Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Sky Mesa 8-to-1 in Derby future wager

The Enquirer and wire reports

The mutuel field is a 2-1 favorite in the opening round of the 2003 Kentucky Derby future wager, an indication that no horse has captured the attention of bettors three months before the year's first Triple Crown race.

Sky Mesa, winner of last year's Grade I Hopeful Stakes and Grade II Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, is the top individual horse in the future wager at 8-to-1 odds. Bob Baffert-trained Kafwain and Hollywood Futurity winner Toccet are co-third choices in the opening line at 10-to-1.

Vindication, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby, was pulled from the race last week because of a leg injury.

"The Kentucky Derby picture at this time of the year is as cloudy as it has been in the five years of the future wager's existence," Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said.

In the future wager, Battaglia assigns odds to the 23 3-year-old thoroughbreds believed to have the best chance of winning the Kentucky Derby. A 24th betting interest - the mutuel field - represents the thousands of other eligible 3-year-olds.

Last year's Kentucky Derby winner, War Emblem, was a relative unknown this time last year and was a part of the mutuel field.

The future wager is offered three times in the three months leading up to the Kentucky Derby, scheduled for May 3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

The first pool of the future wager coincides with several Kentucky Derby prep races, including Saturday's Grade I Fountain of Youth and Grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The Grade II Risen Star Stakes will be run Sunday at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.

Betting on the Derby future wager will be open from Thursday to Sunday.

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Sky Mesa 8-to-1 in Derby future wager

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