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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Feb. 2023 - The Year of the Flip Flop, Dirty Horse Dozen

What a difference between last year and this year. By this time last year, Epicenter was the undisputed champ for the Derby, rolling out magnificent performances and showing off his raw ability on both sides of the scale.

The problem with this year began during the two year old early campaigns and has not recovered since. Not in my mind, anyway. Maybe other factors are at play as well.

It started with two severely built, potential monster two year old's, who set the "standard" immediately. For me personally, it has yet to recover from their early presence. None have come along that compare and it has truly affected my outlook on this year's contenders.

The first was a 6.5f maiden winner at Churchill Downs, trained by Brad Cox. This horse beat a field of 12, stalking in 3rd position, shredding that field by 8.5 lengths. With his configurations, the effort was even more compelling than Epicenter's early races. In his second race at Keeneland, traveling 8.5f in a gate filled with 15 entries, this horse was the ONLY "speed" type to compete in that stretch with a determination that rivaled a young Simplification.

He lost by a neck to the highly regarded Forte and has not been seen since. When it comes to the Kentucky Derby, Loggins excels Forte by a mile as far as the perfect configurations linked with his 2 performances on two separate biases. Unfortunately, Loggins is now off the Trail.

The second horse stormed the scene with every quality that the Derby demands, revealing himself on October 13th, 2022. It was his solo Keeneland annihilation of that field. Extra Anejo traveling Gate to Wire at 7f with his configurations was the highlight of the 2022 two year olds and not one horse has come along to compare to his power, his talent, his breeding, nor his speed and stamina capabilities.

The epitome of perfection between Loggins and Extra Anejo at the very beginning set the precedence and it has yet to recover. Not one horse compares in the speed category nor the stamina category and I highly doubt that will ever change. There is only one explanation to this somewhat uninspiring early trail and the types of horses who are grabbing their spot on the Preps Winners List. Things do appear upside-down as of late, and advantages are being flipped almost on a weekly basis.

On record, the 2022-2023 winter weather pattern across the United States is on course to rival the mildest and "warmer than average" temperatures since 2006. The tracks are not "harder and frozen" as is normally the case at this time of year. They are wetter and muddier which is having its affect, in the same manner as it did in 2006.

As of the writing of this article, we have seen 21 USA prep races so far. Here is where we stand:

Speed category: Winners in the 3.10 and over category: 7 - 33.3%

Mid-range category: Winners in the 2.10 to 3.00 category: 14 - 66.6%

Stamina category: Winners in the 2.00 and under category: 0 - 0%

The category which is "normally" the most disadvantaged has taken over the Derby Trail to date. They have completely thrown it into a tail-spin. This is because of the mild weather conditions along with the increasing incremental distances, which has flipped the biases along with the advantages.

Along a "normal" Derby Trail, the speed category would dominate the list to date because of the milder temperatures in the early months of October, November, and into December, along with the shorter distances that they thrive in. It would then transition to the midrange category for a very short period as the distances grow a bit longer and the temperatures begin to fall, with slight affects to the tracks. Then, stamina begins to take full advantage with the onset of colder conditions, harder tracks and longer distances. That has not happened this year.

To put this into perspective, let's match these percentages with last year's outcomes during the same time period:

Winners in the 3.10 and over category: 9 - 42.8%

Winners in the 2.10 to 3.00 category: 7 - 33.3%

Winners in the 2.00 and under category: 5 - 23.8%

The percentages from the 2022 early prep trail (through to the month of February) represent a normal breakdown within the categories, with the stamina category beginning to gain its momentum, eventually becoming somewhat even with the speed category on through March. Not the case this year. Everything has flipped.

When you have 67% of the prep winners sitting in the most disadvantaged Derby category that it "usually" is, it is extremely hard to gauge how this will affect the starting gate. When it comes to the weather patterns that we are currently experiencing, it would seem rational that come the first week in May in Kentucky, the Churchill track may have not even needed a "thawing" period. This will put the speed category (with ample mare stamina) in the Driver's seat.

The 2023 Kentucky Derby may turn out to be one of the easiest editions to handicap or it will completely flip everything on its side. Looking at it from both sides through a microscope, at this point in time...


DP = 2-14-5-1-0 (22) DI = 5.29 CD = 0.77

Mare Profile = 6-3-3-9-6 Speed = 9 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.75 Triads = 12-15-18

With Newgate off the trail, I had to put the 13th on my list into the 12 spot here. These odd configurations scare me. Very high 5.29 with a very low CD and mare index gives him the distance. Training on a speedy track with the Baffert factor can't be overlooked.



DP = 6-6-11-1-0 (24) DI = 2.69 CD = 0.71

Mare Profile = 9-5-2-4-14 Speed = 14 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.74 Triads = 16-11-20

The only mid-range colt out of the 67% who reside on the Prep Winners list to make the Top 12 for February. His ability to display speed with these configurations on two different tracks makes him redeemable in this category for at least a shot at the board.



DP = 3-6-7-0-0 (16) DI = 3.57 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 5-6-6-6-9 Speed = 11 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.73 Triads = 17-18-21

Showed serious prowess on a sloppy track which validates his speed. Triads compliment that speed to a high degree for the 10f task. Needs to show up and do it again on a clean fast bias and he will be well on his way.



DP = 4-4-2-0-0 (10) DI = 9.00 CD = 1.20

Mare Profile = 6-4-6-11-3 Speed = 10 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.96 Triads = 16-21-20

Classic Empire colt with killer configurations has the upperhand on a wet track. He has done everything right so far on dirt and with the highest amount of inbred speed so far, he has every shot in following his sire to be competitive in the Derby. Mandaloun, Nyquist, Always Dreaming, etc type balance.



DP = 2-2-4-0-0 (8) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 7-4-2-13-8 Speed = 11 Stamina = 21 Index = 0.65 Triads = 13-19-23

Incredibly built horse who will pick up the pieces with or without a lead tier meltdown. His displayed speed against his immense amount of raw stamina is very note-worthy. Could be the twin of Country House.



DP = 1-4-3-0-0 (8) DI = 4.33 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 11-4-2-4-8 Speed = 15 Stamina = 12 Index = 1.27 Triads = 17-10-14 (2nd gen Tapit)

Tapit descendant who showed raw determination in the sloppy 9f Remsen and will thrive at the 10f with that 4.33 index. His second place in that race is meaningless when it comes to the Derby.



DP = 2-4-6-2-0 (14) DI = 1.80 CD = 0.43

Mare Profile = 9-2-7-8-5 Speed = 11 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.08 Triads = 18-17-20

Besides Extra Anejo, this is the only "stamina category" horse on the list and he has only posted winning Maiden and Allowance races at both Gulfstream and Tampa Bay. This horse is built like a steam engine for the Derby.



DP = 5-8-9-0-0 (22) DI = 3.89 CD = 0.82

Mare Profile = 10-4-4-10-5 Speed = 14 Stamina = 15 Index = 1.17 Triads = 18-18-19

His performance in the Risen Star on that "tougher" bias was a bit disheartening but not enough to justify loosing faith in these configurations for the Derby. Every horse may have an off day from time to time. He just can't do it again! He is extremely well configured for 10f at Churchill.



DP = 1-4-3-0-0 (8) DI = 4.33 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 5-7-7-8-2 Speed = 12 Stamina = 10 Index = 1.26 Triads = 19-22-17

Proven ability at Churchill along with displayed speed makes this 2nd gen Tapit boy a viable player in the Derby. Exceptional configurations with room for improvement as he slides up the distance scale. Not burning energy with over-exaggerated speedy wins is actually a very nice sign for the May race.



DP = 5-15-11-1-0 (32) DI = 3.92 CD = 0.75

Mare Profile = 10-6-1-7-7 Speed = 16 Stamina = 14 Index = 1.23 Triads = 17-14-15 (1st gen Tapit)

With 32 points, 1st generation Tapit with a 3.92 index, and the 2 performances on "harder biases" - one at Aqueduct and one on the Feb 18th yielding Gulfstream bias - this horse displayed his wicked speed and should be in a very good position to capitalize off of that scale. He will perform at an even greater level on a fast track - we haven't seen the best of him yet.



DP = 5-6-9-0-0 (20) DI = 3.44 CD = 0.80

Mare Profile = 3-5-3-9-7 Speed = 8 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.54 Triads = 11-17-19

With a 1st and a 2nd in his 6f maiden and the 7f San Vincente, Faustin is displaying powerful speed at those short distances on the slick Santa Anita bias. His stamina is through the roof and could only foreshadow monster performances as he progresses in distance. With the Churchill track most likely the speediest that it has been since 2006, this guy will have all the advantage he could ask for. Rain or Shine. Realistically, at this moment in time, Faustin is actually sitting in the Number One spot for the month of February because of Extra Anejo's (and Newgate's) absence.



DP = 1-2-6-5-0 (14) DI = 0.75 CD = -0.07

Mare Profile = 2-11-6-9-5 Speed = 13 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.84 Triads = 19-26-20

I am not ready to toss in the towel yet. This horse belongs in the Kentucky Derby and he belongs in the Winner's Circle. I will continue to check daily for a much anticipated workout. It must come in March. His maiden race defied logic, in the same exact manner that horses like Shared Belief, Algorithms, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid, etc. showed from the very beginning of their careers. I can't let him go yet.


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