Each year after the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes have been run, many horseplayers (including yours truly) begin looking down the road to the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.
Similarly, after the Breeders’ Cup has been run, many horseplayers (again including yours truly) start looking far ahead to the Kentucky Derby in the spring.
With that in mind, the website betonline.com currently has odds listed for a number of horses for the 2024 Kentucky Derby next May 4. The following 11 horses have odds of 53-1 or lower:
7-1 FIERCENESS (pictured above). Not surprisingly, he is the clear-cut favorite. Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Fierceness won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 6 1/4 lengths at 16-1 (from a 6-1 morning line). The Kentucky-bred City of Light colt recorded a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in that race. That’s the highest figure by a 2-year-old male or female so far in 2023. An 11 1/4-length winner on a muddy track when unveiled in the summer at Saratoga (95 Beyer), Fierceness then ran what Pletcher has called “a head scratcher” in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct. Fierceness finished seventh in the Champagne, which he lost by 20 1/5 lengths, but he rebounded big-time in the BC Juvenile. Pletcher has said a likely scenario early in 2024 is for Fierceness to run in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull Stakes and then the Florida Derby prior to the Kentucky Derby.
20-1 LOCKED. I installed Locked, also trained by Pletcher, as a 3-1 morning-line favorite in the BC Juvenile. The Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt finished third as the 2-1 favorite. He lacked early speed in the BC Juvenile and never threatened, though he did come home well enough to finish third, 6 1/4 lengths behind Fierceness. Locked registered a 96 Beyer Speed Figure when a 7 1/4-length Saratoga maiden winner at second asking. He then was credited with a 93 Beyer when he won Keeneland’s Grade I Breeders’ Futurity by a half-length despite a wide trip.
20-1 MUTH. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Muth ran second in the BC Juvenile at odds of 5-2. A month earlier, the Kentucky-bred Good Magic colt won Santa Anita’s Grade I American Pharoah Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths. Muth recorded a 91 Beyer in the American Pharoah, followed by a 95 in the BC Juvenile. Last July 3, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced it was “extending the suspension of Bob Baffert through calendar year 2024 based on continued concerns regarding the threat to the safety and integrity he poses to CDI-owned racetracks.” Baffert’s ban from racing horses at CDI-owned tracks stems from the 2021 Kentucky Derby in which the Baffert-trained Medina Spirit finished first but tested positive for the presence of betamethasone, a medication that is legal to use, but not on race day. In terms of Muth and the 2024 Kentucky Derby, keep in mind that earlier this year Churchill imposed a Feb. 28 deadline for “horses under the care of any suspended trainer or affiliates” to be transferred to a non-suspended trainer in order for the horse to become eligible to earn qualifying points to run in the 2023 Kentucky Derby.
25-1 TIMBERLAKE. Brad Cox trains this Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt, who finished fourth in the BC Juvenile at odds of 3-1. Rank while sixth early in the field of nine in that race, Timberlake lacked a late kick and lost by eight lengths. He went into the BC Juvenile off a 4 1/4-length victory on a sloppy track in the Grade I Champagne at Aqueduct. His performance in the Champagne produced a 93 Beyer, a figure he duplicated in the BC Juvenile.
33-1 NYSOS. Another Baffert trainee, Nysos trounced maidens at Santa Anita on Oct. 21 in his lone start to date. He completed six furlongs in a rapid 1:08.97 to win by 10 1/2 lengths and get a 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Nysos is by 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist.
40-1 DORNACH. He finished second on a sloppy track vs. Saratoga maidens in his debut, also ran second in Monmouth Park’s Sapling Stakes, then won a 1 1/16-mile maiden contest by 6 1/2 lengths at Keeneland on Oct. 14 for trainer Danny Gargan. Dornach, who like Muth is by Good Magic, sports an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern (70, then 77, then 87).
50-1 STRETCH RIDE. Trained by Dale Romans, Stretch Ride kicked off his racing career by winning a six-furlong maiden race by a half-length at Churchill, then won a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming affair by 5 3/4 lengths at Keeneland. He was 13-1 at Churchill, then 9-1 at Keeneland. After recording a 73 Beyer Speed Figure in Louisville, Stretch Ride improved to an 87 Beyer in Lexington. He is a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
50-1 THE WINE STEWARD. This New York-bred Vino Rosso colt has three wins and a second from four starts. A six-length maiden winner at Belmont Park in his first race in May, he then won the Bashford Manor Stakes at Ellis Park and Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga before finishing second in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. He lost the Breeders’ Futurity by just a half-length to Locked. Trained by Michael Maker, The Wine Steward was scratched from the BC Juvenile.
50-1 PRINCE OF MONACO. He won his first three starts prior to finishing fifth at odds of 5-1 in the BC Juvenile. An eight-length debut winner as a 1-20 favorite in a five-furlong maiden race July 9 at Los Alamitos, he won Del Mar’s Grade III Best Pal Stakes at six furlongs by 4 1/4 lengths over Muth in August. Prince of Monaco’s 103 Beyer in the Best Pal ranks as the second-highest figure by a 2-year-old male or female so far this year. Prince of Monaco dropped to an 87 Beyer when he won the Grade I Del Mar Futurity by three-quarters of a length in September, then recorded a 90 Beyer in the BC Juvenile.
53-1 BENTORNATO. Based in Florida, he’s four for four, all in races at Gulfstream. After winning a five-furlong maiden sprint on a sloppy strip July, 1, he has reeled off three straight stakes victories by margins of 4 1/4, 7 1/2 and 2 3/4 lengths. He sports an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern (64, then 87, then 88, then 91). Jose D’Angelo trains the Florida-bred Valiant Minister colt.
53-1 WALLEY WORLD. He had a nightmarish trip at first asking when he finished ninth at odds of 6-1 and was elevated to eighth via a rival’s disqualification in a 1 1/16-mile maiden grass race at Saratoga on Sept. 2. Walley World then added blinkers and won an Aqueduct maiden race on turf by three lengths last month in a 9-1 upset. Chad Brown trains the Kentucky-bred More Than Ready colt.
KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER POOL 1 RECAP
Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) for the 2024 Run for the Roses was conducted by Churchill Downs from Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Understandably, this future wager kind of got lost in the shuffle because it took place during the week of the Breeders’ Cup, which was held on Nov. 3-4.
Next year the Kentucky Derby will have its 150th running. It is this country’s longest continuously held sporting event.
KDFW Pool 1 offered win and exacta betting on 38 individual horses, plus an “all other colts and geldings from the 2021 foal crop” option and an “all fillies from the 2021 foal crop” option.
The next day after Locked ended up being the 14-1 favorite among individual horses in KDFW Pool 1, he finished third as the 2-1 favorite in the BC Juvenile at Santa Anita.
Fierceness, emphatic winner of the BC Juvenile, closed at odds of 29-1 in KDFW Pool 1.
As expected, the “all other colts and geldings” option wound up being a heavy favorite in Pool 1. It closed at 4-5, which was the same price this option ended up being in Pool 1 a year ago.
A year ago, I made a substantial wager on “all other colts and geldings” in Pool 1. Months later, I made a very nice profit when one of the “all other colts and geldings” in Pool 1, Mage, won this year’s Kentucky Derby.
When I bet big on “all other colts and geldings” in Pool 1 a year ago, Mage had not even raced yet. He didn’t make his career debut until winning a maiden race by 3 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
Extra Anejo closed as the 12-1 favorite among individual horses in Pool 1 a year ago. He had raced one time prior to that, winning a Keeneland maiden race at about seven furlongs by 9 1/2 lengths. Even though I was very high on Extra Anejo at the time, I had absolutely no interest in betting him at anything close to as low as 12-1 six months before the Kentucky Derby. At the very least, I would have needed something in the neighborhood of 20-1.
How did that 12-1 on Extra Anejo turn out? Well, he did run at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, though it wasn’t in the Kentucky Derby. He finished second as an even-money favorite in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance/optional claiming race on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
The plan had been for Extra Anejo to follow his dazzling debut by running in Fair Grounds’ Gun Runner Stakes on Dec. 26. But he was forced to miss that race after reportedly undergoing surgery for the removal of bone chip from a hind ankle.
A $1.35 million auction purchase trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Extra Anejo followed his May 6 defeat at Churchill by winning a one-mile allowance/optional claiming race by 6 1/4 lengths at Ellis Park on June 10. That victory at Ellis produced a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.
In what would be Extra Anejo’s final start of 2023, he finished fourth to Geaux Rocket Ride, Mage and Arabian Knight in the Grade I Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park. Mage had earlier won the Kentucky Derby. Arabian Knight would go on to win the Grade I Pacific Classic over Geaux Rocket Ride and older foes.
Daily Racing Form’s Marcus Hersh had an Extra Anejo update this week.
“Star-crossed Extra Anejo is scheduled to resume training at Fair Grounds before the end of November, Asmussen said,” Hersh wrote. “Extra Anejo was among the better 2-year-old winners of 2022, capturing his debut and lone start in October at Keeneland. He didn’t race again until May and made three starts this year, most recently finishing fourth on July 22 in the Grade I Haskell.”
Conspicuous by its absence in Hersh’s report is any mention of why Extra Anejo has not started since the Haskell.
After my big bet on “all other colts and geldings” in Pool 1 a year ago turned out so well for me, I made sure to keep a close eye on KDFW Pool 1 again this year. It wasn’t easy because I was quite busy during Breeders’ Cup week.
I had expected “all other colts and geldings” in Pool 1 this time to be 3-5 or lower. But lo and behold, just a couple of minutes before the pool closed, I was pleased to see that it was 4-5. I then made an even larger wager on it than last year while hoping that someone would not come in the final minute or two and bet a ton of money to drive the price down to 3-5 or lower.
After the pool closed, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this time “all other colts and geldings” in Pool 1 actually ended up being very close to even money. It closed at $3.90 this year compared to $3.68 last year.
Another reason that, win or lose, I love my bet on “all other colts and geldings” for the 2024 Kentucky Derby at almost even money is when we get to the day of the race, I can seriously consider hedging by putting some money on any of the 38 individual horses from Pool 1 who do happen to make it into the starting gate.
By the way, it should be noted that Muth, Nysos, Prince of Monaco and any other horses trained by Baffert were not included among the individual horses in KDFW Pool 1 for the 2024 Kentucky Derby, as was the case for the 2023 Derby. That’s because, as mentioned earlier, Churchill Downs Incorporated has extended Baffert’s suspension at CDI-owned tracks through calendar year 2024. Consequently, as of right now, there will be no 2024 Kentucky Derby for Baffert.
Because of Baffert’s being banned from the 2024 Kentucky Derby, horses currently trained by him are included in the “all other colts and geldings” option. And this is perfectly fine with me in that it certainly helps, not hurts, the substantial wager I have made on “all other colts and geldings.”
Below are the final odds reported by Churchill Downs for Pool 1 of the 2024 KDFW:
4-5 All Other Colts and Geldings from the 2021 Foal Crop
33-1 Air of Defiance
37-1 Seize the Grey
40-1 The Wine Steward
49-1 Agate Road
49-1 Catching Freedom
51-1 Liberal Arts
52-1 Nutella Fella
55-1 Stretch Ride
58-1 General Partner
61-1 All Fillies from the 2021 Foal Crop
63-1 Be You
76-1 Risk It
79-1 Domestic Product
88-1 Drum Roll Please
100-1 Otto the Conqueror
108-1 West Saratoga
109-1 Private Desire
111-1 Generous Tipper
135-1 Dancing Groom
145-1 Normandy Hero
158-1 Informed Patriot
206-1 Raging Torrent
Churchill Downs inaugurated the Kentucky Derby Future Wager in 1999. The remaining KDFW dates for the 2024 renewal are Nov. 23-26 (Pool 2), Jan. 19-21 (Pool 3), Feb. 16-18 (Pool 4), March 15-17 (Pool 5) and April 4-6 (Pool 6).
The Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager, which debuted in 2005, asks bettors to wager on the sire of the 2024 Kentucky Derby winner and will be held concurrently with Pool 2 of the KDFW.
I think it’s interesting to look back at the final odds reported by Churchill Downs for last year’s KDFW Pool 1, as listed below:
4-5 All Other Colts and Geldings from the 2020 Foal Crop
12-1 Extra Anejo
20-1 Blazing Sevens
33-1 Echo Again
37-1 All Fillies from the 2020 Foal Crop
39-1 Ten Days Later
41-1 Curly Jack
46-1 Hit Show
51-1 Lost Ark
53-1 General Jim
57-1 Awesome Strong
68-1 Cyclone Mischief
74-1 Victory Formation
81-1 Tapit’s Conquest
87-1 Tres Soles
89-1 Forbidden Secret
93-1 Frank’s Honor
93-1 Instant Coffee
94-1 Tyler’s Tribe
97-1 Ohana Honor
99-1 Two Phil’s
103-1 Damon’s Mound
112-1 Tuskegee Airmen
117-1 Hurricane J
121-1 Expected Value
123-1 Rocket Can
134-1 Rudder’s Men
135-1 Joking Way
145-1 Mr. Ripple
160-1 Full Moon Madness
194-1 Hayes Strike
264-1 Post Time
Five individual horses from Pool 1 a year ago would go on to make it into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. They were: Two Phil’s (who finished second), Hit Show (fifth), Rocket Can (ninth), Verifying (16th) and Cyclone Mischief (18th).
BREEDERS’ CUP OBSERVATIONS VIS-A-VIS THORO-GRAPH
White Abarrio recorded a 110 Beyer for his dominant 6 1/4-length victory in Saratoga’s Grade I Whitney Stakes on Aug. 5. That 110 was the highest figure among the dozen starters in the ensuing Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
One reason White Abarrio was my top pick in my Breeders’ Cup selections for Xpressbet.com is I felt that he might win the BC Classic even if he regressed a bit off his 110 Beyer in the Whitney.
When White Abarrio did win the BC Classic by one length, he did indeed regress Beyer-wise from the Whitney. He recorded a 106 Beyer in the BC Classic.
It turned out that White Abarrio regressed, or “bounced,” in the BC Classic even more significantly from a Thoro-Graph perspective.
In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, the higher the number the better. The opposite is true for Thoro-Graph.
I have said many times that I consider Beyer Speed Figures to be a useful tool for horseplayers. But I’ve also said that I believe Thoro-Graph numbers are superior to the Beyers. That’s because Thoro-Graph takes more factors into account than the Beyers. According to Thoro-Graph, “each number on a sheet represents a performance rating arrived at by using time of the race, beaten lengths, ground lost or saved on the turns, weight carried, and any effects wind conditions had on the time of the race.”
In the case of the Thoro-Graph numbers, a horse who finished second, or even lower, can get a better number than the winner. This is one of the reasons I believe that Thoro-Graph is better than the Beyers. I consider a Thoro-Graph number to be a much truer reflection of a horse’s performance than a Beyer. Thoro-Graph’s approach reflects the reality that the winner is not necessarily the horse who ran the best race.
The winner of a race never gets a lower Beyer Speed Figure than the horse who finished second, the horse who finished second never gets a lower Beyer than the horse who finished third, and so on down through the order of finish.
Even more meaningful to me than White Abarrio’s 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Whitney was his negative 6 Thoro-Graph figure.
As I have previously written for Xpressbet.com, I think it’s fair to say White Abarrio’s negatative 6 in the Whitney was a Flightline-like performance.
When the great Flightline won Del Mar’s Grade I Pacific Classic by 19 1/4 lengths, he received a negative 8 1/2 Thoro-Graph figure. That’s the best Thoro-Graph number in the 36 years they have been computing speed figures.
Following Flightline’s sensational Pacific Classic victory, he concluded his undefeated racing career with an 8 1/2-length win in the BC Classic at Keeneland. That broke the record for the largest winning margin in the history of the BC Classic, which was first run in 1984.
Flightline received a negative 6 for his win in the BC Classic. White Abarrio matched that Thoro-Graph number in the Whitney.
Nobody else in this year’s BC Classic field had done anything figure-wise comparable to Flightline.
White Abarrio followed his negative 6 in the Whitney with a negative 1 in the BC Classic. That was a substantial regression in terms of Thoro-Graph.
Derma Sotogake’s Thoro-Graph figure was a 1/4, an impressive effort in the context that he was making his first start since finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby on May 6. He had received a 1 1/2 when he won the UAE Derby on March 25, then a 3 3/4 in the Kentucky Derby.
There was no Beyer Speed Figure for Derma Sotogake’s 5 1/2-length win in the UAE Derby. He recorded a 95 Beyer in the Kentucky Derby and 105 Beyer in the BC Classic.
White Abarrio did get the best Thoro-Graph figure of the contestants in the BC Classic. However, in six of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, the winner did not get the best Thoro-Graph number. Those six horses were Big Evs in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Hard to Justify in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Unquestionable in the Juvenile Turf, Inspiral in the Filly & Mare Turf, August Rodin in the Turf and Nobals in the Turf Sprint.
The best Thoro-Graph number by any of this year’s Breeders’ Cup starters was Elite Power’s negative 5 in the Sprint.
Elite Power’s 111 also was the best Beyer Speed Figure by any starter in this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
Below is a list of the Breeders’ Cup winners and their Beyer Speed Figure:
Winner (Race) Figure
Big Evs (Juvenile Turf Sprint) 85
Just F Y I (Juvenile Fillies) 79
Hard to Justify (Juvenile Fillies Turf) 85
Fierceness (Juvenile) 105
Cody’s Wish (Dirt Mile) 107
Inspiral (Filly & Mare Turf) 105
Goodnight Olive (Filly & Mare Sprint) 98
Master of The Seas (Mile) 105
Idiomatic (Distaff) 96
Auguste Rodin (Turf) 106
White Abarrio (Classic) 106
Nobals (Turf Sprint) 102
Elite Power (Sprint) 111
Below is a list of the Breeders’ Cup winners and their Thoro-Graph figure:
Winner (Race) Figure
Big Evs (Juvenile Turf Sprint) 6 1/2
Just F Y I (Juvenile Fillies) 8 1/4
Hard to Justify (Juvenile Fillies Turf) 8
Fierceness (Juvenile) negative 1 1/2
Unquestionable (Juvenile Turf) 1 1/2
Cody’s Wish (Dirt Mile) negative 1 1/2
Inspiral (Filly & Mare Turf) 3
Goodnight Olive (Filly & Mare Sprint) negative 1/2
Master of The Seas (Mile) 1 1/2
Idiomatic (Distaff) 1 1/4
Auguste Rodin (Turf) 2
White Abarrio (Classic) negative 1
Nobals (Turf Sprint) 2 3/4
Elite Power (Sprint) negative 5