Derby Prep Races

A Few Words About American Pha-Whoa!

If you missed the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, treat yourself to a replay immediately. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
2015 Arkansas Derby Replay
Bab Baffert’s star 3-year-old American Pharoah dazzled both his rivals and his fans. He left the gate with gusto, settled very nicely in 2nd behind runaway leader Bridget’s Big Luvy, and then transcended racing as […]

2015 Bluegrass Stakes: Chalky Diem

Todd Pletcher has mastered the maze of stakes races for 3-year-olds this year. Itsaknockout won the Fountain of Youth, Materiality won the Florida Derby, Daredevil ran 2nd in the Swale, and few of his stakes horses have disappointed or disappeared from the scene. And things are about to get better.

Pletcher’s Carpe Diem returned to […]

Kentucky Derby Snapshots: Dubai Sky

Dubai Sky: Running Where the Grass Is Greener

Bill Mott seldom catches the Derby Fever that afflicts most other trainers every spring. When he entered his turf star Dubai Sky in the Spiral Stakes in mid-March, wise bettors wagered it was a level-headed decision. Mott saw his horse as a legitimate Derby prospect.
Dubai Sky confirmed Mott’s […]

2015 Florida Derby: Time for a Knockout

Two comments appear in the Fountain of Youth running line for Itsaknockout. “Carried out” and “Checked.”

Those words describe separate instances. Both muggings occurred in the stretch run. Yet many professional observers doubt that the offending Upstart deserved to be DQ’d. They see his 2-length win as clear evidence of superiority.
The Florida Derby should clear […]

2015 Louisiana Derby: An Underachievers Convention in New Orleans

This year’s edition of the Louisiana Derby should be renamed “the Broken Dreams Derby” or “the Last Chance Handicap.”  It features a wallet-busting lineup of Kentucky Derby prospects who contested stakes races in other places to no avail.
Bettors might be wise to side with the best of the local boys.

Todd Pletcher’s shipper Sanford couldn’t come […]

American Pharoah Returns in the Rebel Stakes

“He needed another week.” Bob Baffert offered that explanation last week for why he entered American Pharoah in the Rebel rather than the San Felipe. Bettors should read those words like a warning on a pack of cigarettes.
After spending the winter recuperating from unspecified illnesses or injuries, Pharoah progressed more slowly than expected. His […]

Kentucky Derby Snapshots: Dortmund

Dortmund: Winner of the “Larry David Award”
Most racing fans see the undefeated Dortmund as a horse who has done little wrong in his 5-race career. But if Bob Baffert could rename this horse right now, he’d probably go with CurbUREnthusiasm.
In a recent interview Baffert expressed disappointment that Dortmund had yet to experience traffic problems. […]

Looking for the Class Leader

Last year around this time a 3-year-old colt named Class Leader won a Fairgrounds Maiden Special Weight race. The final time for his graduation at 1 mile and 70 yards was 1:43.1. Why is that number significant? Can you use it as a reliable indicator for evaluating Risen Star Stakes and Fountain of Youth […]

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 […]