Orb rallies past heavily favored Violence to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. (Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/Gulfstream)
The second time through the batting order for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is taking place this weekend and it’s looking like the same old array of curveballs.
Pool 2 of the Future Wager closes Sunday at 6 p.m. and through the first two days of wagering there’s little indication that the wagering public has latched onto to a favorite – other than the muddled mass of 345 or so horses in the field wager.
After seven horses were lumped between 11-1 and 14-1 in Pool 1, heading into Sunday’s final day of Pool 2 wagering there’s still no real standout among the 23 individual separate entries.
A major change from Pool 1 is the absence of Violence, who suffered a career-ending injury in last weekend’s Fountain of Youth. As a result those backers who took him at 13-1 in Pool 1 can rip up their win and exacta tickets. Otherwise, the likelihood of another individual favorite in the tony neighborhood of 10-1 is very much in play.
Verrazano was a slim 9-1 favorite after two days and heads a contingent of seven horses grouped between 9-1 and 14-1 – and he has yet to run in a stakes. That test for the Todd Pletcher-trained colt is expected to come in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, though the result may not be all that revealing since he will probably be the only major contender for the Run for the Roses in the field.
Orb made the most noticeable jump into the spotlight as he was lumped in the field for Pool 1 but now stands at 11-1 after capturing the Fountain of Youth.
Another new face among the prime time players is the undefeated Vyjack. Priced at 49-1 in Pool 1, he has dropped significantly to 14-1 after taking the Gotham at Aqueduct this past Saturday with an impressive late charge. Vyjack figures to be at least a sentimental favorite among gamblers as he’s owned by one of their own, David Wilkenfeld, who some five years ago was fortunate enough to cash the sole ticket on a $3.3 million Pick Six at Santa Anita.
Meanwhile, the field, the 8-5 favorite in Pool 1, is now 3-1 as the time frame for an unknown to arise out of nowhere is down to two months.
If you’re looking for even more value than that, there are some interesting possibilities, such as:
- Super Ninety Nine was an intriguing allowance winner in Pool 1 and was dismissed at a speculative 47-1. Now the Bob Baffert-trained son of Pulpit owns an 11 ¼-length win in the Southwest Stakes and is down to 20-1 in the Pool 2 wagering as he awaits his next start, most likely in the Arkansas Derby on April 13.
- The quality of Super Ninety Nine’s allowance victory was underscored by stablemate Code West, who was second by 3 ¼ lengths in that Jan. 31 race at Santa Anita. Code West then lost by a nose to 135-1 shot Ive Struck a Nerve in the Grade 2 Risen Star. Code West, a 56-1 proposition in Pool 1, is currently priced at a still inviting 31-1.
- Normandy Invasion was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the Risen Star but finished a wide fifth. Less than two lengths behind Ive Struck a Nerve and Code West at the finish, Normandy Invasion figures to benefit from the exercise in the Risen Star, but the race did nothing to help him in the chase for points necessary to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. Normandy Invasion has only four points and his Derby hopes may come down to needing a first or second in the Wood Memorial on April 6. In spite of all that, there’s still considerable confidence in Normandy Invasion as he was 15-1 in Pool 1 and just 17-1 this time around after his loss in the Risen Star.
- Goldencents is a consensus Top 10 Derby prospect but he hasn’t raced since winning the Sham on Jan. 5 and the jury remains out on him. He was 20-1 in Pool 1 and 26-1 now, which may or may not be a bargain after he runs on Saturday in the San Felipe.
- If you’re a Green Bay Packers fan then you might want to don your cheesehead and plunk a few bucks on Titletown Five, who is owned in part by two stars from Vince Lombardi’s dynasty, Hall of Famers Paul Hornung and Willie Davis. Ed Martin, part of the Packers’ executive committee, also owns a share of the colt. Trained by another type of Hall of Famer, D, Wayne Lukas, Titletown Five made his 3-year-old debut Saturday and finished second in the Gazebo at Oaklawn. It’s a big jump from a sprint in Arkansas on the first Saturday in March to 10 furlongs in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, but, hey, he’s 70-1, and his owners know better than most that winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing – now and in the future wager.