Tag Archives: Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Deal or No Deal: 2011 Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Soldat could end up being worth a look in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

There are few things that please a horse racing fan more than being the first in his or her group to pick the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

The first opportunity to put some money behind that boasting will come this weekend when betting opens for the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool.

The first of three pools opens Friday, Feb. 18 at noon and closes Sunday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.. There are 23 horses listed as individual betting interests, with the rest lumped together as “The Field”.

A lot can happen between now and the first Saturday in May. Horses can emerge from obscurity just as easily as they can be knocked off the Derby trail. The future pools allow bettors to do some long-term speculating and hopefully catch a horse at odds higher than they might be on Derby day.

Of course, these bets come at a time when no horse, even with enough earnings, is guaranteed to be in the gate for the big race. Like all long-term investments, those are just the accepted risks of the game. The trick is finding the horses with the best chance to reward that risk.

Each year, I take a look at the horses offered in the first pool and try to single out a few who might be worthy of such a ludicrous wager and others who will probably offer more value on Derby day.

The whole situation can feel like staring down the banker’s offer on the game show “Deal or No Deal”. A horse may look tempting at the odds it gives in this pool, but that price could change drastically depending on the twists and turns of the Derby trail, just like the banker’s offer can fluctuate depending on which suitcases are opened. Some horses are worth taking the banker’s deal at the odds you’ll see this weekend. Others should be held on to until the final suitcase is opened.

The question is…Deal or No Deal?

A verdict of “Deal” means a horse should be considered for a bet in this particular pool and could give a higher price now than it will later. “No Deal” means bettors should pass for now.

Please keep in mind these speculations are based solely on the morning line odds set by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battagalia. The odds can, and will, fluctuate according to the action in the pari-mutuel pools, which could negate some of my statements – especially if a horse is entered to race this weekend.

Also, unless otherwise noted, this is not an analysis of talent, but a projection of betting value. Just because a horse is labeled a “No Deal” does not mean I do not think it is capable of winning the Kentucky Derby, and vice versa.

For a full list of the future pool horses, along with free Daily Racing Form past performances, click here.


Anthony’s Cross
Odds: 30-1

Anthony’s Cross showed gritty determination edging out Riveting Reason for the win in last Saturday’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. The Indian Charlie colt has improved with added distance and appears to have overcome early difficulties with leaving the starting gate.

Above all, there is one reason to take a chance on this horse – He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs under Calvin Borel. Three wins out of the last four Derbies, including 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, means that any horse Borel chooses to ride in the race automatically becomes live. If Anthony’s Cross continues to improve throughout the spring, their past experience together could lead the rider to take a good, long look at riding this horse.

On that same note, any horse Borel chooses to ride will likely be bet into the ground on Derby day. It will take a long string of “No Factor” mounts for him to sneak in with another high-priced horse, just because every bettor in America knows what he’s capable of in that race. There are a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” in the equation, but if Anthony’s Cross makes it to the Churchill Downs gate and Calvin Borel decides to ride him, he won’t give anything close to what he’ll give this weekend.

No Deal

Decisive Moment
Odds: 50-1

A son of With Distinction, Decisive Moment kicked off his 2011 campaign with a win in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs. You know who took a detour through Southwest Louisiana on the Derby trail last year? Last place finisher Backtalk. That’s not the kind of company a Kentucky Derby winner tends to keep. Scheduling fashion faux pas aside, that race was Decisive Moment’s first victory since a narrow maiden score five starts prior, and he stepped back in class and distance to earn it. A second place finish in the rich Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) will keep him on the earnings bubble, but if Decisive Moment does manage to sneak in with a resume consistent to what he has shown so far, he should give one of the longest prices on the board on race day.

Decisive Moment also figures to be one of the most volatile propositions in the first pool by virtue of his start in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. His status as a viable future wager option and Derby contender could shift drastically in that race. Hold off on making too big of a judgement on him until we see what he is made of.

More keepers and tosses from the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool can be found behind the jump.

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Deal or No Deal – 2010 Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Eclipse Award finalist Noble's Promise is one suitcase to leave shut in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

People love action.

If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have bets like the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which requires horseplayers to forecast the winner of the classic race several months before it even draws.

It takes an awful lot of gusto to plunk down some hard-earned bones on such a risky venture. Each interest is like a numbered suitcase on the hit game show Deal or No Deal. Inside each one could be that million-dollar prize (a Derby winner at a better price than at post time) or just enough cash for the bus ride home (a Derby trail dud or injury defection).

From noon Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday, ambitious horseplayers will take their place on the proverbial stage before the 24 models holding numbered briefcases. The shadowy figure of the banker will be looming, asking players to accept his odds. Howie Mandel will be there, too. Whatever you do, don’t shake his hand.

The question is…Deal or No Deal?

Which entries in the first future wager pool appear to offer the best value? Which ones make it look like the banker is lowballing the contestants? Below are a few horses that fit into one of those categories.

Keep in mind these speculations are based solely on the morning line odds set by Churchill Donws handicapper Mike Battagalia. The odds can, and will, fluctuate according to the action in the pari-mutuel pools, which could negate some of my statements.

Also, unless otherwise noted, this is not an analysis of talent, but a projection of betting value. Just because a horse is labeled a “No Deal” does not mean I do not think it is capable of winning the Kentucky Derby, and vice versa.

For a complete list of the horses being offered in the Future Wager and their odds, a Thoroughbred Times story can be found here.


Vale of York
Odds: 30-1

Has a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner ever given odds this long in the first Future Wager pool? I debated long and hard about which category to place the Irish-bred Eclipse Award finalist. On one hand, an awful lot of planets aligned to put Vale of York’s nose across the line first in the Juvenile. He benefitted from a European turf-friendly surface, was a first-time Lasix user and got the best of a multi-horse head bob. Also, there is talk of sending the Invincible Spirit (IRE) colt to Europe instead of testing the Derby trail, which gives this wager an added risk. On the other hand, let us consider a scenario. In all likelihood, Vale of York will take the road to Louisville going through Dubai. If he cleans up the preps and shows a pulse in the UAE Derby, there should be no reason to expect he won’t go off at less than 15-1 on the big day. This has the potential to be a high-risk, high-reward investment.

No Deal

Noble’s Promise
Odds: 15-1

Aside from earning the bragging rights that go along with picking the Kentucky Derby winner several months in advance, one of the appeals of the Future Wager is trying to get a horse at a better price than on race day. Unless Noble’s Promise puts the throttle on his three-year-old campaign and notches a couple highlight reel-caliber wins, odds in the mid-teens ought to be a reasonable expectation on the big stage.

More deals and duds can be found behind the jump.

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The 2012 Kentucky Derby Future Wager

I’m not afraid to say it. Picking the Kentucky Derby winner three months in advance is too easy.

By the time the first pool opens, the potential winners on the first Saturday in May can be whittled down to about 40 or 50 horses. That’s practically a flip of the coin.

If you’re looking for a true challenge, the real game’s in picking the horse that will wear the roses before it even stands and nurses. Somewhere out there, the next great Thoroughbred champion is wandering beside its mother on still-wobbly legs or perhaps still inside its mother’s womb waiting to learn of its destiny.

By the time Derby season rolls around, the race and all the horses on the the Derby trail are old news. It is time to start looking deeper into the future. It’s never too soon to think about who is going to be the classic winner three years from now, and if people are going to be thinking,they might as well be betting. Just imagine the payoffs that will be generated when all 36,000 horses born in North America in this year’s crop will be put into play.

With that in mind, it is time to look at some of the early contenders in the 2012 Long Range Wager. Because none of the following horses likely have any on-track experience, I am going to leave the oddsmaking to the betting public.

Bay filly (Storm Cat – Western Princess, by Gone West)

As the first foal from Storm Cat’s final crop of Thoroughbreds (he’s moved on to side projects), this Kentucky-bred filly was shouldered with the burden of going out with a bang as soon as her hooves touched the ground. With Mr. Prospector and Secretariat on the top side and Deputy Minister and Alydar on the bottom, her ancestors sure aren’t hurting her cause.

Filly (Sun King – Allemande Right, by Affirmed)

Whenever a three-year-old race goes off in Dubai, it seems there is always at least one mention that the true sophomores are running against four-year-olds from the Southern Hemisphere. For those looking for a way to give their rivals a similar disadvantage, this horse is about as close as one can get. Born on January 1, this Louisiana-bred will have an age advantage over just about everyone else on the Derby trail. Obviously, every horse is different, but those extra weeks and months could mean more time to develop both physically and emotionally.

Bay Colt (Jazil – Art Affair, by Mineshaft)

The 2006 Belmont Stakes winner’s first foal is about as regally bred as they come, with bloodlines going through horses including champion broodmare Better than Honour. This cross has something of a precedence, as the sire’s dam and the foal’s damsire (try saying that five times fast) produced 2008 Peter Pan Stakes winner Casino Drive. If Jazil passes on his screaming closing style to his foals, this could be a fun one to watch.

Foal in Utero (Dynaformer – La Ville Rouge, by Carson City)

If at first you succeed, then you don’t succeed, do you still try, try again? Roy and Gretchen Jackson do. This foal, due February 21, will be the fourth in the series of Dynaformer/La Ville Rouge crosses, following brothers Barbaro, Nicanor and Lentenor. If the Jacksons decide to continue with the theme of naming these foals after the foxhounds in a cherished painting, then this one, expected to be a colt, will likely be named Margano. The other two remaining names, Sereno and Calypso, have already been taken. Regardless of the name, the cross has already produced desirable results and the name recognition forever linked to Barbaro’s brothers will give them Derby buzz before they even open their eyes.

Foal in Utero (Smart Strike – Sherriff’s Deputy, by Deputy Minister)

Another example of trying to get the goose to lay another golden egg. This foal will be a full sibling to two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. Clearly, those are some hefty shoes to fill, but if it can win the Kentucky Derby, it will have done one of the few things big brother couldn’t. How ironic would it be if this horse ended up becoming a turf champion?

Foal in Utero (Giant’s Causeway – Rags To Riches, by A.P. Indy)

The 2012 Kentucky Derby could also bring about a sort of rematch between the first two finishers of the 2007 Belmont Stakes, with a full sibling of runner-up Curlin squaring off against the first foal out of winner Rags To Riches. Based on name recognition alone, this foal ought to bring an absurdly high amount at the sales. The question will be whether it can live up to its hall-of-fame caliber pedigree. As of right now, I’m pegging this foal as my pick among those yet to be born.

The Mutuel Field (Everyone Else)

It’s hard to say no to a proposition that includes all but six of the roughly 36,000 North American horses in this year’s crop. Then again, 1-100 shouldn’t begin to describe how heavily this would be bet. Clearly, this is the safest bet on the board, but it’s unimaginative and could only pay pennies on the dollar. Where is the fun in that?


Disclaimer: The Kentucky Derby Long Range Wager is not responsible for tickets lost, forgotten about or biodegraded from the time of the wager to the time of the race. We suggest placing it in a small time capsule with some news clippings and other present-related materials to be opened at a later date. Because of the constant advances in gaming technology, the machines used to place your wager may be obsolete by the time of the race. If so, the ticket will likely be shredded by the new machine and no refund will be given. 

Second Disclaimer: If the first disclaimer was not enough of a giveaway, this wager does not really exist. Obviously, I do not represent the Kentucky Derby Future Wager or any outlets that offer the wager. But if one of these horses ends up wearing the roses, just know I totally called it first.


Filed under Commentary, Triple Crown

Deal or No Deal

  Michigan-Bred Hot Chili (with T.D. Houghton aboard) was considered part of the field in the initial 2008 Derby Future Wager Pool. Though his time on the Derby trail was brief, a fellow field horse, Big Brown more than picked up the slack. 

Michigan-Bred Hot Chili (with T.D. Houghton aboard) was considered part of the mutuel field in the initial 2008 Derby Future Wager Pool. Though his time on the Derby trail was brief, a fellow field horse, Big Brown, more than picked up the slack.

 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
Odds: 50-1

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.

No Deal

Midshipman/Vineyard Haven 
Odds: 12-1 

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.


Old Fashioned
Odds: 10-1

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.

No Deal

Stardom Bound
Odds: 12-1

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
Odds: 20-1

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.

No Deal

This Ones for Phil
Odds: 12-1

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.


The Pamplemousse
Odds: 30-1

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.

No Deal

The Mutuel Field (All Others) 
Odds: 5-2 

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!


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