Bovada KY Derby Futures Update: February 2018
The Most Critical Factor
When betting horses, you must find value. While true, this maxim is repeated to the point of cliche. For the pupose of Kentucky Derby Future betting in February, I’ll submit that value simply doesn’t exist unless your pick is at least 25/1. Let’s quickly consider the salient points in betting a KY Derby Future:
- All horses are extremely susceptible to injury, thus never making the starting gate.
- Any horse can throw in a clunker in a big race and fail to garner enough points to qualify.
- Even if a horse qualifies, the Derby is a 20-horse field that regularly offers plenty of betting value for those who wait.
With these things in mind, some bettors vow never to make a future bet on the KY Derby. While this is understandable given the risk involved and the difficulty of hitting the wager, all betting is situational and should be approached as such. More to the point, this is still a fun wager that can offer value for those who seek it. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here’s a glance at what Bovada is offering us for the 2018 Derby as of Feb 6.
Why anyone would take a short price on a Derby contender in February is beyond me, but let’s talk about the top five betting choices according to Bovada.
- Bolt d’Oro 7/1
- Good Magic 10/1
- Solomini 14/1
- McKinzie 15/1
- Mask 16/1
To be clear, these are some talented colts, but none appear to be freakish or can’t-miss prospects. The top three on the list – Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic and Solomini – ran 1-3 in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Good Magic winning the race as a maiden in career start number three. Good Magic earned a very respectable Beyer Speed Figure of 100 – a number identical to the one earned in the race by Classic Empire the previous year.
Like the rest of the three year-old crop, Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic and Solomini must earn a place in the KY Derby starting gate by acquiring enough qualifying points in prep races. Even if all three make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May – a dicey proposition considering the realities of horse racing and its tendency to follow Murphy’s Law – it’s easy to imagine that their odds might be similar to the future odds listed above on race day.
McKinzie and Mask have each won early prep races in 2017, but still have work to do. Both are speedy colts who seem to offer plenty of upside. Among the favorites, these two offer considerably more betting value in futures market than the likes of Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic.
A Deeper Look
If the sportsbook is going to give us unappetizing odds on the marquee horses, so be it. It’s the future bettors’ job to make lemons out of lemonade. What we’re looking for doesn’t necessarily have to be a dimaond-in-the-rough type, but more than likely we’re going to have to identify a Derby-worthy talent before the horse breaks through with a major prep win. This is simultaneously the most exciting and difficult part about making a futures wager in February.
I said earlier in this piece, that 25/1 is the shortest price I’m willing to accept on a KY Derby Future this early into the season. With this in mind, there are three picks that stand out:
Catholic Boy 25/1
This guy was switched from turf to dirt for his final start in 2017 which led to a breakthrough effort in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct. Catholic Boy was further flattered by the win, when second-place finisher Avery Island came back to easily win the Withers Stakes Feb 3. The Remsen,run at 1 1/8-miles, strongly suggests the Derby distance of 1 1/4-miles could be to his liking. He’s working very sharply at Tampa Downs for a probable next start in the Sam F. Davis Feb 10. Jump on this one now as the price will diminish with a win there.
Hollywood Star 33/1
I liked this horse as a longshot possbility in the Feb 3 Holy Bull Stakes before he was scratched. As a son of Malibu Moon, I like the pedigree and the trajectory of this runner who was working quite well over the Gulfstream dirt. Look for him next in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes March 3, but he’s also possible for the Sam F. Davis.
Another scratch from the Holy Bull, Mississippi looked to be the fastest horse in that race. It’s hard to blame trainer Mark Casse for the defection as Mississippi drew the dreaded 11-hole at Gulfstream. Like Hollywood Star, this runner could show up next in either the Sam F. Davis or Fountain of Youth. On paper, he’s better than Hollywood Star right now, so it will be interesting to see how far he can carry his speed.
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