Steve Haskin's Future Wager Analysis: Look Past This Weekend For Real Value
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 3/13/2003 9:16:49 AM
Last Updated: 3/13/2003 8:29:11 PM

Running down the list of horses in the second Kentucky Derby Future Wager and analyzing each one is fruitless when you get right down to it. The formula for betting it is simple: Forget the Florida Derby, as you'll get stiffed on the price when all the money comes pouring in on the the winner and second-place finisher. Forget the Gotham, as there is no one in the race who's even in the Future Wager starting field. Forget the Tampa Bay Derby, being there's only two Future Wager horses in there, and a victory by either one will lower the odds and really won't prove too much. The only race worth betting for value is the San Felipe, as there won't be much time afterward to make that much of a difference in the odds, and you'll at least know how your horse fared against a deep, quality field.

For the real potential overlays, however, it is best to turn your attention to the horses who are not running this weekend. Like trading stocks, try to find the best price by catching people napping. In other words, go where they ain't. Now is the time to bet Badge of Silver. Now is the time to bet Offlee Wild. And Sunday might be the time to bet the mutuel field if you're willing to wager the kind of big bucks that make the field worthwhile. Badge of Silver and Offlee Wild are 20-1 and 30-1, respectively, on the morning line. Assuming Badge of Silver trains well after his myectomy, he could very well return to his freaky ways in the Illinois Derby. A big race at Hawthorne and racing's most exciting 3-year-old this year will be yours at much higher odds than he should be. Then, when everyone comes racing back on his bandwagon, you can be sitting up there waving your ticket in their face.

Just watch the Louisiana Derby again and see how easily this horse was running when he suddenly hit the proverbial brick wall. That definitely is the sign of a horse who either bled or displaced his palate. He had never been put to any pressure before, and now he found himself with Peace Rules and Funny Cide on his inside and Kafwain storming up on his outside. Sometimes, horses might panic for an instant when they're pressured like that for the first time and shut down their air. It can happen to lightly raced, brilliant horses who are used to coasting along, having never been in a fight, then are asked to go from cruise control to a drive. It happened to Holy Bull in the Fountain of Youth and he bounced back more brilliant than ever. All Badge of Silver needs to know is that when he's put to pressure now, he's not going to lose his air. That is why the Illinois Derby will be an important test for him. He just needs to get his confidence back.

Offlee Wild could be the other smart play. This colt showed a lot of promise in the Holy Bull Stakes and was making a strong run on the far outside in the Fountain of Youth. He couldn't sustain his move, however, and finished fourth. It actually was a pretty good effort considering the ground he lost and the speed-favoring track. But who knows if he wasn't incubating the nasty bacterial infection that hit him six days after the race and shot his temperature up to 104 degrees? Even if he wasn't, it still was a solid enough race. If he trains sharply and runs a good race in the Blue Grass Stakes as a fresh horse, it could set him up for a big effort in the Derby. And you'll be holding a pretty live ticket.

That brings us to the mutuel field. There are some enticing horses in there, such as Ten Most Wanted, the third-place finisher in the El Camino Real Derby who is improving and heading for the Illinois Derby; four interesting horses in the San Felipe -- Flirt With Fortune, who could be a very live horse, Brancusi, Siberland, and Buckland Manor; the entire Gotham field; Lone Star Sky, who ran huge in the Louisiana Derby against a speed bias; Midway Cat and Formal Attire, whom you'll know more about after the Florida Derby; Outta Here, who has been working super at Hollywood; and Spensive, the forgotten Baffert horse.

But the real key to the mutuel field is watching how Lion Tamer, Aristocat, and Brancusi run this weekend. All are owned by Michael Tabor, and if two or all three of them do not come out their races smelling like roses, then don't be surprised to see Hold That Tiger back in the Derby picture. Aidan O'Brien said he and the other Ballydoyle horses are all training well and moving forward, and no decision will be made until after Tabor's horses run. Then they'll meet next week, along with John Magnier, to decide their plan of action.

This also is the time to get a good price on Funny Cide (30-1 morning line), who could run big in the Wood Memorial after his excellent performance off a layoff in the Louisiana Derby. He was helped by a speed-biased track and a rail skimming trip, but it still was a step in the right direction after a horrible trip in the Holy Bull and losing training due to a virus.

Peace Rules is an iffy proposition right now. Frankel was not happy to hear the colt received a "1" on the Ragozin Sheets in the Louisiana Derby, and he casually tossed around the idea of running in the Lexington Stakes, then the Preakness, and skipping the Derby. But Frankel changes his mind often, so it's a long way before that becomes reality. It also depends on what Empire Maker does on Saturday.

As for the San Felipe, the four horses in the Future Wager are Domestic Dispute, Man Among Men, Atswhatimtalknbout, and Ten Cents a Shine. Of these, Man Among Men should provide the best value, and he'll still close at a good price even if he wins. For some reason, he's listed at 30-1 on the morning line, while the horse he beat in the Sham Stakes, Empire Maker, is 8-1. That makes no sense at all, and is enough reason to bet this horse, who may be more talented than most people think. Domestic Dispute hasn't received much press and could also be a good bargain. Atswhatimtalknbout will get bet heavily even before the San Felipe, because of all the hype and press he's been getting lately. Ten Cents a Shine is a guess at this point, but it certainly wouldn't surprise many people if he returned to his form prior to the Fountain of Youth.

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