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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Determining 10f Potential - The Speed/Stamina Balance

In order to determine whether a colt has an advantage in the Kentucky Derby or any particular race for that matter, you must determine what his balance is and how it relates to the parameters of the race. The following is a quote taken directly from an article posted on Horse Racing Nation in relation to how to find a Derby Winner:

“Pedigree: Does he have a classic pedigree, and more important, is he built like a sprinter/miler or a two-turn horse? Miler sires get either sprinters or stayers, depending on the mare. If your Derby horse is by a miler stallion, make sure there is stamina through his female family. Conversely, if stamina is a little light on the dam's side, the sire must have a stamina-oriented pedigree or previous winners at 1 1/4 miles.”

I’ll give an A for effort but that quote is 101% incorrect.

In order to determine if a colt is a player in the Kentucky Derby (or any other 10f race) in specific order:

1. The balance found from the colt’s chefs.

2. The balance found from the mares (reines).

3. The Combination of the two.

4. Additional consideration of the Prominent Non-Chefs.

5. Slight consideration of the Immediate Sire and Grand-sire (especially if he is a listed chef) and how he relates to the colt both with HIS OWN inheritance vs his OWN performances.

6. Early performances compared against the stated numbers in order to judge the starting point and whether he is running true to his numbers, better than his numbers or short of his numbers.

The sire’s past performances alone and the distances that the immediate sire conquered has absolutely nothing at all to do with the new colt. Unless the sire mated with his mother (which is a ridiculous proposition), each of the said sire’s offspring will have completely different influences that contribute to their configurations from the bottom of his chart. In some cases, the colt will have more speed in him than his sire (like Classic Empire), in other cases, more stamina than his sire (like Knicks Go). He will only be pulling half of his inheritance through his sire on the top of the chart and it will also skip a generation. The bottom of the chart is equally important and produces a completely different animal.

A sire will produce AVERAGE WINNING DISTANCES with his offspring. The word AVERAGE is the operative word. Some gain further, some gain less, hence, an average is born. These distances run the gamut within a single sire’s offspring because these offspring all have different contributors on the bottom of their chart. You must understand the balance of the colt’s inheritance within his OWN chart and nothing else. If you consult only the sire and his credentials, you will lose every time. This will not tell you what the specific colt actually inherited. Ever.

His Majesty - Chef

Since everything revolves around speed as the main component, common sense would dictate that a young colt who was blessed with an inheritance packed in speed would dominate his shorter races. As the distances increase, a determination needs to be made on how far he will be able to preserve that speed and continue on. If he cannot sustain that speed the given distance, then stamina will become the advantaged party. That stamina driven colt also requires speed against his opponents in the late stages of the race. It is a give and take, a fine line of precision between the details within the speed/stamina balance that brings them all to the center. Where they fall on that center line is the BALANCE.

As with all things related to handicapping, everything revolves around common sense. In its most simplistic form, speed wins races. From 5.5f all the way up to 12f, the fastest horse will always win the race. Therefore, balance always begins with speed. As the races progress in distance, a certain amount of stamina is essential in order for the colt to sustain that speed throughout each of the calls.

It is important to understand the equivalent of both sides. Again, in its simplest form, a speed horse will also carry stamina. A stamina horse will also carry speed. If you picture a vintage scale, with speed on the left side tray and stamina sitting on the right side tray, many times that balance between both sides rests absolutely perfectly straight in the air. Equal and balanced on both sides regardless of their title “speed-driven” or “stamina-driven”. The chefs given them their initial title – the mares tilt their balance towards the center. Sometimes it tilts down or weighs heavier on the speed side, and sometimes it weighs heavier on the stamina side. Either way, this scale works the same on both sides, which means a stamina horse who is sporting a 1.00+ index could be sitting with the exact same amount of speed as the one who has a 3.00+ index and visa versa. This scale is how you determine the colts balance and how you determine if the colt is a player for the Kentucky Derby.

At some point, any given obvious speed colt will either hit a wall or he will continue to the end. When you are handicapping a specific race, the lead and stalk players (E and EP) should be your main concentration from the beginning. If these players are “speed” guys, you must determine his ability to keep pace during the final call. If he is a “stamina” guy, you must determine what his speed outlook will be during the final call. This will aid you in determining whether or not one coming from the back has an advantage to overtake them based on his balance as well.

You must also look at inherited speed vs displayed speed to determine his true potential and his ability to run to his numbers, run through his numbers or if he wants no parts of his numbers. Everything feeds off the other.

A.P Indy - Chef

Most times, a colt will run directly in line with his numbers (Honor Code comes to mind here) both in terms of distance capability and also with his running style. The early performances will allow you to gauge style against configurations, distance potential against the combinations and whether or not the colt is even capable of using his inheritance. There are times when a horse completely exceeds his chart based on his early performances and this is when you grab hold of a monster who will pay you along the way (Bernardini comes to mind here). On the flip side, if you know what the potential SHOULD be and the horse is not showing it early on, he becomes a dud (Powerful comes to mind here). Honor Code, Bernardini and Powerful were all sons of A.P. Indy and each one had separate distance capabilities and separate BALANCES based on the chefs and reines found on the bottom of their charts. A.P. Indy was a pipeline of certain contributors – BUT NOT ALL OF THE CONTRIBUTERS. This is why all three had separate optimums and separate balances – hence, they had different careers.

There are three components when it comes to balance. The first is what balance the colt is holding. The second is what balance is necessary for the distance of the given race. The third is how the colt’s potential adverse balance affects another’s heightened advantage.

As of late, for the Kentucky Derby, a colt’s balance that is tilted slightly HEAVIER on the SPEED SIDE has been advantaged. It is different for the Belmont Stakes. For the Belmont, we want COMPLETELY BALANCED on both sides of the see-saw. For the Derby, it is all about excessive speed inheritance or DISPLAYED speed with enough stamina to continue. The Kentucky Derby produces winners who have an excess of speed and strong stamina qualities which usually come from the mares but not in every instance. As they mature, this excess is not as imperative, but it sure does help on certain tracks when it comes to the bias.

We will take these steps one by one and in order with a Derby Prep winner who is on his way on the road to the 2022 Derby. This will illustrate how the use of the numbers will pinpoint how a colt will potentially perform moving forward and through to his gate in Kentucky.


Step One: The Chefs

DP = 2-6-5-2-1 (16) DI = 1.91 CD = 0.38

Smile Happy would be considered a stamina driven colt based on the 1.91 index. His center of distribution is .38 which is below the Center on the stamina side. The index and CD comes from mixing all of the inherited ingredients from his time tested and listed sires from both the top of his chart and the bottom of his chart. The scale is heavier on the stamina side which will tilt and lean all the way over on the right – but NOT all the way down to the ground. The .38 CD is very low which serves up more than enough stamina inheritance from the chefs in his chart to travel up to 9.5f.

Still analyzing the chefs, the profile depicts 10.5 points on the speed wing (the first two numbers plus half of the center) and 5.5 points on the stamina side. THESE NUMBERS will not affect the scale balance when it comes to the chefs. This will give you information about the speed capacity within the colt from his elite sires alone. Nine times out of 10, most every colt bred in the USA will have more points on his speed side than his stamina side and this will not affect the distribution of his balance. The fact that Smile Happy has double speed inheritance over stamina in the numbers coupled with a low .38 CD is excellent. He has displayed that speed so far. His style of running is in line with the low chef stamina index and low CD. As of right now, we can conclude that Smile Happy is running in line with his chef’s inheritance very well which means he appears to be capable of utilizing that inheritance (from the chefs) and we can handicap confidently moving forward. But more steps need to be added.

Graustark - Chef

Smile Happy’s chef-inherited distance is the STARTING POINT. This stated distance will rise or fall based on the addition of the next steps. This distance has nothing at all to do with Smile Happy’s immediate sire Runhappy. They are two separate charts with two separate sets of influences. The distance shown from the chef’s alone is the first step and everything follows from there. We will either be adding more speed into the mix or more stamina and that scale will continue to tilt up or down based on the next steps.

Without looking into the mares yet, common sense would dictate that we would need to add much more speed ingredients to the chef’s numbers and a bit more stamina to get him more balanced and closer to that 10f distance. For the Derby, speed is the main ingredient, with the ability to sustain that speed the 10f. Speed wins races. For a stamina-laden 1.91 colt, both the balance and DISPLAYED SPEED in his early performances need to be present.

A 1.91 horse cannot let his stamina water down or overtake any of his inherited speed. Before the additions and the next steps, you must consult a previous performance to even gauge if this even possible with the particular horse. In Smile Happy’s case, winning two 8.5f races against speedsters is evidence enough. He is capable of utilizing any speed inheritance and he is running true to his numbers.

Step Two: The Reines (listed Mares)

Mare Profile = 7-4-1-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.00 Triads = 12-13-14

For Smile Happy as he relates to the Derby, he still needs additional stamina from his mares without compromising his speed. That scale needs to be weighted a bit further down on the stamina side but we also would prefer to have additional important speed thrown on there as well. It is a fine line for the Derby.

First we look at the Index. Mare’s numbers are read differently than the chefs. A mare’s index is very different than the chefs. Approximately .90 leans to speed and every digit it rises from that .90 tilts the MARES BALANCE favoring speed but we still need to fold in the additional stamina as well. Numbers allow you to easily calculate exactly what gets added. In Smile Happy’s case, the chefs offer him a dominance in stamina inheritance as depicted by his 1.91 index. A mix of additional stamina would need to be dumped onto the tray of that scale to get him the 10f - BUT he also requires a good balance of both sides to compete, especially for the Derby. Too much stamina is not good for the Kentucky Derby, it would have a tendency to over-power his speed or water it down. He needs just enough to get over that 10f hump. Even if a colt has the 10f in him or even 11f or 12f, if he doesn’t have the speed within himself, or shown and displayed speed, he is not winning the Derby. It is all about speed and a nice balance to get him passed the wire.

In order to get a proper reading, you must calculate the CD of the mares numbers. They are absent from the listed line, so this step must be done. This is the step that I have added to base specific optimums and combinations in order to take everything to the next level in determining the colt’s distance capability. From Smile Happy’s listed Reines, the CD calculates to exactly 0.00. His CD from the mares is even lower (thankfully) from his chefs. A CD of 0.00 translates to 11f capability – FROM THE MARES ALONE. The next step brings us closer to Smile Happy’s potential at the Derby Distance. He either has it or he doesn’t

STEP THREE - The Combination of the two.

In keeping with the phenomenal practices of the greatest breeder of all time, Federico Tesio, who stated that a colt is made up of 60% of the sires and 40% of the mares, and in trying to correspond those ideas here in America, I have tweaked those percentages in recent years for a couple of reasons. I believe that the percentages here in our country should be closer to 50-50.

One, we are in the United States, not overseas. Breeding here is speed-oriented through the sires. Over the years, long passed the time when the great breeder was mating stamina-driven colts, things have switched gears here in the States. Dosage Indexes have risen over the decades so compensation is in order. Two, after much research in gauging the winners of graded stakes races at different distances with their numbers, and with the change over to speed-driven colts in the breeding shed, I have come to the conclusion that the influences are much closer to 50-50 than 60-40 on this side of the ocean. When analyzing overseas colts, I would stick with the 60-40.

Smile Happy’s

Chef CD = 0.38 (distance capability of 9.5f)

Mare’s CD = 0.00 (distance capability of 11f),

50-50 Combined CD = 0.19

That combined CD translates to a POTENTIAL of 10.25f through the inheritance of all of the elite sires and reines within his chart. But we still have 3 more steps to go. Smile Happy has the Derby Distance through the inheritance of his FULL CHART which includes the first 4 generations of the every chefs found in that chart and every reine in his chart. Not one was left out and not one over-powered any consideration. Full and Complete Inclusion of them all.

But we are not finished yet. For Smile Happy, it would be even better for the Derby if we could dump some extra speed influence to get him even more balanced and closer to what is necessary to be competitive in the Derby. This leads us to Step #4.

STEP FOUR: Prominent Non-Chefs

In Smile Happy’s case, up to step three, we still would like more speed thrown into the mix when it comes to the Derby. We can see easily that he has the Derby distance through his chefs and mares but at this point in the process we would like him to be able to compete alongside the speed-driven colts who will be installed in the Derby gate with him. Judging by his displayed speed so far, we should be confident in his ability but it is even better to see the evidence of true capability coming directly from his chart. Unfortunately, Smile Happy does not hold any listed Prominent non-chefs in the first 4 generations of his chart. If there were, we would have tilted that scale in correspondence to the additions, be it loaded on the speed side or the stamina side. Nothing here in his chart. Step Four is over, so we move to the final step of manipulating the scale which is simply a bit of icing on the cake and should be looked at in that manner. This is THE LEAST IMPORTANT step of the exercise but still should always be considered.

STEP FIVE: Immediate Sire and Grand-Sire

Runhappy and Supersaver

The furthest winning distance of the speedy Runhappy was 8f. This fact has nothing to do with Smile Happy’s future on the track or his limitations in distance or his own chart. If you did not take the time to look at steps 1 through 4, you would have no idea that Smile Happy is completely opposite of his immediate sire in terms of distance potential. Their numbers, as well, are completely opposite and their respective individual scales couldn’t be any more different.

Sire - Runhappy

Chefs: DP = 5-6-8-1-0 (20) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 8-5-3-6-7 Speed = 13 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.04 Triads = 16-14-16

Runhappy was a speed-driven 3.00 index colt with a speed-driven 1.04 mare index. All speed with even balance from his mares. Mares CD calculates to 0.03 and Chef’s CD at 0.75.

Combined CD of 0.41. Optimum inherited distance capability of 9.3f. The numbers never lie and most every colt will run directly in line with his stated balance and his stated chart. (Baffert clones aside)

The only TRUE USE of his immediate sire when gauging the distance capability and necessary speed needed to compete in the Derby is adding in any potential leanings of the sire’s qualities and the sire’s numbers. For Smile Happy, we could assume that he will gain additional SPEED capability from this particular sire. We cannot rely on it because Runhappy is not a listed chef, however, we can assume that the POTENTIAL of a first generation sire will leave some type of a mark.

For example, if Smile Happy’s sire were Animal Kingdom, who had a combined CD of negative .20 and a combined distance capability of 11.8f - we would tilt the scale and weight it with more stamina. Since it is Runhappy with his 9.3f distance capability, we can drop the additional weight on his speed side, which is EXACTLY what Smile Happy needs to continue to get him more balanced.

GrandSire - Supersaver

DP = 7-7-14-0-0 (28) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 8-4-3-4-10 Speed = 12 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.85 Triads = 15-11-17

Supersaver was a speed-driven 3.00 index colt with a stamina driven .85 mare index. His ability to conquer the 10f distance came from his mares and he was well advantaged from his chefs on that sloppy track which gave him additional lengths in the Derby. Just because Supersaver had the ability to sustain his speed the 10f of the Derby held zero correlation with regards to his son Runhappy other than adding additional speed potential with a bit more stamina onto his scale. And so it goes with every sire. They are a mild addition, not the full basis.

For Smile Happy, we can tack on more weight to the speed side from Supersaver’s dominate speed (3.00) and a tiny bit of additional stamina (Supersaver’s .85 mare index)

STEP SIX: Gauging Performances with his POTENTIAL in breeding

Close to perfectly balanced on both the speed side and the stamina side, with a slight edge to the stamina side. Smile Happy is running directly in line with his chart, utilizing every bit of it and revealing his dominant leaning in his running style. Running two for two below his optimum reveals that he is DISPLAYING his inherited speed side and that he can capture his dominant stamina side (his running style). He is perfectly aligning with his chart, his balance and his inheritance. He is not a miler like his father. His is not limited to his sire’s past performances. He is not limited to the average winning distances of his sire’s off-spring. He is a product of his ENTIRE CHART. He has the potential to run 10.25f to 10.4f with great ease. Very well aligned within his chart for the Kentucky Derby.

As you can see, the process of figuring out whether or not a colt has the inheritance within himself to get the 10f distance is a little bit more involved than basing it on an Immediate sire or anything that revolves around the immediate sire to any major degree. He is a small add-in, close to an overblown after thought.

If you base your judgement on the immediate sire alone, you will get scorched every time and you should simply throw your betting dollars directly into the trash. A colt is made up of a combination of the passed down inherited traits and optimums from the combined chefs and mares in his FULL CHART – Not his sire’s chart, not just the top of his chart and not simply his 1st generation. He is not a product of his sires past performances, nor is he limited to the sire’s winning distances or to the Average Winning Distances of his offspring. He could fall on that scale above that average or below that average. The numbers never lie.

Stick with Federico Tesio and Dr. Steven Roman. I promise you; they couldn’t steer you wrong.


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