Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 Analysis
Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) opens Friday (Feb. 27) at noon (ET) and concludes at 6 pm. on Sunday.
The mutuel field closed at 3-1 in Pool 3 of the 2014 KDFW and the morning line odds are the same for this weekend’s edition.
Four individual horses wound up at less than 15-1 odds last year, with Cairo Prince a slight favorite at 9-1, but I’m expecting a bigger discrepancy this weekend as bettors take a strong stand on American Pharoah, Dortmund and Khozan.
Here’s my analysis of the 23 individual interests:
1) American Pharoah – Unraced since September, juvenile champion appears to be training forwardly for return in March 14 Rebel, a race Bob Baffert has captured four of the last five years, and front-running colt will be well-supported in Pool 3. His odds will be too low for my liking.
2) Bolo – He’s raced exclusively on turf in three starts and is playing catch-up after missing some training in late January/early February, forcing him to bypass El Camino Real Derby. Tries dirt in March 7 San Felipe, which will be no easy spot, and don’t know whether he’ll even qualify for the Kentucky Derby – too much of a question mark.
3) Carpe Diem – Unraced since Breeders’ Cup Juvenile second, Giant’s Causeway colt will be back in March 7 Tampa Bay Derby. He closed at 12-1 in Pool 2 (Feb. 6-8) and there’s a chance he could be a little overlooked in Pool 3 given absence – interested if his odds are in the 15-1 range late Sunday afternoon.
4) Danzig Moon – A visually-impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream on Feb. 7, Malibu Moon colt is targeting March 7 Tampa Bay Derby for stakes bow. Won’t argue with anyone who thinks he can be an outstanding late bloomer (2008 Derby winner Big Brown didn’t make stakes debut until late March) but too inexperienced at this stage for me.
5) Daredevil – Distance questions surround speedy colt, who recorded both wins around one turn on wet tracks. Launches 2015 campaign in Saturday’s seven-furlong Swale Stakes, his first attempt since trailing in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
6) Dortmund – Bob Baffert was effusive in his praise for the unbeaten colt following Thursday’s workout and is now considering the March 7 San Felipe after initially planning to wait for April 4 Santa Anita Derby. Two-time graded stakes winner showed an affinity for Churchill Downs when romping over allowance foes last November and may outrun any pedigree concerns, but his price figures to be too short.
7) El Kabeir – He’s run well at 1 1/16 miles, likely ensuring a spot in the field with 25 points already, but 10 furlongs looks like too much to ask this spring.
8) Far From Over – Well-bred colt impressed when overcoming a stumbling start in only his second start, rallying to defeat the seasoned El Kabeir in the Feb. 7 Withers, and he’ll make third attempt for Todd Pletcher in the March 7 Gotham. Improving sophomore could have a high ceiling – I’m looking to get some action.
9) Far Right – Respect the late runner’s winning attitude but question the competition he’s been facing at Oaklawn Park and can’t get excited about his lower Speed ratings and pedigree for 1 ¼ miles.
10) Firing Line – Not sure about his affinity for longer distances but respect his performances so far – talented colt has just missed to Dortmund in his last two starts and his BRIS Speed ratings are increasing nicely. Trainer Simon Callaghan has never had a Kentucky Derby starter and is reportedly considering the March 28 Sunland Derby for colt’s final prep.
11) International Star – He’s taken to the Fair Grounds for Mike Maker, rallying to win the Lecomte and Risen Star going away, and like how finished full of run each time as well as his pedigree for longer distances. Hasn’t defeated top-class company and want to see his BRIS Speed rating keep rising in final prep, but improving type offers some appeal at long odds in Pool 3 – his price figures to be shorter on Derby Day if he continues to move forward in Louisiana Derby.
12) Itsaknockout – Like the turn of foot he displayed rallying to even terms with Upstart in upper stretch of the Fountain of Youth and lightly-raced colt gained valuable seasoning experiencing a rough trip in deep stretch. His pedigree looks well-suited to classic distances and could have a bright future for Todd Pletcher, but disappointed to learn that he’s expected to make his final prep in Florida Derby, which means he will have never raced outside of Gulfstream when he arrives at Churchill Downs.
13) Keen Ice – Confirmed closer clunked up to record a non-threatening third in the Risen Star and maiden winner still has much to prove to be considered a viable contender. His supporters hope that the light bulb suddenly comes on for the Curlin colt, but difficult to have much faith presently.
14) Khozan – No unraced juvenile has won the Kentucky Derby in more than 100 years, but horses are also much more lightly-raced nowadays and some talented individual will eventually get there. Khozan is a prime candidate but connections elected to run him in a one-turn allowance recently instead of trying a route of ground in a stakes race. Supporters will be looking to play him this weekend, figuring his price will be much shorter Derby Day after he rolls in Florida Derby, but won’t offer any appeal to me at single digit odds.
15) Lord Nelson – He’s been a “buzz horse” for Bob Baffert following a victory over Texas Red in the Feb. 1 San Vicente, but he’s only run well in one-turn races (three-for-three) despite a distance-oriented pedigree, recording a pair of unplaced finishes in both route attempts. Will get the opportunity to change the perception in the March 7 San Felipe, but too much of a question mark until he does so.
16) Mr. Z – Regally-bred colt raced early and often despite a stamina-infused pedigree and has clearly regressed from a speed-figure perspective while performing like a miler in his second start of 2015, the Southwest Stakes. Will get a whopping five weeks rest in advance of the March 28 Louisiana Derby, the longest freshening he’s received since making a June debut, but disappointed that he didn’t improve over the winter for four-time Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.
17) Ocean Knight – December debut winner overcame a wide trip to capture the Sam F. Davis last time out and is trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s top prospect following recent debacles from Frosted and Imperia. I like the Curlin colt’s potential.
18) Ocho Ocho Ocho – He’s unbeaten from three starts, earning century-topping BRIS Speed ratings in last two, and makes 2015 bow in March 7 San Felipe. Speedy colt is bred to handle longer distances but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach.
19) Prospect Park – He’s won two straight at Santa Anita, rolling to a visually-impressive 5 ¼-length allowance score on Jan. 30, and won’t be surprised to see him develop into a good one this spring for Clifford Sise Jr. We’ll learn more when he makes stakes debut in March 7 San Felipe.
20) Texas Red – He’s been sidelined with a foot abscess and trainer Keith Desormeaux hopes to have him ready for the April 4 Santa Anita Derby. Will be rooting for him to make it back but Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is in a precarious position.
21) The Great War – Makes second start of 2015 in Saturday’s John Battaglia at Turfway Park and trainer Wesley Ward hopes colt will qualify in March 21 Spiral Stakes on Polytrack. Will be overlooked in Pool 3 but War Front colt possesses dangerous speed and ran well when fourth in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
22) Upstart – Turned in the best performance by any three-year-old this season when capturing Jan. 24 Holy Bull and expected him to regress in Fountain of Youth. Still ran well to finish first (disqualified to second) and his future remains extremely bright – will be watching to see if bettors overlook him on Sunday afternoon.
23) War Story – Exits a pair of seconds in the Lecomte and Risen Star, losing ground in the stretch drive each time to International Star, and not sure how much upside Northern Afleet gelding has stretching out in distance, against deeper company, in upcoming starts.
Outlook: I’ve already played five of the 23 individual interests, betting Upstart (53-1) and The Great War (72-1) in Pool 1; and Itsaknockout (30-1), Ocean Knight (18-1) and Prospect Park (35-1) in Pool 2.
I’ll be looking to get some action in Pool 3 on Far From Over and International Star at long odds, and will take a swing at Carpe Diem and Upstart at odds of 15-1 or higher on Sunday afternoon.