Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 Fair Odds

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding Kentucky Derby future wagers in winter is that “No horse is worth betting now with the race so far away.”

While I do think you’re more likely to find value in any race right now than for one 12 weeks away, it is possible for there to be value in any wager in which there is an outcome.

I.e., someone will win the 2014 Kentucky Derby, and every one of the 20,000-25,000 foals from the 2011 crop has some chance that it will be him or her wearing the roses. The sum of those thousands of probabilities is 100%, and each one of those probabilities is represented in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 that opens noon ET on Thursday and closes at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday (ahead of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park).

For FREE Ultimate PPs of the 23 individual betting interests plus 52 field horses, click here.

For FREE Ultimate PPs of ALL Triple Crown nominees, click here.

Just because any of the 24 wagering interests has a chance of winning doesn’t make them a good bet, of course—even at seemingly high odds. That’s why making a fair odds line is essential for something like this because psychologically it’s easy to assume that a gaudy number like 40-to-1 is a good price on a horse you respect until you do the math and realize you think that horse should be 50-to-1.

The other benefit of a fair odds line is you don’t have to account for a horse making the gate, as that should be reflected in the probability of a horse winning. If we were talking about flipping a coin then the odds would be 50-50 whether the flip is today or May 3, but since we’re talking about animals having to stay healthy and sharp for 12 weeks, the lowest price I have of any individual is 19-to-1. If the race were tomorrow those odds would be a lot lower, but it’s not so they’re not.

One thing you may have noticed is that I have four horses at 19-to-1: Cairo Prince, Honor Code, Shared Belief, and Top Billing. I don’t expect to get that price on any of them in this pool, but I will get one of them in my Triple Crown Fantasy League that drafts Wednesday night.

My guess is that Shared Belief will fall to us in the fourth spot, and although I have my reservations about taking a horse with obvious physical issues, it’s impossible for me to deny that he is the fastest horse of his generation thus far.

Shared Belief is my fourth choice out of the quartet, meaning I’d take any of the other three with the fourth pick without a second thought. Indianapolis and Rise Up both interest me, but is either really a fourth overall pick? At least the prospects of them running again look better than Shared Belief’s, I guess.

After the fourth pick I don’t go again until 27 and 34, and the pickings definitely get slim in a hurry. The biggest decision me and my partner will be making with our picks is whether we want a maiden winner with potential or a stakes performer who probably isn’t good enough for Grade 1 company. With the former, you get a chance at having a classic winner on your team; with the latter, you get a sound horse who can run a few times and maybe pick up some points here and there.

Two factors have me preferring the former: You get your money back if you have the Derby winner on your team, and Grade 1 and classic races are worth a lot more than other races. The horse who keeps finishing third beaten five lengths in Grade 3 races with upper 80 Speed Ratings is not a Derby contender to me. I’d rather go for the well-connected fast maiden (90+ Speed Rating) to give me a shot at the big races.

As someone who is on the Churchill Downs committee that selects the horses for each future pool, I’m eager to see where each of the 23 individual horses gets drafted and how that corresponds to their price in this week’s wager. I don’t think they’ll all go with the first 23 picks, but within the first two rounds (30 picks) seems likely.

We’ll be back later this week to talk about the $1-million Road to the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown that begins with the aforementioned Lewis Stakes. If you don’t have a account, you can play SHOWdown for free with the promo code RTTR20. Click here to sing up.


Leave a Comment:

Plod Boy Phil

As it currently stands, Havana, an impressive 'Quick to Zip' upgrade out of the BCJ, is tops in my book. I like Conquest Titan best of the non-upgraded contenders - it's important he does something in a start or two to merit that status, or I end up watching him as he moves on.

05 Feb 2014 4:57 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Let's make it three:

Top Billing

05 Feb 2014 5:01 PM

“It’s impossible for me to deny that he is the fastest horse of his generation thus far.”

The obvious question must be over which distance and over what surface? Shared Belief has only contested races on synthetic. Bobby’s Kitten ran the fastest 6F in the history of BCJ Turf.  He finished a couple lengths off a 1:33 mile. Ride On Curlin is the only horse from the drop to have recorded a new track record. Havana finished just a tick off the Saratoga 51/2F track record.

Shared Belief won his debut over 6F in 1:09.53. Strong Mandate broke his maiden in 1:16 and a bit. The first 6F of the BCJ was completed in 1:09.70.The final time was 1:43.52. The first 6F of the CashCall was completed in 1:11.38. The final time was 1:42.16

It is blatantly obvious that the finals times above were impacted by the 6F internal splits.

On what basis is Shared Belief considered the fastest horse of his generation thus far?

I hope it is not Beyers. If it is Beyers, they are like war, what are they good for?

05 Feb 2014 5:05 PM

The Kentucky Derby future wager is a very risky wager. It is slightly different from the lottery. In the case of the lottery, purchasers have one hope. In the case of the KDF wager have two hopes. The first relates to horses in the future pool making the Derby field. The second is relates to said horses finishing first or second.

I occasionally buy the lottery and therefore should find the KDF wager appealing. The horses that I have placed wagers on in previous year have never made the field. I will try again this year with Tonalist

He is one of the 16 Tapits on the Derby trail. I should not like him as he is the product of an overbred stallion. However, his dam sire Pleasant Colony hails from the Ribot sire line. Secretariat was a disappointment as a sire. His only winner of a Triple Crown race was Risen Star. His dam sire was His Majesty a son of Ribot.

His Majesty just happens to be the sire of Pleasant Colony. Tapit has a litany of stakes winners but none have been recorded in Triple Crown races. If a Ribot line mare helped Secretariat one can help Tapit.

05 Feb 2014 6:02 PM

obviously the coldcuts,who mentioned shared belief was his early pick for the derby, now is mystified by the quote"fastest of his generation"........yea we are all surpised huh? everyone with half a brain knows sb has run way the best so far......only the contrarian, would disagee...........i'm not worried about shared belief in the derby, but i know he ran the best by far of any 2yr old........i dislike him for other reasons..........the only diff. comparing coldcuts' picks, to a lotto ticket is........the lotto ticket has a chance to win...........

05 Feb 2014 9:38 PM

The derby isnt a bingo game......its not a numbers game....the author of this article, pretty much is saying bet a horse that is getting a higher price, not because he likes the horse the best, but just bet a number..........why not just go to vegas, bet on roulette?  the takeout in horseracing is higher...............HORSES ARE FLESH AND BLOOD......people say betting early derby bets is crazy......probably because they lose every time..........yes its difficult.....thats why the odds are me....ive won more money on the derby than any other have to have knowlege in many different areas....knowing what to look many people just say" anything can happen"   remember mine that bird?   People somehow dont think you have to be good to win the derby......people dont understand that the 82 beyer sam davis horses can win the derby......people! there is 2 races left! they think a horse can improve over 20 points......remember mine that bird? well....anything can happen........the author says those 4 horses should be 19 to 1........but fails to inform anyone, the fact that this is one of the weakest crops ever, since beyers. or brisnets or any other figs have been out.......nobody is saying this......up to this point, it is unreal how weak this crop is.........of course the "anything can happen" people will say that anything can happen......look at haskin's list! he has an alw winner #1!!!! when have you seen that? why does everyone get upset by the truth? 90 percent of these horses have just run mdn par have to know what you are seeing, to know how far these horses are away from being a derby winner.........2 races left!

05 Feb 2014 10:08 PM

UPDATE: We ended up with Honor Code with the fourth overall pick. Strong Mandate went number 1 overall followed by Top Billing #2 & Cairo Prince third.

The rest of the first round was 5. Shared Belief; 6. Commissioner; 7. Indianapolis; 8. Hartford; 9. Bobby's Kitten; 10. Vicar's In Trouble; 11. Midnight Hawk; 12. Havana; 13. Uncle Sight; 14. Conquest Titan; 15. Mexicoma.

My team (in draft order) is Honor Code, Rise Up, General A Rod, Extrasexyhippster, Rose Napravnik*, Poker Player, Candy Dandy, Walt, Coltimus Prime, & Emmett Park.

*Each team drafts one jockey & gets points for WINS in stakes. Horses earn points for placing in stakes.

06 Feb 2014 8:58 AM

After years of breeding for speed and breeding to sell these colts are not capable of running such high speed figures as yesteryear.As I have stated on this blog many times the Europeans are correct when they say American horses have good blood but bad bones.

You dont actually think they only run once a month if that because the trainers are more conservative.This is a business for the trainers you actually think they would rest their horse instead of running him for a purse.Wake up its not the trainers ITS THE BREED.

One of you on this blog is always referring to the race times of  stake races and stating that so and so is slow because he ran the 4th slowest time in history etc.The reason is that for route racing in stakes THE BREED HAS REGRESSED.

You can argue all you want I know the ones that work in the industry would never admit this unless they are completely honest.

I will bet that no colt matches the Beyer of 109 that Bodemesiter ran at Oaklawn in 2012.KY Vet you were playing Creative Cause after Bode ran a 109,you dont even believe in what you are doing as a Beyer proponent,methodologist or whatever terminology you want to use.

06 Feb 2014 10:11 AM
Pedigree Ann

Brontexx -I go along with you in believing that as a whole, our recent 3yo crops have lacked the strength of bone and muscle to stand up to a real Triple Crown campaign. A very few can manage it, when in the past, trying to get revenge in the Preakness was a common theme. When I was growing up in the sport, 9f preps in over 1:49 were considered slow. Nowadays, many 9f preps are run in 1:50+ and nobody seems to think this is slow.

However, I DO blame trainers as much as breeders. Horses with the same breeding as ours can stand up to proper campaigns in Europe, Australia and South America. Look at Raven's Pass - USA-bred, with 4 races from July to October at 2, he ran against the best from April as a 3yo in the 2000 Guineas, St. James Palace S, Prix Jean Prat, the Sussex S, the QE II and was still in form and ready to upset in the BC Classic. Horses by US shuttle stallions and/or out of US exported mares can be brilliant in these other venues.

Sales prep and fear of visible damage restrict the early development of yearlings, who should be outdoors with their peers and determining the pecking order in their paddocks with running and fight-play. Then trainers would get lean athletes with some bone instead of fat sales animals. You can see why the last 10 years have been dominated by homebreds - no sales prep and no breeding for the sales ring. Breeders and pinhookers get the blame here, no doubt.

But trainers aren't conditioners anymore. They train and train but not enough to develop the fitness that racing more frequently provides. And they depend on the horse's inherit abilities more than fitness, which is backwards - get the horse fit, then you can figure out what his best distance, surface, etc. are. Or that he can do many things well.

The recent emphasis on win-streaks and unbeaten horses has been deleterious as well. Horses who race into true fitness are going to lose now and again, even the greats like Buckpasser. Affirmed took a couple races to get going at 4, then he ran the board. Get over it, breeders and buyers - unbeaten does not mean superior all that often, especially if you are talking about 4,5 races or less.

06 Feb 2014 11:49 AM

Pedigree Ann I read your posts and you have good ideas, Im not going to argue or defend my opinion, but I think the Europeans are successful with American breds because they run them and train them on a more giving surface AW and turf which I think helps out a lot for horses with minor ailments.

PS the last time that I remember a colt breaking 2 minutes in the KD was Monarchos, I am going by memory so If there was another Im sure someone will correct me.

06 Feb 2014 3:21 PM

Why do people like brontexx talk about things they know nothing about?   Here we go again with the breed is weaker know nothing about genetics, which tell you it takes decades to change the breed even a tiny bit.....horses are prehistoric animals.......they are not any weaker......the bone is as strong as simply dont know what you are talking about..........there are still horses that run high beyers.......trainers are better than ever....thats why horses are running less......its the right thing to do......the only thing you said that makes any sense, is they run on turf over there, and turf is a little easier on the horse......they dont run as much as 2yr olds.......

06 Feb 2014 4:31 PM

American breeders do not breed for speed they breed for commercial appeal. Many of the top stallions in the US are capable of producing both speed and stamina. The breeding industry lacks selectivity.

Many of the top stallions are priced out of the reach of breeders with mares that cross effectively with them. The policy of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best, has been a miserable failure.  The policy of breeding mares in their foal heats constitutes animal cruelty.

There are a lot of things wrong with the industry but it will survive.

Great horses come around once in a while and even the a perfect breeding industry will not guarantee their frequency.

06 Feb 2014 5:11 PM

KY Vet: I agree with you that this seems like a very week crop of 3YOs. Precisely for that reason some unknown quantity could break out two races down the road and be good enogh to upset the apple cart. Another possibility with a week crop is that one of the leading lights, with marginal improvement, could just dominate the whole group without really being a great one. It is still too early to be sure but Top Billing and Honor Code, on pedigree could go all the way and are the safest bets. If Shared Belief is healthy and can answer the distance and surface questions he going to be very hard to beat but those are big IFs at this point.

06 Feb 2014 8:30 PM

For me there is one horse that displays the genius of his breeding. He doesn't jump right out at you when you see his dam sire, Not for Love, but without a little investigation you don't realize the thinking behind this breeding. Without a doubt this guy is going places this year and most likely the Derby roses will be on that path, I'll take California Chrome all day long. He is a brilliantly bred horse with one of the best foundations out there at this point.

06 Feb 2014 10:14 PM
Carlos in Cali


Nice going with the 4th overall pick.A healthy and ready Honor Code will be tough to beat in the Derby,I prefer him over the first 3 picks.

I'm following Commissioner for now,who seems to be flying under the radar,but that's ok. He's also a big,strong AP Indy colt who should have no problem getting the 10f.

Positive: Johnny V. will ride him in the FOY.

Negative: 8.5f might be too short for him.

07 Feb 2014 12:27 AM
Little Bill

Every year people jump on the weak crop bandwagon. Does it effect the handle? No. Does it effect the shed? No. Funny, they run the races anyway.

07 Feb 2014 1:02 AM


You should check out the 8th at OP today. I think you might find the horse in the 11 hole very interesting. 6-1 on the M/L.

07 Feb 2014 7:44 AM


Mr. Palmer won recently and I hope Coldfacts can do the double. I will certainly be making an across the board wager..


07 Feb 2014 8:27 AM
Pedigree Ann

Predict - Not for Love is/was a regional sire in Maryland, frequently the top sire there. What makes me notice California Chrome's pedigree is his dam's inbreeding to the great Numbered Account, a mare certainly worth inbreeding to. A champion at 2, she was among the best at three with major wins over older mares in the Spinster and Matchmaker (when at Atlantic City, it was a top race). She herself was inbred to the 3/4 sisters Busanda and Striking, granddaughters of La Troienne.

The sturdy damline must be counted on for getting a distance of ground, because the sire side is more miler sorts. Lucky Pulpit's only stakes win was at 5f (as a 4yo), although he placed in 8-8.5f races at 2 and 3. His second dam, Lucky Spell, was a favorite of mine when I was out in California for university. She won 12 of 69 starts including 2 G3s at 3, the Princess at Hollywood and the Las Palmas at Oak Tree, both turf. But she could main-track as well, winning the Las Flores H at Santa Anita at 4. I was always pulling for her when she ran because she tried; she wasn't quite up to winning the big G1s, but she tried her best.

07 Feb 2014 12:01 PM

Pedigree Ann,

  Thanks for that knowledge on California Chrome's ancestry, you are a wealth of information. I noticed also that Not for Love is a full brother to champion 2 year old in 1989, Rhythm. It seems to me that CC's breeding is like a horse one would expect to see 20 years ago. Maybe that alone will account for some extra sturdiness in his breeding.

07 Feb 2014 12:59 PM

KY Vet Im sure YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT GENETICS AND BREEDING than I do.You cant even pick winners and repeatedly state that you are a pro.A pro of what tiddlywinks.Make your pick NEOPHYTE.

07 Feb 2014 1:49 PM

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