02/21/2003 1:00AM

Why we need Derby Future Pool 1A


LEXINGTON - I am a big fan of the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Futures pools, but I wish there had been a little less past and a little more future in this year's Pool 1 wagering.

I participated in a Derby Futures seminar at the Churchill Trackside satellite wagering facility on Feb. 15, and told the attendees that I liked the chances of Badge of Silver as he attempted to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles for the first time following a pair of brilliant sprint triumphs. I noted that there was little difference between the records of sire Silver Deputy's progeny in routes and sprints. They had won 17 percent of their sprint starts and 16 percent of their route races. After factoring in his good come-home times in those sprints, I believed that Badge of Silver had a legitimate chance to be a serious Derby contender. At the time I spoke on Saturday, he was 50-1. But there was no point in betting Badge of Silver until after the running of the Risen Star stakes at Fair Grounds the next day. By that time, bettors would know whether or not he liked the added distance and could react accordingly before the betting pool closed later that afternoon.

Shortly before post time in the Risen Star, Badge of Silver was still a nice price at 35-1, but that did not last long following his ultra-impressive 10 length triumph. He was quickly hammered down to 11-1, and became the favorite among the individual entrants in the pool, second only to the field. There is always satisfaction in being right about something, but when it comes to betting there is more than three times as much satisfaction in getting 35-1 than there is in settling for 11-1. I believe that any bettor who liked Badge of Silver's chances before his easy victory deserves to have received the full 35-1 odds.

With that in mind, I would like to suggest a change in the wagering format of the Derby Futures pools. I would like to see Pool 1A open on Thursday, and then close about an hour before the first Derby prep is run on the weekend it is offered. Anyone who has a strong opinion about a horse would be able to maximize his profits by betting before the horse's merits become obvious to the world. For those who prefer as much late-breaking information as possible before making a bet, Pool 1B would open shortly after the last Derby prep of the weekend, and would remain open until one hour before the first Derby prep scheduled to be run the following weekend. The same formula could also be applied to Pools 2 and 3.

Hot rider Lumpkins now overbet

Here is the update on jockey Jason Lumpkins: He enjoyed a red-hot start with a 133-47-15-17 record at Turfway. Lumpkins was winning at a 35 percent rate and was showing a healthy flat-bet profit on all of his mounts at the time. More impressive was the fact that he showed an abnormally high ratio of 1.47 wins for every second- and third-place finish combined.

Lumpkins has ridden 67 mounts since then. His win percentage on that group has dropped to a shade less than 30 percent with 20 wins. At an average win payoff of $6, bets on those horses have shown a flat-bet loss with a return of $1.79 for every $2 wagered. Lumpkins has also finished second and third more often than he had been - with a .95 ratio (down from 1.47) of wins vs. seconds and thirds from those 67 races. Although Lumpkins is still the best jockey at Turfway by far, he has cooled off a little as expected, and his horses are being overbet. I don't expect those trends to improve as the meet progresses, so I will continue to play against him.