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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Volume 12 - Number 5
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What You Will Hear Too Often...3 Derby Falsehoods!

Now that the Derby Preps are finished and with 17 days remaining until the Kentucky Derby it is time for me to begin my in-depth analysis. That means that over the course of these next two-plus weeks I will be updating these DERBY DOINGS approximately every other day.

However, it has once again dawned on me that no matter what the evidence shows, there are still egregiously inaccurate bromides that "The Public" repeatedly brings forward and actually adheres to as handicapping guidelines.

Therefore, before my following columns delve into this year’s individual Kentucky Derby contenders, let me begin by identifying 3 of the Most Toxic Misconceptions and hope that the treatment of them proves to be a helpful antibiotic.

NUMBER ONE: It is impossible for a horse to win from the ONE POST.

I guarantee you that over the course of the next few weeks you will hear this 100’s of times. No trainer wants to draw the one post, no horse since Ferdinand in 1986 has won the Kentucky Derby from Post One. My initial response is to ask that person if they believe that regardless of how talented a 3-year old is entering the Kentucky Derby, does that mean they will dismiss the horse altogether because of the post. And if that is the case, how many winners would they have needed since 1986 to make the post viable?

That being said, let’s take a look at the horses that did run from Post One since 2000...a 15 year sample...what their average odds were and what their average placing was.

Average Odds - 30-1
Average Finish - 11th

The detractors will look at the first stat and say..."see, at 30-1 only lesser contenders ran from that post while supporters of the bad post scenario will say..."no one bet them so of course the odds are high and just look at where they finished."

Each of those [positions is too subjective. Here are the questions an astute handicapper has to ask. Of the 15 one post runners, which were compromised by being dead speed horses that had to go, which were dead closers that had to circle the field and which of those speed or closing types were not good enough to overcome their challenge to begin with?

And here is the final question: if Dortmund or American Pharoah draws the one post are you going to throw him out simply for that reason?

NUMBER TWO: Outside post positions have too much to do to win the Kentucky Derby.

This is perhaps the most perplexing belief of all. When pressed to explain why they believe this most will respond that they are wide early or have to drop in and circle too many horses into the far turn, etc.
Well, that is a subjective view that has no basis whatsoever when looked at objectively. Again, let us take a look at the last 15 years and see what post the Kentucky Derby winner ran from.

2014 - California Chrome - Post 5
2013 - Orb - Post 15
2012 - I’ll Have Another - Post 19
2011 - Animal Kingdom - Post 16 - And in 2011 the top four finishers exited posts 19, 18 (Nehro), 13 (Mucho Macho Man) and 14 (Shackleford).
2010 - Super Saver - Post 4
2009 - Mine That Bird - Post 8
2008 - Big Brown - Post 20
2007 - Street Sense - Post 7
2006 - Barbaro - Post 8
2005 - Giacomo - Post 10
2004 - Smarty Jones - Post 13
2003 - Funny Side - Post 5
2002 - War Emblem - Post 5
2001 - Monarchos - Post 16
2000 - Fusaichi Pegasus - Post 15

I guess the question is: how far is too far out? 6 of the 15 have won from Post 15 or further out. I could have gone even further back as in 1999 Charismatic won from Post 16, in 1996 when Grindstone won from Post 15 and in 1995 when Thunder Gulch won from Post 16.

Perhaps the belief was stoked from the period between 2002 and 2010 when only the superior Big Brown was able to overcome a severe outside draw. But before that and after that the belief is not substantiated. I can only suggest you dismiss it every time you hear it.

NUMBER THREE: Horses which closed to come close in their final preps will love the extra distance of the Kentucky Derby.

The first question one must ask in the face of this assumption is: how do you know, the horses have never run as far as a mile and a quarter? And the answer you will get from those that hold dead fast to the axiom is that, "it is only logical that the extra ground will help them finish the job."

This one has been disproven so often that it hardly bears mentioning, but I feel that it is my job to try and get you to a deeper level of thinking so I will offer up this very basic historical evidence.

Again, using the last 15 Kentucky Derbies as the sample you will discover a very telling reality. Just about every runner in the Kentucky Derby had his final prep at a mile and an eighth, one furlong shorter than the mile and a quarter distance of the Derby. So those closers in the prep, the ones that finished strong but ran out of race track late, the ones "The Public" figures will benefit from the extra distance at a mile and a quarter are anything but logical contenders.

Below I once again list the last 15 Kentucky Derby Winners. And this time I will give you where they were positioned at the furlong marker. In other words, I’m noting where they were positioned after running the same mile and an eighth of their final Derby prep.

2014 - California Chrome - On the lead.
2013 - Orb - 0.5 lengths off the lead.
2012 - I’ll Have Another - 3 lengths off the lead.
2011 - Animal Kingdom - 1.5 lengths off the lead.
2010 - Super Saver - On the lead.
2009 - Mine That Bird - On the lead.
2008 - Big Brown - On the lead.
2007 - Street Sense - On the lead.
2006 - Barbaro - On the lead.
2005 - Giacomo - 2.5 lengths off the lead.
2004 - Smarty Jones - On the lead.
2003 - Funny Cide - On the lead.
2002 - War Emblem - On the lead.
2001 - Monarchos - 0.5 lengths off the lead.
2000 - Fusaichi Pegasus - On the lead.

That means that with a furlong still remaining 10 of the 15 winners had already struck the lead and not one of them was caught by horses that figured to improve with extra ground. Of the other 5 winners, only I’ll Have another was as far back as 3 lengths and he was behind the unbelievable pace setting run of Bodemeister, who arguably ran the best losing Kentucky Derby in recent memory.

There is one caveat and that is this closing theory applies to the winner only. There have been a number of closers from their last prep, closers who indicated extra ground would help who did get on the board. In the last two years longshot runner-up performances by Commanding Curve and Golden Soul speak to that. But don’t look to deep closers as the winner.

Don’t forget to check back regularly as I’ll be updating DERRBY DOINGS EVERY TWO DAYS.

Check out my Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown package here online or call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

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