Handicapping horse races is a difficult task the day of the event, let alone 39 days out. But if there is betting, then there is at least the potential for opportunity, which makes this week’s final pari-mutuel Kentucky Derby Future Wager worth analyzing.
I focused on 19 horses with a preference toward those who are in good shape to make the gate by virtue of having at least 40 points. These are not necessarily my top 19 contenders overall. For example, I give the Grade 1 UAE Derby 1-2 finishers very little chance to win, but I hope they’re in the gate because these horses are tremendous takeout reducers. They will not be on any of my tickets in any spot under any circumstance, and I only did 102-1 and 200-1 because 500-1 and 1,000-1 would have been needlessly insulting.
As for horses who have a chance to win the race, I made no change among the top spots, as longtime Kentucky Derby favorite Forte looks to stamp himself the unquestionable favorite in the Grade 1 Florida Derby this weekend. I improved his odds from last we looked at the field because those who earned spots (such as the UAE Derby exacta) have very little chance to threaten the 2-year-old champion male.
Still, 9-2 is a tough price to take at this point because big final preps from the likes of Practical Move, Geaux Rocket Ride, Skinner and National Treasure could narrow the gap. And Forte’s own stablemate Tapit Trice, still has another prep left to impress. His other stablemate Kingsbarns won the Louisiana Derby (G2) in gate-to-wire fashion, and his odds will fluctuate as the pace scenario does. But he has yet to be particularly fast, and I can’t see him ever being lower than 20-1 on my odds. But pace is a valuable weapon, at least.
Two Phil’s was the biggest mover by virtue of his emphatic Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) score. This is an easy horse to root for, and I wish I didn’t have distance or figure concerns because I’m a big fan of the connections and the prep race. But I think the buzz might send him to underlay territory. He’s one of the few whose training pattern I’ll watch heading into the race.