Analyzing Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

The COVID-19 outbreak has shuttered racing at many tracks throughout North America, which means there isn't a single graded stakes race on the agenda in the U.S. this weekend.

But never fear! Even though there isn't much racing action to cover, we can always start planning for the future. Literally. Since the Kentucky Derby has been postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5, Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4—which opens for betting on Friday—promises to be more intriguing than usual.

With the Run for the Roses suddenly five months away, are the established stars still worth betting at short prices? Or should we think outside the box? Depending on how the odds unfold, here are three options I'll consider betting this week:

#4 Enforceable (50-1)

As a son of Tapit out of the Dixie Union mare Justwhistledixie, Enforceable is a half- or full-sibling to Mohayman, Kingly, and New Year's Day, all graded stakes winners running a mile or farther. And since Tapit's best 3-year-olds tend to thrive running long (think Belmont Stakes winners Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit), it seems safe to assume Enforceable has the pedigree to excel over classic distances.

Enforceable has already shown talent running long. Winner of the 1 1/16-mile Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, Enforceable was compromised by slow paces when finishing second in the Risen Star (G2) and fifth in the Louisiana Derby (G2), but despite these unfavorable setups, he refused to give up and was gaining ground late in both races.

Considering Enforceable has been racing steadily since May 2019, the postponement of the Kentucky Derby might actually be to his benefit, allowing him to slow down and refresh before gearing up for the second half of the season. I'm optimistic he'll keep improving with maturity, in which case he'd be an intriguing play at 50-1 or higher.

#18 Sole Volante (30-1)

Although he's bred to thrive on turf, Sole Volante has shown a lot of potential on dirt this winter. I was particularly impressed with his performance in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Reserved far off the pace early on, Sole Volante unleashed a tremendous rally during the second half of the race, sprinting the third quarter-mile in :23.26 and the final five-sixteenths in :30.53 to win by 2 1/2 lengths over the talented Independence Hall.

Sole Volante was subsequently beaten 4 3/4 lengths by King Guillermo in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G2), but I believe his effort was better than it appears at first glance. In a slow-paced race dominated by speed horses (the three pacesetters finished first, third, and fourth), Sole Volante was the only late runner to make an impact, rallying up the rail to finish clearly second-best. He again posted strong fractions during the second half of the race, sprinting the third quarter in :23.61 and the final five-sixteenths in :30.62.

Sole Volante has already put up some solid Beyer speed figures, and if he keeps improving through the spring and summer, he can be a factor on the first Saturday in September. He's bred to relish 1 1/4 miles, and the main track at Churchill Downs has a reputation for playing kindly toward turf horses, so it's possible Sole Volante will enjoy the footing at Churchill even more than Tampa Bay Downs. At 30-1, I think he's worth a bet.

#24: All Other 3-Year-Olds (5-2)

It might seem as though we're right in the thick of Derby season, but a lot can change between now and the first Saturday in September. One only needs to review the list of recent Travers (G1) winners to see how different the 3-year-old landscape can look in late summer compared to spring. Arrogate (2016), West Coast (2017), Catholic Boy (2018)... they were nowhere to be found during the spring classics, but by September they had emerged as the best sophomores left standing. Arrogate and West Coast even earned championship titles.

Of course, the postponement of the Kentucky Derby could change the typical flow of the season. Today's top 3-year-olds won't have to go through the grind of the spring classics, which might help them avoid burnout and remain competitive through the summer. But even still, the picture could change quickly as hoses hit growth spurts and improve or regress as a result. Considering all the variables in play, doesn't 5-2 seem like a fair price for the All Other 3-Year-Olds option?

Think of what you're actually betting here. Odds of 5-2 represent a perceived 28.57% chance of winning. If you believe there's a ~1 in 3 chance of an unheralded sophomore stepping up to surprise on the first Saturday in September, then 5-2 is a fair bet. There are certainly plenty of promising prospects out there—for example, the powerful Fair Grounds maiden winner Mystic Guide, a beautifully-bred son of Ghostzapper out of the five-time Grade 1 winner Music Note. Or Bob Baffert's Cezanne, a highly regarded son of Curlin who sold for $3.65 million as a 2-year-old-in-training.

Betting individual horses is a lot more fun, but assuming the 5-2 morning line odds hold up, I think the best value in this pool will come from the All Other 3-Year-Olds option.

Now it's your turn! Which horses look most appealing to you in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He is the founder of the horse racing website

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