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Kentucky Derby contenders among favorites for Futurity

churchill downs kentucky derby futurity

The Road to the Kentucky Derby makes a stop at Los Alamitos on Saturday for the $300,000 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (G1) and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will saddle the probable winner.

Baffert sends out a pair of undefeated colts as he attempts to win this race for the fifth consecutive year and 11th overall. Among his winners were Real Quiet in 1997 and Point Given in 2000 when the race was run at Hollywood Park. Both of those colts went on to win two Triple Crown races the following spring.

Improbable is the +120 morning line favorite for the Futurity and is perfect in his two starts, winning the Street Sense at Churchill Downs in his last outing. The colt is the current co-fourth choice in early Kentucky Derby futures betting at Bovada at +2000.

Baffert also sends out Mucho Gusto, winner of the Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar in his last outing. The colt is also listed at +2000 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at Bovada.

Baffert has the early Derby favorite in Game Winner in his barn as well. The colt is at +800 and coming off a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

Coliseum is the third choice in early Derby betting at +1800 and yes, you guessed it, he is trained by Baffert. The colt was taking serious action in the future pools before he even made his debut, and after his maiden score is now down to +1800.

Here is a look at my top three contenders for Saturday’s Futurity:

Improbable

This colt is the better of the two that Baffert sends out here as he goes for his fifth consecutive win in this race. The colt was a game neck winner in his debut at Santa Anita and then stretched out to a mile on the Breeders’ Cup Day undercard. He stalked the early pace, took command and drew off to win the Street Sense by 7 1/4 lengths. The colt has come back with a bullet work and looks primed for a top effort. Baffert has been lights-out in juvenile races, winning with 29 of 53 over the last six months, a 56 percent win clip.

Mucho Gusto

This guy is a strong backup for Baffert. The colt took the field gate to wire to win the Bob Hope (G3) last out in his stakes debut. He broke his maiden in his debut two back over the main track at Los Al at six furlongs. The colt was a $625,000 purchase, a big number for a son of Mucho Macho Man, who stands for just $10,000. This is the first foal to race out of a Giant’s Causeway mare.

Dueling

The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was not much of a threat in a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last out which was his stakes debut. The colt broke his maiden two back at Santa Anita in his first go around two turns. Three back he ran second to Game Winner, one of four next-out winners coming out of that race, and he won the American Pharoah (G1) next out and then the Juvenile. He is better than he showed last out and reunites with jockey Mike Smith, who was aboard for his maiden win. Hollendorfer won this race in 2013 with Shared Belief.

The Wager

With a field of just six, this is not the best wagering race we will see along the Road to the Derby. Improbable needs to be at least EVEN money and that won’t even get the pulse racing. An exacta may be the best way to go, with Improbable on top over Mucho Gusto and Dueling, the latter the best price among the three.

Handicapper Michael Dempsey will be covering the Road to the Kentucky Derby for OddsShark and his full card reports with selections, analysis, fair odds line and wagering recommendations for major tracks can be found daily at turfnsport.com.

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