Future Wager: Field closes as favorite

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With less than five weeks to go, racing fans effectively said this weekend that they are having a hard time settling on a favorite for the 136th Kentucky Derby.

The third and final pool in the 2010 Kentucky Derby Future Wager closed at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday with the mutuel field, the 24th or "all others"option, slightly favored at 9-2 over Lookin At Lucky (9-2) and Eskendereya (5-1).

After the top three came Awesome Act (13-1), Dublin (17-1), Odysseus (18-1), Conveyance (19-1), Ice Box (19-1), Noble's Promise (19-1), and Sidney's Candy (22-1). Win handle was $224,358.

A winning $2 bet on a Pool 3 field horse in the May 1 Derby would return $11, while the will-pays are $11.80 on Lookin At Lucky and $13.20 on Eskendereya.

Victories by new shooters Mission Impazible and Dean's Kitten in Saturday prep races helped the field register a sweep of sorts this year. The field also closed as the favorite in the two earlier futures pools, at 3-2 in Pool 1 (held Feb. 12-14) and 3-1 in Pool 2 (March 5-7). Mission Impazible, winner of the Louisiana Derby, and Dean's Kitten, winner of the Lane's End Stakes, are field horses in all three pools.

Three Pool 3 horses have wound up winning the Derby since Churchill Downs first offered parimutuel futures in 1999, the latest being Mine That Bird last year.

Only two of the 23 separately listed interests, Connemara and Discreetly Mine, were in action while Pool 3 was open: Connemara (78-1) was third in the Lane's End Stakes and Discreetly Mine (44-1) was fourth in the Louisiana Derby, both as favorites.

Two other separate interests, Conveyance and Tempted to Tapit (45-1), were scheduled to race Sunday in the Sunland Derby after Pool 3 closed.

Considerably more of the top Derby contenders are expected to be active over the next two weekends.

With $85,796 bet in exactas, total Pool 3 handle was $310,154, fourth lowest in the 12-year history of the bet. Aggregate handle in the 2010 futures, including exactas, was $1,132,055, also fourth lowest in history, with $466,048 having been bet in Pool 1 and $355,853 in Pool 2.

The 2010 totals are far off the futures records for a Pool 3 handle ($533,973) and aggregate handle ($1,665,990), both set in 2005.

The aggregate last year was $1,236,299, with $377,158 coming in Pool 3.

The lowest $2 exacta will-pay in Pool 3 is the 9-14 combination of Eskendereya over Lookin At Lucky, worth $44. There are numerous five-figure payoffs for $2.