Three price plays in Derby Sire Future Wager

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

November 24th, 2017

Early in the afternoon of Day 2 of the Sire Future Wager, Medaglia d’Oro has been bet down to 9-2, thanks to his posse of Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls including Bolt d’Oro, Enticed, and Montauk, and Curlin is 7-1 after siring the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) exacta with Good Magic and Solomini.

But three major sires are currently trading north of 20-1, making each worthy of consideration for a flyer.

At this writing, proven Derby sire Malibu Moon is 29-1 (update: 22-1 by the time I posted). If his son Hollywood Star had been an individual betting interest in Pool 1, he’d have been higher odds than that, but if (like me) you think he’s still got plenty of upside, bet his dad in the Sire Wager.

Admittedly my interest in Hollywood Star owes quite a bit to his dam, multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Hollywood Story. I’d followed her, from afar, since she sold as a yearling, and accordingly hope her talented son pans out for Dale Romans. Hollywood Story took time to reach her peak too, placing in the 2003 Del Mar Debutante (G1) and Oak Leaf (G2), and finishing a distant fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), before breaking her maiden in the Hollywood Starlet (G1). She’d go on to win three more graded stakes at her beloved Hollywood Park, most notably the 2006 Vanity (G1). So far, Hollywood Star’s juvenile career has been a faint mirror of his dam’s, with placings in the Saratoga Special (G2) and Iroquois (G3) prior to a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and it would be no surprise if he improves with maturity as well.

Malibu Moon’s current crop is the first conceived since his son Orb won the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Remember that Orb didn’t break his maiden until November 24, 2012, and there could be another surprise package among his well-bred youngsters as fall turns to winter. A recent example is Greyvitos. By Malibu Moon and out of multiple Grade 3 turf mare Snow Top Mountain (a half-sister to Keertana and Diversy Harbor), Greyvitos broke his maiden at 19-1 in the Bob Hope (G3), and the Los Al Futurity (G1) is next. I’m a fan of the surface-versatile Captivating Moon too, although chances are he’ll prosper the most on turf.

Pioneerof the Nile is a big-priced 25-1 for a sire who’s been in the forefront of the Derby trail for an amazing three of his first four crops. Cairo Prince made a big splash in 2014 before his career was curtailed by injury, then American Pharoah came along in 2015 to end the Triple Crown drought. After a quiet 2016 classic season, Pioneerof the Nile was back with a vengeance courtesy of champion juvenile Classic Empire, whose 2017 campaign was marred by travails, yet he still finished fourth in the Derby and just missed in the Preakness (G1).

Although those three were already well known by this point in their respective years, Pioneer of the Nile may have had one on that kind of trajectory. Bob Baffert’s promising two-year-old Nero looked for all the world like hacking up first time out in August, only to lose his concentration in front and get mugged on the line. Nero reportedly came down with an illness thereafter, and he’s just now ready for action in Saturday’s 8TH race back at Del Mar. The $950,000 Saratoga yearling can get back on the radar in a hurry. Pioneerof the Nile has a few other sneaky types in the pipeline too, including recent Woodbine debut winner Thunder Ride. American Pharoah’s brother, St. Patrick’s Day, must be mentioned in this context, but he hasn’t breezed since his workmanlike maiden win at Del Mar on Labor Day weekend.

Finally, Candy Ride sits at 27-1 on the heels of a big year that could have been even bigger. Like Pioneerof the Nile, his odds reflect his lack of a household name among his 2018 hopefuls, but that can change on a dime if his unbeaten son Reride takes a step forward in Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). Note that another Candy Ride from the same Steve Asmussen barn was in a similar position going into the 2015 Kentucky Jockey Club, where he finished fourth – Gun Runner. Third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, Gun Runner was a different proposition in 2017, and his Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) conquest surely clinched the Horse of the Year title.

But Candy Ride lost another potential champion in undefeated Mastery, a leading 2017 Derby contender before sustaining a career-ending injury while winning the San Felipe (G2). Had Mastery stayed sound and healthy, he could have given Candy Ride an incredible season in tandem with Gun Runner. That context is important when sizing up the stallion’s 0-for-4 progeny record in the Derby. And Mastery wasn’t the only what-might-have-been. Remember that Candy Ride also had the dazzling Shared Belief, knocked off the 2014 Derby trail.

So here’s a sire who’s served up three high-class Derby contenders in the last four years. Those consistent results give me reason to hope that Candy Ride may have an undiscovered nugget among his rising three-year-olds. Perhaps Talon, who just broke his maiden at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving? Or Keystone Field, the full brother to Candy Boy who was a rattling fourth on debut for Richard Mandella?

Wagering closes Sunday evening at 6 p.m. (EST), so these prices promise to fluctuate with the weekend’s results.

For more, be sure to consult the wealth of information on the Sire Future Wager courtesy of Brisnet, from sire stats to detailed past performances for their current two-year-old males.