Much of the country was covered by snow and ice during the three-day run of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s second of four pools of its 2014 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), but fan betting produced a hot battle between six 3-year-old Thoroughbreds for the honor of favored individual horse, and trainer Shug McGaughey’s Honor Code (#8) topped that tight group by the betting equivalent of a nose.
There was no surprise in regard to the overall favorite as the Mutuel Field (#24), or “all others”, was the strong bettors’ 3-2 choice in Pool 2, which opened at noon (all times Eastern) on Thursday, Feb. 6 and concluded Saturday at 6 p.m.
Odds tightened through the final hours of betting on individual horses in the pool and Honor Code, winner of last fall’s Remsen (Grade II) at Aqueduct, was the fan favorite to win the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs on May 3 – but only by a whisker.
Honor Code closed at 12-1 to edge Cairo Prince (#2) – a dominant winner of the Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull (GIII) last time out who was narrowly beaten by Honor Code in the Remsen – and his McGaughey-trained stablemate Top Billing (#21), an impressive allowance winner at Gulfstream Park in his most recent outing. Both Cairo Prince and Honor Code closed at 13-1, but the former got the narrow edge as the second wagering choice among individual horses by a margin of $121.
Just behind that trio came unbeaten 2-year-old champion Shared Belief (#17), who bids to provide Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer with his first Kentucky Derby triumph and closed at 14-1; Hopeful (GI) winner Strong Mandate (#18), a 17-1 risk for 78-year-old four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas; and Midnight Hawk (#13), whose odds stood at 19-1 when betting closed approximately one hour prior to his third-place finish for three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert as the betting favorite in the $200,000-added Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita.
The Robert Lewis, Saturday’s Prep Season stop on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby”, the point system that will determine the eligibility of the 20 horses that will compete in this year’s “Run for the Roses,” was won by Candy Boy (#4), who closed at 32-1 in Pool 2 betting.
Other horses that attracted solid betting support in the pool included a pair of horses trained by Todd Pletcher: Commissioner (#5) and Havana (#7). Commissioner, the only horse to defeat Top Billing, closed at 22-1 and Havana, who defeated Honor Code in the Champagne (GI), ended the pool at 28-1.
The unbeaten Indianapolis (#9), another Baffert trainee, closed at 25-1 and Conquest Titan (#6), runner-up to Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull for trainer Mark Casse, was a 29-1 shot when wagering in the pool ended.
Total wagering during Pool 2 was $380,250, which included $92,927 in exacta wagers.
This week’s KDFW pool was the first of 2014, but the second of the Kentucky Derby 140 season following the Nov. 27-30 opening pool – the first autumn pool conducted by Churchill Downs since it introduced the ground-breaking pari-mutuel wager in 1999. The November pool concluded with “All Others” as the odds-on favorite at 4-5 and generated wagering of $273,174, which included $35,096 in exacta wagers.
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager provides fans with the opportunity to wager on contenders for America’s greatest race well in advance of the race at odds the could be much more attractive than those available on the day of the race.
Along with the $2-minimum win betting, KDFW pools offer exacta wagering in the form of $2 minimum straight exacta bets or $1-minimum exacta boxes and part-wheels. No scratches or betting refunds are permitted in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Betting on an individual horse in the pool will be suspended immediately if Churchill Downs determines during the pool that injury, illness or other circumstance would prevent the horse from competing in their respective race.
Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is scheduled to open Thursday, Feb. 27 and close on Saturday, March 1. The Derby wager will be accompanied by the year’s only pool of the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.
The fourth and final KDFW Pool is scheduled for March 27-29.