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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

3 of 3 - Derby Quality - STAMINA

Animal Kingdom

In the final installment of "Derby Quality", we will look at the stamina category, which is the hardest category of the three.

The Speed Category article revealed how the past performances need to be secondary to the breeding. Colts born with an abundance of speed will naturally post nice high beyers and timeform figures along the way, but that does not mean they can carry through in the same manner the entire 10f Derby distance. The Mid-Range Category article argued the point that the past performance sheets were imperative first, in order to draw out the contenders who possessed enough speed with ample performances to compete against their disadvantaged even chef balance. Once those contenders are isolated, then the breeding numbers need to be consulted in order to separate the 7f runners from the 10 to 12f runners.

Now we move on to the Stamina Category, chef indexes under 2.00. There are a few components that go into distinguishing between a stamina player and stamina pretender. Even though the stamina category has been advantaged alongside their speedy foes throughout the history of the Derby, things have switched a gear in recent years. The Speed Category has been taking over the reins as of late. The last Stamina guy to win the roses was 9 years ago, in 2011. They still hit that board (usually one) but they have lost the upper-hand. This is most likely due to the fact that speed is the name of the game in the breeders shed which is leaving the "true" stamina thoroughbred a thing of the past. When they do come around they usually gravitate to their ancestors who thrived on turf and it is very rare to see a real stamina monster who can show up on a dirt surface and exhibit raw speed that seemingly comes out of left field. The other reason is because when the track ends up sloppy, the stamina category forfeits any advantage they may have had. We've seen quite a few muddy tracks over recent years.

The reason why the stamina category is the hardest to handicap for the Derby is because among the three or so entries in this category who walk into that Derby gate, they all usually possess enough stamina to run that oval. They are all basically on the same level as far as ability to conquer that 10f distance. In addition, they also obviously showed some speed along the way, after all, they performed well enough to gain the points to secure a coveted gate. They had to beat other horses, show some speed or else they wouldn't be at Churchill.

The stamina category usually holds the best bred animals as well. Their sires, going back the generations, are the ones who possessed that killer European stamina, albeit a bit watered down as the decades pass, but they stand in this category for that reason. They are the most complicated to handicap. The speed category is basically cut and dry. They are fast, they should be fast, they were bred to be fast - now, do they carry enough mare stamina to make it all the way around. The Midrange category is also fairly cut and dry. They are not lop-sided to speed but if they performed along the way, on par with the speed guys, then consulting the mares for that stamina to sustain the 10f distance is all that is required.

When it comes to the stamina category, there are several points that will ultimately aid in pointing out a player or a pretender.

  1. A major tell-tale sign of a lethal stamina horse is one who runs up front with their speedier counterparts. These types are extremely rare, you may not see one for years on end, but when one shows up, take notice. Remember, he probably has the distance easily, he does not need to weave around and pass tiring horses on a 20 field track and he will not be running on the far outside. He will be positioned up front with a certain amount of inbred stamina to continue along without breaking a sweat.

  2. In the same vein as the Midrange category, any stamina horse that exhibited high beyer speeds in his earlier preps and maidens should be considered a beast. These are the guys who inherited much more stamina than speed - this is obvious. Common sense dictates that if a stamina horse, no matter where he prefers to run with his style, is beating speed guys WITHOUT any inherited chef speed, then the horse is a monster.

  3. Extreme and overloaded total Chefs points. Packed numbers.

  4. As the history of the Kentucky Derby reveals, when a stamina horse wins the Derby, it is most likely because the speed guys were insufficient with their inbred stamina.

  5. Lacking in short brilliant speed numbers, much more stacked to extreme stamina top and bottom.

Point #4 is the main one. If you have 3 speed contenders in the gate, and all three lean to an optimum distance of say 9f, then the stamina horse has no competition at 10f. This is why the two extremes, Speed vs. Stamina, must be isolated and these two categories must be pitted against each other. Speed guys of all different optimum distances will win points along the way. They were bred and born with extreme speed. They post high beyer numbers along the way. Most speed guys will be able to sustain their natural speed up to the longest distance of the prep races, 9f. If the speed horse has the mare stamina to go 10f and he runs true to his numbers, which is up front and quick out of the gate, then there is nothing that is going to beat him.

Let's look at it this way. A dream scenario for a stamina horse in the Kentucky Derby...

Code of Honor

Chefs: DP = 3-1-11-7-0 (22) DI = 0.76

Mares: Speed = 12 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.64 Triads = 14-25-20


Chefs: DP = 5-6-8-1-0 (20) DI = 3.00

Mares: Speed = 13 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.04 Triads = 16-14-16

Liam's Map

Chefs: DP = 5-25-6-0-2 (38) DI = 6.60

Mares: Speed = 12 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.86 Triads = 15-18-16

Jackson Bend

Chefs: DP = 9-4-5-0-0 (18) DI = 6.20

Mares: Speed = 12 Stamina = 9 Index = 1.33 Triads = 20-17-17

Let's pretend that we are holding a dream Kentucky Derby Season. All 4 of these guys are 2 years old and just beginning their careers together and all 4 have been put onto the Derby trail by their connections. From 6f all the way up to 8.5f, Code of Honor would most likely never post a win against any one of those guys. The three speedsters would post 100+ beyers along the way. Code of Honor may grab a 2nd or a third at one point by sheer luck and maybe he'd tackle the last 9f prep race to gain his points for a gate.

Now, all 4 guys are entered into the Special Four Entry Kentucky Derby. Runhappy, Liam's Map and Jackson Bend are standouts on that PP sheet over Code of Honor because their wins, their performances and their beyers were top notch and untouchable on the Derby Trail. They are the hotshots that everyone is talking about around the racing sites and Code is ignored. Most likely, Runhappy is installed as the favorite and Code of Honor is lucky if he is 15-1 among the group. Now, go back to the list and look at the mare's speed/stamina numbers of each of those 4 colts straight down the line.

Who wins the 4 contender 10f Derby?

The stamina of Code of Honor demolishes them. The reason why is because no matter how much speed a horse has displayed, no matter how many wins he posted along the shorter distances of the Derby Trail, and no matter how high those beyer figures go, these speed guys will run incredibly fast, up front and close to the lead, just like they always did along the way and then they will shut down before the final turn. This is easily read directly through the mare inheritance. Lack of stamina in that mare balance makes them unable to sustain their fierce speed the full 10f distance. Again, the numbers never lie. It's there in black and white and quite easy to read with just a quick glance. The mares numbers are everything when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. No beyer or timeform figure will get the colt around the full 10f track. Only inheritance will.

The stamina category must be pitted against the speed category, Horse for Horse. It is always Speed vs Stamina. One side gains the glory based on what the other category is bred with.

Let's add one more horse to that small fake field. How about if we throw Good Magic in there?


DP = 6-6-10-0-0 (22) DI = 3.40 CD = 0.82

Mare Profile = 4-7-2-10-8 Speed = 11 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.61 Triads = 13-19-20

Look at Good Magic's mare's speed/stamina balance. Chances are, the over the top mare stamina that Good Magic was blessed with in conjunction with his chef 3.40 speedy index, would gain the upper hand. Code would have to settle for second. The other three guys would inevitably trail at the final turn or just plain give in even though they were "faster" horses. Good Magic has the 10f based on the balance of his mare's inheritance which leans all the way over to the stamina side.

That exercise may have seemed easy and may be a bit silly but that is exactly how easy it truly is when you consult the breeding and the numbers. It is easy, after the fact, when you know, based on the eventual careers of those three speedsters just what types of distances they thrive at. It is easy, after the fact, to know a sprinter or a miler after they retire just by looking at their resume.

Believe it or not, it is also that easy to know this beforehand if, and only if, you consult the setups of their chef and mare breeding.

The numbers do not lie. Ninety percent of the time, a horse will run directly in line with his numbers. It is hard for me personally, to fathom, how most handicappers never look at these numbers and blindly bet a 10f race without any way of knowing if the horse is bred to go the distance and simply base their bets on how fast he was in his early career. (Or even worse, base it all directly on their immediate sire's resume). I assume that he may rely on the talk on websites across the internet or possibly, the thought never even occurred to him. If those 4 horses (Good Magic aside) ran a 10f race together on the 1st Saturday in May when they were three years old, money would be spread all over that board and Code of Honor would most likely be the longshot. Now that you know that those 3 other guys could never, would never, win a 10f Kentucky Derby against a field of 20 (because they are milers), the same scenario will occur in every Derby going forward. Speedsters, Sprinters and Milers will be entered in every Derby because they won their shorter Derby preps with great ease and with very high beyers and the stamina guys will capitalize. It is our job to know those pretenders before the bell rings. Speed vs. Stamina. If the distance is not there in the speed category, then stamina will prevail.

The trick to handicapping the stamina category lies more with handicapping the SPEED CATEGORY than anything else. If the speed category entries do not correspond to the 10f, the stamina guys will capitalize every single time.

The next important aspect correlates to that Midrange category but to a higher degree. A stamina horse is just what he is, dominant in longer distances with a lack of speed inheritance which keeps that balance tilted towards his stamina. Common sense. Fast quick stamina guys who win or compete easily on speed biased tracks along the way become standouts. In other words, if a true stamina guy can beat up on his advantaged opponents while they are running at the speed guys advantaged distance and advantage on the track due to the bias, then you really know the stamina guy is a serious beast.

Big Brown

Stamina guys who win 6f maiden races are standouts. Stamina guys who throw extremely fast short workouts are standouts. Basically, they lack in that short quick speed inheritance so when they present it, it tells you that as fast as this guy is, he has everything inbred in him to sustain it as long as the track goes. These guys are rare. Gun Runner, Code of Honor, Thunder Snow, Shared Belief, Nadal, Mendelsson, Toast of New York, Animal Kingdom, etc. Competitive early. Racking wins along the way. They don't stop. They keep going.

And then, the tell-tale sign for a stamina player in the Kentucky Derby. Believe it or not - it is MORE STAMINA. The greater the stamina inheritance, the more packed that it is, the better. Consider the fact (prior to Covid shutdowns) that the high energy and excitement in the air during a live Derby Day takes its toll before the bell even goes off. It affects these horses and their nerves are tested to the extreme. They have never experienced the noise and the palpable atmosphere quite like that and it affects them. They get nervous, they sweat, basically, they expend precious energy. Consider the affect on a speed guy vs the affect on a stamina guy. If one can get 10f and one can get 11f and that excitement takes some of the wind out of them, which one capitalizes? Which one runs like a madman out of the gate and expends too much of their stamina early on in the race? It could turn a 10f runner into a 9.5f runner for that one day. You may not notice it, but it happens. It happens every year. A speed guy can not afford to lose any of that stamina energy because he will lose that ending thunder way before the stretch. A stamina guy will capitalize off of that every time.


The more stamina the better for horses with a chef index under 2.00. No matter what conditions he is faced with, if he gets caught 7 wide on a turn, if he has to run from the back of the pack after getting bumped or pinned, if he has to run from rail to the far outside and back again, he will have the stamina to do it. A speed horse cannot afford to do any of that no matter how fast or how great he is. Most likely, the speed horse is just going to hit that 10f by the skin of his teeth and he can't take on an extra 100 feet or so. The stamina guy will always hold the advantage in that setting, therefore extra stamina top and bottom will always benefit him even stronger and it will pinpoint the player against the pretenders within that stamina category.

To reiterate, the Stamina Derby Monsters will hold these attributes:

  1. The ability to beat speedsters along the trail.

  2. Those who run closer to the front of the pack is a bonus (but not necessary)

  3. Extremely high Chef points total, about 36 or above is always an advantage.

  4. Speed category lacks with Mare Stamina Configurations.

  5. Extreme Stamina across the board, top and bottom. Brilliant numbers remain low so as not to water down the stamina. This actually makes the horse stand out even more because if he is beating speed along the trail, he is running on his own merit, running through his numbers. Low inheritance of speed adds to the purity of his stamina and keeps him tilted to that stamina extreme in his balance. The more the better.

  6. Applies to both winners and board hitters.

Lets look at the last Four Derby Stamina Winners (Index under 2.00)

2011 Animal Kingdom

DP = 2-0-6-0-0 (8) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.50

Mare Profile = 3-4-5-11-6 Speed = 7 Stamina = 17 Index = 0.54 Triads = 12-20-22

Four races prior to the Derby. Took 1st and 2nd in all of them. Demolished speed along the way. Extremely low speed inheritance as seen in the first slot (brilliant) (and second slot, intermediate too) in both the chef and the mares profiles. 10 point spread in the mares balance leaning heavily to stamina. Mares have a low 7 speed points. Triads are completely dominant on the stamina end. Lead speed of the Derby gate, Shackleford, lacked in mare stamina from the speed category. Speed Demon, Dialed In, the favorite, also lacking in mare stamina put Animal Kingdom on the top as far as advantage due to the lack of speedy superstars packing the necessary mare stamina to compete at the distance. Stamina prevails.

2008 Big Brown

DP = 4-7-23-2-0 (36) DI = 1.67 CD = 0.36

Mare Profile = 5-6-5-10-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.84 Triads = 16-21-20

Controversies aside, this stamina horse went undefeated prior to the Derby. No speed horse could beat him. Packing 36 total points from his chefs. 23 dominant points in the chefs classic slot. Extreme stamina both top and bottom. Low speed balance number and triads totally lopsided to the extreme stamina end. Style of running closer to the front of the pack. Lead speed that day had no chance at the distance, plus, no speed horse ever beat him when he was at a disadvantage in those earlier races, so they surely wouldn't beat him when he finally held that advantage going longer and closer to his optimum.

2003 Funny Cide

DP = 7-2-11-3-1 (24) DI = 1.53 CD = 0.46

Mare Profile = 5-5-1-11-6 Speed = 10 Stamina = 17 Index = 0.67 Triads = 11-17-18

Familiar extreme stamina from the mares with a low 10 in speed and a large 17 in stamina. The balance tilts so far over to the left in those triads. Had 6 races prior to the Derby and hit first and second in 5 of them. Won at 6f, 7f and 8f beating up on his speed opponents with an incredible disadvantage due to that extreme stamina inheritance and lack of speed attributes. A total standout in his younger days leading up to the Derby. Again, just like the others, now with an advantage of his own going into a 10f race, with a running style up close to the lead, he had everything he needed to win that race. Displayed speed - perfect running style - and the stamina to sustain that high cruising speed as long as he wanted against tiring speed demons.

2001 Monarchos

DP = 2-2-13-1-0 (18) DI = 1.40 CD = 0.28

Mare Profile = 4-3-6-7-5 Speed = 7 Stamina = 12 Index = 0.74 Triads = 13-16-18

Extreme stamina from the chefs with a low 2 points in both the brilliant and intermediate slots, high dominance in the Classic slot (10,11,12f) and a very low chef CD screams extreme stamina on top. Low 7 points in speed below the higher 12 stamina points, low mare index and although the triads are not as packed they still show a low 13 points in speed vs a much higher 18 points in extreme stamina. The horse was 95% stamina and he ran in any position he felt like. Sometimes up with lead and sometimes way in the back. His Florida Derby win was one of the best performances ever in that race and the way he ran, he displayed that never-ceasing stamina of his. In the Derby, the lead horses faltered terribly with their under-par mare stamina inheritance and with a 22.25 opening quarter, Monarchos took his strong stamina advantage and demolished that field.

A stamina horse (index under 2.00) will always have an advantage with the distance based on his competitors lacking at the 10f distance. He will gain the advantage over those who react adversely to the crowd, the excitement, and expend energy even before the bell rings. Stamina guys may or may not be the fastest on the field but they do have one thing that makes them "recipients of advantage" by default. They have the stamina, regardless of circumstances, regardless of positioning, regardless of getting pushed 5 wide around the track. They can keep going, so the more stamina he is holding will always get him around that track with greater ease no matter what transpires. His stamina must remain pure and not get watered down from any stronger inbred speed influence. If he showed serious speed consistently and was able to run closer up front (midpack or higher) he will continue at a pace that will never hit a wall at 10f.

Stamina horses thrive on a clean track and they have a great deal of trouble on a sloppy track. Speed thrives on a sloppy track so if the stamina horse is going to have any success on a sloppy track, at least onto the board somewhere, he must have some speed inheritance showing up in his triads (first slot) along with a complete abundance of stamina across the board. Points total over 36 helps a great deal as well, rain or shine.

In a nutshell, all three categories, Speed - MidRange - Stamina basically all hold the same criteria. Display of serious speed along the trail with the mare stamina inheritance to sustain it the full 10f. The configurations will present themselves. After all is said and done, a speed horse is inbred with that speed, he will run to those numbers early on. Midrange and Stamina horses will display natural speed contrary to the breeding. Then it is all a matter of determining how much stamina they inherited to carry that speed the distance.

The bottom line is EXTREME DISPLAYED SPEED + EXTREME INBRED MARE STAMINA = DERBY QUALITY no matter what category the colt falls into.


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