Kentucky Derby Futures: Another Baffert Phenom Emerges

Coliseum won his debut at Santa Anita by 6 ¼ lengths on Nov. 17 and quickly moved up the rankings among 2019 Kentucky Derby contenders. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The prep season for the 145thKentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is picking up steam with key qualifying races for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct during late November, and the road to the May 4 Derby will, as it always does, take plenty of unexpected twists and turns as contenders rise and fall with each passing prep race.

Forecasting the 20-horse field – and even taking an early stand on a potential winner backed by a future wager – is an annual highlight of Derby season, and the bookmakers at William Hill are keeping tabs on the major contenders for Derby 145. Below is our latest look at William Hill’s future-book odds for the Kentucky Derby, highlighting some key horses that have recently raced.

Churchill Downs also wrapped up its first of four Kentucky Derby future wager pools on Nov. 25 as its fall meet concluded. The mutuel field led in the wagering from Pool 1 at 6-5 odds, while Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victor Game Winner was the top individual choice at 5-1. Churchill’s next Derby future pool is set for Feb. 8-10. The Louisville track also held its only Derby Future Sire Wager from Nov. 22-25, offering odds on stallions that could sire the 2019 Kentucky Derby winner. Once again, the mutuel field led with 9-2 odds. Tapit was the leading individual sire at odds of 6-1.

Nov. 26 William Hill Odds Leaders to Win the Kentucky Derby:

1) Game Winner (6-1)

2) Instagrand (10-1)

3) Coliseum (12-1)

4) Improbable (15-1)

5) Maximus Mischief (20-1)

Five to Watch:

Coliseum: Every year, there are a few proverbial Derby “buzz” horses that surface along the Kentucky Derby trail and tantalize fans with their talent and potential. Sometimes, they even live up to it – an understatement to be sure, regarding Justify. This Tapit colt had already staked his claim to buzz status before he ever graced an official starting gate based on reports from his fast workouts at Santa Anita Park and on his overall physical profile. On Nov. 17, the colt made his debut for Triple Crown maestro Bob Baffert at Santa Anita, and Coliseum lived up to every bit of the backstretch talk with a dominant 6 ¼-length victory going seven furlongs at the “Great Race Place.” The Godolphin homebred is now offered at 12-1 odds by William Hill, down from opening at 75-1, and joins Game Winner and Improbable as a very formidable trio of Baffert-trained winter-book Derby favorites. Coliseum’s dam, Game Face, was a Grade 1-winning sprinter, but elite sire Tapit has already proven his mettle at siring horses with enough stamina to win Triple Crown races – witness recent Belmont Stakes victors Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit, for example.

Signalman (Coady Photography)

Signalman: After producing two quality efforts in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (second) and the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (third), this strapping son of blue-collar stallion and former fan favorite General Quarters put it all together with a rallying win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes under the Twin Spires, earning 10 more qualifying points for next year’s Derby to boost his total to 18. That puts him a tie for second place on the early leaderboard, but he’s currently a lukewarm choice on William Hill’s sheet, sitting at odds of 50-1. He’s in the capable hands of Ken McPeek, who said following the Kentucky Jockey Club that Signalman would train in South Florida during the winter months. His dam’s (mother’s) side of the pedigree is speed-oriented, and General Quarters is a relatively unproven sire through four crops of racing age, but Signalman’s résumé so far fits right in with the top Derby contenders at this early stage. Learn more about Signalman in Mike Curry’s profile.

Limonite: This colt was rallying late in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and finished third, two lengths behind Signalman (runner-up Plus Que Parfait is not offered on William Hill’s latest sheet). Limonite races for accomplished connections: owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing of Gun Runner and Will Take Charge fame, respectively, and trainer Steve Asmussen. He’s also got an interesting pedigree that bodes well for longer races, as a son of champion and Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid and out of a Brazilian dam (mother) who was a champion in Brazil and is related to several other top-class racehorses from that country. He’s yet to finish off the board in four career starts (one win, one second by a neck, and two thirds) and, with improvement expected in the months ahead, offers good value on William Hill’s book at 125-1 odds.

Maximus Mischief: Slated to start in the upcoming 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes, a Kentucky Derby Points race on Dec. 1, this Pennsylvania-based horse brings Afleet Alex’s owner Chuck Zacney back to the Kentucky Derby trail, as covered in Jeff Lowe’s recent feature for ABR. Maximus Mischief ships to Aqueduct from Parx Racing with a 2-for-2 record and a combined winning margin of 14 ¾ lengths. He’s shown good speed in both of his wins, coming at 5 ½ and seven furlongs, and he’s by the hot sire Into Mischief, also represented by the next horse on this list. Future bettors are on board at William Hill, as Maximus Mischief is currently offered at 20-1 odds. 

Rogueish: Fair Grounds opened its Thoroughbred meet last week, which will last until late March and culminate with the Louisiana Derby. Already, a 2-year-old colt has made an impression down in bayou country, as Rogueish won first out by 6 3/4 lengths going six furlongs in the slop on Nov. 25. The Into Mischief colt stalked a fast pace from second before taking over at the top of the stretch and putting away a closing odds-on favorite in the late stages under steady urging by jockey James Graham. He’s definitely one to watch from Steve Asmussen’s barn, out of a dam (mother) who was a graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles. The female side of the pedigree also includes some sprinters farther back, including the aforementioned Game Face, dam of Coliseum. Rogueish debuts on William Hill’s Nov. 26 futures book at 75-1 odds.

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