Sires Power Value in Dueling 2017 Kentucky Derby Future Wagers

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Ed DeRosa

November 22nd, 2016

When handicapping Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool 1 and the complementary Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager, the most important fact might not be in the past performances of this year’s contenders but in the wager itself (click links for FREE Past Performances for both wagers).

In 2015 (for the 2016 Derby), Nyquist was the individual wagering choice when he closed pool 1 at 7.9-to-1 on the strength of an undefeated season that culminated with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Nyquist’s sire, Uncle Mo, was 9.1-to-1 in the corresponding sire wager.

That’s right, you got paid more for betting Uncle Mo to sire the Derby winner than you did for picking his progeny Nyquist to be the Derby winner. This makes no sense, of course, given that a bet on Uncle Mo included not only Nyquist but also every other of his progeny, but that’s what happened.

Can it happen again? Mike Battaglia thinks so, as Classic Empire is 8-to-1 on his morning line in the individual pool while the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner’s sire, Pioneerof the Nile, is the 12-to-1 second choice behind 10-to-1 Tapit.

In last year’s inaugural sire future wager, Tapit closed as the 7-to-1 favorite while Pioneerof the Nile was 22.9-to-1. Given American Pharoah in the rear view mirror AND Classic Empire on the road ahead, Pioneerof the Nile is unlikely to be that price again, but at even half those odds he’s not a terrible bet given that Classic Empire figures to be 6- or 8-to-1 to win the Derby (final price depends heavily on the action #24 [all others] takes), and it’s worth noting that Classic Empire is already down to 8-to-1 in Las Vegas.

Pioneerof the Nile is one of four individual sires to have sired a Derby winner. Those sires—Distorted Humor (Funny Cide), Malibu Moon (Orb), Pioneerof the Nile (American Pharoah), and Uncle Mo (Nyquist)—are 4-for-17 with their Kentucky Derby starters while the other 16 sires with crops of racing age are winless from 54 starts; that’s a worse record than trainer Todd Pletcher!

This year's individual interests have sired the Derby winner four of the past 14 years, including three of the last four. The chart below includes the sires and winners of 2004-2012 and 2014.

Amazing, the other three sires—Bodemeister, Gemologist, and Union Rags—each have their first crop of racing age eligible for next year’s Kentucky Derby and all three raced in the 2012 Derby, finishing 2nd, 16th, and 7th, respectively. I’d be inclined to play a horse who’s done it before or one of the freshman sires before a perennial loser like Giant’s Causeway (0-for-8), Tapit (0-for-7), or Unbridled’s Song (0-for-7). That’s not to say they’re not great sires—they obviously are—but they’ve had their chances and are a combined 22-0-1-0.

The flip side of that argument is that these three sires have shown they have what it takes to get a horse to the Kentucky Derby, which is certainly part of the battle. Consider Bernardini, who has had every chance but only 3 starters, or Medaglia d’Oro and Speightstown—known names with no Derby starters.

Still, Tapit will have to beat me this far out at short odds.

As far as the individual pool goes, it’s pretty much Classic Empire and everyone else for me. Some opportunity might present itself after either the Kentucky Jockey Club or Remsen in that the winner might not take as much money as he should given Classic Empire’s steam as well as the likely money on the field, but it’s hard for me to separate maiden winners at this point. I’d need at least 20-to-1 on a legitmate stakes performer, 100-to-1 on a maiden winner, and 2-to-1 on the field to make a bet in this pool.

Both wagers open Thursday and conclude Sunday. You can bet them at Churchill Downs, online at, or wherever great bets are taken.