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Feb 15, 2013

Mutuel Field - Heavy favorite in Kentucky Derby Future Wager

By: By Jeff Frank, The Sports Analyst

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) gives horseplayers three separate pools to gamble on the Run for the Roses prior to May. The first one closed this past Sunday with the mutuel field the heavy 8-5 favorite.

That is not to say the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner will be one of the hundreds of horses lumped into the "all others" wager. Last year, I'll Have Another was a single entrant in Pool 1 and those fortunate to bet on the Doug O'Neill- trained colt were blessed with a $60.20 payout on a $2 wager. Sometimes, it pays to play the KDFW as was the case in 2012 since I'll Have Another paid just $32.60 on Derby Day.

Other times, it does not. Two years ago, Animal Kingdom paid $43.80 on the first Saturday in May. The Derby winner was not a single entrant in Pool 1 (or 2) and those folks who bet on the mutuel field in Pool 1 received just $6.20. On a side note, the best time to have played Animal Kingdom was in Pool 3 when he went off at 31-1.

Back in 2009, Mine That Bird gave his backers $103.20 for winning the Derby on the first Saturday in May. However, the unheralded colt was lumped in the field in the first Future Wager and the payout was a measly $5.80.

This is the 15th year the KDFW has been in place and a horse from the mutuel field in Pool 1 has won the Kentucky Derby six times. Incidentally, for those not keeping track, Pool 2 also has seen a horse in the field win the Derby six times - the same exact total as Pool 1.

For those folks who did not keep track, Animal Kingdom (2011), Mine That Bird (2009), Big Brown (2008), Smarty Jones (2004), War Emblem (2002) and Charismatic (1999) were in the mutuel field the last 14 years.

Even though six of the last 14 Derby winners (43 percent) came from the field, betting on "all others" is not the smartest wager to make since the payout is usually on the small side.

As mentioned, Animal Kingdom paid $6.20 and Mine That Bird paid $5.80. Only in 1999, the first year of the KDFW, did a mutuel field winner pay less than $8.60.

The key factor when considering what wagers to make in these pools is value. To analyze this, let's take a look at 2010 when Super Saver won the Derby.

The son of Maria's Mon was a single entrant in all three pools - 20-1 in Pool 1, 24-1 in Pool 2 and 35-1 in Pool 3 after he lost both the Tampa Bay Derby and the Arkansas Derby. Surprisingly, he was just 8-1 on Derby Day so the value certainly was in Pool 3.


The main thing that jumped out at me looking at the Pool 1 odds was the number of single entrants lower than 20-1. In 2010, there were just two horses in that range. In 2011 and 2012, five horses each were below 20-1. This year, seven of the 23 were 19-1 or lower, and Goldencents just missed the cut at 20-1.

Of the 23 single entrants, there were a few that demanded some attention.

Uncaptured and Overanalyze wound up much higher than their morning line odds, while Mylute, a horse I wrote about a few weeks ago, took the fewest money of all 23 entries.

Verrazano (No. 1 in the Dirty Dozen) closed as the slight favorite (among the single entrants) over Flashback, while Normandy Invasion (second in the Dirty Dozen) wound up the seventh choice.

I wrote a lot about the former last week so now it's time to give the latter a chance to shine.

Sons of Tapit have not been too successful getting the 1 1/4-mile distance. Nevertheless, Normandy Invasion might not fit that description. He doesn't look like your typical son of Tapit. He's not gray and his running style is the complete opposite of what you would expect from the sire of Hansen, Flashback and He's Had Enough.

Normandy Invasion will make two starts as a 3-year-old before the first Saturday in May. That might not be a bad strategy since the last six Kentucky Derby winners came into the race with only two starts at three.


1) Verrazano - Next start still up in the air

2) Normandy Invasion - Gearing up for Risen Star

3) Flashback - Could start two more times before Derby

4) Violence - Solid 5-furlong work this past Sunday

5) Itsmyluckyday - Has not worked since winning Holy Bull

6) Overanalyze - Did not get much backing in Future Wager

7) Shanghai Bobby - One more start before Derby

8) Goldencents - Working like a champ at Santa Anita

9) Revolutionary - Must learn how to break from gate

10) Uncaptured - Was worth a few bucks in Pool 1

11) Palace Malice - Pletcher loaded with six in Dirty Dozen

12) Orb - Back on work tab last week after allowance win

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