Is it worth taking 8-1 odds and immediate action on the current favorite for the 2021 Kentucky Derby when the race will not be run for another 5 1/2 months?
That is one way of framing the discussion about Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality after he was cut to those odds in the current futures market at William Hill Nevada.
None of the other 124 listed Derby hopefuls carries odds shorter than 40-1.
Faith in Essential Quality preceded his Nov. 6 victory at Keeneland, his second win going two turns on that course. After opening at 20-1 in the futures, trainer Brad Cox’s colt by Tapit shortened to 12-1. After his Keeneland triumph he was cut to 10-1, and then late last week to 8-1.
Those are the same odds that Tiz The Law carried this time last year. That was a month after he had won the Champagne (G1) and two weeks before his loss in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
By means of comparison, there has been an average of three horses with post-time pari-mutuel odds shorter than 8-1 in the last five runnings of the Derby.
Despite his eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, trainer Bob Baffert’s $775,000 colt Classier shortened to 40-1 from 80-1, making him the co-second choice with former futures favorite Jackie’s Warrior.
Highly Motivated, a black-type stakes winner on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, remained 45-1. Hot Rod Charlie, the surprise runner-up in the Juvenile, and Dr. Schivel, the Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner that is being freshened for the winter, are still 50-1.
Spielberg, the $1 million colt that is the 6-5 morning-line favorite for Baffert in Sunday’s Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar, shortened from 100-1 to 70-1.
Despite being off the work tab since breaking his maiden in August at Del Mar, Vittorio was cut from 110-1 to 90-1.
At 350-1, the 1-for-4 maiden winner Valiant Thor remains the longest shot on the board.
Following is William Hill’s full list of Derby futures:
8-1 Essential Quality
40-1 Classier, Jackie’s Warrior
45-1 Highly Motivated
50-1 Dr. Schivel, Hot Rod Charlie
60-1 Jaxon Traveler
75-1 Cazadero, Get Her Number, Huntsinger, Keepmeinmind, Kenny Had a Notion, Midnight Bourbon, Mutasaabeq, Olympiad, Stayin’ Out Late
100-1 Calibrate, Effinity, Founder, Hidden Stash, Hyperfocus, Reinvestment Risk, Rombauer, Savile Row, Sittin On Go, Smiley Sobotka, Super Stock, Swill, Ten For Ten, Therideofalifetime, Weston
120-1 Boca Boy, King Fury, Lugamo, Pickin’ Time
125-1 Blue Gator, Bolden, Brooklyn Strong, Chicks For Free, Ethical Judgement, Eucharist, Girther, Greatest Honour, Inspector Frost, Judge N Jury, Known Agenda, Mandaloun, Next, Prisoner, Real Talk, Scarred, Slashing, Speaker’s Corner, Starrininmydreams, Team Merchants
130-1 Cousin Larry, Freedom Fighter, Likeable, Seminole Beach, Whiskey Double
140-1 Bold Minister, Herd Immunity, No Cents, Raison d’Air, Sonic Brees, Sound the Charge, Waist Deep
150-1 Ambivalent, Angkor, Ascot Storm, Awesome Gerry, Belafonte, Breeze On By, Cajun Commander, Camp Hope, Eagle Orb, Erawan, Fauci, Fury Kap, Hendavid, Hendrick, Highway Bound, Hold the Salsa, Horn of Plenty, Kwist, Lookin For Trouble, Nova Rags, Positivity, Restored Order, Roderick, Run Snappy, Saffa’s Day, Thranduil, Tiz Handsome, Twilight Blue, Ultimate Badger, Waspirant, Work Out
160-1 Isolate, Seazan
175-1 Basso, Big Daddy Dave, Garoppolo, Hercules, Schnell, Son of a Beast, Upstriker, Xtreme Mayhem
200-1 Al Heybay, Ampersand, Big Flame, Boomer, Dalton, Famous Gent, Poppy’s Pride, Superman Shaq, What’s Up Surfer, Wyfire
250-1 Advance Cash, It Can Be Done, Momos
350-1 Valiant Thor