Activity on the 2023 Kentucky Derby trail heats up this week with the Grade 2, $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Saturday and the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool 2 opening on Thursday and closing on Sunday. With that in mind, bettors can watch some of the pool 2 options run before the pool closes.
Future wagers are tough because bettors need to hope their horse does not end up injured or defect from the Derby path. From this far out, the best strategy is to choose a long shot and pray for the best.
When looking for the right long shot, bettors need to find a balance between talent and future potential, as some horses do not develop until later. They also must take a look at the pedigree and decide whether it fits 1 1/4 miles. In addition, getting an aggressive trainer who knows how to navigate the trail is a plus, as a conservative trainer might bow out too easily.
For example, take a look at Instant Coffee, who is expected to compete in the Kentucky Jockey Club. There is obvious talent in this son of Bolt d’Oro.
In his career debut at Saratoga, Instant Coffee made a closing move from mid-pack and outdueled another horse in the stretch named Arthur’s Ride to prevail by 3/4 of a length with a good 103 TimeformUS Speed Figure. An extra five lengths separated the runner-up Arthur’s Ride and Crupi in third.
Instant Coffee’s successful debut gave trainer Brad Cox enough confidence to try him in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. But Instant Coffee could not hit the trifecta this time.
To Instant Coffee’s credit, he did pass a good number of horses and made up ground by the stretch run. From 10th and 9 1/2 lengths back at one point, Instant Coffee came within 5 1/2 lengths of Loggins and Forte before finishing fourth and losing by seven lengths to Forte at the end.
Even though Instant Coffee only closed for fourth, he still earned a 104 on TimeformUS and showed talent in a difficult race. Instant Coffee only needs to develop more to become a major contender in Grade 1s. The question is whether this colt wants to stretch out to longer route races.
Instant Coffee’s sire Bolt d’Oro traveled in a great stalking position in the 2018 Kentucky Derby before fading to 12th in the stretch. In Bolt d’Oro’s races leading up to the Derby, he would hang a bit late.
Bolt d’Oro’s own sire Medaglia d’Oro has been great with creating longer route winners. But again, sometimes horses do not follow their bloodlines. Bolt d'Oro's dam line does not help, as the immediate dam Globe Trot produced the $1.3 million earner Global Campaign, who looked more comfortable in sprints or one-mile races before capturing the 2020 Woodward Handicap (G1) and finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to end his career.
At this point, it is too soon to decide whether Bolt d’Oro has trouble siring routers, but those clues stick out as reasons to doubt his progeny.
On the positive side, trainer Brad Cox knows how to reach the Kentucky Derby, which is great because navigating through the Derby trail and keeping the horse healthy is part of the battle. Cox won the 2021 Kentucky Derby via disqualification when he initially ran second with Mandaloun and the connections for Medina Spirit lost their court battles.
At 80-1, Instant Coffee is worth a shot in Future Wager pool 2. Given his pedigree, he could develop into a miler, but right now the potential for finding success in longer routes is still there. He has raw talent, and Cox will give him every chance to find success on the Derby trail.
As strange as this sounds, it is almost better for Instant Coffee to lose this weekend because it will help his odds stay high around 80-1. If Instant Coffee wins, his odds might get cut in half by the time the pool closes on Sunday. If he loses while still running strong at the end for third or fourth, that would be the best-case scenario for Pool 2 bettors.
Also, watch how Instant Coffee finishes and have a studied visual analysis on whether that horse can progress on the trail. Sometimes visual handicapping overrides all the numbers and pedigree analysis.