Saturday's highly-anticipated Florida Derby (gr. 1) precedes bookmakers' final futures odds for the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner. Check out which horses top the board, where to find the best prices, and if you should jump in the market prior to this weekend.
Nearly a month out from the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” books updated their Kentucky Derby odds ahead of key prep races scheduled in the next few weeks. This Saturday's Florida Derby (gr. 1) is arguably the most important of any qualifier in the modern era, and horse racing fans are in for a treat this year. The two top choices on the futures board, both undefeated colts, are slated to battle it out in a highly-anticipated matchup when top-choice Mohaymen (+400) and 2-year-old champion Nyquist (+1000)—a long-price considering past juvenile title holders—lead a small field of six for the $1-million purse.
The oddsmakers' third choice overall is the Bob-Baffert trained Mor Spirit (11/1), winner of two black-type races in his young career. Zulu (+1800), trainer Todd Pletcher's top shot at the roses, Shagaf (18/1), the lightly-raced winner of the Gotham (gr.3), and recent Louisiana Derby champion Gun Runner (20-1) round out the top six on most boards. For a listing of futures odds on all contenders, and to shop prices, check out SBR's Kentucky Derby Odds and Triple Crown Props aggregation page.
Florida Derby and Futures
In the last 25 years, the Florida Derby has been the top prep race for Kentucky Derby candidates. First ran in 1952, 22 horses who have competed in the Gulfstream Park event have moved on to claim the “Run for the Roses,” including 13 dual winners. Only Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes (gr. 1) and Belmont's 2-year-old feature the Champagne Stakes (gr. 1), tied with 23 past winners, have generated more—though they each had a 40-year head start or greater on the Sunshine State event. Since 1990, eight winners have come out of the race, including six dual winners. Coupled with the Santa Anita Derby (gr.1), the West Coast's top qualifier which has produced five winners in this span, they have brought forth over half the Derby champions in the last 25 years.
So, why the history lesson? To take advantage of futures prices. This race sets up a rare situation where the top 3-year-old in the East and West meet prior to the Derby. Trainer Doug O'Neill, a California stable, is shipping Nyquist to Florida and bypassing the Santa Anita for a chance to win a million dollar bonus, as the Reddam Racing colt was purchased as a juvenile for $400,000 in the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale. If the 1 1/8-mile event unfolds as a match race in a race, as many horseplayers project, than the Derby favorite will assuredly be the winner.
On that note, if you are a believer in one of the two colts, than jump on the futures prices now. Both will be shorter come post time on the first Saturday in May. If Mohaymen overcomes his toughest competition, it will cement whatever superhorse discourse surrounds the horse leading up to the race, and we'll likely see odds at 3/1 or less à la Big Brown (5/2) in 2008 or California Chrome (5/2) in 2014. If Nyquist takes it, look for his 10/1 odds to get cut in half.
Below we compiled a table displaying the last 15 Kentucky Derby winners, their final prep race and finish entering the event, and post-time odds. In addition, we listed the Florida Derby and Santa Anita Derby winners along with their Kentucky Derby closing odds to give you an idea how short prices can fall on the key prep-race victors.
|Year||Horse||Final Prep Race||Finish||Derby Odds $1||Florida Derby Winner||Derby Odds $1||Santa Anita Derby Winner||Derby Odds $1|
|2015||American Pharoah||Arkansas Derby||1||2.9||Materiality||11.5||Dortmund||4.3|
|2014||California Chrome||Santa Anita Derby||1||2.5||Constitution||DNR||California Chrome||2.5|
|2012||I'll Have Another||Santa Anita Derby||1||15.3||Take Charge Indy||11.9||I'll Have Another||15.3|
|2011||Animal Kingdom||Spiral Stakes||1||20.9||Dialed In||5.2||Midnight Interlude||9.6|
|2010||Super Saver||Arkansas Derby||2||8||Ice Box||11.7||Sidney's Candy||9.5|
|2009||Mine That Bird||Sunland Derby||4||50.6||Quality Road||DNR||Pioneerof The Nile||6.3|
|2008||Big Brown||Florida Derby||1||2.4||Big Brown||2.4||Colonel John||4.7|
|2007||Street Sense||Blue Grass Stakes||2||4.9||Scat Daddy||7.2||Tiago||14.8|
|2006||Barbaro||Florida Derby||1||7.7||Barbaro||7.7||Brother Derek||6.1|
|2005||Giacomo||Santa Anita Derby||4||50.3||High Fly||7.1||Buzzards Bay||46.3|
|2004||Smarty Jones||Arkansas Derby||1||4.1||Friends Lake||18.5||Castledale||21.9|
|2003||Funny Cide||Wood Memorial||2||12.8||Empire Maker*||2.5||Buddy Gil||7.2|
|2002||War Emblem||Illinois Derby||1||20.5||Harlan's Holiday*||6||Came Home||8.2|
|2001||Monarchos||Wood Memorial||2||10.5||Monarchos*||10.5||Point Given||1.8|
|2000||Fusaichi Pegasus||Wood Memorial||1||2.3||Hal's Hope*||22.7||The Deputy||4.6|
* Note: The Florida Derby was moved up to four weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby in 2005. Prior to this, it was ran six weeks typically, allowing horses to race in another prep prior. Each runner denoted with an asterisk ran in either the Bluegrass Stakes or Wood Memorial before testing Churchill Downs' surface.