This is a bad week for the Future Wager if you like anyone in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), Wood Memorial (gr. I), or Illinois Derby (gr. II). The only way you can get a decent price in those races is if you happen to like a horse who gets beat and feel he might move forward off it. Otherwise, concentrate on the following week's preps.
1--Afleet Alex, 15-1
-- I'd love to see this horse bounce back in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture. He's too talented a horse not to be there. But, coming off a lung infection and a last-place finish, you just don't know if he will or not. If you liked him before, you might want to take the chance and try to get a better price than you could have ever hoped for.
2 -- Bandini,15-1
-- Keep an eye out for who Angel Cordero and John Velazquez wind up on April 16, especially if he stays on Afleet Alex. If he rides Bandini, it has nothing to do with Alex, so don't hold that against him. The key to Bandini is the foot bruise he suffered before the Florida Derby (gr. I). He doesn't have to win the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I). If he stays focused and runs a strong second, he's going to be very dangerous on Derby Day. Still feel he's one of the best plays.
3--Bellamy Road, 20-1
-- Simply not playable, with the Wood Saturday and his price plunging should he win it. New York Yankee fans should love the George Steinbrenner-owned colt, who devastated an allowance field first crack out. He's capable of coming off the pace, but just remember, he'll have only two starts before the Derby, with one of them a stroll in the park.
4--Blues and Royals, 15-1
-- I can see someone willing to take a wild shot on this horse, despite his having only one start before the Derby. But 15-1? That's pretty much an insult to our 3-year-olds. There are several things I like about him, mainly the way he squeezed through a very narrow opening on the rail before blowing his field away, and the smoothness of his stride. But with only one start in Dubai, he still is a stab, and should not be anywhere near 15-1.
5--Closing Argument, 30-1
-- Can barely remember much about this colt, it's been so long since he won the Holy Bull (gr. III). Assuming he's going to show up in the Blue Grass, there's just no way to get any kind of gauge on him until he runs again. Big risk right now.
-- There is a fine line with him. On one hand, you want to see him come back and run another big race after such a freaky performance, but you also don't want him to run the way he did in the San Felipe (gr. I) for fear of going over the top. So, a step backwards in the Blue Grass would be OK as long as it's just a teeny weeny step, and he shows enough to suggest he will move forward again in the Derby.
7--Don't Get Mad, 30-1
-- This horse could leave a lot of bettors frustrated this weekend. He's sitting on a huge effort in the Santa Anita Derby, but it won't do much good to those who like him now at 30-1. All they will be able to do if he wins is sit back and watch the odds plummet. Know anyone in Vegas? Feel this is a very live horse, but be prepared for aftermath.
8--Flower Alley, 30-1
-- Still don't know if the Lane's End (gr. II) was a fluke or not. The way the race was run, over a sealed track, you can't put too much stock in it. At least not yet. Even if it wasn't a fluke, and this colt comes back and runs big in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), he'll still go into the Kentucky Derby off only four lifetime starts.
9--Galloping Grocer, 30-1
-- This New York-bred still intrigues me, but, as I said, I don't want to like a 30-1 shot who is running this weekend. With two starts under his belt and a return to the surface and distance of his finest moment (the Remsen, gr. II), you never know. He's been running more like a miler, but there's no reason why he can't improve off the Gotham (gr. III).
-- Tough, honest horse, but still has to show that killer instinct. He could be one of those who gets beat in the Santa Anita Derby, retaining his longshot status, yet would be playable for the Kentucky Derby. But, right now, there are too many questions, including how far he wants to go.
11--Going Wild, 15-1
-- Once again, we have another horse running this weekend. With only $40,000 in graded earnings, there's no holding back. He's got to finish first or second, with the latter still no guarantee of getting in the Derby field. This is big, tough bruiser of a horse who took all the worst of it in the San Felipe and still ran a bang-up second to Declan's Moon. Lukas is crazy about this colt.
12 -- Greater Good, 15-1
-- If you like this horse, the timing is great to get down on him now. He doesn't dazzle you, but he just keeps going out there and winning. His female family shows a great deal of versatility, and he apparently has inherited that. He'll be facing a lot of new faces in the Arkansas Derby, and will have to step it up a notch, but he looks like a solid investment.
13--Greeley's Galaxy, 50-1
-- Most people hadn't even heard of this horse the last time they ran the Future Wager, and I guarantee you most of them still don't know who he is. He's not even listed in Daily Racing Form
's 12-page list of Derby past performances. He was impressive winning an allowance race last time, but still an odd choice to be included among the 23 individual entries. Needs to win the Illinois Derby to have any shot of making the Derby...at a cost of $200,000.
14--High Fly, 8-1
-- The favorite, and deservedly so. Other than the question of going into the Derby off a five-week layoff there is nothing not to like about him. He's run in three 1 1/8-mile stakes and a one-mile stakes this year, so maybe the five weeks will actually help him. He's a push-button horse who has great tactical speed and can track any kind of pace. He always kicks into high gear when the rider wants him to, and does not like to be beaten. And, despite what some think, he should have no trouble getting the 1 1/4 miles. The smart play right now.
15--High Limit, 10-1
-- He has a lot of history to overcome, and his running style, to this point, will not help in a 20-horse field that should be loaded with speed. He's never been tested under fire, and has needed nothing but his natural ability to get the job done. He's had only three starts and two of them were mere strolls in the park, and the third was pretty similar. He's an exciting young prospect, but you're still taking a chance at 10-1.
16--Noble Causeway, 12-1
-- Another Zito horse who will go into the Derby off a five-week layoff. He's still a work in progress, so the layoff is more of a question with him than High Fly, who is a seasoned pro already. He's improving with every race, and learning each time. But has he been toughened up enough against top-class horses for a grueling race like the Derby?
-- Gets Jerry Bailey for the Wood Memorial. Most people felt he would have won the Gotham had Alan Garcia not lost his irons on the backstretch. He ran a remarkable race to finish second. Now it's a question of whether he can stretch out another eighth. Pedigree shows nothing to suggest he can't. As far as the Future Wager, not much you can do with him.
18--Rockport Harbor, 15-1
-- What can you possible say about this poor horse, who I feel is the most gifted 3-year-old in the country? His Arkansas Derby status is up in the air, although at last report, he's making great progress. This horse doesn't know the word quit, and is the most persistent horse I've ever seen. He just refuses to go away. He may make it to Churchill, battle scars and all. Heck, he's worth a bet just out of admiration.
19--Sun King, 10-1
-- His No. 1 ranking on many of the experts' Derby lists is not based so much on what he's accomplished, it's how he's looked doing it. He exudes class and stands out in the post parade, with his long, muscular frame and glistening coat. Even most Beyer pundits forgive his 91 figure in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), which is not a true number anyway. He doesn't have to win the Blue Grass, just show a good closing kick as if he's ready to move forward and peak on Derby Day. I'll take 10-1.
-- McGaughey not exactly bursting with optimism, but he is one of true realists in this game and should be commended for it. With that said, he's right. The colt still has to prove himself going two turns, and his Gotham score, as good as it was, was a perfectly set up race, with five horses on the line at the wire through a slow final quarter. But he is moving forward with every race. Too bad the Wood isn't the following week, when it used to be, so you can take a shot with him.
21--Sweet Catomine, 10-1
-- It's a shame you have to steer clear of her, too, this weekend, unless she has a troubled trip and finishes second or third. You still won't get a good price on her, but at least she'd be playable. Right now, she's pretty much a guess. She has all the tools needed to beats the colt, and although the speed gurus say she's too slow, she doesn't have to improve all that much to match this year's top numbers. And she won't be facing any Point Givens on Saturday.
22--Wild Desert, 30-1
--Unlike many of the others, the timing is great to bet on this colt now. He's run two solid races, showing good improvement last time out in the Lane's End, and his most recent work by himself (he always worked in company) was extremely strong. The potential is there for another step forward in the Arkansas Derby, and with his consistent closing kick, he is an intriguing prospect. We just have to wait for the Arkansas Derby to see if he's fast enough. If he shows he is, that 30-1 will look pretty good on Derby Day.
-- He's primed and ready for a big effort in the Santa Anita Derby, which might finally silence his critics. This colt is consistent, durable, and classy, but gets no respect. Not crazy about the 11-post in the Santa Anita Derby, which, I hate to say it, could lead to another excuse if he gets hung wide on the turn again. He can still win it with some luck, but if he even finishes a strong second or third, watch out on May 7, two starts or no two starts. He was a good horse to have landed at big odds in the last two Future Wagers. Now, you're pretty much helpless in regard to his odds.
24--All Others, 12-1
-- Although there really isn't much left, there are still two horses – Wannawinemall and Buzzards Bay – who could look very attractive after the Santa Anita Derby, which would all but destroy the odds on every one else in the mutuel field. To further indicate the mutuel field is a bad bet, timing-wise, the field also includes every starter but one in Saturday's Illinois Derby. You also have outside shots in the Wood Memorial with Naughty New Yorker, the Blue Grass with Mr Sword, and the Arkansas Derby with Andromeda's Hero and Rush Bay.