by SCOTT SHAPIRO
After a massive Saturday in Triple Crown prep action we are down to just two more “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points races. The Arkansas Derby will complete the 170-point events next Saturday along with the 34-point Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.
With the final of 4 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools closing tonight at 6 p.m. ET, it is time to make one final investment to complete the 2018 portfolio.
The loss of McKinzie due to an issue with his hind legs really hurt my chances of capitalizing in this year’s “Run for the Roses” futures. Getting 12-1 on a horse that has been in most experts “Derby Top 5” was a great start in Pool 1, but that ticket is dead now with trainer Bob Baffert opting to take the safe approach with the three-year-old colt.
At this point it appears that I whiffed in Pool 2 and Pool 3. Sure, Free Drop Billy will have enough points to make the gate, but 36-1 is likely to be lower than his price when they head to the gates on the first Saturday in May. Instilled Regard, Catholic Boy and Sporting Chance offered what I saw as value throughout the winter and early part of spring, but they disappointed in their final preps.
The question now is how to approach the final pool considering I have invested 4 units that are essentially in the wastebasket more than a month out.
If I had a strong opinion on the race I could invest several units on one of the likely favorites and weigh my investment so that if that colt wins I still profit. However, that is more likely to lead to losing more than I had planned, so I will attempt to invest just one more unit in hopes I can come up slightly ahead in the 2018 Kentucky Derby Future Pools.
Justify is the most likely winner of the Derby at this point, but his 3-1 price is too low given our current holdings. The same is true of Mendelssohn who I discussed in my last article on Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but failed to capitalize on. His 4-1 price now is far from enticing despite the dominating performance last weekend.
The only colt that I give a significant chance of winning the first leg of the 2018 Triple Crown that offers a price high enough to purchase is Magnum Moon. The son of Malibu Moon enters next week’s Arkansas Derby a perfect 3-for-3 for trainer Todd Pletcher. His effort in the Rebel Stakes did not gain the attention that Justify’s win in the Santa Anita Derby did, but it was impressive nonetheless.
If Magnum Moon moves forward again next Saturday it may be asking a bit too much for him to do so once again in Louisville. However, if he regresses slightly off of his third lifetime score at Oaklawn last month I think he is set up to make a big run at Churchill Downs.
Magnum Moon’s price at time of publication is a very fair 12-1. I will invest one more unit, for a total of 5, and hope the Kentucky-bred can earn Pletcher his second straight win in America’s most prestigious race.
Scott Shapiro provides Daily Selections full-card analysis with best bets for Brisnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottShap34