03/11/2005 1:00AM

Some value left in future bet


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When a horse is scratched on the day of a race, the money bet on that horse is removed from the pool and refunded. But futures wagers are different. Once a bet is made, it is locked in. So those who bet on Declan's Moon on Thursday, opening day of Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, will not receive refunds. Since the money already bet on Declan's Moon is still in the pool, the odds on the other contenders haven't yet tumbled, although they will come down before the pool closes at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

Bettors will be shopping for alternatives to Declan's Moon, so let's take a look at some of the contenders. The three most popular individual betting interests as of Friday morning were Afleet Alex, Lost in the Fog, and Rockport Harbor.

Afleet Alex has raced 7 times, with 5 wins, and 2 close second-place finishes. The losses came in the Champagne and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which happen to be his only two starts going as far as 1 1/16 miles. That concern aside, anyone who saw him rally from fifth in a field of six to win the six-furlong Mountain Valley with a 106 Beyer Speed Figure had to be impressed, especially since he showed only two works going into that race. The concern is that his odds, which were 5-1 before the withdrawal of Declan's Moon, will be lower than I am comfortable accepting at this stage.

Those who bet Lost in the Fog in Pool 1 have locked in a potential $45.80 payoff. Since that pool closed, Lost in the Fog won the Grade 2 Swale at seven furlongs by 4 3/4 lengths. Bettors who made their investment prior to that victory weren't taking much of a risk, as Lost in the Fog was expected to win the Swale as the 1-2 favorite.

Those who lacked the courage to take that small chance were looking at a mere 6-1 odds in Pool 2 before the defection of Declan's Moon. Lost in the Fog's odds will be even lower after the impact of Declan's Moon's scratch is factored into the pool. Although his connections have stated an intention to nominate him to the Kentucky Derby, there is still a significant risk they will choose not to run him in that race. And it remains to be seen if he will be as effective at 1 1/4 miles as he was going seven furlongs. Clearly, he will be a serious underlay.

Rockport Harbor is undefeated through four starts in 2004. His game triumph by a neck over Galloping Grocer in the Remsen on Nov. 24 netted him an impressive 102 Beyer. If he matches or surpasses it when he returns in the Rebel, he will be a serious contender. Those who played him in Pool 1 have locked in a potential $28.60 payoff, and should be happy with their investment. But if you didn't get down on him then, the value ship has left the harbor even though he has yet to race this year. His odds were significantly lower, at 7-1, prior to the removal of Declan's Moon, and he won't provide betting value as they drift downward.

Sun King was 13-1 prior to the Declan's Moon defection, which was a reasonable price. He was only a neck behind Afleet Alex in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and looked very good cruising by 5 3/4 lengths with a 104 Beyer when he won a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream in his return from a four-month layoff. The catch is that I was willing to try to beat Declan's Moon, so I would rather have had Sun King at 13-1 with that runner still in the field than the 8-1 or so we may end up with after the scratch.

Sweet Catomine was attractive at 25-1 prior to the scratch of Declan's Moon. I recommended her in Pool 1, and players who took her then will get a return $45.60 if she wins the Derby. I would play her at 15-1 or higher in Pool 2.

The two live longshots I like in Pool 2 are Golden Shine and Giacomo. Golden Shine graduated at Hollywood Park in July, then looked very good trouncing allowance company by 7 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/16-mile race at Santa Anita in his comeback. He earned a 96 Beyer in that race, and appears to have plenty of upside. He is 50-1 as this is written. I expect that price to come down a bit, but I still plan to bet him.

I liked Giacomo in Pool 1, but his odds closed at slightly below the 30-1 I wanted. He is currently overlooked at 50-1, so I will be happy to bet him at something between 50-1 and 30-1.