For the past several years, Churchill Downs has offered the chance to bet on the Derby contenders well in advance of Derby Day with their Derby Future Wager Pools. Three different betting pools are offered on selected weekend dates, with the first beginning Friday. Pool 2 will run from March 11th through March 13th and the final pool, Pool 3, will run from April 1st through April 3rd. All pools will open at noon on the respective Friday and will remain open until 6:00 PM the following Sunday. There will also be one pool offered for Oaks advance wagering that will run concurrently with Derby Future Wager Pool 2. The Oaks pool will close 30 minutes after the Derby pool closes. There will be 23 individual betting interests, or horses, to choose and an “all others” option.
The Derby Future Wager has its benefits and drawbacks. First, the drawbacks. All wagers must be “win” wagers of at least $2, so if you’re the type that likes the added security of a show bet, you’ll need to wait to make your bet on Derby Day. Also, unlike normal wagering, if your horse is scratched from the race or better yet, doesn’t even make it to the Derby, you won’t get your money back. Churchill is diligent to suspend wagering on any horses that are injured or otherwise prevented from entering the race, assuming that information comes to light before or during the wagering pool.
The benefits of making an advance wager greatly outnumber the drawbacks. There is the potential for a much higher payoff on your future wager ticket than the same bet might bring on Derby Day. For example, last year if you had bet Super Saver in advance, the ultimate Derby winner, depending upon in which pool you wagered, you would have received a payoff from $43.20 to $73 for a $2 wager, compared to the $18 the same wager returned on Derby Day. Exacta wagering (picking the first and second place finishers in the race) is also being offered. If you can pick them, the payoff could be huge! The Derby Future Wager introduces you to the possible Derby candidates, so that you know who you might want to watch in the coming months. Probably the best benefit of participating in the Future Wager Pool, however, is astonishing your friends at the Derby party when you can say that you picked the winner 2 ½ months ago!
The Derby Future Wager Pools are just a fun way to get into the Derby spirit. Pick your horse (or a few horses) now and start following him as he prepares for the big day. Along the way you may just find a new favorite or two and will definitely know the answer a couple of months from now when the first person asks you, “So, who’s your Derby pick?”
To place you wager, visit Trackside at Churchill Downs (Churchill’s simulcasting area on the Third Floor) or wager through your online wagering account. Past performances of all betting interests can be obtained at www.brisnet.com.  More information and real-time odds can be found at www.KentuckyDerby.com/contenders/future-wager .
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby