12 Derby Rules to Live By


Another Derby in the books. And I blew it.


No matter what convoluted path this year's Derby handicapping took on my end and no matter how easily things were dismissed - One fact remains. The numbers did hold true with the top four players just as they have done year after year, regardless of the September month and regardless of my sheer blindness.


The simple fact is that the month of September for this race took on a life of its own on my end. Incorrect beyond anything I could have imagined. When I lose I always admit it and so when I completely make a mess of things, I will admit that too. Adding in maturity factors, adding in more emphasis on past performances and adding in too many complexities due to a change in the month it was run was completely unwarranted and completely incorrect. Simply put, I made a mess of this year's Derby when (in hindsight) was probably the easiest year of them all. Please take the time to read this thoroughly and to the end. There is much to be learned from this year's edition. Gaining the insight for the future is very important.


I also botched it with the other analysis as well. In my slight defense, Mr. Big News was not part of the line-up when I constructed that article, however, I sure did have time to rework it, look closer at it and fix it. I didn't. I bypassed him for the other new shooter based on two things - his running style and the Candy Ride factor (Gun Runner). Incorrect and embarrassingly negligent. Guilty.


I always do a write up after every Derby to see how the numbers fared. This year, the second the top four crossed that wire I knew immediately how those numbers fared. Have you ever experienced a situation where you had a close call with an accident and that strange "pins and needles" sensation runs through your entire body? Suffice it say that while standing 2 feet away from my TV set and simply watching horses run across a wire, that sensation was as powerful as I ever felt. It will take a long time to shake it off. I couldn't have been any more ridiculously off key this Derby even if I tried. The answers were so easily identifiable this year and I botched it horribly.


4th - Honor A.P. - 3.00


He came in 4th. Yes, he did have some problems right out the gate but it wasn't an earth-shattering problem. He seemed to recover quickly but remained at the back of the pack for reasons we will never know. Seems Mike Smith resorted to his same playbook when it happened to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup but it backfired on him this time. All that aside, the facts still remain. The horse has an optimum of 10.25f. His mares numbers were terrible. Really bad. With triads of 16-10-19, that would have been the red flag back in May and it should have remained the red flag for September. They were below par, plain and simple. His 10.25f distance makes him a player but those triads are not winning numbers. It shouldn't have even been a question. He is so gorgeous and the way he puts his head down with those strides is poetry in motion, so it was easy to by-pass the obvious with the thought that things will change based on the month they are running. The fact is, Honor A.P.'s little mishap in the beginning seconds of the race made no difference. He was lacking in perfect mare balance and that imperfection should have kept him as possible underneath board-hit material. He might have hit third with a better break, who knows, but the triads were horrible in May and they were still horrible in September.


Honor A.P. does run very much like his grand-sire and he favors him very much. But there is a huge distinction that comes into play with the different chefs on the bottom of his chart. As bad as Honor A.P.'s mare triads are configured, ditto with A.P. Indy. Believe it or not, A.P. Indy was packing horrendous mare triads as well. 14-7-17. They were even worse than his grandson's. The major difference was in the chefs.


Honor A.P. - DP = 5-6-11-0-0 (22) DI = 3.00   CD = 0.73

A.P. Indy - DP = 13-10-20-3-0 (46) DI = 2.54   CD = 0.72


The Center of Distribution is basically exact and Honor A.P. actually gained a bit more speed from his chefs. When putting the analysis together, overlooking those mares seemed reasonable based on the CD, but in hindsight, 100% incorrect. A.P Indy was so loaded in his chefs profile - 46 points - that his mares never really came into play. Dominate chef influence with 46 points. Night and day compared to his grandson. A.P. Indy made no use of his mare set-up because he was completely and overwhelmingly influenced by his chefs. The chefs profiles told the entire story, a day late and a dollar short. The mishap out of the gate made no difference. Honor A.P.'s numbers were not good enough for a win in the Derby, May or September. Wishing something is one thing, but the numbers still remained imperfect for the roses regardless of the month. He should have never been used for the win in this race.


3rd - Mr. Big News

I take complete and total responsibility for my complete and total disastrous analysis of this guy. I don't even know where to begin. The Kentucky Derby will usually produce the top four board-hitters consisting of 3 speed guys and 1 stamina guy. We had three speed indexes (3.00 and over) hit the board: 3.00 - 4.33 - 3.00. We had one stamina guy hit the board: .96. We had 3 stamina guys entered, two of which had killer numbers which were almost identical, Sole Volante and Mr. Big News. All emphasis was put on Sole Volante - all season actually - and when the new guy showed up - much more emphasis was put on that past performance sheet than anything else. And that is the truth. He ran every one of his past races directly in line with his stamina without displaying much outward speed.


Sole Volante: DP = 6-0-13-5-2 (26) DI = 0.93 CD = 0.12 Mares: Speed = 13 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.92 Triads = 18-23-19

Mr. Big News: DP = 5-1-33-7-0 (46) DI = 0.96   CD = 0.09 Mares: Speed = 12   Stamina = 17   Index = 0.65   Triads = 15-24-20


I missed it. It's glaringly obvious. There's a spotlight shining right on it. The horse was loaded with 46 points. Loaded chef profiles hit the board over and over and over again. Rain or shine. I have no excuse at all. He has Galileo in the second generation, he had that same "Thunder Snow" configuration. Blinded by the past performance sheet, I didn't even give it a second thought. This horse was sitting at the very bottom of the list (with Sole Volante as a direct and even peer) with 46 crazy points in his chef's profile and I just plain missed it. I have no excuse and the absolute embarrassment of not paying attention to my "rules" is killing me. In May, I would have been all over this guy and that is 100% true. I would have treated his numbers exactly the way I treated Thunder Snow's. I don't even know what else to say other than, please, pay attention to this hard lesson. Extreme stamina on any given field in any given Kentucky Derby is usually a player and when they are packing total points above 40 - they are going to hit the board - rain or shine. I feel sick over this.


2nd - Tiz the Law

No need to go into a big thing here. We all had him in first and second and we all knew he was going to be there. We all knew that his 4.33 index with Tapit was a recipe for success. Where I want to slit my wrists, is with his half-brother Enforceable. All season, every time Tiz the Law was brought up as it pertains to his high index coupled with his Tapit influence, over and over again - siting all of his past half brothers who could never connect in the Derby because they had 3.00 indexes and under - and what do I do when the Derby comes - disregard that altogether because of the month. The Tapit stamina factor is extreme. It thrives in the Belmont Stakes. All of those past guys, with the exception of Tacitus who held a 3.92 index, all had 3.00 and under indexes. Tacitus hit the board in the Derby because he held that extra speed. Tiz the Law the same. Enforceable, with his 3.00 index, would have been an easy quick toss in May. Not enough speed influence or balance to compete in the Derby and would have been competitive in the 12f Belmont. The absolute stupidity of relying on a past performance sheet as opposed to the rules is pathetic and almost as embarrassing as bypassing Mr. Big News.


1st - Authentic

I do believe that most all of us used him in some form, somewhere. I did have a couple little supers with him spread across (but I did not have Mr. Big News!). The only thing I can say here is this:


DP = 4-2-6-0-0 (12) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.83

Mare Profile = 4-7-9-7-3 Speed = 11 Stamina = 10 Index = 1.09 Triads = 20-23-19


A May race and those triads stand out in that speed category. What is not jiving is the Speed = 11, Stamina = 10. But I suppose those triads defeated the negative 1 point spread. If we ever go through another year like this one, which I highly doubt, forget the PP's and zone in on those numbers and put him on top. A 3.00 chef index with fairly nice CD coupled with a mare speedy index and triads that are as packed as that will always be players in the Derby - May or September or January or whenever it is run.


The only thing I say this year is that I certainly hope that I was not alone in thinking it would be more important placing more emphasis on the past performances as opposed to the numbers. When you look at what transpired as the final result, these numbers always work out if the insight stays on the right path. I highly doubt that we will ever see a September Derby again, so I do hope, that all of these things that happen every single year, you will continue to use in handicapping future Derbies. They don't change. It is just a matter of laying it out and highlighting the proper items.


Out of the four board hitters, three of them were fairly simple as far as players. It was a matter of placement. It was Mr. Big News who was probably holding the easiest spotlight with those 46 points and those configurations that you can never ever forget in your handicapping any future Kentucky Derbies until the day you die. I will remind myself daily until the first Saturday in May 2021.


Jot these things down, save them in a keepsake box, pass them down to your grandkids and refer to them every single solitary year when handicapping the Kentucky Derby...


1. Any colt who is completely and overwhelmingly packed with stamina, especially with an index below 1.00 - USE HIM.


2. If there are 2 colts on the field that follow rule number one, USE THEM BOTH.


3. Any colt that is packing total profile points over 40 points, rain or shine - USE HIM.


4. Speed colts (3.00 and over) who hit a 19 par and over in all 3 slots of their triads - SPREAD HIM.


5. Speed colts who have the distance but are below par in the triads - Use him underneath.


6. Any colt who has Tapit in the first or second generation with a chef index above 3.20 - Spread him.


7. Any colt who has Tapit in the first or second generation with a chef index of 3.00 or under - Toss him.


8. Refer to Rule #7 and wait for the 12f Belmont Stakes - Spread him.


9. Most every graded stakes race at 10f, three speed guys and one stamina guy comprises the top 4.


10. Contenders in the Derby who fall in the 2.10 to 2.90 category should always be dismissed UNLESS they have SHOWN brilliance CONSISTENTLY leading up to the Derby. Projecting maturity holds no water. They will always be the most disadvantaged on the field unless they have shown that they are NOT running to those numbers in their previous races.


11. If Bob Baffert has a horse in the race with "half decent" numbers - Spread Him.


12. Never forget these rules.


With that said, seeing the Kentucky Derby bowing down to the mob left a very bad taste. Now I need a break.


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