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Union Rags Favored in Final Kentucky Derby Futures Pool
Chadds Fords Stable’s Union Rags (#22), a dazzling winner of the Fountain of Youth (Grade II) at Gulfstream Park and the expected favorite in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (GI), is expected to be the people’s choice to emerge as the early favorite for the 138th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) in the third and final wagering pool in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) that kicks off its three-day run on Friday, March 30.
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has installed the Michael Matz-trained son of Dixie Union as the 3-1 favorite in his morning line odds for the 24 wagering interests in the three-day pool that will conclude on Sunday, April 1 at the special closing time of 6:30 p.m. (Eastern). KDFW pools normally close at 6 p.m., but wagering in the pool will be extended by 30 minutes to allow fans to consider the results of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds, which has a scheduled Sunday post time of 5:55 p.m.
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager allows fans of the famed “Run for the Roses” the opportunity to wager on contenders for the race weeks in advance. Those bettors will receive odds that are in place at Sunday’s conclusion of betting, and those odds could be considerably larger and more attractive than those available at Churchill Downs on the day of the race.
Wagering on KDFW Pool 3 opens at noon on Friday at racetracks and off-track betting facilities across North America, and online at TwinSpires.com and other advance deposit wagering platforms. The Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a $2 minimum wager and offers win and exacta wagering, along with $1 exacta boxes and part-wheels.
Betting has been brisk in the first two KDFW pools of 2012, with a total of $1,042,672 wagered thus far. The year’s opening pool attracted betting of $631,304, a record individual pool total for the wager that was introduced in 1999. The $411,368 wagered in Pool 2 was the third-highest betting total for that pool in KDFW history.
Union Rags’ status of favorite for both Pool 2 and the Kentucky Derby would likely be strengthened if he turns in another impressive effort in the Florida Derby, but a loss or an effort perceived to be sub-par could throw support to other wagering interests in the field. Battaglia has installed Dr. Kendall Hansen and Sky Chai Racing’s Hansen (#8), the reigning 2-year-old champion who handed Union Rags his only career loss in last fall’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Churchill Downs, as the co-second choice in Pool 3 at 6-1. Also at 6-1 is the mutuel field (#24), which includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses in the pool.
"All Others” was favored at 3-2 in the first KDFW pool of 2012, which ran from Feb. 10-12, and was a narrow 3-1 bettors’ choice in the wager’s March 2-4 second pool. Union Rags was the favored individual horse in both pools, closing at 7-1 in Pool 1 and 4-1 in Pool 2.
Hansen, a gray son of Tapit trained by Mike Maker, capped an unbeaten 2-year-old campaign with his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but started his 2012 season with a disappointing runner-up finish to Algorithms in the Holy Bull (GIII) at Gulfstream Park. He rebounded with an impressive victory in the Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct, his fourth victory in five career races.
Other horses expected to attract significant fan support during the year’s final Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool include San Felipe (GII) winner Creative Cause (#3, 10-1), third to Hansen and Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; Risen Star (GII) winner El Padrino (#6, 12-1); San Felipe runner-up Bodemeister (#2, 12-1); Rebel (GII) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle (#20, 15-1); Sunland Derby (GIII) winner Daddy Nose Best (#4, 15-1); Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) winner Gemologist (#7, 20-1); Robert B. Lewis (GII) winner I’ll Have Another (#10, 20-1) and Withers (GIII) winner Alpha (#1, 20-1).
Daddy Nose Best, a son of the hot sire Scat Daddy owned by Cathy and Bob Zollars and trained by Steve Asmussen, is one of six new wagering interests in KDFW Pool 3. He is joined on the roster of newcomers by Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby (#16, 50-1), a nominee to both the Kentucky Derby and the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) that is the first filly to be included in any of this year’s Derby Future pools.
Trained by Churchill Downs-based Gary Hartlage, On Fire Baby won the Golden Rod (GII) and Pocahontas (GII) last fall at Churchill Downs and scored an impressive victory in Oaklawn Park’s Honeybee (GIII) in her most recent outing. On Fire Baby could tackle males in the Arkansas Derby (GI) in her next start.
Also among the new betting interests in Pool 3 is Team Valor’s duo of Vinery Racing Spiral (GIII) winner Went the Day Well (#23, 30-1) and Howe Great (#9,30-1), winner of the Palm Beach (GIII) on turf at Gulfstream Park. Both colts are trained by Graham Motion, who guided Team Valor’s Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Rounding out the newcomers are John C. Oxley’s Prospective, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) for trainer Mark Casse, and Bluegass Hall LLC’s Optimizer (#17, 50-1), a fast-closing runner-up in the Rebel trained by Hall of Famer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.
Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert trains three Pool 3 betting interests: Bodemeister, Secret Circle and Liaison (#11, 30-1). Trainers with two horses in the pool include Todd Pletcher (El Padrino, Gemologist), Dale Romans (#5 Dullahan, #15 News Pending), Asmussen (Daddy Nose Best, #19 Sabercat) and Motion.
There are no scratches or refunds in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. If it is determined during any KDFW Pool that a wagering interest has suffered an injury or illness that would prevent that horse from competing in the Kentucky Derby, wagering on that betting interest would be suspended immediately.
Wagering interests for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools are chosen by a four-member panel that includes Ed DeRosa, Marketing Director for Brisnet; Mike Watchmaker, National Handicapper for Daily Racing Form; Brad Free, DRF West Coast correspondent; and John Asher, Vice President, Communications at Churchill Downs.