04/02/2009 12:00AM

Quality Road opens as Pool 3 favorite at 6-1


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The third and final pool in the 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager opens its customary four-day run Thursday at noon Eastern with nine new names from the previous pool and with Quality Road as a lukewarm morning-line favorite.

Quality Road, an impressive winner of the Florida Derby last Saturday, is pegged as a 6-1 choice by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia. He is followed by a trio of horses at 8-1: Dunkirk, Friesan Fire, and I Want Revenge.

Three key Derby preps will be run Saturday and figure to have a substantial impact on the final odds before Pool 3 closes Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern. Those races are the Wood Memorial, Illinois Derby, and Santa Anita Derby.

The new names in Pool 3 are Charitable Man, Flying Private, Hold Me Back, Mafaaz, Musket Man, Mr. Hot Stuff, Regal Ransom, Terrain, and Win Willy. They replace Bear's Rocket, Beethoven, Big Drama, Flying Pegasus, General Quarters, Hello Broadway, Patena, Silver City, and West Side Bernie.

The field, the 24th or "all others" interest, is listed at 10-1 on the morning line. In the 10 previous years that Churchill has offered parimutuel futures, a Pool 3 field horse has wound up winning the Derby twice: Charismatic in 1999 and War Emblem in 2002. The field closed as the 9-5 favorite in Pool 1, which ran Feb. 12-15, and as the 9-2 favorite for Pool 2, which ran March 12-15.

Pool 3 will mark the second time that exacta wagering also will be offered. Churchill had only permitted win wagering before expanding to exactas ($2 minimum, $1 using boxes or part-wheels) during Pool 2.

Pool 2 handle on the exacta was a modest $104,017 and contributed to a combined handle of $380,420, which was fifth-highest for a Pool 2 in futures history.

Pool 3 comes just three weeks after Pool 2 was offered by Churchill. Under normal circumstances, Pool 3 would have been conducted next week, but the closing of numerous tracks and wagering outlets because of the April 12 Easter holiday led Churchill to move it up by a week.

The record for a Pool 3 handle is $533,973 set in 2005. The Pool 3 handle last year was only $291,835.

Futures wagering on the Kentucky Oaks was offered just once this year, coinciding with Derby Pool 2.