Racing fans can dream that the finish in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) will have a finish as tight as the fourth and final pool of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s (“CDRT”) Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) as a pair of unbeaten Derby hopes – Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s McCraken (#15) and St. Elias, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, Brooklyn Boyz Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds and Siena Farm’s rising star Always Dreaming (#1) – were separated by a relative handful of dollars when wagering concluded Sunday.

McCraken, trainer Ian Wilkes’ winner of CDRT’s Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and Tampa Bay  Downs’ Sam F. Davis (GIII), closed as the narrow 5-1 favorite over Always Dreaming, an emphatic winner of Saturday’s Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park for 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher. One of five KDFW Pool 4 individual betting interests trained by Pletcher, Always Dreaming opened at odds of 50-1 in Churchill Downs odds-maker Mike Battaglia’s Pool 4 morning line. But Always Dreaming attracted strong support after his Florida Derby triumph and the odds on the son of 2011 Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister had dropped to 6-1 at Sunday’s conclusion of betting.

Final odds were tight behind the top pair as Gunnevera (#10), who finished third as the favorite in the Florida Derby, stood as the 9-1 third choice among Kentucky Derby Futures bettors. The Fountain of Youth (GII) winner was followed closely by reigning 2-year-old champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) winner Classic Empire (#4, 10-1) and the Pletcher-trained Tapwrit (#21, 10-1), winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (GII). The Mutuel Field (#24), the favorite in the first three KDFW pools, included all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the 22 individual wagering interests in Pool 4 and closed as the 11-1 fifth choice.

The pool’s betting roster was reduced to 23 when wagering on El Areeb (#6) was suspended prior to Friday’s opening KDFW session. El Areeb was removed from consideration for the May 6 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs because of injury.

KDFW provides racing fans with the opportunity to wager on contenders for the Kentucky Derby at odds that could be more attractive than those available on the day of America’s greatest race. Payouts in Pool 4’s win and exacta wagering in Pool 4 were determined by the odds in place at its conclusion of wagering.

Wagering in the three-day pool stood at $440,511 when betting closed at 6 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday. The wagering total reflected an increase of 1.2 percent from 2016’s Pool 4 betting of $435,358. This year’s total included $294,665 in $2 win wagering and $145,845 in exacta betting. 

Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools offered $2 minimum win wagering on 24 betting interests that include 23 individual horses and the Mutuel Field, which included all 3-year-old Thoroughbreds other than the individual wagering interests in a respective pool. Each pool also offered $2 exacta wagering on the 24 wagering interests, with the latter also available in $1 minimum increments in boxes and other multiple number configurations.

The official rules of the KDFW prohibit scratches or refunds. As in the case of El Areeb in Pool 4, when Churchill Downs determines that a wagering interest has encountered an injury, illness or other circumstance that would prohibit that horse from competing in the Kentucky Derby, wagering on the individual in that pool is immediately suspended.

Along with Always Dreaming and Tapwrit, Pletcher trainees in KDFW Pool 4 included Battalion Runner (#2, 26-1), Rebel (GII) winner Malagacy (#14, 16-1) and Southwest (GIII) winner One Liner (#17, 18-1).

Others that attracted betting interest in the year’s final Kentucky Derby Futures pool included Girvin (#7, 17-1), the winner of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds for trainer Joe Sharp; Irish War Cry (#12, 21-1), winner of the Holy Bull (GII) for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion; J Boys Echo (#12, 21-1), the Dale Romans-trained winner of the Gotham (GIII) at Aqueduct; and Godolphin’s Thunder Snow (IRE) (#22, 23-1), winner of the $2 million UAE Derby (Group 2) for trainer Saeed bin Suroor at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse. 

CLICK HERE for closing odds at $2 win will-pays for Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4.

For a rundown of $2 exacta will-pays for KDFW Pool 4, CLICK HERE