Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 Scouting Report

Profile Picture: James Scully

January 26th, 2017

Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) kicks off its three-day run on Friday and I’ll give my thoughts on the 23 individual interests below.

Here are links to Ultimate PPs for Pool 2 of the KDFW and the 2017 Triple Crown nominations.

Program numbers included as well as the odds from Pool 1 in late November (if applicable):

#1 AMERICAN ANTHEM (new addition): Recorded an excellent head second to Grade 1 winner Gormley when making 2nd career start in Jan. 7 Sham (G3) & love the potential of the Bob Baffert-trained colt. Son of Bodemeister hails from an A.P. Indy mare who is a half-sister to champion Banshee Breeze, a Grade 1 winner at 1 ¼ miles & 1 ½ miles. Very live.

#2 BATTALION RUNNER (new addition): He’s my favorite of four Todd Pletcher runners in Pool 2. Son of Unbridled’s Song missed break & finished second when making debut last June. Reappeared with an 8 ¾-length maiden tally on Dec. 31, registering an outstanding 100 BRIS Speed rating at 7f. Out of a mare by Tapit, the sire of two Belmont Stakes winners, gray colt could have much more to offer.

#3 CLASSIC EMPIRE (6-1 pool 1): Unanimously named champion 2-year-old, Mark Casse pupil closed as the only individual interest at single-digit odds in Pool 1 & will offer little value this weekend. His 108 BRIS Speed rating from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is easily tops among Kentucky Derby prospects & well-bred Pioneerof the Nile colt is 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs. Returns in Feb. 4 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream.

#4 EL AREEB (new addition): After a pair of convincing wins at Laurel, gray colt joined the Kentucky Derby trail with a whopping 11-length decision in the Jerome (G3) that netted him a second consecutive triple-digit BRIS Speed rating. Certainly intriguing at this stage but will face deeper competition as he stretches out in distance for future engagements.

#5 FACT FINDING (74-1 pool 1): A debut winner in early August, unbeaten colt has recorded three straight convincing victories, including the Dec. 10 Smooth Air at a one-turn mile, while being conservatively handled by Pletcher. Let’s see how he fares at two turns in a Kentucky Derby qualifier.

#6 FAJA (new addition): Overlooked at nearly 7-1 in debut, Pletcher trainee rolled to an 8 ¾-length maiden victory on Dec. 17 & Bodemeister colt counts Triple Crown winner Affirmed as his second damsire. He’s the only horse in Pool 2 with a single start to his credit & Pletcher has mentioned possibly aiming for an allowance tilt before testing stakes waters. Can’t get too excited at this point.

#7 GORMLEY (37-1 pool 1): Grade 1-winning juvenile is a serious contender out west for the Zenyatta connections (Moss/Shirreffs), who captured the 2005 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 Giacomo. By Malibu Moon, colt registered career-best 102 BRIS Speed rating opening 2017 with game Sham win & hails from a stamina-infused female family. Plenty to like at this stage & will watch to see if he gets overlooked in the wagering.

#8 GUEST SUITE (new addition): Now 2-for-2 at two turns after opening year with Lecomte (G3) win but Quality Road gelding registered only a 93 BRIS Speed rating. Still has much to prove in what appears to be a deep crop.

#9 GUNNEVERA (22-1 pool 1): Deep closer concluded juvenile season with resounding 5 ¾-length victory in Delta Jackpot (G3). A well-beaten fifth to Classic Empire in Breeders’ Futurity (G1) two back, Dialed In colt still has quality concerns & his BRIS numbers are a little light. Some appeal with his late kick but employing a wait-and-see approach this year.

#10 IRISH WAR CRY (26-1 pool 1): Played him in Pool 1 & looking forward to first appearance in a points’ race. Curlin colt opened career with an impressive effort, rallying to win going away despite less-than-favorable trip & wound up on the lead by default when making second outing in Dec. 31 Marylander, digging in gamely to repel a stakes-winning rival. BRIS Speed ratings are strong (99 & 100) & Polish Numbers can be found in immediate female family (second dam sire) just like California Chrome (broodmare sire).

#11 LOOKIN AT LEE (37-1 pool 1): Never a serious win threat but late runner gave a solid account of himself producing a pair of runner-up finishes in points’ races & a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). However, lower BRIS numbers are a concern as late runner will need to improve significantly at age 3 to make a major impact.

#12 MASTERY (10-1 pool 1): Didn’t face much but looked the part rolling to a 7 ¼-length decision in his two-turn bow, the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in mid-December. Wet weather appears to be adversely affecting his training schedule, with only one work (Jan. 18) since December, but four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert knows how to get them ready. Mike Smith very keen on talented colt.

#13 MCCRAKEN (12-1 pool 1): He’s been flattered by Guest Suite & Uncontested, who were no match for the unbeaten juvenile last season but came back to win Kentucky Derby qualifiers this year. By Ghostzapper, Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner loves Churchill Downs (3-for-3) & has shown a formidable late turn of foot. Imposing sophomore is targeting the Feb. 11 Sam F. Davis (G3) & figures to be the second choice among individual interests in Pool 2.

#14: MO TOWN (12-1 pool 1): Broke his maiden in eye-catching fashion & left no doubt to his superiority in the Remsen (G2), registering a 101 BRIS Speed rating for the 2 ½-length decision. Talented colt will try to give Uncle Mo his second straight Kentucky Derby winner from two crops & could prove to be a bargain at anything near his 20-1 morning line odds.

#15 MONT SAINT LEGAME (new addition): Tough to get a read on Japanese-based colt, who earned 40 points toward a Kentucky Derby berth winning a one-mile event at Tokyo Racecourse in late November.

#16 NO DOZING (40-1 pool 1): No match for Mo Town but offered a fine closing kick to finish a clear second in the Remsen (G2). Owned & bred by Barbaro’s connections (Lael Stables), Union Rags colt made fine progress last season for Arnaud Delacour & possesses plenty of pedigree for longer distances. View him as an interesting sleeper who promises to be overlooked in Pool 2.

#17 PETROV (new addition): Runner-up in 6-furlong Kings Swan at Aqueduct in December, Flatter colt opened 2017 with non-threatening second in one-mile Smarty Jones. He’s yet to run fast in three starts & can’t envision him thriving at longer distances against deeper competition.

#18 PRACTICAL JOKE (26-1 pool 1): Displayed excellent determination posting narrow victories in the Hopeful (G1) & Champagne (G1) & wound up a respectable third in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). He’s eligible to make a significant impact in preps but still have some doubts whether 10 furlongs will be a good fit for Into Mischief colt.

#19 SONIC MULE (new addition): Gutted out a narrow win in Jan. 7 Mucho Macho Man but I’ll be surprised to see any of those runners emerge as legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders. He’s by Distorted Humor but has dropped both two-turn starts. And while he’s 4-for-5 at one turn, the lone setback came in his only graded outing.

#20 STATE OF HONOR (new addition): Mucho Macho Man runner-up recorded his only victory on Polytrack & is 0-for-3 in two-turn starts. To Honor and Serve colt appears up against it.

#21 UNCONTESTED (76-1 pool 1): Opened 2017 in fine fashion, recording 5 ¾-length win in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, but had everything his own way on front end over a sloppy track. No surprise to see him take the wet conditions (sire Tiz Wonderful’s offspring wins at 19% on off track) & question whether he can carry his form forward against better company at longer distances.

#22 UNTRAPPED (new addition): Concluded juvenile season with a runaway maiden score at Churchill Downs but race didn’t come back fast. Son of Trappe Shot rallied determinedly to get up for second in the latter stages of the Lecomte (G3) but registered another disappointing BRIS Speed rating (91). He’ll need to run much faster in upcoming engagements to establish himself as a serious contender.

#23 WILD SHOT (83-1 pool 1): Concluded last year with a couple of respectable performances, finishing third in Breeders’ Futurity (G1) & second in Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). He brings good speed to the equation but Trappe Shot colt has lost ground in the stretch of both two-turn starts. Could make an impact in preps but tough to get excited about his chances at longer distances this spring.

Betting Strategy

I played a pair of horses in Pool 1, Irish War Cry and Beach Bum, but the latter is now out of Kentucky Derby consideration.

With a total 22 horses in Pool 1 after an early scratch, only four wound up being less than 20-1 at the conclusion. I’m hoping for a similar scenario this weekend, with #3 Classic Empire, #12 Mastery and #13 McCraken being a given. #1 American Anthem and #7 Gormley are also candidates to be under the 20-1 threshold, but the possibility remains that either could be a little overlooked.

I will jump aboard if American Anthem or Gormley is hovering around 20-1 or higher Sunday afternoon before Pool 2 closes at 6 p.m. (ET).

#2 Battalion Runner and #14 Mo Town (both 20-1 morning line) are two other horses I am looking to play barring an unexpected odds drop.