03/01/2013 1:03PM

Steve Klein: Box Kentucky Derby Future Wager value horses in the exacta

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Tom Keyser
To Steve Klein, Delhomme offers value in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager at 40-1 or more.

Is it possible to pick a $46.20 winner and feel absolutely miserable about it? It is. That happened to me last year in Pool 2 of Churchill’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

I recommended win bets on two longshots, I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, in that order. Now here is where the fun begins, and by fun I mean excruciating pain. I also advised bets on two exacta combinations. Unfortunately, neither of them was I’ll Have Another over Bodemeister, which paid $1,661 for $2. I believed that Bodemeister was more likely to finish off the board than he was to be second if he tired down the stretch, so I didn’t box them. It was an expensive mistake.

It only took about 51 weeks for me to get over that disappointment, so I’m ready to again tackle Kentucky Derby Pool 2, which ends at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, followed by the close of the Oaks futures pool a half-hour later.

[FREE DOWNLOAD: Kentucky Derby and Oaks future wager past performances]

The closing odds on my horses in Pool 1 were not what I hoped for. They were Normandy Invasion at 15-1, lower than his 20-1 morning line, Itsmyluckyday at 13-1, down from 15-1, and Revolutionary at 13-1, well below his anticipated 20-1. I advised passing on Verrazano at 11-1 or lower, so there was no bet on him.

Consider those horses if their odds are higher this time. I’ll be searching for value in other runners in this pool.

I was a fan of Shakin It Up prior to his win in the seven-furlong San Vicente, at a time when it was possible to get triple-digit odds in Las Vegas. Horses like this are a great example of why Churchill Downs should make the change next year to offering odds on every individual horse nominated to the Triple Crown. He wasn’t one of the 23 individual betting options offered in Pool 1, and the idea of settling for something close to his 15-1 morning line now, after a victory I foresaw at 2-1 in the San Vicente, is particularly irritating to me.

Shakin It Up wasn’t ready for a top try in the San Vicente while returning from a layoff and after missing a few days of training, so I believe his courage was on display, rather than his speed. I know he’s capable of running a faster race in his next start, and he’ll be a Kentucky Derby contender if he does.

Super Ninety Nine looked very good winning the Southwest at Oaklawn Park by 11 1/4 lengths with speed to spare, but some handicappers are reluctant to endorse him since that race was run on a sloppy track. I understand their reasoning, but I don’t agree with it. He wasn’t a 50-1 longshot who suddenly ran an unexpected big race. He was the even-money favorite, and the 101 Beyer he earned in the Southwest is only one point higher than the 100 he earned on a fast track going a mile at Santa Anita in his previous start. The only reason for hesitation is his 10-1 morning line.

Delhomme has a 50-1 morning line, and he closed at 55-1 in Pool 1. It bothers me that he lost ground down the stretch going a mile at Belmont in his maiden win, and then gave up a half-length lead with a furlong to go and finished third, beaten by three-quarters of a length by Overanalyze and Normandy Invasion, in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen. The thing that interests me is that he hasn’t raced since that start on Nov. 24, so there is a possibility that he has improved enough to be a serious threat at 1 1/4 miles.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Here is my theory about betting on exactas in these futures pools. The field option has enjoyed good success over the years because it isn’t unusual for a late-blooming horse who isn’t among the 23 individual betting interests to win the Kentucky Derby. When I choose a horse from the group of 23 individual runners it’s because I like his chances, and hopefully his overlaid odds, versus those of the other individual runners. I don’t want to put myself in the position of having to beat every possible potential late bloomer, in addition to all of the other individual runners. So my automatic exacta play is to bet the individual runners I like, if their odds are acceptable, for second in the exacta with the field on top. That way all my horse has to do is beat the other 22 individual horses. If one of my selections finishes second beneath a good late-developing rival who is part of the field, I win my exacta bet.

I’ll bet on Super Ninety Nine to win at 12-1 and up, Shakin It Up at 20-1 and higher, and Delhomme at 40-1 or better. I will also bet the field on top in the exacta over any of these horses who meet my odds requirements.

And if more than one of these horses meets my odds requirements, you might want to box them in the exacta for a minimum-size bet. It could save you a lot of grief. Trust me, I know.

One money management note, your exacta bets should be much smaller than your win bets.