We are 85 days from the Kentucky Derby. While it seems the feats of Triple Crown champ American Pharoah just happened a day ago, there is a new, talented crop of 3-year-olds ready to take over.
This weekend is the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2, which will close Sunday. In Las Vegas, we have a big benefit in being able to shop for price using the Future book pools at places such as Wynn Las Vegas, William Hill and the Westgate.
My own best future ticket is on Exaggerator at 50-1. He is set for his season debut Monday in the San Vicente against returning Eclipse champion Nyquist.
I am a voter for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association polls for top 10 3-year-olds and Horse of the Year.
My top 10 Kentucky Derby horses are:
1) Mohaymen. Undefeated in four lifetime starts.
2) Nyquist. Unbeaten in five career starts.
3) Exaggerator. The Derby is usually a street brawl, and this guy is tough.
4) Smokey Image. Cal-bred has won all six starts.
5) Mor Spirit. Bob Baffert’s most mature hope.
6) Shagaf. He’s behind schedule but shows enormous potential.
7) Airoforce. Could easily be rated higher; has strong grass pedigree.
8) Greenpointcrusader. Supposedly will start once more before the Derby.
9) Brody’s Cause. Dead late closer like his stablemate of last year, Keen Ice.
10) Gift Box. Potential is a key word this time of the spring, and this one has it.
I don’t suggest taking short odds in any of these pools. If a horse either gets injured or falls by the wayside, there is no refund. The goal is to get to the Derby starting gate with live horses at overlaid odds.
• SAM’S TOWN QUALIFIER — Sam’s Town will host a last-chance qualifier Feb. 19 for the 2016 Horseplayer World Series. It’s a $200 buy-in.
One berth will be awarded into the HPWS for every 25 entries. Those are good odds in the tournament world. And with the entry fee now $1,500 for the HPWS, it’s a cost-effective way to try to gain an entry.
Scoring will be win and place. The tournament tracks will be Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita Park. • IRV PFISTER — We lost a good man Sunday when Irv Pfister, 97, died at a Las Vegas retirement home. I met Irv and his wife, Lil, when I moved to Las Vegas. They were regulars at the Sunset Station race book.
Irv sought me out, as he was born and raised in Newport, Kentucky. He had heard I was a longtime publicity director at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky, so we traded a lot of Kentucky stories.
Soon after Lil died, Irv moved into the retirement home. I visited him each spring so we could talk about the Kentucky Derby horses. Irv was a fine man and will be missed. • SANTA ANITA ANNOUNCERS — Two international announcers have been invited for an audition at Santa Anita.
Craig Evans, senior race broadcaster for the Singapore Turf Club, will call on Feb. 20 and 21. David Fitzgerald, a UK commentator, including the Royal Ascot meetings, will call on Feb. 27 and 28.
Thus the choice to replace Trevor Denman will be from among Evans, Fitzgerald, Frank Mirahmadi and Michael Wrona.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick