April 15, 2024

Sierra Leone, Impel favored in Kentucky Derby, Oaks Future Wager pools

Sierra Leone passes Track Phantom in deep stretch to win the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds (Photo by Hodges Photography / Credit to Lou Hodges, Jr.)

Seven weeks out from the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs, bettors are having trouble landing on a clear favorite, as evidenced by the results of Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 5.

The pool opened on Friday and closed on Sunday, spanning a quiet weekend without any Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifiers. When the dust settled, stretch-running Risen Star (G2) winner Sierra Leone was the most popular individual horse for the second straight pool, though his odds drifted up from 6-1 in Pool 4 to 7-1 in Pool 5.

In contrast, last year’s champion two-year-old male Fierceness dropped significantly from 16-1 in Pool 4 to 9-1 in Pool 5, even though he didn’t race in between the two. As the shock of his season-opening defeat in the Holy Bull (G3) wears off, bettors seem more inclined to remember Fierceness’ blowout victory in the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and bet accordingly.

“All Other Three-Year-Olds,” a catch-all option favored at 5-1 in Pool 4, more than doubled in price to 11-1 in Pool 5 as bettors acknowledge the diminished likelihood of a Kentucky Derby winner emerging from complete obscurity at this stage of the game. But in a seemingly wide-open year, All Other Three-Year-Olds was still narrowly more popular than Champagne (G1) and Rebel (G2) winner Timberlake (12-1), Japan’s Saudi Derby (G3) hero Forever Young (12-1), and Remsen (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Dornoch (13-1).

Rounding out the betting interests were Deterministic (16-1), Mystik Dan (16-1), Conquest Warrior (16-1), Hades (20-1), Track Phantom (23-1), Catching Freedom (26-1), Just a Touch (31-1), Domestic Product (33-1), Seize the Grey (33-1), Honor Marie (35-1), Tuscan Sky (36-1), Hall of Fame (37-1), Agate Road (38-1), Liberal Arts (45-1), Stronghold (48-1), Encino (58-1), Endlessly (59-1), Common Defense (62-1), Uncle Heavy (80-1), Tuscan Gold (81-1), Top Conor (98-1), Nash (105-1), Resilience (128-1), The Wine Steward (131-1), Just Steel (137-1), El Grande O (138-1), No More Time (144-1), Born Noble (154-1), Be You (160-1), Corporate Power (183-1), Epic Ride (189-1), Time for Truth (231-1), Le Dom Bro (263-1), and Lat Long (468-1).

Also closing on Sunday was the year’s lone Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool. If anything, bettors found the Kentucky Oaks (G1) contenders even more inscrutable, grouping 11 betting interests between 7-1 and 19-1.

Ultimately, bettors landed on Impel as the slim 7-1 favorite, even though the Juddmonte homebred has yet to start in a stakes. However, blowout maiden and allowance victories for trainer Brad Cox drew enough attention for bettors to prefer the potential of Impel over the proven form of reigning champion two-year-old filly Just F Y I, the 8-1 second choice after missing her scheduled 2024 debut in the Davona Dale (G2) due to a fever.

Tarifa (11-1) and Intricate (12-1), the top two finishers in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds, proved narrowly more popular than All Other Three-Year-Old Fillies, which closed at a fractionally higher 12-1 than Intricate. Next came Alcibiades (G1) heroine Candied (13-1), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up Jody’s Pride (13-1), upset Honeybee (G3) winner Lemon Muffin (16-1), Golden Rod (G2) runner-up Thorpedo Anna (17-1), Santa Ynez (G3) winner Kopion (19-1), and Spinaway (G1) runner-up Ways and Means (19-1).

The remaining fillies were Halina’s Forte (29-1), Leslie’s Rose (31-1), Our Pretty Woman (31-1), Fiona’s Magic (32-1), My Mane Squeeze (32-1), Gun Song (33-1), Ghalia Princess (45-1), Denim and Pearls (49-1), Alpine Princess (52-1), West Omaha (61-1), Life Talk (74-1), Power Squeeze (77-1), Gin Gin (79-1), Into Champagne (85-1), V V’s Dream (85-1), Carmelina (86-1), Band of Gold (92-1), Maxisuperfly (100-1), All Things Go (113-1), West Sunset (131-1), Scalable (148-1), Midsummer March (164-1), Perfect Shot (166-1), Tapit Jenallie (180-1), Neom Beach (214-1), Pretty Ana (218-1), She’s a Tempest (261-1), Ultimate Authority (354-1),and Sistina Chapel (530-1).

Future wager action wraps up with Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 6, slated to run from April 4-6.