Itsmyluckyday is far better odds in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager than the horse he beat by two lengths in the Holy Bull Stakes, Shanghai Bobby. (Photo Courtesy of Bob Coglianese/Gulfstream Park)
For someone mired in the Northeast, staring at a couple of feet of snow falling to earth, visions of a warm, sunny May afternoon are understandable.
They are also fairly appropriate because this weekend marks the first of three Kentucky Derby Future Wager periods.
Wagering opened Friday and, in news about as shocking as the revelation that a lot of people watched the Super Bowl, the mutual field is the early favorite at 6-5 as of 7 p.m. Friday – and don’t expect much of a change in that meager price when wagering closes on Sunday at 6 p.m.
|1||Capo Bastone||Todd Pletcher||30-1||99-1|
|2||Code West||Bob Baffert||50-1||99-1|
|4||Den's Legacy||Bob Baffert||30-1||99-1|
|5||Dynamic Sky||Mark Casse||30-1||99-1|
|6||Falling Sky||John Terranova, II||30-1||99-1|
|8||Frac Daddy||Kenneth McPeek||50-1||99-1|
|10||He's Had Enough||Doug O'Neill||50-1||90-1|
|11||Itsmyluckyday||Edward Plesa, Jr.||15-1||21-1|
|13||Normandy Invasion||Chad Brown||20-1||32-1|
|15||Oxbow||D. Wayne Lukas||20-1||57-1|
|17||Shanghai Bobby||Todd Pletcher||12-1||8-1|
|18||Super Ninety Nine||Bob Baffert||20-1||99-1|
|23||Will Take Charge||D. Wayne Lukas||30-1||99-1|
|24||All Other 3YOs||N/A||9-5||6-5|
The sheer numbers involved in the wager always make the “field” option - all other 3-year-olds not offered as an individual betting interests - intriguing and the best bet on the first of three advance wagering periods. On one hand, there are 23 separate wagering entries. Meanwhile, the field wager gives you the other 346 Triple Crown nominees plus any Johnny Come Latelies.
The future wager’s history also works in favor of backing the field. In the bet’s 14-year history, the field has been the favorite every time and produced a winner six times, the most recent being Animal Kingdom in 2011. He paid $6.20 as part of the Pool 1 field and a much more generous $43.80 in the Derby when he was not coupled with 350-plus runners.
Another factor working in favor of the field is the muddled wagering on the 23 separate entries. As of 7 p.m. Friday, there were four horses listed at 7-1 or 8-1 – all of them trained by Todd Pletcher, who has seven of the 23 separate entries – and another at 10-1.
Given that small spread between the top five contenders and the probability that two of them (2-year-old champ Shanghai Bobby and Revolutionary) might have only one more prep race, it seems unlikely that a heavy favorite will emerge. Another year with a 5-1 or 6-1 favorite seems in the offing, so taking 7-1 or 8-1 or 10-1 three months in advance of the race seems way too risky on that quintet of Revolutionary, Verrazano (both 7-1), Shanghai Bobby and Violence (both 8-1) and Goldencents (9-1). The risk/reward ratio argues too loudly against it.
REVOLUTIONARY: STRONG DERBY CONTENDER, POOR VALUE
Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Conversely, with 13 entries at 90-1 or higher, there’s no shortage of value, either.
Looking over the possibilities, there are several that standout, such as:
- Itsmyluckyday looked awesome in winning the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and Gulfstream Park Derby last month. His final Derby prep will come in the Florida Derby (G1), also at Gulfstream. If he wins that race, he might be a one-trick pony who needs his preferred racetrack to be a giant killer. Yet if he does win the Florida Derby, he’ll probably be single-digit odds on the first Saturday in May and at 22-1 now, that’s pretty good value. Also, why take 8-1 on Shanghai Bobby when you can get 22-1 on the horse that beat him by two lengths?
- Normandy Invasion has yet to race at three and is not expected to make his 2013 debut until the Risen Star Stakes (G2) on Feb. 23. But when last seen at two, Normandy Invasion turned in an impressive stakes debut, losing by a nose in the Remsen after a wide trip. While it’s a guessing game as to how he’ll handle the transition from two to three, his odds of 38-1 make the risk worthwhile – especially if he runs big in the Risen Star.
- Super Ninety Nine and Code West gave trainer Bob Baffert a 1-2 finish in a lightning-quick allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan. 31. That race indicates both have potential, plus Super Ninety Nine was second in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) at two. Getting 99-1 on each is pretty appealing, especially with Baffert figuring in the equation.
- What are the odds that the same owner, trainer and jockey can win the Derby in back-to-back years? According to the future wager, it’s 90-1. That’s the huge price on the Paul Reddam-owned, Doug O’Neill-trained and Mario Gutierrez-ridden He’s Had Enough. Admittedly, he hasn’t done much in his last two races, but the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up could be another Giacomo, who had some back class and then picked the Kentucky Derby to run the race of his life at 50-1 odds.
- Speaking of Baffert, he has four among the separate entries, including Flashback who won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) last weekend by 6 ¼ lengths. He only beat three opponents (including He’s Had Enough), but if he can take the San Felipe on March 9 in his next start, then his current 23-1 odds will be quite a bargain.
- Overanalyze does not really have the look of a horse who wants a mile and a quarter. Still, he won the Remsen (albeit by a nose) and as we await his 2013 debut in the March 2 Gotham, this Mike Repole/Pletcher runner isn’t a bad option at 69-1.
- It’s hard to believe that 14 years have passed since D. Wayne Lukas last won the Derby. Perhaps that victory by Charismatic will truly prove to be his final Derby triumph, yet he now has an interesting Triple Crown prospect in the speedy Oxbow, who won the Lecomte Stakes (G3) by 11 ½ lengths in gate-to-wire fashion. It’s a huge jump from Fair Grounds in mid-January to Churchill Downs in early May, but at 57-1, it might be worth investing a buck or two just for old time’s sake.
It’s hard to believe that 14 years have passed since D. Wayne Lukas last won the Derby. Perhaps that victory by Charismatic will truly prove to be his final Derby triumph, yet he now has an interesting Triple Crown prospect in the speedy Oxbow, who won the Lecomte Stakes (G3) by 11 ½ lengths in gate-to-wire fashion. It’s a huge jump from Fair Grounds in mid-January to Churchill Downs in early May, but at 57-1, it might be worth investing a buck or two just for old time’s sake.
OXBOW WORTH A SHOT AT A BIG PRICE FOR HALL OF FAMER LUKAS
Photo courtesy of Lou Hodges/Fair Grounds
And what are your thoughts? Who are you backing in the Future Wager?