Although Life Is Good and Essential Quality have yet to face off on track, the two undefeated colts have developed quite a rivalry through the first three Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools.
The first two pools saw Sham (G3) winner Life Is Good close as a narrow favorite over Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) hero Essential Quality, and the third pool unfolded in much the same manner. When betting closed on Sunday evening, Life Is Good was once again the individual favorite at 7-1, with Essential Quality a tick behind at 8-1. The popular “All Other Three Year Olds” option was the overall choice at 33-10.
The ongoing battle for Derby favoritism between Life Is Good and Essential Quality can be viewed as a microcosm of the battle for Derby glory being waged by their high-profile conditioners. Life Is Good hails from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is seeking a record-extending seventh Derby win. Meanwhile, Cox is aiming for his first Derby success fresh off being voted Outstanding Trainer at the 2020 Eclipse Awards.
Between them, Baffert and Cox train seven of the 23 individual horses available for betting in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3, a testament to the depth of their stables. Baffert’s roster includes Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner Medina Spirit (25-1) plus San Vicente (G2) 1-2 finishers Concert Tour (17-1) and Freedom Fighter (52-1), while the Cox team is highlighted by runaway Smarty Jones S. winner Caddo River (15-1) and recent Risen Star (G2) winner Mandaloun (16-1).
Beyond the Baffert and Cox brigades, Greatest Honour was the most popular Pool 3 betting choice thanks to an eye-catching victory in the Holy Bull (G3). Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb, Greatest Honour closed at 9-1.
Impressive maiden winners Prevalence (14-1) and Dream Shake (28-1) also attracted ample wagering support, with bettors flocking to support promise over the proven form of Sam F. Davis (G3) winner Candy Man Rocket (35-1), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Fire At Will (30-1), and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Hot Rod Charlie (35-1).
Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon (41-1) and Remington Springboard Mile S. winner Senor Buscador (39-1) might have closed at shorter prices had they fared better in Saturday’s running of the Risen Star, but after finishing third and fifth behind Mandaloun, they wound up a bit cold on the board.
Rounding out the available wagering options were Highly Motivated (37-1), Jackie’s Warrior (26-1), Keepmeinmind (25-1), Nova Rags (91-1), Risk Taking (25-1), Roman Centurian (41-1), Swiftsure (74-1), and The Great One (38-1).
|2||Candy Man Rocket||35-1|
|6||Fire At Will||30-1|
|10||Hot Rod Charlie||35-1|
|13||Life Is Good||7-1|
|23||The Great One||38-1|
|24||All Other Three Year Olds||3-1|
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 attracted $278,396.69 in win wagers plus $110,590.10 in exacta tickets for a final pool of $388,986.79. Pool 4 is slated to run from Mar. 5-7, with Pool 5 closing out the future wager action from Mar. 26-28.