Kentucky Derby Trail: Check Out Bally's Bargain Basement Sale

With the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager in two weeks, this might be the time to head to Bally's Future Book before your longshot special gets lumped into the mutuel field, which once again is expected to go off at a short price.

With so many 3-year-olds just getting good now, and the division leaders' reputations based on only one or two races, it just might be worth it to try to ferret out a half-dozen or so horses who could leap to the head of the class in the next month. In the past five years, Derby winners Charismatic, Fusaichi Pegasus, Monarchos, War Emblem, and Funny Cide had all proven little at this time. At the end of January, Charismatic had won a maiden claiming race, Fusaichi Pegasus was maiden winner, Monarchos was a maiden winner, War Emblem was an allowance winner at Fair Grounds, and Funny Cide had won a New York-bred stakes and was fifth in his only start in open company.

There are so many up-and-coming 3-year-olds out there, we're going to limit our search to about a dozen horses who were 100-1 or higher at Bally's as of Jan. 28.

The "A" List

In alphabetical order:

Borrego, 225-1 -- Impressive allowance winner at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles in first career start on dirt. Trained by Beau Greely, he beat a good horse in Dwango in 1:43 4/5. Working very well at Santa Anita and could run next in Sham Stakes. Pedigree not an issue, as he's by El Prado, out of a Strike the Gold mare and traces to Herbager on tail-female line. DI of 1.40.

Mustanfar, 175-1 – Odds are likely lower after his 1 1/16-mile allowance win at Gulfstream last weekend. Liked everything about his race. Big, long-striding colt, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, came home his final sixteenth in swift :06 flat and his time was four-fifths faster than the second division. Sound, healthy colt, has never had even a minor setback. Pedigree to die for. By Unbridled, out of a daughter of the great international producer Height of Fashion. Nothing but classic European stakes winners throughout female family. DI of 1.42.

Notorious Rogue, 250-1 – Have liked this Mark Hennig-trained colt since last August at Saratoga. Ran huge third in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) after getting beaten to a hole by the winner, Silver Wagon. Good-looking colt with a nice way of moving. He's matured a great deal over the winter and finished a fast-closing second to the undefeated Frisky Spider in a 7-furlong allowance race in his 3-year-old debut. Shoulld improve going two turns. By Belmont (gr. I) winner Victory Gallop and inbred 5x4 to the classy Ribot stallion Tom Rolfe. DI of 2.33.

Odds On, 125-1 – Has been out since being eased in the Norfolk Stakes, coming out of the race with shin problems. But his two starts before that were very encouraging. After finishing second to Minister Eric in a maiden race at Del Mar he came back and romped by 6 lengths in 1:10 flat. He's been working up a storm for Bob Baffert, including a 6-furlong drill in 1:12 and 5 furlongs in :59 1/5. You have to love his pedigree. By Silver Charm, out of a Pine Bluff mare, his second dam is by Belmont and Preakness winner Little Current, who is also the maternal great-grandsire of Funny Cide. Inbred to Hail to Reason. DI of 1.11

Preachinatthebar, 125-1 – Pretty attractive price on a colt who closed well to finish fourth in the Santa Catalina Stakes after losing ground at the head of the stretch. Another Baffert-trained colt, he seems to be improving with each start, and was impressive breaking his maiden against Quintons Gold Rush, who came back to break his maiden impressively. Distance should be no problem. By Silver Charm, out of a Silver Deputy mare; second dam by Spectacular Bid. DI of 1.29. He may show up in Sham Stakes and will appreciate the extra furlong.

Shaniko, 100-1 – Trainer Todd Pletcher is high on him, and he looks to have all the tools. Drew off impressively to break his maiden by 6 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream in first two-turn start. Originally trained by Neil Drysdale. Look for him to show up in an allowance race very soon. Brought $550,000 at Saratoga yearling sale. Awesome pedigree, by A.P. Indy, out of a Pleasant Tap mare. There are several sprinters in his female family, mainly due to fourth-generation sire Nalees Man and dam being inbred to Bold Ruler. But more than enough stamina to carry him long distances. DI of 1.93.

Skipaslew, 300-1 – Not a bad price for a three-time stakes winner by Skip Away, out of a Seattle Slew mare, who seems to be improving steadily. He's been dominant in Northern California and was impressive winning the Golden Gate Derby last time out. Third dam is the great mare Straight Deal, who raced 99 times, earning almost $800,000, while holding her own against colts, including Hall of Famer Damascus, to whom she finished a close third in the Aqueduct Handicap.

The "B" List

One horse who would have been on the "A" list is 250-1 shot Purge, had he run well in a 6-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Wednesday. But the son of Pulpit was scratched, and having had only one 6-furlong maiden race at Saratoga last year, time is now running out on him. Pletcher wanted to give him more time and is looking at 7-furlong allowance race on Feb. 14. But this is a very good horse, who showed a good deal of courage of professionalism in his only start, and he still bears watching somewhere down the road. That allowance race, by the way, was won by Purge's stablemate Wulpe, who is now two-for-three and will be kept at shorter distances.

Baffert has a couple of other bombs to keep an eye on -- Coldntight, at 325-1, and Courageous Act, at 200-1, and he's still high on maiden Wimbledon, at 150-1, who has been knocking on the door against some pretty good horses. Coldntight, by Touch Gold, also has recovered from shin problems suffered in the Norfolk, and it should be noted that when he broke his maiden going a mile by 7 lengths at Del Mar, the runner-up was Action This Day.

If you like The Cliff's Edge at 20-1, you should love Gran Prospect at 100-1. The son of Crafty Prospector, trained by Pete Vestal, finished second to Nick Zito's colt in the Kentucky Jockey Stakes, beaten only three-quarters of a length. Although Crafty Prospector is not known as a distance sire, this colt has a ton of stamina in his female family. Broodmare sire Bahri, sired Arc de Triomphe winner and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Sakhee; maternal great-grandsire is Roberto, and his dam is inbred 3x3 to Nijinsky II. DI of 2.45.

Hard to believe Sir Oscar, unbeaten in six starts, is 100-1. All he does is win, and five of his six victories have come in stakes races. Again, not sure about 1 1/4 miles, but certainly should get nine furlongs with no problem.

We might have Value Plus on the "A" list at 250-1 if he weren't so self-destructive coming out of the gate. Always manages to do something wrong, and dumped his rider in his last start. We'll have to see how he's matured from 2 to 3. If he's more professional and doesn't do anything to hurt his chances he does have a world of talent, which he showed in his debut when he won by 8 3/4 lengths at Saratoga. Then ran into a monster in Cuvee in the Futurity Stakes (gr. I), finishing a distant second. Has been working steadily for Todd Pletcher and is still a couple of works from a race. By Unbridled's Song, his female family is suspect, being made up mainly of obscure stallions. DI of 2.11

Frisky Spider, at 200-1 is undefeated in three starts, and obviously is a tough, hard-knocking colt who doesn't mind a battle. Not sure if he wants 1 1/4 miles, but he is a talented colt with just enough stamina to remain hopeful.

There many other interesting longshots that might be worth playing around with that we'll touch on in the weeks to come.

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