May 26, 2024

Spotlight shifts to Epicenter as Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 5 closes

Epicenter convincingly wins the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds (Photo by Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography)

After four months of unchanging stability, the Kentucky Derby Future Wager took on a new flavor for its fifth and final pool, which opened on Thursday and closed on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The first four pools (dating back to November 2021) saw the popular “All Other Three-Year-Olds” option close as the overall favorite while Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) winner Smile Happy settled as the individual favorite.

But with four weeks remaining until the Run for the Roses, bettors opted to change directions, instead favoring Epicenter at odds of 9-2. The improving son of Gun Runner defeated Smile Happy in the Risen Star S. (G2) during the winter and followed up with a flashy victory in the Louisiana Derby (G2), emerging as one of the fastest members of his generation.

Support for Epicenter was always going to be widespread, but the remainder of the Pool 5 betting odds might have unfolded differently had the pool closed a couple hours later, after the running of three major Kentucky Derby qualifiers on Saturday.

For example, bettors supported Messier as the 6-1 second choice while allowing All Other Three-Year-Olds to drift as high as 18-1, the presumed assumption being four weeks out is too late for a serious Kentucky Derby threat to emerge from nowhere. But then Messier was beaten to second place in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) by Taiba, an undefeated up-and-comer unlisted among the individual betting interests in Pool 5. Bettors who backed All Other Three-Year-Olds have to be feeling good about their chances.

Meanwhile, short-priced Kentucky Derby Future Wager options Forbidden Kingdom (9-1) and Morello (15-1) saw their Derby credentials shaken with sixth-place finishes in the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial (G2), respectively. But bettors who backed Zandon (18-1) and Mo Donegal (24-1) surely landed bargains, as Saturday saw Zandon beat Smile Happy (9-1) impressively in the Blue Grass S. (G1) while Mo Donegal rallied to a narrow triumph over Early Voting (29-1) in the Wood Memorial.

Other Pool 5 wagering interests included White Abarrio (12-1), Charge It (16-1), Cyberknife (17-1), Tiz the Bomb (22-1), Crown Pride (24-1), Barber Road (28-1), Simplification (32-1), Emmanuel (35-1), Ethereal Road (40-1), Zozos (40-1), Slow Down Andy (50-1), Summer Is Tomorrow (66-1), In Due Time (95-1), Tawny Port (114-1), and Pioneer of Medina (123-1).

Pool 5 proved popular with bettors, who wagered a lofty $444,338 in the win and exacta pools. This marked a sizable 20.2% increase from the $369,695 wagered in 2021.

The Kentucky Derby is slated to take place on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

ProgramHorse NameODDS
1Barber Road28-1
2Charge It16-1
3Crown Pride (JPN)24-1
5Early Voting29-1
8Ethereal Road40-1
9Forbidden Kingdom9-1
10In Due Time95-1
12Mo Donegal24-1
14Pioneer of Medina99-1
16Slow Down Andy50-1
17Smile Happy9-1
18Summer Is Tomorrow66-1
19Tawny Port99-1
20Tiz the Bomb22-1
21White Abarrio12-1
24All Other Three Year Olds18-1