To paraphrase a banner ad for last year’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool, if you pick the winner in May, you’re smart. If you do it in February, you’re a freakin’ genius.
The freakin’ geniuses of the world will once again have their shot to prove their superiority following the recent release of the odds for this year’s first pool. Though the figures will fluctuate by the end of the wagering period there are a few horses that stand out either positively or negatively based on their initial odds.
With a limited time before the pool closes and with the silhouette of the banker ominously staring down at you, it is time to make a decision. Deal or no deal?
Listed below are a few of the horses I would press the flashing button for if I had the money, and some I would leave behind to open more suitcases.
For a look at the entire pool, click here.
I Want Revenge
Firstly, do not take this as an endorsement that I like I Want Revenge to win the whole thing. He’s at 50/1 for a reason. However, he has shown marked improvement since stretching out over a mile a few races back, finishing no less than third since then. He has gotten caught in the stretch by Pioneerof The Nile in his last two races, but he turns out great works and could be sitting on a big race. At that price, he could be worth taking a small waiver on just in case.
Some may call me crazy for turning down 12-1 on an Eclipse Award winner and another finalist, but if one of these two find the winner’s circle on Derby Day, they will have done so by taking the long road less traveled against what many would consider to be lesser competition. I would need higher odds than that to feel good about this bet.
Unless he absolutely tanks as a three-year-old, this should be the last time he comes close to being offered at 10-1 between now and the Derby. Though I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid on this horse until I see how he handles early pace pressure, his wins have been impressive. If he can live up to the potential he showed during his juvenile campaign, this could be the easiest money offered in a long time.
That’s some awfully low odds for a horse that is only being considered for a Derby run. Also, despite the recent successes of Rags to Riches and Eight Belles, I still like to see some proof that a filly can run with the boys before I go throwing too much money at her. Even if she wins the Santa Anita Derby, she should leave the gates in Louisville at comparable odds to what she’s giving now. If you like her that much, wait until she is a sure thing to run.
Pioneerof The Nile
The Zayat homebred has stepped up his game considerably since last year’s win in the CashCall Futurity, becoming the leader of the California Derby contingent. This fact alone makes him an incredible value at 20-1. Until someone proves otherwise, all of the California-based horses will bear the artificial surface red flag, but no one knows how that could change with the Derby preps at Santa Anita being run on a new surface. Either way, he is worth a play at this price.
This Ones for Phil
Do I need to tell you to avoid the horse who’s not even nominated to the Triple Crown? Even if IEAH Stables ponies up the six grand for a late entry, he ought to bring higher odds leaving the gates at Churchill Downs than he is giving here. Have patience with this one.
A gray horse who sets glacial opening fractions, then finds another gear in the stretch. Where have we seen this before? Granted, his San Rafael effort was hardly against world-class competition, but front-running winners with that extra gear are hard to come by on artificial surfaces. The same questions plague him that follow Old Fashioned, but he has the same upside with a higher payoff.
The Mutuel Field (All Others)
Give me all the smug remarks you want about how this was the ticket that was cashed last year, but at such low odds, making money at this proposition is near impossible. Big Brown barely made this bet profitable last year, winning the Derby at 5/2 after giving odds of 3/1 as a part of the mutuel field. Big Brown was also a freak that won out of the 20 hole. Barring someone coming out of nowhere and absolutely crushing everything in his path, no one in this category should go off at odds lower than 5/2. And besides, “the field” is such an unimaginative bet. Come on, get creative with your wager, people!