2018 Kentucky Derby Futures Pool 2 Recap and Analysis

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D.S. Williamson

February 13th, 2018

The 2018 Kentucky Derby Futures Pool 2 took place this past weekend. As to be expected, Bolt d'Oro remained one of the favorites at 8/1. Also at 8/1 is Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic. Audible, who captured the Grade 2 Holy Bull, ended up the second choice at 9/1. Also at 9/1 is the Bob Baffert trained McKinzie.

Montauk, like Audible a Todd Pletcher trainee, is off the Derby Trail. Montauk was taken off the board. You can check out the final 2018 Kentucky Derby Futures Pool 2 odds here. After studying the odds, I made a few of my own conclusions. Below, check out those conclusions.

Top Overlay:  Avery Island  27/1

Sure, he didn't beat much in the Grade 3 Withers at 1 1/8 miles over the Aqueduct dirt this past Saturday. No worries. Avery Island was part of a 23.33 first quarter-mile, and a 47.08 half-mile. That's fast for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct in February. I like how he strolled away from his competition, and then lengthened for the win.

His breeding is top-notch, sired by Street Sense and from an A.P. Indy mare. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin knows what he's doing while it's about time Godolphin saddled a real Kentucky Derby contender. Avery Island shouldn't be at 27 to 1 win on the First Saturday in May. I think he only gets better.

Biggest Individual Underlay:  Bolt d'Oro 8/1

He won't make his three-year-old debut until March 10 in the San Felipe Stakes. That gives trainer Mick Ruis precious little time to get Bolt d'Oro ready for the toughest race of his life. I'd give him a big shot to win the Derby if this year's three-year-old crop wasn't so deep.

I also believe fellow favorites Audible, Good Magic, and McKinzie have more upside than Bolt d'Oro. I could be wrong, but he might have peaked as a 2-year-old. I'm just not sure how much better he can get than what he showed in 2017.

Worst Bet:  Mutuel Field 5/2 - Flameaway

The worst bet in Pool 2, in my opinion, anyhow, was the mutuel field at 5/2. Sure, Always Dreaming was part of the mutuel field in the 2017 Kentucky Derby Futures Pool 2. He won the Run for the Roses. However, Always Dreaming benefited from an inside speed bias. The best three-year-old last year until West Coast emerged was Classic Empire. He got hung out to dry in the Derby. He was also somewhat short in that race.

Those who bet on the mutuel field down to 5/2 had to love how Flameaway held off Catholic Boy in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. Flameaway could improve to be a Derby contender. I'm not sure it happens, though. He finished the 1 1/16 miles Sam F. Davis in 1:42.44. It took Avery Island only 9 more seconds to win the 1 1/8 mile Withers on the same day. Not only that, but Avery Island was coasting to his victory while Flameaway had to work hard.

Another horse that's part of the mutuel field is Kanthaka. Kanthaka chased a 44.25 half-mile in the 7 furlongs San Vicente Stakes to a big win over 3/5 Ax Man from the Bob Baffert barn. The win didn't impress me that much. Ax Man's only victory was a maiden score while the race set up beautifully for the more than $24 winner.

I could be wrong, but it's going to take a super horse, or a bunch of injuries, to rise up and beat Avery Island, Good Magic, McKinzie,  Audible, Mendehlsson (if he makes the trip), Instilled Regard, Principe Guilherme, Solomini, Bolt d'Oro, Mask, Mourhino, and Catholic Boy. I don't see it happening this year.

Top Pick Based on Performance:  Instilled Regard 18/1

Those who believe in Beyer Speed Figures no doubt disregard Instilled Regards win in the LeComte Stakes. I've used Brisnet speed ratings for the past 15 to 20 some odd years, which means Instilled Regard is easily my top pick in the 2018 Kentucky Derby Futures Pool 2 at 18/1 odds.

The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has gotten better with every race. I love how relaxed he looks when he runs. He also has a decent turn of foot. Must he get better to win the Derby? Sure, but I have no doubt he will.

This Saturday's Derby prep races are the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and the Risen Star Stakes, where Instilled Regard is likely to face-off against Principe Guilherme again, at the Fair Grounds. There's also a Derby prep race in Japan, the Hyacinth at Tokyo Racecourse.