Derby future book values require ‘crafty’ thinking

February 06, 2001 6:05 AM
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Future book betting is as tough as trying to hit the Pick Six on a $2 investment, especially when it comes to thoroughbred horses.

They’re a brittle breed that can go wrong at the drop of a feed bucket. They can kick the stall, step on a pebble, or get bitten by an insect and be out of training.

So why would an intelligent person wager on which 3-year-old will win the Kentucky Derby three months before the race? The answer is that future book odds usually are considerably more generous than they are on race day. But not always. That’s why it’s called gambling.

There are no Fusaichi Pegasuses out there this year.

In fact, at this point there may not be a 3-year-old worth betting on in the Kentucky Derby future book — at least in the eyes of world-class professional gambler, clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young, who makes his home in Southern California, a few furlongs from Santa Anita.

With the 127th Run for the Roses set to unfold May 5, Young sees only a handful of Derby-worthy colts.

"Millennium Wind is a nice horse, but I know he has bad feet and I don’t know if he’s going to make it (to the Derby)," Young said. "I think Point Given is the best horse right now, but he does train in bandages every day, which most (Bob) Baffert horses don’t. Does that indicate there’s a problem? No, but most Baffert horses don’t train in bandages on their front legs every day, and he does.

"Most Baffert horses don’t back up to the eighth pole every day before they turn around to gallop, and he does. I haven’t seen him take a bad step yet, but that’s not usual training for Baffert horses.

"Palmeiro will run as far as they write races. (Palmeiro is a son of Pleasant Tap, who was second to Horse of the Year A.P. Indy in the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1¼ miles). I thought he was the horse Millennium Wind had to beat (in the Santa Catalina Stakes), and he ran very good."

Palmeiro was beaten only half a length at odds of 31-1.

"There isn’t that much else around. I don’t think it’s that deep a division," he said. "The Hutcheson Stakes (at Gulfstream) was a horrible race. I know they weren’t supposed to be the best 3-year-olds running in Florida, but it still was a horrible race. Of the others in Florida, Macho Uno is still on schedule, but A.P. Valentine is really playing catch-up.

"At this stage, I don’t know if there is such a thing as a good future book bet, because Point Given and Millennium Wind aren’t any (fair) price. Why take a short price on them now, when they might never even run in the Derby? You might get as much value on them in the Derby."

Point Given, who opened at 50-1 at Imperial Palace, was down to 5-1. Millennium Wind had plunged to a ridiculous even-money from 100-1, while Macho Uno stood at a valueless 2-1 after opening 25-1.

"Point Given is a good horse, no doubt about that," Young said. "I bet big-time on him in the Cowdin (when he finished second), and he doesn’t like being ridden close to the pace like he was in that race.

"I bet big-time on him again in the Breeders’ Cup (when he was second by a nose to Macho Uno). I probably bet on the best 2-year-old in America both times and I lost both bets," he said.

Of the Godolphin 3-year-olds, Young was more taken with a maiden winner named Jendalawi than he was with Street Cry, who ran third in the BC Juvenile.

Jendalawi opened 100-1 and stood 25-1; Street Cry was down from 40-1 to 10-1.

"Street Cry never really impressed me as a horse that wanted to go a mile and a quarter," Young said. "It was no accident that Jendalawi ran as good as he did in a maiden race the day before the Breeders’ Cup.

"He won from the one hole going seven-eighths of a mile and won easily. He’s a good horse, but what he’s done since then, I don’t know," he said.

The best future book value could be offered in a horse named Crafty C.T., who was 50-1 in the IP book. The son of Crafty Prospector broke his maiden by 3½ lengths at Santa Anita on Saturday as the 1-10 favorite. He will be seen next in the one-mile San Rafael Stakes on March 3.

"I think Crafty C.T. will get at least a mile," said Young, who recommended purchase of the colt. Owner Carl T. Grether paid $240,000 for the Kentucky-bred chestnut at the Keeneland sales.

"We’re not going to press and ruin him by trying to make the Derby," Young said, "but he’s an awful, awful good horse."

Golden Picks

GOLD TRADER — Well-regarded Lukas 3-year-old lost all chance when he ducked in at the gap as 7-5 favorite, still closed with interest. Deserves another chance.

McCORDNSKUBA — Underrated gelding missed by paper-thin margin at 19-1. In top form, for Ron Sticka, the trainer, who developed Best Pal before he got to the races.

 

SERENITA — Outdueled speedballs with addition of outside blinker by Bobby Frankel, but went too fast. Stakes-caliber Argentine-bred filly is sitting on a big win.

TIGER TRAP — Son of Kris S. won U.S. debut in style despite being sandwiched after break. Victories in stakes routes on turf await Neil Drysdale trainee.

The Homestretch

Worthy of future book consideration is the Simon Bray-trained Startac, who made an Arazi-type move in winning the Turf Paradise Derby.

A son of 1987 turf champion Theatrical, Startac obviously is bred for grass. He didn’t beat much on the dirt in Arizona, but if his odds stay at 50-1, get down . . . Men’s Exclusive and Big Jag, one-two finishers in the Palos Verdes Handicap, are headed for a rematch in Dubai in the $2 million Golden Shaheen March 24. The six-furlong race is run on a straightaway, which should be advantageous to Men’s Exclusive, according to trainer Wesley Ward. "He’s a big horse and he handles the mile and an eighth track at Hollywood better than (one mile) Santa Anita, so he should be a monster on the straightaway," Ward said . . . Baffert trainee Captain Steve is also headed to Dubai for the $6 million World Cup after holding off Alex The Great in the Donn Handicap. Wooden Phone, also trained by Baffert, is pointing to the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap March 3 after the gelding upset Horse of the Year Tiznow in the Strub.

Imperial Palace 2001 Kentucky Derby Futures

Saturday May 5, 2001