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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Epicenter vs. Messier

The 10f Battle between Speed vs. Stamina

The Kentucky Derby has always been a race of competition between speed and stamina and only the best succeeds. When looking at these two separate sides though, they actually come together as one.

A Speed driven colt must have full stamina endurance for the 10f.

A Stamina driven colt must have inbred or displayed speed along the way.

They are basically one and the same. Equal parts of speed and stamina but one side coming from the chefs and vice versa.

Enter Messier and Epicenter.


DP = 12-12-14-0-2 (40) DI = 3.44 CD = 0.80

Mare Profile = 7-4-1-8-8 Speed = 11 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.76 Triads = 12-13-17


DP = 0-0-9-1-2 (12) DI = 0.60 CD = -0.42

Mare Profile = 1-10-5-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 0.74 Triads = 16-23-18

One speed driven colt and one stamina driven colt, both on or near the lead and both with enough speed and stamina to reign supreme for the roses. On the one side, common sense would suggest that Epicenter has the upper-hand. He is revealing astronomical early speed, with a running style that would seem to give him the highest advantage with respect to his inbred stamina capability with his position.

On the other hand, the inbred speed inheritance handed to Messier outweighs Epicenter’s along with an advantage based on the loaded configurations of his profile. Both colts have exactly what it takes to be the victor in this race and both colts have shown their extraordinary talent with what they received in their chart.

In the past, we have been confronted with this exact same dilemma, both with a loaded profile vs stamina and also with just plain speed vs. stamina. In most every case, speed or the loaded profile, regardless of leaning has prevailed.

Messier is holding both sides of the coin.

Messier’s advantage over the talent of Epicenter is apparent when it comes to the history of the Kentucky Derby and his advantage skyrockets even higher on a sloppy track. Between the 40 points in his profile and the 3.44 speed index, Messier appears to have a complete upper-hand over his main competitor.

I am sure that I am not alone with thinking that this situation with Baffert’s highly advantaged horse gaining entry into the Derby is despicable on every level. Baffert’s former assistant now the “trainer in name only” does not remove Baffert from the Churchill track by any stretch of the imagination. This has transparently been in the works for a while and only implemented when the disgraced trainer lost his bid for a stay. I am sure that I am not alone as well in not wanting to see this horse anywhere near that finish line on Derby Day. This is nothing against the innocent talented horse. It is against this criminal trainer who doesn't deserve this horse in the first place.

Do we have any hope? We sure as hell do.

Enter Forbidden Kingdom.

(She types with a very large smile on her face!)

The irony of it all is truly spectacular and it makes for a very good story line for a novel based on a ruthless trainer who gets burned badly by his own greed. Yes, Forbidden Kingdom. The son of American Pharoah. The very horse who gave Bob Baffert his Triple Crown win. The sprinter who traveled 12f wire to wire in the Belmont Stakes against his chart. I love the entire backdrop going into the 2022 Derby and the revenge for the death of Medina Spirit is looking better and better every day.

Forbidden Kingdom is a very fast horse and bred very well to give Messier a run for his money in the Santa Anita Derby. Regardless of who prevails in the race makes no difference. They should easily run one-two and both will secure their gates with enough points.

Forbidden Kingdom, Messier and Epicenter are the fastest out of the gate out of the entire crop this year. The opening ¼ should be very fast, especially between Messier and the son of Pharoah. Epicenter can run off the pace if he wants and hopefully he does just that. Baffert’s Messier will be entangled with the crazy speed of Forbidden Kingdom and his stamina will be tested to the extreme.

But who is sitting just off of those speed-driven monsters? The one with remarkable stamina, killer speed, perfect positioning and an unimpeded view of the finish-line – EPICENTER.

Baffert’s retired speedster, American Pharoah, could ultimately be the cause of his demise in the 2022 Derby and it is so fitting. Unfortunately for Mandella, his gifted and talented runner, Forbidden Kingdom, is not equipped with enough stamina to sustain his incredible speed the entire 10f and this horse could potentially be the key that sees Epicenter crossing that finish line first.

A lead speed duel between Forbidden Kingdom and Messier will hand the race to one who has the distance blind-folded, one who has performed perfectly and consistently and one who positions himself with an advantage in the Derby, running up with the top tier. If Forbidden Kingdom runs exactly as his breeding states, he will sprint out of that gate and he will take Messier with him. And even if Epicenter joins that duel, he is the one who is holding 12.2f capability. He is the one who has the inbred stamina. He is the one who takes the advantage.

The next scenario is a sloppy track on a rainy day. Messier’s advantage is undeniably high with that packed profile and Forbidden Kingdom will gain extra lengths. (So too will White Abbario and Morello.) With the addition of the extra lengths, Forbidden Kingdom does have the potential to grab a slight piece, however, his effect could still work against Messier in the same way, regardless of weather.

We have a few things to hold on to:

  1. Epicenter won his 8f maiden traveling wire to wire by 3.5 lengths at Churchill Downs.

  2. Epicenter’s sire, Not this Time, (another stamina driven colt), came from far off the pace on a sloppy muddy track in the 2016 Iroquois Stakes and demolished that field by 8-3/4 lengths.

  3. Epicenter’s style of running is contradictory to his breeding and his outward speed against that breeding is extremely rare. This horse does not follow the “normal traits” of a full blown stamina horse.

  4. One of the most advantaged spots as of late, sun or rain, is a colt who is sitting at the very bottom of the stamina spectrum. That title belongs to Epicenter.

  5. Even on a sloppy track, the first argument still applies.

The fact that seasoned gamblers and the general betting public will put all their faith and betting dollars onto the "Baffert magic" with Messier and also with the presence of one of Baffert's previous souped up speed demons, American Pharoah, is just too perfect to be overlooked and worth every penny of a gamble on it. This is not to say that we don't cover ourselves, but it is saying that the possibility is a very realistic outcome. It is not out of pure hatred of Bob Baffert that I wish this to happen. It is the reality of breeding charts and of an un-altered horse competing at a distance that is not corresponding to the race. It is how these horses are built, how they have performed, their beyers, their pace and their style. (This of course, regardless of the outcome in the Louisiana Derby or the Santa Anita Derby, we are talking about the 10f Kentucky Derby. Two totally separate distances and two totally different scenarios.)

Forbidden Kingdom is a monster of a horse but his chart presents a "distance sprinter" capable of 9 to 9.5f furlongs. He is not a 10f+ runner. He must get into one of those Derby gates regardless of the outcome in the Santa Anita Derby. A clear track is ideal but a sloppy track could still see the same outcome. Could this all be wishful thinking? Maybe, but there is absolutely clear evidence of these possible scenarios both in the charts and the numbers and the past performances of all respective players. There is no doubt that Messier is a beast with killer configurations for the Derby but if he is sent with Forbidden Kingdom's speed early, it could yield in a greater advantage for Epicenter. Epicenter is the one with the clear-cut killer stamina that is not present in Forbidden Kingdom's chart.

What really puts the cherry on top is the fact that we will be able to gauge how these dynamics could possibly play out because both Forbidden Kingdom and Messier will give us a very nice preview of it all in the Santa Anita Derby. It couldn't have been set-up any better. We will see who beats who to the lead. We will see the early pace figures of both. We will see what transpires at the top of the stretch. We can get a very good insight with the final call figures and we can project all of it to the 10f. One prep race gives us the answers and hopefully it reveals both competitors winding down late.

Both sires, American Pharoah and Not this Time, will have a huge say in how well Empire Maker's son Messier can withstand the early sprinting and the ending thunder in the 2022 Kentucky Derby. In the rain, Messier's advantage soars, but the impending duel still has a shot to curtail it.

American Pharoah could ultimately be the one who comes back to bite Baffert right in his ass - at just the right time. The irony of it all is the perfect revenge. From this website straight to the racing gods ears.


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