream Rush, Folk, High Again, High Heels, Perfect Forest, Total, and Tough Tiz's Sis. They replace the following from Pool 1: Bel Air Beauty, Catch the Thrill, Enchanting Star, Jump On In, Meditations, Quick Little Miss, Romance Is Diane, Successful Outlook, and Untouched Talent.

The morning-line favorite for Pool 2 is Rags to Riches at 4-1. The field closed as the 3-1 favorite in Pool 1, with Rags to Riches a close second choice at 7-2.