Who can win the Kentucky Derby is an important question to ask when deciding whether to get involved in a future wager, but just as important for making the advance investment worth your time and money is the chance that a horse not only makes the gate but also what his odds will be if he does.

Those questions come to mind when considering this weekend’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

Like Danny Zucker (listen to podcast below), I like to work backward from the Derby to help determine not only what it takes to win the race but also what it takes to take money in the race. I.e., looking at the odds of recent Derbys, you have to be nearly flawless going into the races to be less than 10-to-1.

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Combine a need to win out (or look really good not doing it) with the usual bumps along the trail that lead to attrition, and the lowest price I’m willing to take at this stage is 15-to-1 (see fair odds at left).

If either American Pharoah or Ocho Ocho Ocho (or both!) lose their returns then they might be a better price in Pool 4 or the Derby, which makes betting them now a tougher proposition.

Dortmund may or may not race again before the fourth pool. Either way, it’s tempting to lock in a price on him because if he wins that last prep (regardless of what he does before then) he’ll likely be less than 6-to-1 on Derby day. So 15-to-1 I’d take, but 8-to-1 I won’t.

Khozan is tempting if he drifts because I like him the most out of this quartet to win his final prep, and if he does that he’ll be a top choice as well, but the Apollo Curse is enough to keep me away at a shorter price than 15-to-1.

I’m more likely to get involved in the $100 horse game going for gusto with horses who have demonstrated some ability for connections who would be willing to run. I expect Mr. Z. will be the horse I lock onto just because I’ve defended him so passionately following his also ran performances. Cheer as a fan and bet as a handicapper, but as a big price I don’t mind a little homer mentality (e.g. Mac the Man).

In addition to the above video with me, James Scully wrote two insightful blog posts: My Derby Top Ten & a horse-by-horse analysis of the Pool 3 field. For a recap of the February Derby points races, check out Doug Salvatore’s blog.

And don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, either (click for Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs). Jennifer Caldwell of Brisnet.com’s The Handicapper’s Edge has you covered with a recap of recent prep races plus an analysis of the Santa Ysabel Stakes (this weekend’s lone points race).

As for other stakes action this weekend, I don’t like any of the favorites in Gulfstream Park’s three graded stakes races.

In the Herecomesthebride Stakes, I’m swinging for the fences with Sweet Swinging stretching out and moving to turf. She’s already shown she’s fast enough for these, and any improvement with the variable changes gets the job done here. There are no turf winners under the first dam, but it’s a classy family with plenty of black type elsewhere (including some stakes wins at Thistledown!).

In the Swale Stakes, I have to oppose Daredevil at odds on considering the layoff and he’s giving weight to the field. Fortunately for me (from a wagering perspective) the alternatives are also all speed types, and while I’m not sure we’ll get 12-to-1 on Senor Grits because I’ve seen some other’s picking him I’m fine with 8-to-1 on this closer.

In the Palm Beach Stakes, High Noon Rider is ideally drawn on the rail, and if he breaks well no reason to think he can’t win this gate to wire. He has every right to improve with the seasoning and return to turf considering his female family sports such notable names as Aldebaran and Good Journey.

One final note that is less a bet than a heads up, but I’m not going to try to beat The Great War in the Battaglia on Saturday night at Turfway. I’d actually bet him at even money, but 1-to-5 is more likely. His 19-point PRIME POWER advantage is the largest I’ve ever seen, and while some might think post 11 is bothersome, posts 8 and beyond going 1 1/16 miles this season at Turfway have actually done OK, and the Brisnet.com Ultimate Past Performances Race Summary suggests it’s a better part of the track, anyway, with a positive Impact Value. If anything, maybe I try to get cute throwing Firespike out of the number as highweight and overbet second choice.

GOOD LUCK!