While in good conscience I never could encourage people to bet their money six months in advance of a racing event, I couldn’t keep my own counsel this past weekend—and not for a lack of other good horses on which to bet.

And so I took several small positions in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Futures, more for bragging rights if nothing else, though I will line up to cash if so lucky. Just as it is on a daily basis; it’s about price, not about horse.

The rule I adhere to when making future wagers is that I will not accept odds less than 30-1, which for me was written in stone after my first ever Derby futures proposition.

On what I believe was my second visit to Las Vegas, and first ever “winter book” bet, placed in a casino, I took what I remember to be 30-1 on Go for Gin. Of course, he won the 1994 Kentucky Derby and the price was set in stone from that moment forward.

Accordingly, I took 29-1 on Enticed and 37-1 on Dak Attack. (Kiaran and Dale have to win a Derby eventually, yes)?

Anyway, Kiaran’s connections owe me for Mohaymen—in truth, that was my bad—but Dale owes me nothing, as we’ve gotten lucky with him any number of times when the price was right. Of course, these are nice horses but it’s about best value available, right?

However, I do admit to being a chalk–eating weasel when it came to future betting on sires which is not as outlandish a position as one would think. So we took a small exacta box position on three of the favorites and included a fourth as a price shot:

Medaglia d’Oro, represented by Bolt d’Oro, Enticed and Montauk, wound up the 5-1 favorite in the parimutuels.

The second choice was Curlin (6-1), represented by Good Magic and Solomini.

And next up was Tapit (8-1), represented by Mask and Prince Guilherme.

Price shot Ghostzapper (27-1) has only Dak Attack among the 23 individual betting interests. All our choices have more representatives in the “All Other Three-Year-Olds” category, obviously. Then so do all the others.

And so we took a four-sire exacta box, pressing the play with Medaglia d’Oro in two positions. Interesting are the $2 exacta payoffs, which range from $42.00 to $226 [rounded] with the favorite on top, and from $312 to $776 with Ghostzapper’s kids.

For informational purposes (seriously), interested Derby fans should check out the sires’ template at http://www.kentuckyderby.com. Not only will you see the sire with its current offspring, lineage and connections, but how the sire fared in past Derbies. Cool stuff.

One trend that has dominated in two decades of the straight Future wagers was repeated: “All Other Three-Year-Olds” is the favorite, this year at 6-5. Following behind are Juvenile third Bolt d’Oro (7-1), and Juvenile winning Good Magic at 11-1.

After nine late nominees, a total of 377 horses eventually were nominated to the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Derby Fever is a particularly virulent strain.

The First Saturday in December

Saturday is the lid-lifter of the prime winter race meet at Gulfstream Park. It also marks, for all intents, the closing of the graded stakes season in New York.

Doubtlessly—or should I say hopefully--there will be an all-graded-stakes Late Pick 4 at the Big A, and the NYRA Late Pick 5 with a 15% takeout will make a cameo for one final hurrah for the year. [The bet is offered to NYRABets customers only].

Since the Remsen has proven more of a negative Derby barometer for some time now, perhaps the race, the horsemen, and the horses themselves would be better served by cutting the race back from 9 furlongs to a one-turn mile over the new year-round surface.

It just presents more options for all concerned, and the sophomore debut doesn’t have to be a counter-productive turnback. Rather, it would be more of a natural progression as youngsters develop. The same can be said for the Demoiselle fillies.

These longer races were fine when New York had clearly defined seasons which of course is a relic of the past. Since year-round racing is not going anywhere, a shorter Remsen makes sense. It very likely would be more competitive as well.

I understand that the Jerome is now one mile on New Year’s Day. Horses not ready for Saturday could run there, or in both, since there are four weeks in between; just enough. Besides, there’s plenty of time to run a mile and an eighth. The Wood Memorial is April 7.

Gulfstream Park opens with the Claiming Crown, where horses that have run for a tag sometime during the year can choose from races worth an aggregate $1.1 million.

The following week is a very interesting curiosity, the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, making its debut on this continent the following Saturday. The headliner would be Justiciero, winner of the Puerto Rican Triple Crown. There are five Caribbean events in all.

The next big Saturday is January 27th with the second running of the Pegasus World Cup, the last scheduled start for certain-to-be Horse of the Year Gun Runner. There will be seven other added-money events on that program, four of them graded.

But Gulfstream Park will always be about Florida Derby Day, which brings down the championship season portion of the program on March 31. The 9 furlong Grade 1 has been on a roll, producing three of the last five Kentucky Derby winners.

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., November 28, 2017