• Kentucky Derby Futures, Round Two

    POSTED Mar 2, 2012
    There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not one can find value in the various future wagers offered on the Kentucky Derby and, starting today (Friday), the Kentucky Oaks. Some argue that it is far too early to tell which three-year-olds will be at their prime — or even at Churchill Downs — on the on the first weekend in May, while others claim that future wagers allow one to lock in attractive prices on the runners they fancy.

    I’m in the latter camp. Not so much because of the prices — although over half the winners in Pool 1 and Pool 2, and over 2/3 of the winners in Pool 3, paid more than they did on Derby day — but because such wagers allow one to hedge their betting positions.

    And Pool 2, which opens on Friday, March 2, may offer the most value of them all.

    Not only have Pool 2 field horses won just as often as their Pool 1 brethren (six times in the 13 years the future wager has been offered), but they’ve produced a much better ROI as well. The average mutual on Pool 2 field horses currently stands at $15.53, compared to $7.33 for Pool 1—good for an ROI of 258.46 percent.

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    So let’s dive into (you had to see that one coming) the Pool 2 futures with a look at my computerized fair odds for both the Oaks and the Derby:

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    My Suggested Pool 1 Tickets

    Alpha ($40.80)
    Dullahan ($83.20)
    Hansen ($55.80)
    Longview Drive ($284.20)
    Mr. Bowling ($173.80)
    Sabercat ($71.60)
    Union Rags ($16.80)

    Strong 2012 Debut for Union Rags

    Among the individual winners of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, only Giacomo and Super Saver witnessed their odds go up from Pool 1 to Pool 2. The other five — Fusaichi Pegasus, Monarchos, Funny Cide, Barbaro and Street Sense — all experienced the opposite phenomenon… which may be good news for Union Rags.

    Last year’s BC Juvenile runner-up closed at 7-1 in Pool 1, but is listed at 4-1 on the morning line for Pool 2 following a devastating win in the Fountain of Youth as — get this — the second choice (behind third-place finisher Discreet Dancer).

    Despite laying off a slow place (-1 early speed ration), Union Rags exploded on the turn, moving from fourth to first in the blink of an eye, before drawing away through the stretch to score by four lengths.

    Here’s a look at the Derby preps so far:

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    Pace Profile Race of the Week

    In an effort to help those who are interested in pace handicapping and the vagaries — energy distribution, rationed speed, turn times, etc. — it encompasses, I have decided that, from time to time, I will highlight a particular race (before it has been run) and use it as a platform to discuss various pace handicapping concepts.

    This week I’m going to the “Big A” to demonstrate the effectiveness (hopefully) of utilizing turn times in one’s handicapping:

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    What makes this a good race to analyze is that the two horses that have my best last-race turn-time ratios (TTRs) also have the best Brisnet figures — and they are ranked 1-2 on my computerized fair odds line (Win Factor Report).

    Let’s start with the 6-5 morning line favorite, Diski Dance:

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    COMMENTS: Although he’s talented, DISKI DANCE is the kind of horse I don’t like from a turn-time perspective — mainly, because he typically earns his superior numbers on the lead. Contrary to what many jockeys seem to think, a “natural” frontrunner typically does better when it is gunned from the gate and then allowed to relax, or “catch a breather,” in the middle portion of the race — a tactic that produces poor, rather than good, turn times.

    When an early speedster has quick turn times, like Diski Dance does, it tells me that the horse has a hard time settling down and, thus, will probably not reap the benefits that an early lead typically provides (outside of a traffic-free trip).

    If you look at Diski Dance’s record, you’ll see that he fits this assessment to a “T.” Despite having the lead at the first call in seven of 10 races listed in his past performances, the four-year-old gelding won just two of those affairs — both times at 5 ½ furlongs (today’s race is slated for six panels).

    Obviously, this guy has talent, but he’s a poor choice at 6-5.

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    COMMENTS: Despite the fact that the Brisnet Ultimate PPs classify HILLSWICK as an early speed type (note the “E7” proceeding his name), the fact is the son of Grand Slam has tallied six of his seven victories from off the pace — which is precisely what I like to see from a top turn-time contender.

    What’s more, six of his last seven Brisnet speed figures exceed today’s par (92), his connections are good and Hillswick figures to get exactly the kind of trip he most enjoys — sitting just off the pace.

    To me, he is clearly the one to beat.

    BET(S): Win on 5 at even (1-1) odds or greater.

    Click HERE for a free Pace Profile Report for races 9-11 at Aqueduct on Saturday, March 3, 2012
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