The Kentucky Derby Future Wager Field Value Conundrum: Is it worth betting $5(000) now to win $4(000) (five months) later?

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Ed DeRosa

November 28th, 2014

Whether you’re looking ahead to Kentucky Derby 141 or still excited over Derby 140, there’s something for everyone this weekend.

From a wagering standpoint, Friday-Sunday marks the first time (unless you live in [or have recently visited] Nevada) you can bet on who will win the 2015 Kentucky Derby. The first 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool (click for FREE Ultimate PPs) opens at noon EST on Friday and closes at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Several of the individually listed horses are in action this weekend in the Kentucky Derby points races the Kentucky Jockey Club and Remsen Stakes at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct, respectively. There is also plenty of other two-year-old racing throughout the country, including a full slate at the aforementioned Churchill Downs’s Stars of Tomorrow card.

This is the second year that Churchill is offering its first Derby pool in November versus the traditional February opening following the release of the Triple Crown nominations, and it will be interesting to see how the wagering public adjusts because there is no doubt that last year’s field price of 4-to-5 was the overlay of the year and maybe even the century to date.

Sure, that’s a little results-oriented considering only one horse from the first pool made the Derby starting gate, but it wasn’t a reach to think the individual interests had a 44% chance of winning and all the rest a 56% chance to make the field fair value.

However, betting the field this far out may be more about psychology than probability, as five months is a long time to tie up money for 4-to-5—even on a sure thing. If you’re a $2 bettor, then even a big bet for that style like $20 probably doesn’t get the juices flowing to get back $36 after about 22 weeks. If you’re a weekend warrior type, then maybe you can spare a few hundred on a strong opinion, but again, weekend warriors like action and $500 to win $400 might be sound business but unless you enjoy watching top horses fall of the trail, then it’s rotten excitement.

The above two types of players like to make a score, and the way to do that is with individual horses, not the field. Ride On Curlin was the only horse to make the gate from the original pool. He was 57-to-1 in that bet and 19-to-1 in the Derby, so that was OK.

It wouldn’t shock me if one or no horses made next year’s gate from this pool, but more than that seems possible as well. However, even if you think four horses could make it with a 10% chance of winning (9-to-1 fair odds) if they’re in the gate, then 4-to-5 would still be value.

Someone on Twitter asked what California Chrome’s odds were at this point last year. He wasn’t listed as an individual horse in this pool, but he was among the Wynn’s offerings at 350-to-1. The 2013 winner Orb was 125-to-1 at this time in 2012.

To make wagering on an individual interest even more enticing, is offering insurance on individual bets by paying 2-to-1 on bets (up to $25) for the individual horse with the best finish in Derby 141.

Speaking of California Chrome, he’s in action this weekend, too, racing in the Hollywood Derby on Saturday at Del Mar in what would be his turf debut. A win would give him four Grade 1 victories on the year and earn my vote for champion three-year-old male (with Main Sequence Horse of the Year).

We offered a lot of FREE information in this post, so here’s a recap of some useful links for this weekend’s Kentucky Derby-related action:

Kentucky Derby Future Wager PPs

Kentucky Jockey Club PPs

Remsen Stakes PPs

Golden Rod Stakes PPs

Demoiselle Stakes PPs

Hollywood Derby PPs

Kentucky Derby Future Wager promo (insurance)

James Scully’s Derby Future Wager Analysis