After every Derby, I always look at the order of finish in order to gauge how the numbers played out and how the reading of those numbers from the beginning actually fared.
From the very beginning, when we first had the full and final leaderboard to finally having the full order of finish and everything that occurred in between, this year, many are left scratching their heads.
We were presented with a field filled with stamina. We had one of the best jockey’s in the world on the favorite who eventually ended up on a 24 to 1 shot after Omaha Beach’s scratch. We had another with an appointment for throat surgery. We had a mudfest thrown in. We had the first disqualification of a winner in Derby History.
The biggest head scratching moment was the colt who was named the winner of the Kentucky Derby, a horse named Country House, who had one prior win on his resume – his maiden race.
Unlike some recent editions of the Derby, this race was not the scripted outcome, nor was it normal in any way. The numbers, which usually read straight down the line with regards to the order of finish, this year read quite haphazard. Something went amiss, absolutely, but I believe that the final moments down the stretch which caused the controversy in the first place was the real reason for this.
No one will ever know if Maximum Security had NOT veered into War of Will and affected him, Long Range Toddy, Bodexpress and even Code of Honor at one point nearing the finish how it would have legitimately ended up. We do not know if he really would have in fact won that race if the unfortunate incident did not occur. We don’t know if the momentum that was cut down on the few would have allowed Country House to actually prevail. We don’t know if the bang to Code of Honor, which went highly unrecognized, affected his momentum as well. This edition is one for the books. A horror book to be exact.
Because of the facts of this order of finish ended up haphazard, this is the first Derby that I will consider a complete toss as far as numbers and their placements are concerned. I will never use this Derby in any evaluations with regards to numbers in the future nor present nor past. I can't.
I will, however, look at the analysis of those numbers as it pertains to the “apparent” list of characters and how they fared and how they were read. When reading numbers for a massive race such as the Kentucky Derby, everything is always pure at the very beginning. What I mean by that is there is no other outside influence. The analysis was posted on April 14th. On that date, there are no gate assignments. There are no clear jockey assignments. There are no Churchill workouts. There is no talk of throat or foot problems. There are no picks or tips or lists to pour over. Simply put, the initial analysis of the numbers are just about as pure as you can get. I have learned through this edition (the hard way) NOT to upset the purity in the future. I will always from this day forward, LEAVE IT PURE and WALK AWAY. This is one lesson I will never let go of. The updates for the track conditions may or may not remain going forward as they too could become “contaminated” with the noise.
I have also learned this year to stay out of it after the analysis is written. Be it the Derby, the Belmont, the Classic, the Pegasus, etc. I will keep the numbers pure, the analysis pure and I will not contradict them, bypass them nor interject my personal opinions. I will let the numbers do the talking and walk away. This is the biggest lesson and the best analysis of this order of finish that I can give.
There are simply two sets of numbers, a bit of insight into the past and a little bit of common sense. Did the numbers read correctly and did they tell the tale way back before the noise crept in? This is all that really matters to me. Did the numbers and the analysis correspond and were the answers there all along?
1. COUNTRY HOUSE - “But something happened today in the Arkansas Derby that stood out far past Omaha Beach actually winning that race on his apparent preferred surface. This guy, with his unbelievable amount of stamina, ran from the back of the pack and beat out 8 other horses on that sloppy track. This guy should have been coming up to that wire behind that entire field. That is a 2.69 stand-out.”
"He sat out there quietly and the further these distances go, the more this horse will shine. He has the stamina to run as far away from the rail as he needs to pass tiring horses and he will be coming up to the top of that stretch with all of his speed intact and ready to unleash. Excellent potential for board hit even though he is suited more for the June race.”
Would he have really WON the Derby outright if things didn’t transpire the way they did? We shall never know the real answer to that. But Country House, the maiden winner and now Derby Champ, would have probably hit that board either way.
2. CODE OF HONOR – “For the Derby race, he will be running (finally) on a more suitable track and he will be running much closer to his optimum distance which should allow his performance capability to rise a great deal.”
“His impeccable breeding may rise to the occasion, as he is arguably the best bred of the bunch.”
“A board hit is not out of the question though for this magnificently bred colt. He was born with class.”
“Instilled sat in this very same spot and grabbed his 4th in the rain. Nothing is impossible when a horse has gold running in his veins.”
We don’t know if the bang by Maximum cost Code some momentum, as at one point he actually passed him in that stretch but the fact remains that this guy displayed his impeccable breeding on that sloppy track and showed everyone what he is truly made of. This type of breeding does have a very hard time on a sloppy track. His chefs showed up in a big way. This horse is magnificent. He always was.
3. TACITUS – “Tacitus can run 10f. He has speed from his chefs. It is low-key and even. With a nice clean trip and a half descent post, he will have no problem getting that 10f but a slower pace up front will definitely help. He is “across the board” material at this point.”
"Update – On a sloppy track, with his speed, both in the numbers and in his past displayed speed, he gets an upgrade and it is quite possible that his 3.31 index (Tapwrit 3.00, Creator 3.00) is exactly what is necessary to get him over the hump in the Derby. The difference between 3.31 and 3.00 is alot. Go with it."
Would he have hit the board if the incident didn’t occur? I don’t know. Would War of Will knocked him down a notch or two. I don’t know. But, he was there and his numbers got him there.
4. IMPROBABLE – “Now that the Arkansas Derby is over, and the main speed contender of the Kentucky Derby did not dominate on that sloppy track at 9f, leads me to consider the strong probability that this looks to be turning into a stamina year. There are 6 speed contenders in this category and at this moment not one of them have truly impeccable overloaded mare stamina numbers. This is leading me to believe that speed may have a difficult time this year especially on a clear fast track. This guy should be just fine though.
"Update: Upgrade on a sloppy track. He has no excuses for not hitting that board on a sloppy track."
Did he really hit the board? Did he really come in fifth or even sixth? Would the numbers of War of Will beaten him out? The way it may have unfolded would have seen stamina beat out his speed sloppy or not. His mare triads were not the greatest, but still good enough for board hit consideration especially in the rain. The analysis of these numbers are a bit iffy to me and in the future I have learned to read them as they are presented and not try to turn them into what I think they should be. Yes, he ultimately hit the board, however, it is not clear cut and precise.
5. GAME WINNER – “I do believe this guy would be a player on a clear fast track if that speed category goes crazy out of the gate. His stamina inheritance and his PP’s are fantastic for Superfecta consideration.”
Did he really come in 5th, 6th or 7th? We will never know. But he did not hit the board on a sloppy track. Because of the fact that he actually did as well as he did in that mud leads me to believe that a clean track would have indeed seen him hit that board or even prevail.
6. MASTER FENCER – “Regardless of the country he is coming from, one maiden win in 2018 and one allowance win close to 3 months ago coupled with the configurations of those numbers points to a complete toss. And don’t look back!”
6th, 7th, or 8th place? Much better than expected but the fact remains, no money spent on a super spot and he wasn’t part of it in the aftermath either.
7. WAR OF WILL – “War of Will has everything he needs to be a player in this race. His chef’s profile is magnificent and if he gets the position that he prefers out of that gate, he will continue ahead with the best of them. A serious Derby contender."
“War of Will and Tax both have spectacular numbers and for completely different reasons. The fact that the 2 of them run close to the lead, coupled with having the best sets of triads on the entire field warrant consideration on a sloppy track.”
Would he have won? Nobody knows. Did his 15-23-18 triads and his preferred running style keep him up front in the stretch? I would say yes. 1000%. Tax, on the other hand…
8. PLUS QUE PARFAIT – “Save him for the Belmont. The chef speed required for the Derby is just not there and it is severely lacking from the mares. He goes the distance but he cannot compete with the speed found all over this board.”
Yes, save him for the Belmont.
9. WIN WIN WIN – “The only thing that is standing in the way of complete confidence with this guy is that his late running form has progressively decreased from his win at 7f (where he won by over 7 lengths with a late pace of 105) and it dropped when he went further to 1 1/16th and even further when he traveled the 1 1/8th."
“His numbers, top and bottom are spectacular for the Derby. His past performances though show his best winning late figure at 7f and they have dropped since.”
“Update: Post 14 isn't the greatest but the rain will get him past his 9.3f optimum distance and a bit closer to that 10 - but not quite all the way. His numbers are there for an upgrade on a sloppy track but since the optimum isn't quite enough he deserves at least a few nice spots on a super ticket.”
This is where the update knocked the purity on its side. “The optimum wasn’t quite enough on the sloppy track.” Period. End of story. Why throw him into the bottom of the super then? I made a huge mistake by not taking the numbers at face value here. I will never make that mistake again. Optimum distance at 9.3f, adding in some extra lengths from the mud with his high chef index still doesn't get him to the board. Huge mistake.
10. CUTTING HUMOR - “The triads on the other hand are lacking a great deal for this race. With the higher amount of colts equipped with the proper stamina competing this year, a gamble on those triads does not seem to be a good proposition.
11. BY MY STANDARDS - "These types of numbers are generally reserved for bottom of the board hits (if that). It would seem that as the distances go further, he will be able to pick it up to a point because of the high speed influence coming from his mares, but past that 9.5f mark with a full field of 20, the higher stamina-bred horses will truly take advantage of him around that final turn. He will not be able to go on with them as his speed will most likely get the better of him."
"Update: Major upgrade on a sloppy track. He is still short on his optimum and he will have to run through those numbers a bit but on a sloppy track his distance capability gets enhanced enough to be more confident on the wet sloppy surface for a board hit."
This is where the initial pure analysis of the numbers and in the update “being short on the optimum” should just stand. The noise beat the numbers and this is a major blunder of mine. I will not let it happen again.
12. VEKOMA – “Great for a clean track, not good if it rains”
13. BODEXPRESS – “Unless the first ¼ mile of the Derby is run at 26 seconds or over, this guy has no shot. The entire idea is absurd. Not a chance."
"Update: He gets an upgrade on a sloppy track but the extra lengths he gains is still not enough."
He went much further than expected but even without the foul, he would not have hit the board. I will never underestimate a very high chef index on the sloppy track again. His lengths grew a ton with that speed he was packing to get him further.
14. TAX - Since there are only 3 stamina guys in this category and it may end up being the most advantaged, there is no reason to cross him off yet. There are 10 others that can be crossed off first. He has a better set-up than most. I'll stick with all 3 for now but will most likely take the class and breeding of the other two.
Update: War of Will and Tax both have spectacular numbers and for completely different reasons. The fact that the 2 of them run close to the lead, coupled with having the best sets of triads on the entire field warrant consideration on a sloppy track.
Another example of the noise affecting the purity of the first analysis and another reason to never “update” ever again. Never ever again. Write and walk away.
15. ROADSTER - "The immediate response when looking at them is simply to say “this horse has absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt, no chance whatsoever in the Kentucky Derby.”
The numbers are generally right on point. Baffert or no Baffert, the numbers actually held out over the Baffert affect this year.
16. LONG RANGE TODDY – "There is a ton of negatives here, however, this guy has shown some guts that can’t be overlooked. This is a very consistent colt. He loves being on that board. In his first 7 races he has hit that board every single time at all of the distances he has traveled. Unfortunately he faltered in the Arkansas prep which was not only a distance test but more importantly, a huge sloppy track test. With his high chef index, this should have been his time to shine but it appears that the triads got the better of him."
“Update - His last was on a sloppy track and there is a strong possibility that he just doesn't like a wet track because of those CD's. Since he had shown exceptional grit up until that day and the fact that his chefs and mares CD numbers are so low, he may just warrant slight consideration as a bottom must use in your super in the sun. The very bottom”.
“Update: His optimum is 9.8f. His chef index is fantastic for a sloppy track. His triads are horrible for a sloppy track. He gave us a preview of that in the Arkansas. But, Super Saver and Ice Box had horrible triads as well and their chef speed saw them through to that first and second spot. If Toddy was just having a bad day in that prep he may have an excuse but we aren't mind readers. His chefs say yes to a sloppy track. His mares give no assistance. His optimum is fairly close. 50/50 here for a board hit.”
This is the one analysis that is making me cringe. I do not know where Toddy would have eventually ended up on this board if the mishap didn’t happen in the stretch. Dropping to 16th place so close to the final lengths is far reaching for a case that he would have hit the board but none the less, he was there. Out of the 20 analyses written for each horse, this is my “Magnum Moon” of the field (along with one other). His consistent performances SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN OVERLOOKED after the fact and because of his one performance in the Arkansas. Appears I was all over the place with guy. Although the numbers in the triads gave him no shot on a clean track, the chef’s numbers were there for a sloppy track and as the numbers stood, they should not have been blinded by my thoughts on his last prep in the mud. I will never let that happen again.
17. MAXIMUM SECURITY – “With the rush of posting behind me and with extra time to dissect these numbers as they compare against the field, this guy has the speed (3x more speed than stamina from his chefs), a strong CD next to that index, extra punch of mare speed early, a nice point spread, and dominant in the final slot of his triads. Maximum Security is a player in this race. A big player.”
And this guy ended up being the BIGGEST PLAYER after all. In more ways than one.
18. SPINOFF - "If speed falters in this edition of the Derby and the stamina guys take over, this guy should be in a very good position to capitalize with his inheritance. The more I look at the dynamics of his balance, his undeniable stamina inheritance (9 point spread), the triads configurations and the fact that his 2.78 chef index is closest to the bottom of the speed spectrum above all others in this group, is opening a path to a possible board hit with this guy."
"Of note here also, this guy’s numbers mimic Country House both top and bottom almost spot on. His chef’s profile is actually nicer, the balance outcome is almost the same and the mares are close to exact. The big difference is where Spinoff likes to position himself as opposed to Country with that same balance. Spinoff gains a huge edge there."
The second “Magnum Moon type” analysis that was off the mark completely. Two horses out of 19 where the numbers did not coincide. This is generally the same each year. This guy did not fire on the sloppy track where his numbers did give him a shot. No excuse for the horse, but even more so, there is no excuse for me. I tried to see Battle of Midway in him, but that was 100% incorrect. Even compared him to Country House as being good enough to get to the wire with those numbers but gave the edge to Spinoff because of his position. Position has nothing to do with NUMBERS! Blunder in the biggest way.
19. GRAY MAGICIAN – “He could either pull a Super Saver or he could come in dead last. And that is no joke.”
Gray Magician chose the latter!!! Of course he did!
And now I am off to Kentucky for a week. Onward to stake revenge with the Belmont!