Kentucky Derby Futures: Four Risers You Need to Know on Crowded Trail

Gambling
Horses charge through the stretch at Tampa Bay Downs. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

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 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Through April, America’s Best Racing will bring you up to date with the changing odds and notable entries at the pre-eminent Kentucky Derby future wager bookmaker on the Las Vegas strip – Wynn Las Vegas.

We’ll revisit these odds when new sheets are released (usually after a major prep race is completed). With each passing prep race, the number of viable Derby contenders will shrink, but as of now there are literally hundreds of horses out there that carry the dreams of owners and gamblers alike to find the Churchill Downs winner’s circle somewhere around 7 p.m. ET on May 5 – and some of them may have not even raced yet. 

Wynn’s latest odds update was released before the scheduled Jerome Stakes on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct, which was canceled last weekend due to the brutally cold weather encompassing the eastern half of the U.S. the first week of 2018. That race is expected to be rescheduled, and the next prep to offer qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby is the one-mile Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 6. The Sham offers Derby points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale.

Dec. 27 Odds Leaders:

Wynn:

1. Bolt d’Oro (7-1)

2. McKinzie (11-1)

3. Good Magic (14-1)

4. Solomini (18-1)

5. Enticed (20-1)

5. Principe Guilherme (20-1)

Notable Changes:

Vino Rosso: Profiled in the last edition of this blog, this Todd Pletcher-trained Curlin colt followed up an eye-catching first-out win in November at Aqueduct with an easy 2 ½-length score in a one-mile and 70-yard allowance/optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 22. His odds dropped from 85-1 to 40-1 at Wynn and Pletcher said that colt would be nominated to the Feb. 7 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa. He also cautioned against making any comparisons between this promising runner and last year’s Derby winner Always Dreaming, who took a similar New York-to-Florida path on the road to Churchill Downs.

Vision: This colt was also profiled in an earlier edition of this blog (on Dec. 8) and his odds continue to slide as well. Offered at 125-1 by Wynn on Dec. 18, he’s now sitting at 75-1 as the buzz continues to swirl about his prospects. He’s only raced once, and that at 5 ½ furlongs at Los Alamitos, but he’s bred to go much longer (he’s by 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb). His connections are also top-notch, as he’s trained by four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert and owned by a partnership that includes industry titan WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International, the latter of which has made a big jump into the sport in recent years in various partnerships.

Analyze It (BENOIT photo)

Analyze It: And here’s yet another who was profiled a while back and whose odds at Wynn’s book are dwindling, although in this case just a modest drop from 75-1 to 60-1. The growing interest in this colt’s Derby chances is dependent upon whether his connections decide to try him on turf, but there’s no doubt that his two career wins to date on turf (including a Nov. 26 runaway in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar) are among the most visually impressive performances of any member of this 3-year-old crop. He’s yet to have a posted workout for Chad Brown since that win as of Jan. 1.

Kris’s Rocket Kat: This Eskendereya colt’s odds dropped from 200-1 to 150-1 at Wynn despite the fact that he has neither raced since winning a 6 ½-furlong maiden special weight race on Nov. 25 at Del Mar nor conducted a public posted workout. He’s based in Southern California with trainer Richard Baltas and has an intriguing pedigree, as young sire Eskendereya has thrown some good racehorses so far (such as Mor Spirit) and this colt’s dam (mother) was a long-distance specialist who won the 1 ½-mile Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine in her final career start.

Four to Watch:

Peace: This cleverly named colt by promising young sire Violence (out of Queen’s Triomphe) is offered at 150-1 odds by Wynn, but that will very likely change after his breakthrough win on Dec. 30 at Santa Anita. Making his third start after two good runner-up efforts, he outfinished two Bob Baffert-trained colts to win a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race by three-quarters of a length. He’s owned by Spendthrift Farm and Town and Country Racing and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella. Mandella has had more success as a trainer of 3-year-old fillies rather than colts in recent years, but that could change in 2018. (Editor’s Note: A further update to Wynn’s book on Jan. 1 reflects a sizable odds shift for Peace, from 150-1 on Dec. 27 to 25-1, placing the colt among the top winter-book favorites for the Kentucky Derby.) 

Retirement Fund: This Steve Asmussen trainee enters Wynn’s book at odds of 125-1 after romping by 7 ¼ lengths in a one-mile and 70-yard maiden special weight at Fair Grounds on Dec. 22, his career debut. He set a slow pace on the front end with mild pressure from favored Enjoy the Journey (offered at 300-1 by Wynn) before drawing clear. He displayed a nice, fluid stride in the two-turn race. He’s owned by the L and N Racing partnership, which campaigned the Asmussen-trained Lookin At Lee to a runner-up finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby. He’s a half-brother (same sire, different dam [mother]) to graded stakes-winning sprinter Barbados.

Strike Power (Leslie Martin/Gulfstream Park)

Strike Power: Another new entry to Wynn’s sheet off of a sharp debut win, this Speightstown colt routed eight opponents in a 5 ½-furlong maiden at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 23, shooting to the lead from the inside post, staying near the rail throughout, and winning by eight lengths. Pedigree-wise, he’s got potential to stretch out, as his dam, Gold d’Oro (by top sire Medaglia d’Oro), won at the Derby’s 1 ¼-mile distance and is a relative of 1987 Belmont Stakes winner Bet Twice. He’s trained by Mark Hennig for owner-breeder Courtlandt Farm and is offered at intriguing 60-1 odds by Wynn.

Dak Attack: This well-bred Ghostzapper colt has been discussed before on this blog and was in the process of developing a fan following last summer due to his name, which honors Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s been sidelined since impressively winning the Ellis Park Juvenile in August for his second win in as many starts but is training well for Dale Romans at Gulfstream Park, where he posted a bullet :59.06 five-furlong workout on Dec. 30. According to Romans, he’s due to rejoin the Kentucky Derby trail on Jan. 6 in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream.

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