When is it Too Late to Jump In?

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Here is your Kentucky Derby futures reminder that the typical Derby favorite opens around 5/2 or 3/1 when Mike Battaglia issues the Churchill Downs morning line come Derby Week.

Life Is Good-Derby futures fav
The betting bandwagon piled on Life Is Good after he and Mike Smith rolled to an eight-length victory in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes. He is as low as 2/1 on one Kentucky Derby futures board. (Image: Benoit Photo)

We issue this reminder because right now – nearly eight weeks before the May 1 Derby – Life Is Good sits at +375 at Circa Sports. He’s 4/1 at William Hill Nevada and a basement-dwelling 2/1 on the just-closed Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 4.

This was as predictable as the second ring on a phone after Life Is Good destroyed his rivals by eight lengths in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.

Life Is Good’s 2/1 KDFW price is the lowest-priced March future wager favorite in the 23-year history of the KDFW. It’s also only the fourth time in the last 19 years that “All Other 3-Year-Olds” (aka, The Field) didn’t close March’s pool as the favorite. This year, it closed at 7/1.

Making a bet Life Is Good’s odds worsen by Derby Day

This avalanche of money cascading on Life Is Good is a calculated bet his odds will be lower than 2/1 come Derby Day.

By way of comparison, Battaglia opened Tiz the Law as a 3/5 favorite last year. He was the lowest-priced morning-line favorite in 31 years, since Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring opened at 3/5 in 1989. Three years ago, Justify opened at 5/2 en route to his Derby victory. And taking this out further, so did Derby champions American Pharoah in 2015 and California Chrome in 2014.

Battaglia’s highest-odds favorite this century was Harlan’s Holiday, who opened at 9/2 in 2002. His lowest before Tiz the Law was Empire Maker at 6/5 the following year. Neither won the Derby.

Recency bias plays major Derby futures role

With that as an historical marker, horseplayers chase not only the Bob Baffert Factor; since he trains Life Is Good, but recency bias. Last week, we saw Essential Quality’s odds plunge to 6/1 at Circa Sports and 4/1 at William Hill Nevada. That, after he won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes by 4 ¼ lengths.

The Tapit colt holds serve with those same odds. He closed at 5/1 on the KDFW.


2021 Kentucky Derby-Top Contenders

Circa Sports William Hill Nevada Kentucky Derby Future Wager (Pool 5)
Life Is Good +375 4/1 2/1
Essential Quality 6/1 4/1 5/1
Greatest Honour 8/1 5/1 6/1
Caddo River 16/1 15/1 16/1
Concert Tour 18/1 10/1 17/1
Mandaloun 22/1 16/1 17/1
Hot Rod Charlie 25/1 30/1 53/1
Prevalence 30/1 16/1 29/1
Collaborate 30/1 35/1 29/1
Known Agenda 32/1 30/1
Keepmeinmind 35/1 28/1 30/1
Proxy 35/1 45/1 41/1

Meanwhile, the third member of the favorite triumvirate, Greatest Honour, sits at 8/1 at Circa and 5/1 at William Hill. He closed 6/1 on the KDFW.

These three give you one more glimpse each before the Derby. Greatest Honour runs next at the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 27. The following week, on April 3, Life Is Good goes in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Essential Quality goes that same day in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Derby futures remain fluid thanks to Rebel Stakes

Going forward, expect more movement just below the top three. Both Baffert’s Concert Tour and Brad Cox’s Caddo River take center stage in the only Derby prep this weekend. That’s the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Concert Tour sits at 18/1 at Circa and 10/1 at William Hill. He closed at 17/1 on the KDFW. Caddo River is 16/1 a Circa, 15/1 at William Hill, and 16/1 on the KDFW.

The only newcomer to the Derby futures board is Weyburn, who debuted at 90/1 at Circa and 75/1 at William Hill. This, after he captured the Grade 3 Gotham at 46/1. That one-turn mile gave Weyburn 50 Derby qualifying points and a likely spot in the gate if his connections pay the supplemental fee nominating him. He’s currently not Triple Crown-nominated.

Rachel Alexandra winner Clariere closed as the 7/2 favorite in the lone Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, which ran concurrently with the KDFW last weekend. “All Other 3-Year-Old Fillies” closed as the second favorite at 5/1. Travel Column is the next individual favorite at 6/1.



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