It wasn’t a case of pulp fiction that Tarantino was sitting at 225/1 when he debuted on the Circa Sports and William Hill Nevada Kentucky Derby futures boards last week.

Tarantino-Derby futures
Tarantino, seen here in an October workout, finished a solid second in the Grade 3 Holy Bull. That earned him a prominent odds cut on this week’s Kentucky Derby futures boards. (Image: Ernie Belmonte)

Even the Jackie Browns and Inglorious Basterds of the world stared juicy odds in the face before Tarantino entered the Gulfstream Park starting gate for last weekend’s Holy Bull. He went off there at 26/1, an afterthought among Todd Pletcher’s Derby duo of Prime Factor and Amount, and Shug McGaughey’s Greatest Honour.

But, Tarantino put all but Greatest Honour to sleep. He finished a solid second, albeit 5-¾ lengths behind Greatest Honour. He finished 3-¾ lengths ahead of favorite Prime Factor, and that carved his odds significantly. He’s now 85/1 at Circa and 125/1 at William Hill.

Prime Factor, meanwhile, went the other direction. He’s now 35/1 at Circa and 25/1 at William Hill. Last week, Circa listed him at 17/1 while William Hill had him at 22/1.

Named after the director known for his violent noir movies, Tarantino began his career in Bob Baffert’s California barn. Baffert put him on turf and watched him win and finish second in his first two races – the second being the Listed Zuma Beach Stakes.

Tarantino Banished to Florida

This didn’t impress his powerhouse ownership consortium, SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Racing, and Golconda Stables. That group, which owned Authentic, among others, tried to sell him last fall. He didn’t meet his reserve price and the consortium sent him to Florida trainer Rodolphe Brisset.

Brisset kept the Pioneerof the Nile colt on the turf for one more race and watched him win a Gulfstream turf allowance in December. He moved to the dirt for the first time in the Holy Bull, which explained his 26/1 odds. But Tarantino’s 92 Equibase for that race marked a career-best.

The other prep runner-up from the weekend, Roman Centurian in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita Park, enjoyed a similar odds plunge. The Empire Maker progeny watched his odds plunge from 100/1 to 55/1 at Circa after his furious stretch drive fell a nose short of winner Medina Spirit. Circa opened him at 100/1 last week. Roman Centurian is 40/1 at William Hill, down from 65/1 last week.

Trained by Simon Callaghan, Roman Centurian owns a win and a second in three races. His 98 Equibase in the Lewis bettered his previous best by 15 points.

Medina Spirit Blazed Derby Futures Runners-Up Path

The moral of this tale? Even Derby prep runners-up aren’t immune from odds drops. Lewis winner Medina Spirit illustrated this with his second-place finish to Life Is Good in last month’s Sham Stakes. After that three-quarters of a length loss to the current Derby futures board leader, Circa cut Medina Spirit’s odds from 75/1 to 50/1. William Hill from 100/1 to 40/1.

After his Lewis win, Medina Spirit sits at 22/1 at Circa and 20/1 at William Hill. Greatest Honour, meanwhile, fell to 15/1 at Circa and 16/1 at William Hill.

2021 Kentucky Derby Futures: Top Contenders

Circa Sports William Hill Nevada
Life Is Good 8/1 8/1
Concert Tour 11/1 10/1
Essential Quality 12/1 7/1
Greatest Honour 15/1 16/1
Caddo River 18/1 15/1
Prevalence 20/1 16/1
Medina Spirit 22/1 20/1
Prime Factor 35/1 25/1
Mandaloun 35/1 35/1
Keepmeinmind 35/1 40/1
The Great One 35/1 45/1
Rock Your World 40/1
Señor Buscador 40/1 40/1
Prate 50/1 35/1
Roman Centurian 55/1 40/1
Capo Kane 55/1 60/1
Crowded Trade 55/1

Tarantino is one of five newcomers to the futures board this week. Another intriguing newcomer opening at relatively short odds is Crowded Trade. He debuted on Circa’s board at 55/1 after winning his six-furlong debut at Aqueduct for trainer Chad Brown. These odds reek of an underlay because Crowded Trade is a deep closer running winter races in New York. That’s not a recipe for Derby success.

Your favorites remain the same: newly minted Champion 2-Year-Old Essential Quality, who runs next at the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park later this month, holds at 7/1 at William Hill. He’s 12/1 at Circa. Life Is Good is 8/1 at both books.