Pool 3 - The hunt for a Kentucky Derby winner
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Jeff Frank - Sports Analyst
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The key to betting on Kentucky Derby Future Wagers, besides picking the winner, is to find possible overlays so the horse's odds will be higher than they would be on Derby Day.

Three weeks ago, I gave out six Pool 2 value plays, with only one of the six falling through the cracks as Imperia was bet too heavily to be considered a viable selection. The remaining five - Lord Nelson, The Great War, Prospect Park, Far Right and International Star - all wound up at 35-1 or higher.

Lord Nelson (41-1), The Great War (40-1), Prospect Park (35-1), Far Right (48-1) and International Star (44-1) all look to have solid value months before the first Saturday in May.

Since Pool 2 closed on Feb. 8, Far Right has gone on to win the Southwest Stakes while International Star took care of business in the Risen Star. Subsequently, those two colts sport much lower morning line odds for Pool 3, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

Both Far Right and International Star are listed at 20-1 on the morning line, while the odds on Lord Nelson, The Great War and Prospect Park could be lower in Pool 3 (compared to Pool 2) because those three horse are all listed at 30-1 on the morning line.

In my Feb. 5 column titled "Look for value in Kentucky Derby Pool 2," I mentioned how the odds for the mutuel field could be higher than 2-1, which had not happened since 2011. My suspicions were correct as the "field" closed at 5-2. I also pointed out a "field" horse has won the Derby all four times its odds were higher than 3-2 since 2008.

It might come as a surprise for a Pool 2 "field" horse to win in 2015 due to the multitude of top-flight single entrants. However, there were plenty of solid 3-year-olds - Danzig Moon, Far From Over, War Story, Bolo and Metaboss - that have since come into the Derby picture. The folks in charge of assigning the Pool 3 Future Wager obviously concur as all but Metaboss are single entrants this weekend.

As was the case in Pool 2, a horse's odds play a key role in finding value. Don't forget, only two horses at 17-1 or lower in Pool 2 have won the Run for the Roses since the Future Wager began in 1999. Given that, can the likes of American Pharoah, Carpe Diem, Dortmund, Texas Red or Upstart win in 2015? All five were 17-1 or lower in Pool 2. In fact, all five were in the top half- dozen of the "Jeff Frank Dirty Dozen" the week of Pool 2, while my No. 5- ranked Firing Line closed at the unbelievable price of 35-1.

I must admit to being terribly wrong at guessing Firing Line's probable odds. I expected his 30-1 morning line to be chopped in half with a win or a close second in the Robert B. Lewis. His 35-1 Pool 2 odds is the perfect example of an overlay. If the son of Line of David can win the Sunland Derby (his expected final Kentucky Derby prep), his Pool 4 odds will be somewhere around 10-1 and his odds on Derby Day will easily be in the single digits.

For the record, horses listed as single entrants, but removed in subsequent pools, have never won the Kentucky Derby. To that end, don't expect Frosted, Competitive Edge, Gorgeous Bird, Imperia or J S Bach to suddenly rise up and be a force at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

"THE JEFF FRANK DIRTY DOZEN"
1) American Pharoah - Working like a champ for return in Rebel
2) Dortmund - Baffert's No. 2 awaits Santa Anita Derby on April 4
3) Carpe Diem - Tampa Bay Derby next for son of Giant's Causeway
4) Firing Line - Has yet to get the respect he deserves
5) Khozan - Will have to deal with the imposing Apollo curse
6) Lord Nelson - Baffert's No. 3 is flying under the radar
7) Far From Over - Needs to follow up Withers with another win
8) Texas Red - Two 2015 preps (one at 7-furlongs) is not ideal
9) Upstart - Staggered home and DQd in FOY; still not sold on him
10) Danzig Moon - Gearing up for stakes test in Tampa Bay Derby
11) Ocho Ocho Ocho - Might not fire first time back in San Felipe
12) Ocean Knight - Expected to return in the Gotham on March 7

HOW TO WAGER POOL 3

Pool 3 is a little bit different than Pool 2, or what was considered Pool 1 from 1999 to 2013. "Field" horses have won half of the 16 total Pool 1 Future Wagers. On the other hand, just six have won Pool 2, with only one over the last five years. As of now, Metaboss appears to be the lone possible upsetter as he was curiously left out as an individual entrant.

The "field" was the 3-1 favorite in last year's Pool 3, with Cairo Prince (9-1) the only individual entrant in single digits. Honor Code, Top Billing, Shared Belief, Bayern, Candy Boy, Strong Mandate and Tapiture were the other horses lower than 20-1. Incidentally, California Chrome was 32-1.

There have been 42 total single entrants over the last six years with odds lower than 20-1 in the penultimate Future Wager Pool. Orb has been the only winner. The average number of horses per year at 19-1 or lower since 2009 has been seven.

It is not too difficult to pick out six of the probable seven this year. They will be: (1) American Pharoah, (2) Carpe Diem, (3) Dortmund, (4) Khozan, (5) Texas Red and (6) Upstart. The seventh will either be Far From Over or Ocean Knight. I would refrain from wagering on any of those eight horses because there is no value in betting them now compared to the final pool or the day of the race.

I also would hold back from betting any of the five value plays I gave out for Pool 2, especially because the odds on all of them could be lower this time around. In addition, save your money by not placing any wagers on Daredevil, El Kabeir, Itsaknockout, Keen Ice, Mr. Z and Ocho Ocho Ocho.

That leaves just three horses to bet in Pool 3 - Danzig Moon, War Story and Bolo. The first two were listed as potential Derby contenders in my initial 2015 Kentucky Derby column, while I listed Bolo as a horse to watch.

Danzig Moon and Bolo are 50-1 on the Pool 3 morning line and War Story is one of six horses at 30-1.

Danzig Moon finally broke his maiden in his 2015 debut on Feb. 7 at Gulfstream Park. The son of Malibu Moon (Orb's sire) blew away his competition with a 12 1/5-second eighth of a mile heading into the stretch, while opening up three lengths on Saraguaro in a matter of seconds. He went on to win by 4 3/4 lengths with a time of 1:38 for the one-mile event. Danzig Moon is well worth any wager, primarily because he should be one of the higher-priced entrants in the pool.

War Story has been a bridesmaid to International Star in both the LeComte and Risen Star Stakes. He is more well-known to the general betting public than either Danzig Moon or Bolo, so his Pool 3 odds might not drift much higher than his 30-1 morning line. Still, if he wins the Louisiana Derby, his Pool 4 odds will be much lower, so it is certainly worth placing a bet on him in Pool 3.

Bolo has been mentioned as a possible Kentucky Derby horse at different times this winter despite never having raced on dirt. He began his career in November with a fifth-place finish on the Santa Anita turf. He followed that effort with a pair of grass victories, including a 4 1/2-length win in the Eddie Logan Stakes. His turn of foot is as impressive as any colt on the Derby trail, but he has yet to test it on dirt.

Bolo is expected to try that surface for the first time in a very tough spot - the San Felipe Stakes - against Ocho Ocho Ocho, Lord Nelson and Prospect Park. If his turf form can translate to the dirt, his odds for Pool 4 will be much lower than this coming weekend. Instead of waiting for Pool 4, try to get down on him now as his jockey Mike Smith is extremely high on the son of Temple City.



Copyright 2015


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