Astute horse players and hunch bettors alike look forward to betting the Kentucky Derby. As the prep races unfold and the contenders begin to separate themselves from the pretenders, trusted racebooks like William Hill offer a fully menu of future wagers, allowing bettors the opportunity to find greater value by betting months in advance of the Run for the Roses. Watch out for under-the-radar types of runners!
Kentucky Derby Futures 2017
A trio of currently undefeated colts in McCracken, Irish War Cry and Mastery top the Kentucky Derby Futures list at William Hill, but each will encounter deeper waters ahead as they make their way to Louisville on the first Saturday in May. At the listed odds, a bettor must consider three things: 1) whether or not the horse is progressing or regressing 2) whether the odds are fair for an event still months away 3) are there any known physical issues with the horse?
Beginning with McCracken, it's difficult to deny the pure talent this colt possesses. Trained by Ian Wilkes, McCracken has been a natural from Day 1, showing an explosive turn of foot. Even his debut was sparkling despite Wilkes' traditionally low winning percentage with first-time starters. McCracken is also 2 for 2 at Churchill Downs, which just happens to be where they run the Kentucky Derby. The colt's victory in the Sam F. Davis in February at Tampa Downs was dynamic, but there's cause to be concerned as it was announced in early-March that he'd miss a scheduled start in the Tampa Derby with a minor ankles injury.
While this could be more precautionary than anything, even the smallest of hiccups can quickly derail a bid for the Kentucky Derby. Bettors may want to watch how this story develops before jumping in at +1000 (which translates to risking $100 to win $1000 or 10/1). Fans of Irish War Cry will be intently watching the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes March 4 at Gulfstream for more clues on just how good this runner is.
Undefeated in three starts and a son of the poweful stallion Curlin, Irish War Cry appears to have the right bloodlines and human connections in trainer Graham Motion who won the 2011 Derby with Animal Kingdom. If workouts are any indication of how this runner is developing, the number could be much shorter than +1000 if Irish War Cry romps in the Fountain of Youth and goes on to win again in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Still, it's wise to keep in mind, that even such a campaign would probably mean the horse will be available at odds between 2/1 and 7/2 on Derby day.
Kentucky Derby Future Bets Explained
As with any wagering venture, it's imperative to understand the risk/reward proposition involved in making a future bet. On the risk side, a bettor making a Kentucky Derby future wager doesn't have a complete profile of information. In other words, the bettor doesn't know what will happen to the horse between the moments he makes the bet and the gates open on the first Saturday in May, and that's a lenghty interval fraught with variables.
Horses who look dynamic in February and March, may lose their form, get injured, or simply not be as good as originally thought by the time the big race rolls around. It's also crucial to know that a future wager is a losing bet even if the horse doesn't even run in the Kentucky Derby for any reason. Then there's the concept of value. Considering all the things that could go wrong, a bettor must compare the odds offered on a future wager against the price the horse might conceivably be offered at on Derby Day. Future wagers only make sense if the odds are much higher than what they might be on the day of the race.
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On the plus side, a future wager can be a spectacular way to isolate tremendous value on horses who fly under the radar or escape the general public's notice. Generally speaking, the betting public tends to lock in on the high-profile horses when selecting a future bet. While this is occasionally profitable, it's again wise to remember that the Kentucky Derby is a race that usually offers 20 betting interests on race day and that many will be available at reasonable or attractive odds.
This means that a future bet should offer very attractive odds. Horses that show ability, but have poor racing luck can often make exceptional future bets. Ditto for lightly-raced runners who have shown major ability winning maiden and/or allowance races before making their stakes debuts. In short, a good future bet either requires supreme luck or the ability to see something in a horse before everyone else does. It's a best practice to demand +2000 at minimum on a future wager unless you think there is clear-cut value on a horse at a lesser price.