The first Circa Sports 2021 Kentucky Derby Futures bet came in on favored Essential Quality at 10/1 The second came shortly thereafter. It went down on second-favorite Life Is Good – at 12/1.

Essential Quality-Circa Derby Futures
Circa Sports opened Essential Quality as the 10/1 favorite in its 2021 Kentucky Derby Futures Board. The downtown Las Vegas property went live with its Derby futures on Wednesday. (Image: Godolphin)

And with that, another Derby futures market was open for business.

Circa opened its 2021 Kentucky Derby Futures Board on Wednesday afternoon with 173 horses, roughly double the number listed on its initial futures board last May. Paul Zilm, Circa Sports risk supervisor and the maestro of that downtown Las Vegas property’s Derby futures numbers, told OG News he learned plenty from his first foray into the horseracing futures market.

“One major lesson I learned was don’t be afraid to list horses, even those that haven’t run yet,” he said. Last year, I had the mindset of why put a Swiss Skydiver or another similar horse in the pool if they’re not going to run? This year, I decided to put four fillies in the initial offering. Let people who want to play a certain horse, play that horse. The thing I learned is, I don’t have to pick the 20 horses who will be in the Derby. That’s not the role I need to play.”

Fillies Find Their Way to This Futures Board

This is why Zilm listed the filly quartet of Vequist (300/1), Dayoutattheoffice (400/1), Girl Daddy (400/1), and Princess Noor (the longest shot on the board at 500/1). Vequist, Dayoutattheoffice, and Girl Daddy went 1-2-3 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, while Princess Noor finished fifth. The last filly to run in the Derby was Devil May Care in 2010.

“I fully expect plenty of horses won’t take a bet, but my hope is people will see some crazy ones out there and take a flier,” Zilm said.

It’s also why Zilm listed 11 horses that haven’t run yet, such as Alexander Valley (100/1), Lidstrom (100/1), Factor (200/1), Find New Roads (200/1), and Prime Hopkins (200/1). For that list, Zilm relied on his knowledge of industry movers and shakers from farms to owners to trainers. Then, he picked the brains of friends in the industry.

Circa Sports 2021 Kentucky Derby Futures

Here are the horses leading the early going on Circa’s 2021 Kentucky Derby Futures board.

Top Contenders

Essential Quality +1,000
Life Is Good +1,200
Caddo River, Jackie’s Warrior, Keepmeinmind, Red Flag +3,500
Classier +4,000
Dr. Schivel, Hot Rod Charlie, Olympiad +4,500
Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon +5,000
Cazadero, Mutasaabeq, Vittorio +6,000
Jaxon Traveler +6,500
Rombauer, Sittin’ On Go, Smiley Sobotka, Spielberg, Super Stock, Therideofalifetime +7,000
Get Her Number, Highly Motivated +7,500

Source: Circa Sports

“I can see some of these horses down the road. I know some of them are training pretty well at Santa Anita or Florida, so knowing their connections, you can tell what their intention is,” Zilm said. “I’d rather put a horse in now at say, 125/1 or 150/1, and give someone a chance to hit that than have them race, run lights out, and us putting them up at 25/1.”

Circa Posts Better Odds on Favorites Than Rivals

As for horses running lights out already, Zilm put up better odds on Essential Quality and Life Is Good than its counterpart William Hill Nevada did. That latter book, which opened its Derby futures board five weeks ago, currently lists likely 2-Year-Old Champion Essential Quality at 8/1, and Bob Baffert’s Life Is Good at 10/1.

Last weekend, Life Is Good opened at 5/1 on Churchill Downs’ initial Kentucky Derby Future Wagering pool. Essential Quality was 8/1.

When Zilm opens Circa’s popular yes/no betting options sometime early next year, you’ll find those two in the mix. He’s holding off on that right now, allowing the 2-year-old crop to separate itself further. He said any horse with odds of 20/1 or lower will have a yes/no component prop bet.

Limits for those bets will be greater than the current $200 available on any horse on the board. Those limits could increase for known customers on an individual case-by-case basis.

Circa’s Window Open for Part-Time, Pari-Mutuel Betting

Circa’s Derby futures board is available to bettors making in-person wagers at The D or Golden Gate casinos in downtown Las Vegas, or on the Circa Sports mobile app. They are not available at the new Circa Sports sportsbook because the casino only recently received permission to handle pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing.

Zilm said Circa won’t open its racing windows every weekend, but it will for special weekends, such as the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup, and major race weekends such as Big ‘Cap weekend at Santa Anita, Whitney weekend at Saratoga, or the Pacific Classic weekend at Del Mar.

“We’re still new at this, but we think we got a good start and we hope people will find it interesting and have fun with it,” Zilm said. “That’s why we do this, to have fun.”