04/10/2005 11:00PM

A romp in Wood creates a favorite


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The spectacular victory by Bellamy Road in the , which closed Sunday after four days of wagering.

Bellamy Road closed as the 3-1 favorite in Pool 3, which until Saturday had had a mixed bag of favorites hovering in the 8-1 range. But after Bellamy Road won the Wood in stakes-record time, the money came pouring in on the Nick Zito-trained colt, and if he captures the 131st Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, his Pool 3 backers will collect an $8.80 payoff for every $2 wagered.

Zito-trained colts occupied three of the top four spots when Pool 3 closed Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern. The others are Sun King, the second choice at 10-1, and High Fly, the 13-1 fourth choice. The 12-1 third choice is Consolidator, trained by D. Wayne Lukas.

Virtually all handle records were broken for the Derby Future Wager this year, including the cumulative handle of $1,665,990; the single-pool handle of $620,362, from Pool 1 in February; and highest handle for a Pool 3, $533,973. The bet was first offered in 1999.

"We are absolutely thrilled that fans have accepted the Future Wager as part of the Derby culture, and were more excited about it than ever before in this, its seventh year," said Churchill vice president John Asher.

The $8.80 payoff on Bellamy Road would not be the lowest for an individually listed wagering interest in Future Wager history. Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Derby winner, paid $8 in Pool 3 that year. On several other occasions, the mutuel field, or the 24th and "all others" option, also has returned a lower win mutuel.

Meanwhile, a romp by Sis City in the Ashland Stakes on Saturday helped to make her the solid favorite in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. Sis City will return just $7 for a $2 wager if she wins the 131st Oaks on May 6. Sis City was 18-1 Friday night, but her sensational victory, along with the announcement that Sweet Catomine will not run in the Kentucky Derby or Oaks, led horseplayers to pour it in on Sis City. Sweet Catomine still closed as the Pool 3 second choice at 6-1, followed by Runway Model (8-1), Sharp Lisa (11-1), and the mutuel field (11-1).

Handle on Oaks Pool 3 was $49,445, bringing the cumulative total to $172,479. This was the second year that three pools of the Oaks futures were offered. In those two years, wagering on the bet has remained relatively consistent.