The first of four Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools begins a four-day run on Thursday and bettors can choose from 23 individual interests or the rest of the field (#24). Future Wager pools originated in 1999 but November was added to the rotation prior to the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
Two of the first four winners were part of “All Others,” which always go favored in Pool 1, but juvenile champions American Pharoah and Nyquist returned significantly higher payouts ($27.60 and $21.80, respectively) to early bettors than as favorites on Kentucky Derby Day ($7.80 and $6.60).
The lone Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager will be offered concurrently and last year, Bodemeister paid $63.60 when his son Always Dreaming captured the Kentucky Derby.
Here’s a preview of the individual interests (morning line odds):
#1 AVERY ISLAND (30-1): Son of Street Sense has won two straight in convincing fashion for Kiaran McLaughlin. Broke his maiden the second time out by a 5 ¼-length margin at Belmont Park and was flattered when runner-up High North and third-placer Biblical came back to win next out. Avery Island exits a 4 ¾-length romp in the one-mile Nashua (G2) on November 5. He’s certainly intriguing but BRIS numbers are a little light (83 and 87).
#2 BOLT D’ORO (10-1): Looked like a superstar winning his first three starts but Bolt d’Oro received the wrong trip after breaking slowing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), dropping far back and traveling too wide on both turns before finishing strongly as the 3-5 favorite. The non-threatening third doesn’t negatively impact his chances – more Kentucky Derby winners have lost the Juvenile than won it (4-2) – and the smashing 7 ¾-length victory in the September 30 FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita remains one of year’s best performances. Must keep advancing but the powerful son of Medaglia d’Oro has a lot going for him and will be targeting the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1) next spring.
#3 COPPER BULLET (30-1): Talented colt beat himself with a troubled-filled trip in the Bashford Manor (G3) and loved his finish in the August 13 Saratoga Special (G2), appearing to have plenty more to offer in a four-length thrashing (94 BRIS Speed). Sidelined by shins afterward, Copper Bullet is expected to return to training soon at Fair Grounds. Nice combination with speed on top (More Than Ready) and stamina-infused female family, and trainer Steve Asmussen seems destined to win the Kentucky Derby one of these years.
#4 DAK ATTACK (30-1): Dale Romans has three on this list and Dak Attack brings a strong finishing kick, impressively winning both starts from off the pace including a three-length tally in the August 20 Ellis Park Juvenile (92 BRIS Speed). His dam, an Indian Charlie mare, was all speed but second dam Proud Spell captured the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and 1 ¼-mile Alabama (G1). Ghostzapper colt recently returned to worktab.
#5 ENGAGE (20-1): He’s won two straight at 6-furlongs as the odds-on favorite, breaking his maiden on Saratoga’s closing day and rolling to a 3 ½-length triumph in the October 14 Futurity (G3), and Chad Brown trainee is eligible to win some prep races with further development. But similar to Practical Joke last year, Engage isn’t bred for the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance being a son of Into Mischief and out of a mare by champion sprinter Speightstown.
#6 ENTICED (30-1): Overcame a less-than-favorable trip to win his debut going away and continued to show signs of immaturity while running in spots during the Champagne (G1), finally showing some late interest to grab third. He should really appreciate longer distances and Enticed could evolve into a very good horse for McLaughlin, but I worry the first Saturday in May will come too soon. Both sire (Medaglia d’Oro) and dam (multiple Grade 1-winning Mineshaft mare It’s Tricky) were late developers, discovering top form during the summer of their 3-year-old seasons. He’s entered in Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchll Downs.
#7 FIRENZE FIRE (20-1): He ran big in a pair of one-turn starts, winning the Champagne and Sanford (G3), but Firenze Fire faltered with a dull seventh when stretching out to two turns in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. From the first crop of Grade 1-winning sprinter Posiedon’s Warrior, Florida-bred colt probably best suited for distances under 10 furlongs.
#8 FREE DROP BILLY (20-1): Late-running son of Union Rags looks like one who will continue to advance after showing nice class for Romans. Free Drop Billy recorded a pair of rallying seconds in one-turn graded stakes before stepping forward with a convincing score in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland (91 BRIS Speed). Didn’t fire when checking in ninth in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but well-bred chestnut colt still has plenty of potential upside.
#9 GIVEMEAMINIT (50-1): A non-threatening fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Givemeaminit ran big when finishing a neck third in the Hopeful (G1) in second career start and has one more chance to break his maiden in the Kentucky Jockey Club. But can’t get excited about the prospects of the Louisiana-bred son of Star Guitar at longer distances next spring.
#10 GOOD MAGIC (8-1): Spectacularly broke his maiden stretching out to two turns in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, drawing off to a 4 ¼-length decision, and registered a whopping 105 BRIS Speed rating that matches the number earned by Bolt d’Oro in the FrontRunner. By Curlin, Good Magic is bred to relish longer distances next spring and it’s easy to appreciate the chestnut colt’s tactical speed. He’s a major player entering 2018 for Brown, who recorded his first Triple Crown race win in last year’s Preakness.
#11 GOTTA GO (30-1): Shanghai Bobby colt has won two straight at Churchill Downs for Ian Wilkes, including the Street Sense at a one-turn mile, and Gotta Go will make two-turn bow in the Kentucky Jockey Club. His BRIS Speed ratings (88 and 89) are suspect but we’ll learn more Saturday.
#12 LONE SAILOR (50-1): Exits a head second to Gotta Go in the Street Sense and Lone Sailor’s best race came in an off-the-turf maiden over a sloppy track. Tom Amoss-trained son of Majestic Warrior headed to Kentucky Jockey Club.
#13 MASK (30-1): Tapit colt rallied from off the pace to easily capture 6 ½-furlong debut at Belmont on October 20, registering an 89 BRIS Speed rating while defeating a well-regarded firster from Todd Pletcher stable, and his stakes-winning dam is a half-sister to Whitney (G1) winner Bullsbay. Mask could try two turns in December 2 Remsen (G2) for Brown.
#14 MCKINZIE (20-1): Plenty of buzz surrounding his 5 ½-length debut score at Del Mar October 28 that netted a whopping 100 BRIS Speed rating and it will be interesting to see whether Bob Baffert trainee gets bet down from 20-1 morning line (Dortmund took plenty of action in Pool 1 following an impressive allowance win in 2014). By Street Sense, McKinzie is in the right hands with a four-time Kentucky Derby winner and visually appeared well-suited for added ground drawing away in the stretch at 7-furlongs.
#15 MENDELSSOHN (30-1): Aidan O’Brien kept the Scat Daddy colt on grass despite a pedigree built for the main track (half-brother to Beholder and Into Mischief) and Mendelssohn recorded a career-best at Del Mar, rallying to score convincingly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Connections are expected to use the new European Road to the Kentucky Derby for the talented Irish-based colt but winning the Kentucky Derby without an American prep race remains an imposing task.
#16 MONTAUK (20-1): Delivered a rousing performance at first asking for Pletcher, dueling three wide on the far turn at Belmont before stylishly drawing off to an 11-length decision, and Medaglia d’Oro colt received a decent 88 BRIS Speed figure for the 7-furlong test. It will be no surprise if Montauk emerges as a prominent contender in Gulfstream Park prep races.
#17 PRINCIPE GUILHERME (20-1): Plenty to like about his wire-to-wire unveiling at Churchill Downs on November 10. After facing serious pressure from start, Tapit colt extended his stretch into the stretch and effortlessly rolled home to a 6 ¼-length decision, registering a commendable 92 BRIS Speed rating at 7-furlongs. He possesses speed and a pedigree for two turns, and Principe Guilherme looks like an exciting prospect for Asmussen.
#18 QUIP (30-1): Distorted Humor colt is two-for-two for Rodolphe Brisset, crushing allowance foes when making his two-turn bow at Keeneland on October 19, but Quip must keep improving his BRIS Speed numbers (88 and 86). He will look to elevate his status in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
#19 SOLOMINI (15-1): Curlin colt surged to a clear lead rounding the far turn of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and dug in gamely to save second after being passed by Good Magic, improving significantly upon a non-threatening second in the FrontRunner. A nice debut winner at Del Mar for Baffert, Solomini brings a fine slate of BRIS numbers into his 3-year-old season (94-96-100) and certainly appears to have plenty of room for further development. He’s an exciting prospect for Zayat Stables.
#20 SPORTING CHANCE (20-1): After breaking his maiden the second time out by open lengths, Tiznow colt appeared on his way to a comfortable victory in the Hopeful (G1) before veering out suddenly nearing the wire. Sporting Chance managed to save the win by a neck but has not been seen on the worktab since for D. Wayne Lukas. He’ll bring speed to the equation but longer distances next spring remain a concern.
#21 TALENT SCOUT (30-1): Overlooked at 8-1 in debut, Baffert-trained colt gamely prevailed by a neck in front-running fashion and runner-up came right back to easily break maiden as prohibitive favorite. Talent Scout, who is from the first crop of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day, registered an excellent 95 BRIS Speed rating and looks very promising, but his pedigree does appear to be slanted toward turf.
#22 TIZ MISCHIEF (50-1): He’s displayed steady improvement in three appearances while stretching out for Romans, overcoming a terrible start to break his maiden in his two-turn bow at Keeneland last time, and Tiz Mischief promises to be running late in the Kentucky Jockey Club. His pedigree remains a little suspect for Triple Crown distances but looking forward to seeing how he fares against stakes rivals.
#23 UNTAMED DOMAIN (20-1): From the first crop of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, Graham Motion-trained colt is bred for turf and has raced exclusively on the sod so far, winning the Summer (G1) and finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Guessing Untamed Domain will get the chance to try dirt in the hopes of qualifying but if he’s racing on Kentucky Derby Day, the American Turf (G2) on the undercard appears much more likely.
The top three from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Good Magic, Solomini and Bolt d’Oro – are major contenders for the 2018 Kentucky Derby and given that the mutuel field (All Others) always takes the lion’s share of the win action in Pool 1, don’t be afraid to get some early action if you really like one of their chances next spring.
Bolt d’Oro is supremely talented and probably will be bet down as the lowest-priced individual interest. But I do have concerns surrounding his penchant for slow starts in three of four starts this year and the possibility exists for him to catch short fields in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby that do little to prepare him for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby starting gate.
I’m more bullish on the chances of Good Magic and Solomini and will be monitoring their odds Sunday.
Copper Bullet and Principe Guilherme are a pair I will play at expected long odds from the Asmussen stable. The multiple Eclipse Award-winning trainer has been on such a tear over the past couple of seasons (2016 Belmont Stakes, Hall of Fame induction and orchestrating the Horse of the Year campaign of Gun Runner) and similar to dominoes, the Kentucky Derby could be the next major achievement to fall.
And horseplayers must always be aware of Baffert when speculating upon the Kentucky Derby. I’m hoping Solomini gets a little lost in the shuffle and will play McKenzie if he doesn’t drop too much from the morning line.