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Sports books report soft Derby Pool action

Apr 9, 2002 11:06 AM

Even though last weekend’s third and final Kentucky Derby Future Pool generated a record amount of wagers, local sports book directors said betting was lackluster at best.

“There was very little interest,” said the race book manager of a popular locals casino. “The problem is we have our own future book, which offers a wider variety of choices and, in some cases, better odds.”

Johnny Avello, sports director at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas, added that there was “virtually no betting action” on the Future Pool.

“The bettors were hot and cold with Derby future bets,” said Avello, who posts his own future prices on the casino’s web site, Ballys.com. “Every time one of the contenders ran a poor race, he became cold in the future book.”

Nevertheless, Kentucky Derby fans in a record 34 states wagered $524,847 during Pool 3, which opened at noon (EST) on Thursday and closed at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday. The total is a record for Pool 3 and the second-largest single pool total in the four-year history of the Future Wager. The 2002 total for Pool 3 reflected an increase of 23 percent from last year’s previous record of $425,871.

Harlan’s Holiday, the winner of the Florida Derby, emerged as a narrow favorite in the final minutes of wagering. It closed at odds of 7-1 to edge Johannesburg, who stood at 8-1, to reign as the favorite in Pool 3. The Irish-based Johannesburg had been favored on the first three days of Pool 3, but his odds drifted up in the wager’s final hours after the previously unbeaten colt suffered a narrow defeat in his lone Kentucky Derby prep in the Gladness Stakes in Ireland.

Close behind the top pair came Santa Anita Derby winner Came Home, who also closed at 8-1, and 9-1 shot Saarland, the Remsen winner who will be among the favorites in next week’s Wood Memorial (GI) at Aqueduct. They were followed by Medaglia d’Oro and the mutuel field, both at 11-1, and 12-1 shot Repent, the McPeek-trained stablemate to Harlan’s Holiday who suffered an upset loss in Saturday’s Illinois Derby (GII). Next in line in the Future Wager odds came Buddha at 13-1, Sunday Break at 15-1 and Essence Of Dubai at 17-1.

Combined wagering for the three future pools totaled $1,503,806 ”” an increase of 15 percent from last year’s previous record of $1,309,647. This year’s total was an increase of 122 percent from the total of $676,233 in the inaugural year in 1999.

Part of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager’s growth in 2002 can be attributed to the addition of markets in four new states: California, Washington, Massachusetts and Michigan. Pool 3 also benefited from the participation by racing fans in New York on its final day. New York outlets had been closed in previous years because of Palm Sunday, which fell much earlier on the calendar this year.

“The continued growth of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a testament to the strength of this young wagering product and the enduring appeal of the Kentucky Derby, America’s greatest race,” said Alex Waldrop, president of Churchill Downs. “We appreciate the enthusiasm of racing fans across the country who love the Derby and the Future Wager.”

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager allows racing fans to place wagers on contenders for the Kentucky Derby weeks in advance of the race at odds that may be more attractive than those they would receive on Derby Day. The bet is a $2 minimum wager and is a win bet only. The list of horses in each pool consists of 24 betting interests, which include 23 individual horses and a mutuel field.

Derby Pool Final Odds

Azillion (Ire)   56-1
Blue Burner   19-1
Booklet   32-1
Buddha   13-1
Came Home   8-1
Castle Gandolfo   32-1
Danthebluegrassman   78-1
Easyfromthegitgo   49-1
Easy Grades   49-1
Equality   99-1
Essence of Dubai   17-1
Harlan’s Holiday   7-1
Johannesburg   8-1
Mayakovsky   43-1
Medaglia D’Oro   11-1
Mr. Mellon   49-1
Perfect Drift   22-1
Private Emblem   99-1
Repent   12-1
Request for Parole   58-1
Saarland   9-1
Sunday Break   15-1
USS Tinosa   60-1
Field   11-1