One of the most exciting pit stops on the Road to the Triple Crown involves laying down some cash on a futures pick for the 2017 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. For the next several weeks, America’s Best Racing will bring you up to date with the changing odds and new entries at two of the main Kentucky Derby future wager bookmakers in Las Vegas – the books at Wynn Las Vegas and William Hill.
We’ll revisit these odds when new sheets are released and until the group of viable contenders dwindles after major prep races are completed. As for now, dreams remain fresh and achievable for a multitude of owners and gamblers alike to get their horse to the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 6.
Feb. 9 Odds Leaders:
1. Classic Empire (8-1)
1. Mastery (8-1)
3. Irish War Cry (10-1)
3. McCraken (10-1)
5. Gormley (18-1)
5. Mo Town (18-1)
1. Classic Empire (6-1)
2. Mastery (10-1)
2. McCraken (10-1)
4. Irish War Cry (15-1)
4. Mo Town (15-1)
Feb. 9 Notable Changes:
Always Dreaming: Dropped from 200-1 to 100-1 in both Wynn and William Hill after posting a dominating 11 ½-length win in a one-mile and 40-yard maiden at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 25. The Todd Pletcher-trained Bodemeister colt placed in both of his starts as a 2-year-old, almost winning at Saratoga last summer, and he’s a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Hot Dixie Chick.
Arklow: This Donegal Racing-owned Arch colt’s odds dropped from 225-1 to 125-1 at Wynn after he ran on strongly to get fourth in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 21. He’s yet to win in four starts, though, and is not listed by William Hill.
Battalion Runner: His odds were 85-1 at Wynn and 80-1 at William Hill on their previous sheets, and are now at 30-1 in both. He’s posted two eye-catching wins at Gulfstream Park for St. Elias Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher, the last coming by 1 ¼ lengths in a 1 1/16-mile allowance on Feb. 3. He’s by the late elite sire Unbridled’s Song, the sire of champion Arrogate, and his dam (mother) is a full-sister (same mother and father) to 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar.
Beasley: His odds dropped from 250-1 to 100-1 after he finished second to Battalion Runner on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream, 7 ¾ lengths clear of the third-place horse. He won his career debut last December at Aqueduct in a sprint, and then finished second in his first start at three at Gulfstream going seven furlongs before facing Battalion Runner. His sire is 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford. Not listed by William Hill.
Dabster: This Curlin colt’s odds moved from 125-1 to 65-1 at Wynn after winning a hard-fought one-mile maiden at Santa Anita on Jan. 16. They remain at 100-1 at William Hill. He finished first, but was disqualified to fourth, in his career debut at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, when he edged So Conflated by a head but drifted out late in doing so. Trained by Bob Baffert, as of Feb. 9 he has not posted any public workouts since his win in mid-January.
El Areeb: The odds have dropped from 100-1 to 40-1 at Wynn and from 35-1 to 18-1 at William Hill after this Exchange Rate colt continued his string of dominance in New York by taking the Feb. 4 Withers Stakes by 4 ¼ lengths – his fourth win in a row.
Favorable Outcome: Odds dipped from 100-1 to 40-1 at William Hill after the Chad Brown trainee rallied to win the seven-furlong Swale Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 4 by three-quarters of a length. Notably, he is not listed on Wynn’s sheet. Brown said he intends to keep Favorable Outcome in sprint races.
Guest Suite: Odds have lowered from 65-1 to 35-1 at Wynn and from 100-1 to 40-1 at William Hill after this Quality Road gelding looked very comfortable with added distance as he won the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds by 1 ¼ lengths. His superb female family includes the 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.
Horse Fly: Odds dipped from 200-1 to 125-1 at Wynn after he broke through to get his first career win by a nose in his sixth start going a mile and a sixteenth at Oaklawn on Feb. 4. He finished a competitive second in his 3-year-old debut going the same distance at Oaklawn on Jan. 16, and likewise in his final start at two back in November. This Mineshaft colt is owned by Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm and trained by “the Coach,” Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Not listed at William Hill.
Irish War Cry: He’s shot to the top of several pundits’ Kentucky Derby rankings, but Vegas hasn’t gone that far yet. His impressive 3 ¾-length win in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 4 moved his odds down from 25-1 to 10-1 at Wynn and from 30-1 to 15-1 at William Hill.
Lookin at Lee: His odds at William Hill have dropped from 75-1 to 40-1 as future bettors there have finally given him some due respect for good finishes in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (second) and the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (fourth) last fall. They inched slightly higher, from 30-1 to 35-1, on Wynn’s new sheet. He breezed five furlongs in 1:01 at Fair Grounds on Feb. 3, which ranked third of 53 at the distance, in advance of his planned 3-year-old debut in the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25.
Oxford Lane: Odds dropped from 300-1 to 175-1 at Wynn after this Into Mischief colt finished second in a one-mile and 70-yard Fair Grounds maiden on a muddy track. Owned by John and Martha Mulholland and trained by Ken McPeek, he finished a well-beaten third in his only start as a juvenile at Churchill Downs last June. He’s entered in a one-mile maiden at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 12. Not listed at William Hill.
Painter’s Rags: Odds are down from 250-1 to 150-1 at Wynn after he checked in third behind Battalion Runner and Beasley at Gulfstream. Trained by Irish War Cry’s conditioner, Graham Motion, he won his career debut going a mile at Laurel Park on Dec. 26. He’s a son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, and is owned and was co-bred by that horse’s owner-breeder, Phyllis Wyeth. Not listed at William Hill.
Reach the World: This Tapit colt from the family of champion racemare Escena was added to Wynn’s book in January at 250-1 odds despite not having raced. He then finished a good third in his career debut at Santa Anita on Jan. 16 behind the aforementioned Dabster and moved forward with a front-running, 3 ¼-length win in a 1 1/16-mile maiden at the same track on Feb. 4. His odds at Wynn have dropped to 65-1, and he’s a new entry in William Hill’s book (see below).
Royal Mo: After winning the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita by an easy 3 ½ lengths on Feb. 4, his odds dropped from 85-1 to 50-1 at Wynn and from 60-1 to 25-1 at William Hill. Shares the same connections (owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs) as fellow Derby contender Gormley, and shares the same sire, Uncle Mo, as fellow current contender Mo Town and last year’s Derby winner Nyquist.
So Conflated: This son of Eskendereya has started to build support from West Coast watchers after winning the California Derby by three-quarters of a length with a stout late run. His odds have dropped from 100-1 to 60-1 at Wynn and from 125-1 to 75-1 at William Hill. Finished second to Dabster in the race prior at Santa Anita, but was elevated to first (see above). He shares the same connections as Derby winners Nyquist and I’ll Have Another (owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill), and his dam is a full-sister to millionaire and multiple stakes winner Leah’s Secret.
Takeoff: Odds plummeted from 200-1 to 85-1 at Wynn after he finished third in the Lecomte Stakes behind Guest Suite. They moved higher at William Hill, from 125-1 to 150-1. This Arch colt won his prior race to the Lecomte at the same track and distance (1 mile and 70 yards), and is from the successful stable of owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse.
Talk Logistics: Despite tiring late to finish fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 4, his odds nonetheless moved from 225-1 to 150-1 at Wynn and from 150-1 to 100-1 at William Hill. Call it the “keeping good company” effect. This Florida-bred son of High Cotton placed in two consecutive stakes prior to the Holy Bull, but has not won since his career debut at Parx Racing last July.
The Money Monster: This Majestic Warrior colt returned to Wynn’s book after a several-week absence at odds of 125-1. Reason: he came back from a two-month layoff and overcame a rough start to win the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by a half-length on Jan. 21. He’s 2-for-2 in his career, winning his debut at Gulfstream Park West in November.
Theory: Has not raced since finishing tenth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but his odds have dropped from 100-1 to 35-1 at William Hill while remaining steady at 40-1 at Wynn. Last year’s Futurity Stakes winner is training steadily for Todd Pletcher at Palm Beach Downs in Florida, posting a four-furlong breeze in :49.40 on Feb. 4.
Three Rules: As with the abovementioned Favorable Outcome, his odds dipped at William Hill (from 75-1 to 40-1) after the Feb. 4 Swale Stakes, in which he finished second. Likewise, he’s not on Wynn’s sheet, and this Florida-bred son of Gone Astray, already a four-time stakes winner, may be best suited to one-turn races.
True Timber: Held on well to finish second despite being no match for El Areeb in the Feb. 4 Withers, and his odds have dropped accordingly, from 200-1 to 75-1 at Wynn and from 200-1 to 100-1 at William Hill. That runner-up effort came after he stumbled at the break and was rushed to the lead. By Mineshaft out of a Tiznow mare, he’s bred to run all day and may be a late bloomer for owner Brad Kelley’s Calumet Farm and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Uncontested: His odds have adjusted to better reflect his talent and accomplishments at William Hill, moving from 60-1 to 25-1. The Jan. 16 Smarty Jones Stakes winner remains steady at 40-1 on Wynn’s sheet. Posted a five-furlong workout at Oaklawn Park in 1:00.60 on Feb. 5, fastest of 55 at that distance, in preparation for the Feb. 20 Southwest Stakes.
Unique Bella: Her odds plummeted from 150-1 to 30-1 at Wynn after another sensational stakes score in the interim, this time in the Feb. 5 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita. She remains absent from William Hill’s list, however, as trainer Jerry Hollendorfer reaffirmed after her blowout win that his preference was to keep her pointed to the Kentucky Oaks rather than to the Derby.
Untrapped: This Kentucky-bred son of Trappe Shot drew active backing along with all of the other Lecomte top finishers on Wynn’s book as his odds shortened from 225-1 to 100-1 (they remain steady at 80-1 on William Hill’s sheet). He finished a good second to Guest Suite in that race, and as a 2-year-old was second to Uncontested in his career debut at Keeneland before easily winning a sprint at Churchill Downs in November. His extended family on his mother’s side includes top-class graded stakes winners Johannesburg, Fed Biz, Joking, and Tale of the Cat.
Feb. 9 New Choices:
Action Everyday (85-1 Wynn): Todd Pletcher-trained son from The Factor’s first crop of foals is 2-for-2 so far, with both wins coming at Tampa Bay Downs. He won a 1-mile and 40-yard allowance at Tampa by 1 ¼ lengths on Jan. 27. He is 100-1 at William Hill.
Anyportinastorm (300-1 Wynn): Was second in his only start at two, and won his 3-year-old debut in a 5 ½-furlong maiden at Golden Gate Fields by three lengths on Jan. 21.
Battle of Midway (75-1, Wynn and William Hill): This colt by late leading sire Smart Strike scored in his career debut at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 21 by an impressive 3 ¼ lengths going six furlongs. Owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, he is out of the Concerto mare Rigoletta, a Grade 1 winner.
Chief Know It All (250-1 Wynn): Won only one of five starts as a 2-year-old, but came back at three to win his first start by two lengths at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 27. A son of Flashy Bull, he is trained by Brad Cox.
Cistron (200-1 Wynn): Improved once he was switched to turf last year as a juvenile, he subsequently placed in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar. Won his 3-year-old debut in a game effort on turf at Santa Anita in a one-mile allowance on Feb. 5.
Cowboy Culture (250-1 Wynn): Interesting prospect as he’s 3-for-3 in his career and posted a game three-quarter-length win in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 4 at Fair Grounds in a one-mile stakes race. However, he’s yet to try dirt. By the promising young sire Quality Road.
Eastport (200-1 Wynn): Third to Lookin for Eight (see below) in his career debut at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who rarely has his horses primed to win their first race. He’s a half-brother to 2007 Peter Pan Stakes winner and Wood Memorial runner-up Sightseeing.
Elwood J (300-1 Wynn): Won one of four starts at two, and took his 3-year-old debut by a length in a six-furlong allowance at Santa Anita on Jan. 20. A California-bred gelding by Vronsky, he is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
Field Trip (250-1 Wynn): Won one of two starts as a juvenile, and was fourth to The Money Monster (see above) in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay on Jan. 28.
Glennrichment (225-1 Wynn): Owned by Zayat Stables, a son of Pioneerof the Nile … sound familiar? Unlike “the Pharoah,” he’s winless into the second month of his 3-year-old season, but he did finish second in a 1 1/16-mile Aqueduct maiden to Miggsy (see below) and was making up ground late.
Haul Anchor (250-1): A puzzlingly late addition to Wynn’s sheet given his accomplishments – although he has yet to compete against open company through seven starts. This New York-bred Bernardini colt won the Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 29 and then took the Gander Stakes on Jan. 28, his only start at three so far. Owned by Chester and Mary Broman and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, he’s a half-brother to two other New York stakes winners, and his extended family tree is the same as that of the abovementioned Untrapped. He’s listed at 100-1 odds by William Hill.
Hedge Fund (250-1 Wynn, 100-1 William Hill): Todd Pletcher trainee made his first start as a 3-year-old a winning one, taking a 1 1/16-mile maiden at Gulfstream Park by four lengths on Feb. 4 after nearly a two-month layoff. He ran fifth in his only start at two. By 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, he’s a half-brother to millionaire Stanford, who’s currently one of the top older horses in Pletcher’s barn. Champion Johannesburg is another member of this family.
Local Hero (125-1 William Hill): After two decent runner-up finishes as a 2-year-old, this son of 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun romped by 7 ¼ lengths at Fair Grounds in a one-mile and 70-yard maiden on Jan. 26, finishing under wraps. His mother is a Grade 3 winner, and elite sire Distorted Humor, father of 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide, is a member of the family. He’s 150-1 in Wynn’s book.
Lookin for Eight (175-1 Wynn, 125-1 William Hill): The rising reputation of Battalion Runner may be helping this one gain notice as well. He was second to that horse on New Year’s Eve in his career debut, and then posted a three-length win in a seven-furlong maiden at Gulfstream on Jan. 28. This Lookin At Lucky colt is trained by Michael Tomlinson.
Miggsy (200-1 Wynn): This Hard Spun colt placed twice in six-furlong maidens at Aqueduct as a juvenile, and then scored in his first route (1 1/16 miles) by a nose over the aforementioned Glennrichment on Feb. 5 on the same inner track. His dam is a stakes winner, and he’s from the family of 2005 Southwest and Rebel Stakes winner Greater Good as well as Grade 1-winning turf mare Pure Clan.
More Power to Him (250-1 Wynn): This California-bred Slew’s Tiznow colt won two of five starts last year, and finished second by three-quarters of a length to So Conflated in the California Derby.
Multiplier (125-1 Wynn): Finished third, beaten two lengths, in his career debut in the mud on Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds (Oxford Lane, discussed above, finished second). He broke slow in that race as the favorite but finished well. The Brendan Walsh trainee is slated to try again on Feb. 12 at Fair Grounds as an also-eligible entry for a turf maiden, with his connections hoping, one would assume, for more rain.
One Dreamy Dude (300-1 Wynn): Has yet to win in three career starts, but did finish second by a nose to Horse Fly (see above) at Oaklawn on Feb. 2. Trained by Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg.
Reach the World (100-1 William Hill): see above.
Resiliency (250-1 Wynn): This Steve Asmussen trainee won his career debut at Churchill Downs in November but was well beaten just three weeks later in an allowance won by Guest Suite. He came back for his first start at three to finish fourth in a one-mile allowance at Fair Grounds on Jan. 27, and was placed third when the winner was disqualified. By Malibu Moon, the sire of 2013 Derby winner Orb, he’s got a nice pedigree as his dam is a half-sister to two-time Canadian Horse of the Year Chief Bearhart, with 2014 Cigar Mile winner Private Zone among his family members. He’s 150-1 at William Hill.
Saraab (150-1 Wynn): This Tapit colt from Todd Pletcher’s barn has placed twice so far in his career to two horses also on this list. He finished second to Action Everyday last December at Tampa, before shipping north and finishing third behind Miggsy at Aqueduct on Feb. 5. Saraab’s dam is a Grade 3 winner who is a full-sister to two-time Whitney Handicap winner Commentator.
Spirit of Valor (150-1 Wynn): The first of three European choices on this list whose only chance to earn sufficient points will very likely be taking the United Arab Emirates Derby route. The son of War Front, owned by Stonestreet Stable, Michael Tabor, and Susan Magnier and trained by Aidan O’Brien, hasn’t raced yet at three. He won one of three starts in Ireland last year, and finished second in the seven-furlong Killavullen Stakes. Spirit of Valor is a half-brother to stakes winner Street Life, who finished fourth in the 2012 Belmont Stakes.
Souper Tapit (225-1): How many horses have even made the Derby without making a start before February of their 3-year-old seasons? Curlin comes immediately to mind, and I’m sure trainer Mark Casse would be happy if his charge could capture some of that champion’s magic. This Live Oak Plantation-owned colt has been training steadily at Fair Grounds, posting a five-furlong workout in 1:00.60 on Feb. 10, second-fastest of 44 at that distance. He’s the first foal to race out of Zo Impressive, who won the 2012 Mother Goose Stakes and placed in two other Grade 1 stakes that year.
Vandelay (225-1 Wynn): Still a maiden, this son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft finished second in a one-mile Oaklawn maiden on Jan. 29, his third career start. In addition to providing appeal to George Costanza and “Seinfeld” fans, he’s from the family of 2002 champion older male Left Bank, a three-time Grade 1 winner.
War Secretary (200-1 Wynn): Another Coolmore-connected colt by War Front, he has not raced since Oct. 26, when he took his second career start by 3 ¼ lengths going seven furlongs over the all-weather track at Dundalk Racecourse in Ireland. His dam is multiple graded stakes winner Upperline.
Zip Van Winkle (350-1 Wynn): Third to the abovementioned Horse Fly and One Dreamy Dude at Oaklawn on Feb. 2.
Zumurudee (175-1 Wynn): The third Euro on this list is a Kentucky-bred Stormy Atlantic colt who won his third career start by 10 lengths on the all-weather track at Wolverhampton in England on Nov. 23 and hasn’t raced since.
Upcoming Derby Prep:
Saturday’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs offers qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 sliding scale. Vegas Derby future wager odds for the field in post position order are as follows:
State of Honor (150-1 Wynn, not offered William Hill)
King and His Court (125-1 Wynn, not offered William Hill)
Fact Finding (100-1 Wynn, 55-1 William Hill)
Chance of Luck (225-1 Wynn, not offered William Hill)
Six Gun Salute (not offered)
Wild Shot (30-1 Wynn, 50-1 William Hill)
Tapwrit (100-1 Wynn, 125-1 William Hill)
McCraken (10-1 Wynn and William Hill)
No Dozing (30-1 Wynn, 40-1 William Hill)