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A Way Too Early Look at the 2017 Kentucky Derby

Pool #1 for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is now closed, but there are three more coming up for brave bettors who want to lay down their money early. These future pools give fans the chance for bigger payouts, but they are not without risks.

Each pool has 24 possible contenders to choose, though #24 is actually “all others.” That means if any horse, apart from the other 23 on the list, wins, you win.

Interested in placing a Future Wager for the 2017 Kentucky Derby? Here is a look at what it’s all about and which horses are hot contenders.

The Risks and Rewards of Futures Betting

Futures betting is an art form. Research will get you to the starting line, but it’s the right hunch that will bring home the money. With futures wagering, you can win far more than if you wait until race day.

For example, Nyquist, winner of the 2016 Derby, was 9 to 1 in early futures betting. That returned a far better result than his odds on the day of the Kentucky Derby, at 2.30 to 1. American Pharoah, winner of the 2015 Derby, was 12 to 1 in early betting, but just 2.90 to 1 on race day.

But futures betting has risks. What if your horse doesn’t even enter the race? It’s not that uncommon when you bet this early in the season. Your choice may be injured or it might not qualify for the Derby.

That’s why some bettors prefer to wait. That gives them the chance to check how the contenders do in the major lead-up races. There are numerous races, including the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes or Arkansas Derby, Florida Derby and the Louisiana Derby, all run at least 3 weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

Others bet early and then bet late, covering their wagers both ways. They find a prime prospect and bet futures. And closer to the actual running, they diversify on another hopeful contender.

Upcoming Future Wager Pools

Are you interested in betting early? Here is a look at the remaining pools and their dates.

  • Pool #2 for Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Jan. 27 to 29, 2017
  • Pool #3 for Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Feb. 24 to 26, 2017
  • Pool #4 for Kentucky Derby Future Wager, March 31 to April 2, 2017

There is also a Future Wager Pool for Kentucky Oaks, Feb. 24 to 26, 2017.

Bettors can place three types of bets in the pools:

Contenders for the 2017 Kentucky Derby

Right now, Classic Empire is the first choice among Derby cognoscenti, earning 8 to 1 odds at the opening of the first pool that happened in November. He is trained by Mark Casse and owned by John Oxley. The colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, held in early November at Santa Anita.

It turns out that another top contender, Not This Time, was aptly named. Trained by Dale Romans and owned by the Albaugh Family Stables, the colt was second in the same Santa Anita race. But he has been pulled due to an injury to the soft tissue on his right front leg.

No other colts are considered real standouts yet, according to experts. But here are two that have done well in graded stake races.

Gromley. This 2-year-old is trained by John A. Shirreffs and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss. He finished 7th in the Breeders’ Cup against Classic Empire, but first in the FrontRunner Stakes held in October.

Practical Joke. Trained by Chad Brown and owned by William Lawrence, the colt came in 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup and 1st in the Champagne Stakes held in early October.

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