2014 Kentucky Derby Stat Blast #3: Derby Pace

Using a rating system in which 89 and higher is “Fast,” here’s how I rate the top early runners this year. Note that I consider only races at 8.5 furlongs or longer around 2 turns and I adjusted for surface as described in The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby. (An asterisk indicates a 9-furlong […]

2014 Kentucky Derby: High-Profile Pretenders

To accessorize my favorite topic, Kentucky Derby pretenders, I’ve created categories named after songs by The Pretenders. Unknowingly back in the early 1980s, lead singer Chrissie Hynde spun a credo gamblers would be wise to follow:
It’s hard to live by rules
I never could, and still never do
To find value, handicappers need to embrace the […]

2014 Prep Race Wrap-Up: Strong But Wrong

U nlike last year, most 2014 Derby prep races at 1-1/8th miles sported final times faster than this decade’s average for each contest. Only the Louisiana Derby and Blue Grass Stakes (won by Vicar’s In Trouble and Dance With Fate, respectively) registered slower-than-average times. Many bettors might conclude from these brisk clockings that a standout 3-year-old champ awaits coronation.

To […]

Derby Preps: Bluegrass and Arkansas

It’s rare to see serious Derby prospects with the degree of early speed Bobby’s Kitten possesses. As a 2-year-old taking on the top turf juveniles in the world, he nearly wired the field in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf. If he figures out how to redeploy that speed at a later point in a […]

Kentucky Derby Stat Blast Chart #2

Using past performances from 2000–2013, I compiled a list of the top 20 raw final times and the top 20 speed figures. You can see raw figures work pretty well, perhaps even better than the “improved” view of final times offered by speed figures.

That said, I still believe a well-devised set of pace figures […]

Kentucky Derby Stat Blast #1

Sometimes truths in a set of stats jump out at you. Other times you need to interpret stats at length before they can help you. Speed figures (adjusted final-time figures) allegedly improve raw times and are considered a necessity. But do these manipulated times really offer a sharper view of reality than unvarnished clockings?

I […]

Derby Preps: Wicked Strong All Around

Last year, only one winner of a major Kentucky Derby dirt prep (Govenor Charlie in the Sunland Derby) ran faster than average. The story unfolds differently this year, with the winners of the Sunland, Florida and Santa Anita Derbies and Wood Memorial all running faster than the average since 2000:

Sunland Derby avg.: 1:49.0…….Chitu 1:47.4 (2013 Govenor Charlie 1:47.2) […]

Prep Race Wrap: Race Riding with Rosie and Johnny V.

Chatter abounds this week about Johnny V’s ride on Wildcat Red. By allowing his horse to drift slightly off the rail exiting the stretch turn, Johnny let Javier Castellano aboard Constitution sneak through on the inside. “Bad ride by Johnny V” seems to be the dominant opinion. I see it more as an exceptional […]

Kentucky Derby Futures Pool #4

In the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Futures Pool #4, a few horses offer value. I make that determination based upon the principles in The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby. One horse qualifies for the Gold Standard I detail in the book, a few sit on the cusp and a few show some […]

Louisiana Derby: Ending My Holiday Fling

First let me commend the effort by Intense Holiday in the Risen Star Stakes on February 22. Runner-up Albano set a soft early pace in that race and then waltzed through a Dead Easy turn time of :25 flat. He hit the top of the stretch with fresh legs, full lungs and a two-length head start […]