Thoughts on Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1

Thoughts on Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1

Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

Later today, the first Future Wager Pool for the 2016 Kentucky Derby will open for wagering, and bettors will have a chance to lock in solid odds on their early favorites for the Kentucky Derby. The pool will offer individual odds on twenty-three promising two-year-olds, as well as an “all others” option that is bound to be the favorite. The complete list of horses, along with a link to their past performances, can be viewed on the Kentucky Derby website.

Of course, betting on Kentucky Derby contenders this far out is a risky proposition–it’s hard to say how these young horses will progress during the next five months, and there’s no guarantee that they will even make the starting gate. But from the perspective of having a rooting interest to cheer for during the winter months, the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool offers a special opportunity, and besides–there are major bragging rights to be had if you can cash a ticket on the Derby winner that you placed back in November! :)

When I play the first Derby future pool, I have a few guidelines to help narrow down the field. First off, I won’t take less than 30-1 on any horse, because if I’m going to take a shot this far in advance, I want a good price that will reward with a big payoff if my horse actually wins. Secondly, I always look for horses with strong pedigrees that suggest they will have no trouble with the Derby distance, and if a well-bred runner has already proven himself going a mile or longer, that’s even better. Lastly, I tend to lean against horses that have won graded stakes races, and definitely those that have won multiple graded stakes races, as there’s a good chance that they’ve already reached their peak and won’t progress well enough to win the Kentucky Derby.

Using this criteria, there are three horses that have caught my attention: Gun RunnerSail Ahoy, and Synchrony. The first-mentioned colt is unbeaten in two starts, both at a mile or longer, and has made a great visual impression in both races. As a son of Candy Ride out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, I have no worries about his ability to handle ten furlongs, and I view this Steve Asmussen-trained runner as one of the most exciting Derby prospects I’ve seen so far this year. However, he’s running in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) on Saturday at Churchill Downs, and if he runs as well as I think he will, his 30-1 morning line price may shrink drastically.

Sail Ahoy could potentially be in the same boat, as he is entered in Saturday’s Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct. However, he’s facing a tough field that includes Mohaymen and Gift Box, so a strong third-place finish would be encouraging from a Derby perspective while still keeping his odds at around 30-1 or higher. By Bernardini out of a Seeking the Gold mare, this Shug McGaughey-trained runner ran fourth in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and third in the Nashua Stakes (gr. II), unleashing late runs from the back of the pack on both occasions, and his form thus far is vaguely reminiscent of McGaughey’s 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Call it a gut feeling, but I think Sail Ahoy is going to improve a lot next year and make a lot of noise on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

As for Synchrony, he finished second to the capable Bandwidth in his debut at Churchill in September and has since followed up with an impressive maiden win at Keeneland and a hard-fought allowance win at Churchill. He’s never run farther than 7 1/2 furlongs, but finished very strongly in his allowance win and has a pedigree that suggests longer distances won’t be an issue, at least to a point. Ten furlongs might prove to be a bit beyond his best distance, but I think he’ll be every bit of 50-1 or more when the pool closes, and his proven form at Churchill Downs makes him appealing.

Now it’s your turn! Who do you like in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool?

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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