Submitted by John DaSilva on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 5:05 PM
DaSilva Previews The Kentucky Derby
Wednesday, April 25
First let’s state the obvious. With 20 horses running in the Kentucky Derby I take the stand that you can’t begin by fine-tuning every horse in order to create a short list. In the beginning, whether it eventually catches you by the short hairs or rewards you, there need be a few “recent trend” realities which should be respected.
With that in mind, one of the first things I do is check and recheck every year to see which final Kentucky Derby Preps have a reasonable expectation of positive influence and which have been sub-par developers of contenders.
(DERBY CONTENDERS FINAL PREPS SINCE 2008)
To repeat, in order to create a short list of Derby contenders from which to work, it is useful to have certain production pointing angles which help eliminate a number of the horses.
These are not blood line, trainer, jockey, running style or pace factor angles. They are instead what I like to call significant negative historical factors which allow an analysis which points out a very high hurdle for an individual race horse to jump.
One of these revealing angles is the history of the final Derby Prep races and the influence, either positively or negatively that they have had in producing Derby Winners and the supporting backup runners for the Exactas, Trifecta and Superfectas.
Keep in mind, there are no “absolute angles” in horse racing and especially not in the Kentucky Derby in which each 3-year old runs against as many as 19 opponents and runs a mile and a quarter for the first time in his career.
However, looking at the history of the last 10 Kentucky Derbies and recording which final major preps produced or did not produce a top 4 finish in the Kentucky Derby, one can see that there is a separation pattern.
For instance, did Vino Rosso show enough in his Wood Memorial victory to have him on your Kentucky Derby contender short list? For many of you the answer is yes. And on breeding (son of Curlin out of the Street Cry mare Mythical Bride), plus the connection of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez there is every reason to like this colt.
Yet the Wood Memorial has not produced the Kentucky Derby winner since Funny Cide and Empire Maker ran 1-2 in 2003. Since 2004 from a total 31 runners who have exited the Wood Memorial and run in the Derby, the best that prep has produced is 5 fourth place finishers.
Another very live and well regarded Derby contender is Good Magic. Last year’s BC Juvenile winner and impressive conqueror of the Blue Grass Stakes as the 8-5 favorite in his final prep. He will be well backed on Derby day despite the fact that in the 10 year sample in question below the Blue Grass Stakes has produced two third place and 1 fourth place finishers from a total of 36 runners.
Am I advocating for the automatic elimination of Vino Rosso, Enticed and Firenze Fire, who exit the Wood Memorial or Good Magic, Flameaway, Free Drop Billy and Blended Citizen (AE) who exit the Blue Grass? Of course not. But the history of runners exiting these preps indicates that you should demand a number of positive support if you are putting one or more at the top of your list(s).
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Let’s take a look at the record of the final major prep as an influence for the Kentucky Derby. I list the final prep with the number of horses that have exited that prep the last 10 years and how many have finished first, second, third and fourth…plus this year’s Derby entrants exiting their final prep and where they finished in that race.
Florida Derby – 24-4-1-0-2
Audible Won…Hofburg 2nd…Promises Fulfilled 9th
Arkansas Derby – 32-2-3-1-2
Magnum Moon Won…Solomini 3rd…Combatant 4th…Dream Baby Dream (AE) 7th
Santa Anita Derby – 21-2-2-2-0
Justify Won…Bolt d’Oro 2nd…Instilled Regard 4th
Blue Grass Stakes – 36-0-0-2-1
Good Magic Won…Flameaway 2nd…Free Drop Billy 4th…Blended Citizen (AE) 5th
Wood Memorial – 22-0-0-0-4
Vino Rosso Won…Enticed 2nd…Restoring Hope (AE) 3rd…Firenze Fire 4th
Louisiana Derby – 18-0-2-3-0
Noble Indy Won…Lone Sailor 2nd…*My Boy Jack 3rd…Bravazo 8th
*After running 3rd in the La. Derby My Boy Jack qualified by winning the Lexington Stakes in his last.
UAE Derby – 3-0-0-0-0
Let me repeat that a blanket elimination of horses from the less productive final preps is not a be all and end all. But last year I found other solid handicapping angles to support horses exiting the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby and Arkansas Derby. And though Gormley let me down (he was actually outrun by fellow Santa Anita Derby participant Battle Of Midway, who finished third) the $336.20 Exacta with Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming and Arkansas Derby third place finisher Lookin At Lee was just fine.
I’ve got a lot more to digest moving forward and I as well as John Conte, Jim Hurley, Noel Michaels and Hank Goldberg will be providing you with a steady diet of useful Kentucky Derby information…so make sure you visit us every day.