Back to the future pool

Mar 6, 2001 7:14 AM

Since Nevada bettors had their first-ever chance to wager on Pool 1 of the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby pari-mutuel futures — and wagered more than any other state — will that trend continue in Pool 2 this weekend?

"It all depends on the quality of the races and what customers come to town that weekend," said Bally’s race book manager John Avello. "In Pool 2, you get a better feeling of who will run (in the Derby)."

Pool 2 is open this Thursday (9 a.m. PST) through Sunday (1:30 p.m. PST). In Pool 1 (Feb. 15-18), Nevada bettors wagered $104,036 (20 percent) of the record $510,815 nationwide.

"The first pool (in Nevada) went well," said Patti Jones, director of Nevada Pari-mutuel. "The first pool is always the best."

So why are people in Nevada wagering so much on pari-mutuels?

"Some people just don’t want to do their homework," Avello said. "Fixed odds are for a person who’s a handicapper. But we love pari-mutuel in this town. We (the books) root for the guy (betting pari-mutuel). I know our customers like to bet futures."

The hold on the Kentucky Derby Futures Wagers is 16 percent. For the year 2000, Nevada pari-mutuel race books held 17.2 percent.

Avello added that Vegas bettors like to shop around.

Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia said the Derby future bet is fun.

"People are doing it for the entertainment purpose," he said. "People want to say they picked the Derby winner in February, March or April. It’s a fun bet."

The Derby Future Wager lets bettors wager on contending horses for the Derby in advance for those who may finds odds more attractive. The Kentucky Future Wager is a $2 minimum and a win bet only.

"The fans have solidly backed the mutuel field in the early pools of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager in its first two years," Battaglia said. "I think they’ll do it again in this week’s Pool 2. The Derby picture remains as wide open at this stage as it has been in several years. Few top contenders have raced enough this year for fans to form any strong opinions."

In Pool 1, "the field" at 3-1 finished the favorite. Other horses given good odds were Point Given (7-1), AP Valentine (9-1) and Millennium Wind (14-1).

"In Pool 1, ‘the field’ is usually a great bet because you get a lot of horses," Avello said.

This is the third year of pari-mutuel wagering on the Derby. Last year, $465,454 was wagered nationwide in Pool 1, but Nevada didn’t participate in that. Altogether in the three pools last year, $1,158,919 was bet. Nevadans wagered on Pools 2 and 3 last year. Two years ago, about $267,748 was wagered in Pool 1. Altogether, $676,233 was bet. Nevadans weren’t eligible to wager on any 1999 pools.

Last year, $306,259 was wagered nationwide in Pool 2, compared to $178, 811 in 1999. Last year’s Derby champion, Fusaichi Pegasus paid $27.80 if bet on in Pool 1. In Pool 2, it was $26.40; in Pool 3, $8.00.

"There’s a lot of simulcasting around the country," said Avello, citing the reason pari-mutuel numbers are higher (this year). "The numbers may be going up because the (futures) betting is now allowed in New York state, where it wasn’t open (a year or two ago)."

Before pari-mutuels opened two years ago in Nevada, horseplayers already had a chance to wager on traditional future betting. Those odds are made by race books back around the Breeders’ Cup in October. The odds are then adjusted according to the wagering.

"(Non-pari-mutuel) future book action has picked up (in the last month)," Avello said. "(Wagering) starts strong (in October), but there isn’t much in December and January."

The Bally’s/Paris fixed-odds pool will be closed from Thursday to Sunday (during Pool 2). It will re-open around 1 p.m. Pool 3 is April 5-8.

According to Jones, pari-mutuel Kentucky Futures betting is open in all pari-mutuel race books except Barbary Coast, Edgewater, Excalibur, Hard Rock, Harvey’s, Imperial Palace, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, Primadonna, the Resort at Summerlin, Riverside, Sahara, Venetian and Whiskey Pete’s.

Kentucky Derby Futures Pool 2
AP Valentine 12-1
Burning Roma 30-1
City Zip 20-1
Congaree 30-1
Crafty C.T. 20-1
Dollar Bill 8-1
Early Flyer 30-1
Global Gait 30-1
Gold Trader 30-1
Hero’s Tribute 20-1
Holiday Thunder 30-1
Invisible Ink 30-1
Millennium Wind 10-1
Monarchos 15-1
Outofthebox 20-1
Palmeiro 30-1
Point Given 6-1
Scorpion 30-1
Songandprayer 20-1
Startac 20-1
Street Cry 12-1
Strike It Smart 30-1
You Know Who 30-1
Field 5-1