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.

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