Scouting Report for Pool 3 of Kentucky Derby Future Wager

Profile Picture: James Scully

February 23rd, 2017

Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager begins its three-day run on Friday at noon (ET) and closes Sunday at 6 p.m. has Ultimate Past Performances for Pool 3 and the 2017 Triple Crown nominations.

Here are my thoughts on the 23 individual interests:

#1 ALWAYS DREAMING (50-1 morning line): Placed in a pair of New York sprints as the favorite last summer and returned from long layoff in care of new trainer Todd Pletcher, stretching out to two turns and rolling to an 11-length score at Tampa on January 25. Bodemeister colt will look to back up smashing maiden win when making stakes debut in March 11 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

#2 AMERICAN ANTHEM (15-1): Defeated Iliad and others when making career debut in early December and jumped to stakes company with excellent head second to Grade 1 winner Gormley in one-mile Sham (G3) on January 7. Bred to appreciate longer distances and trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, Bodemeister colt is targeting March 18 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

#3 BATTALION RUNNER (20-1): Second when debuting at Saratoga, Unbridled’s Song colt came back with dazzling maiden tally at Gulfstream on New Year’s Eve. Offered a strong finish to win two-turn debut over entry-level allowance foes on February 3 and Todd Pletcher announced he will point promising gray to April 1 Florida Derby (G1). However, hasn’t been seen on worktab since last outing and supporters are anxiously awaiting return.

#4 CLASSIC EMPIRE (8-1): Towered over divisional rivals after registering 108 BRIS Speed rating winning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but 3-year-old season hasn’t gone to plan for juvenile champion. Didn’t fire recording flat third in Holy Bull (G2) on February 4, with developing foot abscess blamed for no-show performance, but Pioneerof the Nile colt hasn’t worked since race. As a result, trainer Mark Casse has ruled out scheduled start in Fountain of Youth (G2). Classic Empire still has time to get healthy but considering how little he got out of Holy Bull, he faces difficult task of being ready for the Kentucky Derby off a single prep.

#5 EL AREEB (20-1): Should be lower than 20-1 when pool closes at 6 p.m. (ET) Sunday. After posting a pair of convincing sprint wins, including James F. Lewis at Laurel Park last fall, Exchange Rate colt stretched out to two turns in daunting fashion, dominating the January 2 Jerome (G3) and February 4 Withers (G3) on Aqueduct’s inner track. He earned commendable BRIS Speed numbers for those performances and while Cathal Lynch wanted to wait for Wood Memorial (G1), the trainer switched course and said he’ll run in the March 4 Gotham (G3) first because El Areeb is doing so well presently. Gray must still face top-class foes but has plenty going for him.

#6 EPICHARIS (30-1): Japanese colt is 4-for-4 and secured a Kentucky Derby berth winning February 19 Hyacinth at Tokyo. Faces tall task but son of Gold Allure can enhance his reputation with a strong showing in March 25 U.A.E. Derby (G2).

#7 GORMLEY (15-1): Followed a debut maiden tally with a three-length, wire-to-wire victory in FrontRunner (G1) last fall. Bobbled at start and never fired finishing seventh in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), leading to concerns he’s a need-the-lead type, but Malibu Moon colt showed good versatility racing second in early stages of Sham (G3) before gamely out-finishing American Anthem for a narrow win. With commendable BRIS Speed numbers, he must be considered a viable contender for Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner John Shirreffs, who will decide between the March 11 San Felipe (G2) and March 18 Rebel (G2) for Gormley and stablemate Royal Mo.

#8 GUEST SUITE (50-1): He’s 2-for-2 at two turns, recording his first stakes victory in the January 21 Lecomte (G3), but Quality Road gelding will need to up his game after registering only a 93 BRIS Speed rating on the muddy track. Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) promises to be a much stiffer test and should give us a better indication where Guest Suite fits.

#9 GUNNEVERA (20-1): Rallied last-to-first to capture the Saratoga Special (G2) and Delta Jackpot (G3) last year but came up short when trying better rivals in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1). Still needs to improve his BRIS Speed ratings but Dialed In colt appears to be moving the right direction, overcoming a troubled trip to finish a closing second in February 4 Holy Bull (G2), and he’ll try to keep showing more in the Fountain of Youth (G2) on March 4.

#10 ILIAD (15-1): Jury is still out because he hasn’t raced past 7-furlongs but intriguing to say the least. A convincing maiden winner the second time out in mid-December, Ghostzapper ridgling continued to thrash the competition after being transferred to two-time Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neill, recording an eye-catching 3 ½-length decision in San Vicente (G2) on February 12. By a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, he’s out of a dam who has already produced a graded stakes winner at 1 ½ and 1 ¾ miles so there’s every indication Iliad should find longer distances to his liking. The talent appears there and we’ll learn more when he stretches out for the March 11 San Felipe (G2).

#11 IRISH WAR CRY (12-1): Has done everything right so far, capturing a pair of sprints at Laurel Park before stepping up with a 3 ¾-length victory in the February 4 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, and Curlin colt has posted triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings in back-to-back starts. Certainly a top contender presently but he’ll need to keep improving for Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner Graham Motion, with the March 4 Fountain of Youth (G2) up next. Would like to see New Jersey-bred show more versatility after winning last two wire-to-wire.

#12 LOCAL HERO (50-1): His closing price will be dependent upon how he performs in Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. Hard Spun colt lacks experience but could factor in stakes debut following a smashing 7 ¼-length maiden win over the track in his first two-turn attempt on January 25.

#13 MALAGACY (30-1): Established himself as a big-time prospect to win major stakes at one-turn distances, registering 104 and 103 BRIS Speed ratings for superb sprint wins in his first two career starts at Gulfstream, but Shackleford colt doesn’t appear to have serious Kentucky Derby aspirations.

#14 MASTERY (10-1): Once he made it to the races in late October, Candy Ride colt steamrolled the competition in three starts including a 7 ¼-length triumph in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in mid-December. Shows a series of smoking workouts for his return in the March 11 San Felipe (G2) and is in good hands with four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert. Could be any kind.

#15 MCCRAKEN (8-1): Surprised to see him the same 8-1 morning line as Classic Empire – McCraken has seized the role of early Kentucky Derby favorite and should be much lower than his rival at the conclusion of Pool 3. After comfortably taking his first three starts last year, all under the Twin Spires including the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in late November, Ghostzapper colt continued his winning ways in the February 11 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa, scoring geared down by a 1 ½-length margin. Ian Wilkes has been down this path before, serving as the head assistant for Carl Nafzger-trained Kentucky Derby winners Unbridled and Street Sense, and didn’t have McCraken cranked the first-time out. He’s looking to build upon each prep with the March 11 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) next.

#16 MO TOWN (15-1): Concluded juvenile campaign on a good note, rolling to a seven-length maiden tally at Belmont Park before posting a 2 ½-length score in the Remsen (G2) that netted him a 101 BRIS Speed rating, and he’s the top-ranked son of Uncle Mo, who was represented by Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in his first crop. But the impact of contesting the 1 1/8-mile Remsen, along with the quality of the 2016 field, has been maligned and some doubt surrounds Mo Town as a result. Thankfully, he returns in Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds so we’ll get a gauge whether he’s legit or not.

#17 ONE LINER (15-1): Stylishly joined the Kentucky Derby conversation in the February 20 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn, drawing away to a 3 ½-length decision in his stakes and two-turn bow, and unbeaten Into Mischief colt finished like he had more to offer in the 1 1/16-mile race, registering a commendable 101 BRIS Speed rating. He’ll receive some time off, with Todd Pletcher indicating a preference for only one more prep over the next 2+ months, and a speed-oriented pedigree is a concern for up-and-coming sophomore.

#18 PETROV (30-1): Appreciate how he improved upon a non-threatening second in the January 21 Smarty Jones, threatening to win the February 20 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn in upper stretch before posting a respectable second, 8 ¼ lengths clear of third, and Flatter colt has never finished worse than second in four career starts for Ron Moquett. He’s game, but we’ll see whether the gray can continue to step up against deeper company at extended trips or if middle distances prove to be his forte.

#19 PRACTICAL JOKE (20-1): Multiple Grade 1 winner concluded last year with a third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and will make his highly-anticipated sophomore debut in the March 4 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Into Mischief colt appears to be training forwardly at Palm Meadows and gives reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown a chance to make a serious impact in the Kentucky Derby.

#20 ROYAL MO (15-1): A maiden winner in late November, Uncle Mo colt opened 2017 with wire-to-wire win in February 4 Robert B. Lewis (G3) but appeared to beat little and earned only a 95 BRIS Speed rating. He’ll need to keep moving forward because the competition promises to get much steeper next time for John Shirreffs trainee.

#21 STATE OF HONOR (50-1): Improved with addition of blinkers in February 11 Sam F. Davis (G3), holding for third after setting the pace, and To Honor and Serve colt will remain on the Kentucky Derby trail for Mark Casse. Don’t know whether he’ll ultimately prove suited for Triple Crown events and Ontario-bred may wind up being redirected to Woodbine this spring to prep for the Queen’s Plate in early July.

#22 TAPWRIT (20-1): Gave a fine account finishing second to McCraken in February 11 Sam F. Davis (G3), his first appearance in a Kentucky Derby qualifier for Todd Pletcher, and Tapit colt will be back for Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 11. May continue to show more in future preps but 10 furlongs is a question mark with broodmare sire Successful Appeal.

#23 WILD SHOT (50-1): Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) runner-up weakened to fourth when opening year in Sam F. Davis (G3) on February 11. He’ll try to show more next time, but it’s easy to question whether longer distances will be optimal for Trappe Shot colt this spring.


I played Irish War Cry at 26-1 in Pool 1, and have some action on American Anthem (15-1) and Mo Town (15-1) in Pool 2.

For Pool 3, El Areeb and Iliad are a couple of runners of interest – both have the potential to be lower odds on Kentucky Derby Day.

El Areeb is listed at 20-1 and any price higher than 10-1 represents potential value given he’ll be single-digit odds if he wins the Gotham and Wood Memorial as the probable favorite.

Iliad is more of a flier in advance of his first start in a Kentucky Derby qualifier, but I’m hoping he will drift up to 20-1 or higher. 

Looking for more options similar to the Kentucky Derby Future Wager? Then try the Kentucky Derby Dream Bet and the Kentucky Derby Betting Challenge!