2017 Derby Analysis


<Originally posted at HRF-Online April 2017>


This edition of our beloved Kentucky Derby is filled with the craziest cast of characters I believe I have ever seen. Most of these guys are carrying half of a great profile. Some parts are perfect, some parts are horrifying. Some of these profiles make my eyes hurt! The only thing I can do this year is to see the humor in it.

To be as light as possible, if someone was to hand me this list of names last August I would say back then that maybe only 3 or 4 of them would have the potential to secure a gate in Kentucky. Maybe this field is simply a product resulting from the chaos of the Derby Trail this year. It is the only explanation I can muster. I’m gonna be blunt with some of these profiles. I apologize in advance.

With that in mind, this plays two ways. One, this is a slam dunk year. Pick the four hotshots, box the Super and be done with it. Or, it could mean that this group is far outrunning their pedigree and this will be the hardest, deepest, no chance of guessing anything, throw all the rules out the window, empty your bank account and press the ALL button type of year! It’s as simple as that. I’m taking the third route. I’m going with the obvious on one ticket and going with my gut on another. And I’m gonna have a good time doing it! So let’s dive into this madness.

If you subscribe to recent “rules” then the first group is where you’ll want to concentrate. As of late, the over 3.10 horses coupled with major Mare stamina has the advantage to not only hit the board but to win the trophy. Tread lightly though. There are a couple in this group who may negatively affect the entire show for the others with them and the stamina group could easily be the dominant force this year. The only advice I can give with this is just highlight the standouts from this group first. Analyze the effect of the remaining speedsters here and determine if this is a speed up front and holding on type of year or is it an out of control lead horse who hands the race to a stamina guy. But there is another twist to that, which we’ll come to later.

I see two, possibly 3 who definitely should be highlighted with respect to their profiles and PP’s. I also see a couple of other colts who have a real shot at killing those highlighted colts if their jockeys aren’t careful. There have been a couple recent Derby’s where most of the “speed” horses have fallen to the very bottom of the pack. Not out of the realm this year. But then again, nothing is out of the realm this year.

Listed Highest Chef’s Index to Lowest:

3.10 AND OVER GROUP

Malagacy – 6.20 Profile: 3-10-5-0-0 (18) CD .89 Mares: Index .79 Triads 13-12-16 One of the wackiest set of numbers of the group. I actually had to triple check the numbers to make sure it was right. No doubt a speedster. The highest Index of the group. But then his .89 CD is abnormally low, which is fantastic for his needed stamina. That alone should make him stand out – but wait – His profile drops in half going from Intermediate to Classic distance, which is abnormally bad. But wait – His Mare’s index is one of the lowest in this speed group, which is great for stamina – but wait – His Mare triads are horrendous. So where do you go with that? Does that low CD come into favorable play? Do those triads negatively affect him? And what to make of that 5 in the Classic Spot in his Chefs profile. This one makes my head spin.

Always Dreaming – 5.00 Profile: 3-5-4-0-0 (12) CD .92 Mares: Index .77 Triads 14-18-16 Another profile that makes my head spin. I love the Chef’s Points, Index and CD. I hate the Profile itself. Love the Mares Index very much. Hate the triads. Runs killer at Gulfstream. The Derby is in Kentucky. With all that said, he will be one of my “gut” horses. He appears to outrun this crazy configuration of his.

Classic Empire – 5.00 Profile: 4-4-4-0-0 (12) CD 1.00 Mares: Index .84 Triads 16-19-20 His Chef’s speed numbers, coupled with that entire Mare profile stands out like a sore thumb. The best of the field not only in these numbers, but the best of the field prior to his foot issues. In my opinion, if that issue is truly resolved, there is no doubt in my mind - he is in the mix at that finish line. He is perfectly balanced with his speed and the ability to tackle 10f. But first he needs to secure a gate. I hope he does it in Classic Empire style.

Sonneteer – 5.00 Profile: 2-2-2-0-0 (6) Index 1.00 Mares: Index .95 Triads 15-17-16 I just have nothing at all to say here. Look the other way.

J Boys Echo – 4.09 Profile: 8-9-11-0-0 (28) CD .89 Mares: Index .90 Triads 17-11-18 When you look at this profile, just think of Suddenbreakingnews. It’s good, but not good enough to win.

Battalion Runner – 3.67 Profile: 6-12-8-0-2 (28) CD .71 Mares: Index .85 Triads 15-12-17 Here’s another goofy one. Good Chef’s numbers. Good Mare’s Index. Horrible Triads. This one also drops from Intermediate to Classic in his profile. He ran very well at Aqueduct, but the Wood Memorial is generally not a race for the ages. I don’t see it, maybe I’m missing something.

Lookin at Lee - 3.40 5-7-10-0-0 (22) Index: 3.40 CD: .77 Mares: 6-6-4-8-7 Index: .85 Triads: 16-18-19 I'm not so sure how you all feel about the addition of this guy, but from a gambling standpoint, I would have preferred to handicap this race without him! It was a bit easier before without those particular defections, now its taken a turn. This profile for the Derby is fantastic. Top and bottom. His 3.40 index is a direct hit. His CD from the sires is right on target with stamina. The progression of his profile is very nice. His optimum from sires @ 9.4f The mares progression of numbers in triads is spot on. He needed more stamina than speed from the mares. He received more than enough to conquer the 10f. He also received an additional shot of speed, but not so much that it interferes with the additional stamina. Its a very good balance. Being in that top category is an advantage that is shared by Classic Empire and Always Dreaming. Empire still holds the best configurations, both the Sire side and the mare side, and also with the distribution of high speed and high stamina gained in inheritance. But there is something to be said about "too much" as well. Adding Lee definitely adds some turmoil! Lookin at Lee's inheritance has very high potential for the standards of the Derby. This is a late comer that should not be overlooked.

Cloud Computing – 3.36 Profile: 5-8-11-0-0 (24) CD .75 Mares: Index .96 Triads 15-10-15 Refer to Sonneteer.

Hence – 3.31 Profile: 9-6-13-0-0 (28) CD .86 Mares: Index .57 Triads 11-16-20 Now we have a profile that hits it all the way around. Love that Brilliant number, 9, with that CD. I like how his Mare’s first Triad number, 11, is kinda low. He gained enough speed from his chefs and too much additional might be detrimental. Eleven is a good number for him. He needed stamina from his Mares and he got it. The Mare index is great. He can run 10f. He really needs to up his game though. Even though I love his numbers, I am putting him under on my “gut” ticket. With this stellar profile, I feel his PP’s don’t stack up to it. It’s just off. But he is might be on the uptick and that speed hopefully will kick in at Churchill. He’s almost there.

Petrov – 3.31 Profile: 8-7-13-0-0 (28) CD .82 Mares: Index 1.00 Triads 16-9-17 Glance at those triads and then refer to Cloud Computing.

THE 3.00 GROUP:

There are five of them this year. These are the “bottom” of the speed spectrum. Past Performances play a major role with this group. It is ideal if their Mares are handing them a bit of speed to compete with the big guys above them. But in the same vein, they also need that shot of stamina to carry them past the 9f mark. This year, the numbers are all over the place. IMHO, within this 3.00 group, only two of them have a little something that is workable. Some of these profiles are so far out in left field that I have no clue how to even go on with them. I know it’s not nice but I truly have no idea how to proceed with some of them. There is nowhere to go except to the PP’s. Like I said, I am trying to find the humor in it. I hope you are too!! 

Irish War Cry – 3.00 Profile: 5-7-12-0-0 (24) CD .71 Mares: Index .56 Triads 10-16-19 All good for 10f across the board. The Mare’s Index is exceptional. Match that Mare’s index up against every speed horse above and below him and his stands out like crazy. He grabbed a great deal of stamina from those mares even though his triads are lacking up front. That last number, 19, makes it at least palpable. I can see him battling in the stretch, but as of right now, I’m wary that he gets by them all. His pedigree makes him an obvious one for the super. Need to study those PP’s closely on this guy. Among this group, his good numbers outweigh his bad numbers for a spot.

Patch – 3.00 Profile: 6-10-13-1-0 (30) CD .70 Mares: Index .81 Triads 13-13-18 The chefs numbers are beautiful across the board. The triads are very weak. He is lightly raced. He did not run as a two year old. The cons outweigh the pros a bit too much for my liking even though he did very well in LA Derby. He could be better than his numbers say, but this the Derby and realistically he has a 3.00 index with nothing else to back it up. For the Kentucky Derby, this is important. Half is great, the other half makes me wince. PP’s only with this guy.

Practical Joke – 3.00 Profile: 1-1-2-0-0 (4) CD .75 Mares: Index 1.09 Triads 19-22-18 This one is all over the place which may be one reason why he hasn’t burst out of his shell yet. These Into Mischief colts like to get you excited early on but then they decide to keep it low key and average going forward. The profile itself says to run away and the mare index is much higher than normal. His triads on the other hand are gorgeous. His numbers suggest he wants to show off at shorter distances but his triads are allowing him to go a bit further, leaving the speed behind him. This keeps him below par with some of the rest.

State of Honor – 3.00 Profile: 2-4-6-0-0 (12) CD .67 Mares: Index .81 Triads 15-6-17 What a mixed set of signals this configuration has! I couldn’t make this up even if I wanted to! How this horse held on at Gulfstream was impressive. I love that Chef’s profile and his Mares index is just fine. The configuration of the triads are at the very bottom of the field though. His mare profile is 10-3-2-1-14. Bookended at the far extremes with nothing in the center. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know which way to go. He would be a force if he went right to that 14. He would be a great miler if he turned left towards the 10. My guess is that he hovers in the middle and this keeps him from bursting out as a star. He needs to pick a side, and pick it fast!

Tapwrit – 3.00 Profile: 6-9-12-1-0 (28) CD .71 Mares: Index 1.14 Triads 19-14-15 For the Derby, I wish his triads were reversed. He has speed coming from all angles which is really great for 9f, but lacks in stamina numbers to be confident in 10f. He is talented, but not so sure talent alone gets him the distance he needs to win. He needs one of the speedsters up there to help his cause. He could easily take advantage of a fast pace if there is any stamina left in reserve. But then again, can he compete with Gunnevera at that point? That’s another story altogether.

The 2.00+ MID-RANGE GROUP

The lower end of the 2.00 to 3.00 spectrum dominates the higher end. This statement has been true for the past 76 years, with only one exception, 1989. The year Sunday Silence won the Derby with a 2.43 index. Any other past runners who managed an in The Money finish within this group were way lower. Something to keep in mind. In years past, this group needs a special kind of animal with something outstanding in their chart and some standout performances to overcome the speed of the field. If it were any other year, I would say choose wisely and step lightly with this group. But this year is abnormally wrought with wacky pedigrees, so if there were any year to throw caution out into the wind – this would be the year. Payouts have the greatest chance of being something we haven’t seen in a long time. The oddness of this field as far as inheritance goes means nothing is off the table.

Battle of Midway – 2.83 Profile: 10-14-17-2-1 (44) CD .68 Mares: Index .87 Triads: 12-15-18 There is something to be said about the most loaded profile on the field. He inherited a lot of champion blood from a ton of exceptional sires. 44 Points is a huge amount. His profile spreads completely across the board. Had a very nice maiden win first time out at 6f even with that horrifying 2.83 index. Very fast up front and closed well. Ran nicely in his final prep going 1 1/8, again, even with that horrifying 2.83 index. Point here is with such a loaded profile he is showing he can handle each distance fairly evenly. I used to be a fan of overloaded profiles but I came to realize that there always seemed to be a distinctive pattern with them. They never could find the right optimum “home” and they were spread across so much that they couldn’t jump to the next level of greatness. It remained steady, hardly ever outstanding. It takes outstanding to win the Derby. Those triads are not helping the matter, however, I don’t think triads play as big of a factor with a colt bred like this. He is intriguing and will undoubtedly thrive at the 10f distance. If it rains, he would be a definite yes for me somewhere on that super ticket. If it doesn’t rain, well, I’m not so quick to cross him out yet. It might be that longshot “gut” horse I look for every year even though I love sparse profiles now. Because of how crazy this field is this year, being opposite of everything else on this field grants him a pardon. For now.

Irap – 2.50 Profile: 4-2-8-0-0 (14) CD .71 Mares: Index 1.44 Triads: 15-13-13 That 2.50 Index, coupled with the Triads says it all. The only thing I see here is the mares offered him some speed. Everything else is average or below average. There is nothing else to say with regards to his numbers.

McCraken – 2.43 Profile 7-4-12-0-1 (24) CD .67 Mares: Index .92 Triads 17-22-20 In terms of numbers only, the obvious standout configurations within this 2.00 group begin and end right here. Even the fact that his 2.43 index is exactly what Sunday Silence was holding when he took the roses. Cannot ignore those triads, the best of the field. He thrives at Churchill, loves the track there. His Bluegrass performance kicks you in the stomach though. It’s never made that easy. There is always something to give you pause. But this year, with what is going on up in that first group, he is definitely an obvious contender. His pedigree from his mares is great, his Chefs profile is great and he showed his talent along the way. PP’s confirm his 2.43 index is not an albatross.

Gormley – 2.25 Profile: 7-5-12-2-0 CD .65 Mares: Index .79 Triads 16-16-19 He is an inconsistent sort. Last race he beat a large field but it was a little underwhelming on a whole. Just like Tapwrit, I would prefer his triads reversed. There just isn’t enough here to justify using a 2.25 horse in the Kentucky Derby. It is offset by nothing.

Girvin – 2.11 Profile 4-2-7-1-0 (14) CD .64 Mares: Index 1.19 Triads 17-13-14 If a colt is going to fall into this category, a 2.11 index is one of the best historically speaking. His Chefs profile is perfectly set up to capitalize. Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Street Sense were all right here as well, but… (Always a “but” with this field isn’t there?!) … The three mentioned all had very high triads, Girvin does not. But here is what I like about that fact. A 2.11 Index is closely related to the stamina group which is where you would want to see a large bomb of additional speed coming from the other side. It dropped right on him. That 17 in the speed slot of his triads is exactly what he needed. To be more precise, here are the speed slot triad numbers for the 3 mentioned: Seattle Slew – 17 Street Sense – 17 Affirmed – 16 Some people might look at this and say we are looking at different animals and it doesn’t matter. I would say quite the contrary. I could write an entire article on the specific exact similarities that pushed every 2.00 colt that has ever hit the board in the Kentucky Derby. The number one similarity is that their mares gave them at least 16 points up front is speed. What I cannot say for sure is if the other two numbers in the triads have any affect in needing a bit more stamina thrown at them. Most got that, some did not and still dominated the field. Girvin did not get those high stamina triad numbers either. I know I’m writing a lot for this particular guy and I could keep going because there is something here. I just cannot figure if those last 2 triads numbers will negatively impact him as far as a win. All his numbers are giving this guy an obvious yes, but the last two triad numbers give a pinhead of doubt. Of course, could it ever be easy with this group?! The fact that the most important number – the 17 points worth of Mare Speed was given to him, makes me say, he is an obvious one to keep but, he will be kept underneath.

Untrapped – 2.08 Profile 2-5-13-0-0 (20) CD .45 Mares: Index 1.27 Triads 18-15-16 He definitely benefits from the higher Mares Index and the higher 18 number found in the speed slot of the Triads. He needed it. His only win so far has come from a short race at Churchill Downs. I suspect, without much thought, his mares are responsible for his speed, chefs responsible for his stamina. Opposite the norm but not necessarily bad. He likes to hit the board and there really isn’t anything bad about his numbers, but there really isn’t anything to jump up and down about either. PP’s more important here.

The Under 2.00 STAMINA GROUP:

There are only three that made it this year. And what a group of uncertainty they turned out to be! All with their own set of questions and their own set of positives. “Rules” of the Derby dictate there has to be a choice. This year, who the heck knows. This is the reason for the two separate supers. All three of these stamina guys have the potential to shine come Derby Day. And although this year produced a compilation of ups, downs, twists, turns, good, bad and ugly, one jockey is going to steer his colt to victory and win this race. It may not be pretty It may not be neatly tied in a bow, but it will be one heck of a race with this crew!

Gunnevera – 2.00 Profile 7-8-10-2-3 (30) CD .47 Mares: Index .74 Triads 13-13-18 Technically, Gunny is not under 2.00, he is right on it. His style of running though and that 18 in the Mares final slot gives him the OK to be listed in this group. Gunnevera stands out in this field because he’s grabbing stamina from every angle, but showed his speed early on. That’s a standout. Another colt who would have benefited from reversing those triads, however, his talent far surpassed that configuration. Speaking only in terms of inheritance, I can honestly say that his chefs stamina profile setup is so perfectly weighted and stands out against this entire field. The addition of even more stamina from the mares makes his early short victories even that much more impressive. He stands out, plain and simple. But, (again, there’s always a “but” with this field!) is it too much stamina and are those speed numbers from the Mares way too low to compete in the Derby? Is the horse healthy and ready to run? Is running against what he is made of sufficient enough? Will there be enough early speed to give him an advantage when he comes running late? Does he just hit the board or does he overtake all of that speed? He is one of three that has the goods to do it. Is he healthy enough to capitalize on his position is the big question. Rolling him underneath is the only solution. This guy is one of the most talented on the field. Too much too early? We will only find out come race day.

Fast and Accurate – 1.86 Profile 4-4-10-2-0 CD .50 Mares: Index 1.00 Triads 18-20-19 It’s nice to be able to finally say “What a nice set of numbers across both lines!” Stamina Profile from Chefs, Speed gained from Mares, Spectacular Triads. Hitting his best stride while going further. That being said, is he fast enough? Do those numbers match his performances? Well, he’s won his last 3 so that is a very good sign but are the efforts on par with his inheritance? That is the big question. Not quite the high Beyer numbers from some of the others. He could be another Battle of Midway type. The longshot holding the goods quietly on the side. I’ll give him some consideration because of how exceptional those numbers are against this particular field and how many questions still remain with the other two within this stamina group. I cannot see any scenario where I would leave a stamina horse out of my line up. Just the thought of it goes against the grain way too much for my stomach to handle! Need time with PP’s and projected 10f times on this guy before I take the plunge of keeping or tossing. It’s that wacky this year!

Thunder Snow - .89 Profile 2-1-11-4-0 (18) CD .06 Mares: Index - .71 Triads 15-24-19 Yes, that .89 is indeed his Index and not his CD. You gotta love the breeding overseas. Wow! Amazing amount of inbred stamina from his chefs set him so far apart in this group. Talk about standout, look at that 24 in the Classic Triads Slot. He has, without question, been the recipient of pure Royalty. He should walk that post parade with a Crown on his head with trumpets blowing in the background and standing ovations for his breeder. Match those numbers up against any in this field and you will see why I say this is one heck of a wacky group as far as inheritance is concerned. There is no chance of leaving this guy off of either the obvious ticket or the gut ticket. As with every single horse in this field, each one has some pros and cons. The word OVERSEAS is the only con here. I cannot fathom how this horse could leave that pedigree at home because of a plane ride and different water. It is way too spectacular against this group this year. I don’t want to love it – but I can’t help but do just that. His breeding could not allow him to hit the bottom of the order of finish. He is coming somewhere on top, and where that top is, lies only with the heart, spirit and character of this invader.

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