by David Stratton
This week, Churchill Downs kicks off the first of three Kentucky Derby Future wagering pools, and later this season it will launch the first-ever Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool.
The pari-mutuel pools give fans a chance to bet the Derby and now the Oaks ahead of time, sometimes at odds higher than the track odds.
For instance, in 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus won the Kentucky Derby and paid only $6.60 on Derby Day, but future bettors received $27.80, $26.40 and $8 from the three Derby future pools.
Of course, the converse may also occur, as was the case last year when War Emblem paid $43 at the track but returned only $7.60, $16 and $24 to future pool bettors.
Despite the uncertainty, the Derby Future Pool has increased every year it’s been offered. It can be bet at selected race books in Las Vegas, even though many of them offer their own future book on the Derby.
The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager will allow racing fans across North America to place wagers on contenders for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), one of America’s most important races for 3-year-old fillies and the sister race to America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby.
There will be a single four-day pool for the first Kentucky Oaks Future Wager and it will run concurrently with the last of three 2003 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools. The Oaks will be renewed for the 129th consecutive year at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 2.
The Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which is entering its fifth year, will again include three four-day pools during which racing fans may wager early on contenders for the 129th renewal of the famed “Run for the Roses.”
Pool 1 is scheduled for Feb. 13-16, Pool 2 is set for March 13-16, and Pool 3 will run from April 3-6. The Kentucky Derby will be run on Saturday, May 3 at Churchill Downs.
“Racing fans have proven in growing numbers that they love the Kentucky Derby Future Wager and we’re very pleased to offer them an exciting new product in the first Kentucky Oaks Future Wager,” said Jim Gates, acting general manager of Churchill Downs. “The Oaks continues to grow in stature and importance and is clearly one of the nation’s most coveted races for 3-year-old fillies. Top fillies from throughout North America and the world point to this race each year and we believe future wager fans will embrace the challenge of making an early and winning bet on the Oaks winner.”
The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager will operate under the same rules as the Derby’s future bet, which allows racing fans to wager on major contenders weeks in advance of the race at odds that may be more attractive than those they would receive on the day of the race. Both are $2 minimum wagers and win bets only.
The list of horses in each pool consists of 24 betting interests, which include 23 individual horses and a 24th interest that is a mutuel field. For a list of horses and their current odds, go the GamingToday website at gamingtoday.com
In the case of the KDFW, the mutuel field consists of all other 3-year-old Thoroughbreds. The KOFW mutuel field will include all other 3-year-old fillies. A panel of racing officials and journalists will select the individual wagering interests for each future wager pool.
The three KDFW pools will open each day at noon (all times Eastern) and wagering on each pool’s final day will close at 6:30 p.m. The only difference in the schedule for the Oaks future pool is that it will close at 5:30 p.m. - one hour before the halt of wagering on the accompanying Derby futures pool. Final closing times for wagering in the respective pools were staggered to prevent any confusion that might arise from simultaneous closings.
Combined wagering for the three KDFW pools in 2002 totaled a record $1,503,806 - an increase of 122 percent from the $676,233 wagered in its inaugural year in 1999. The Derby wager was available in 34 states in 2002.
More information on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and their respective future wagers may be obtained on the World Wide Web at www.kentuckyderby.com . Real time odds will be available on the site during each of the three KDFW pools and the single KOFW pool.