With the Derby less than 50 days away, we are presented with quite a strange Leader Board so far. Each year at this time, there are usually several speedy contenders who shape the standings going forward. Many of them are easy reads and from the outset won their short early preps because of that speed they were holding. These are the type of runners who grab those 8f races and generally have no prayer at sustaining it traveling 10f. These guys hold very high chef indexes and lack in the mare inheritance to sustain. These are the very ones who are easily tossed and cut the 20 down to a more manageable handicapping exercise. Where are they?
As of today, 3/17/2019, our leader board list is not depicting anything close to years past in that regard. This dilemma ensures a much more difficult task because when presented with a list of contenders for a race such as this, the lower the chef’s indexes are, the further a horse can sustain his speed. At this point in the Derby prep season, we are looking at a field littered with strong contenders who have the balance to continue past that 9.5f mark. The luxury of tossing a few speed guys right off the bat does not look promising so far. Additionally, the luxury of tossing a good majority of the 2.00 to 2.90 mid-range guys come to an abrupt halt.
There looks to be no easy way of placing a line through most of these contenders based on optimum distance as is the usual case in past editions. In the past, at least 5 to 7 could easily come right off at the top, getting the field down to a more manageable puzzle as it pertained to only the breeding aspect. With this year’s set of apparent characters, every rule that has basically held in the past has been flipped.
Stamina guys are running exceptionally fast up with the pace. Mid-range colts are capitalizing on fast fractions coming from way out of it. Hot-shot speed contenders are nursing injuries or being shipped out of their comfort zones. Horses who seemed a lock to win based on their resumes are being confronted with power-house stamina horses. This is one heck of a ride this year, as rules and norms are buried in the dust.
There are still eleven more preps to go, eight of which are state-side. Alot will shift and change with the standings so there is no need to get overwhelmed at this point. What seems to be a hard-pressed set of leaders at this point is actually a very nice setup for us. Going forward with these higher end preps will only highlight any speed guys who happen to find their way into the Winners circle from now until the first Saturday in May. There will be a much greater chance that their ability to sustain the distance is a bit more concrete and because of the quality of stamina guys is over the top this year, they will definitely stand out much easier.
The Kentucky Derby is a race where common sense rules in the handicapping department. It all boils down to who can sustain his speed traveling the 10f distance and who can do it the fastest. No matter who posted the highest and fastest beyer along the way, he must be able to sustain that extra distance. This is why speed horses dominate in the Kentucky Derby year after year. If they have that mare stamina under their belt, we can see that they have the inherited speed from their chefs. They always dominate. It is also because many editions are run on a sloppy track and there too, they hold the advantage. When the field has no speed contenders with the proper amount of stamina, the advantage will fall to a lead type stamina colt.
On the flip side, the mid-range 2.10 to 2.90 guys are holding much more speed than the stamina colts, which opens up a whole field with potential. The key will be the mare’s contribution to their inherited speed capability. Remember, speed is the main ingredient to the Kentucky Derby. It is quite easy to ascertain who has the stamina to continue on after that 9.5f mark, it is harder to pinpoint the amount of inherited speed. The reason is because the will to win and the determination within the colt is not depicted in the numbers. It is our job to study that aspect and that must always be in consideration as well. Luck of the draw and luck within their position during the race is a factor with which we cannot handicap. This is why the Kentucky Derby stands alone as the golden trophy of Superfectas for us handicappers. Understanding and knowing a colts optimum distance is one thing, being able to see into a crystal ball to know if that colt gets trapped or steadied or bumped is never going to happen.
As of today, 3/17/2019, here is a list of the Top Ten Point Leaders and where they stand within the Speed/Stamina Balance. Out of the top ten point holders, there is only one contender with questionable numbers when pitted against the field (alone they are not bad, but against the field, they fall short). This is very unusual for this stage towards Derby Day.
THE SPEED GUYS:
Long Range Toddy
DP = 4-11-9-0-0 (24) DI = 4.33 CD = 0.79
Mare Profile = 6-5-5-2-9 Speed = 11 Stamina = 11 Index = 0.88 Triads = 16-12-16
DP = 12-9-13-0-0 (34) DI = 4.23 CD = 0.97
Mare Profile = 6-6-4-7-7 Speed = 12 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.88 Triads = 16-17-18
DP = 6-10-11-1-0 (28) DI = 3.31 CD = 0.75
Mare Profile = 7-6-3-7-6 Speed = 13 Stamina = 13 Index = 1.05 Triads = 16-16-16
Out of the three speed contenders, Improbable’s numbers exceed the other two. He inherited a high amount of Chefs speed coupled with mare triads that incline as the distance goes further. It appears that he is holding a bit more stamina than the other two, however, since Tacitus has a 3.31 index, he is not starting with that high of inherent speed so it may be a wash from the chefs. From the mares, Improbable has the upper-hand but he has no room for error. A point or two higher in that last triad slot would have been ideal when pitted against the other two. Out of the three, Long Range Toddy is the one who is lacking in the Classic slot of both the chef profile and the mare Triads which generally does not bode well for the Derby. With the remaining 2 speed guys, they are okay but they arent close to years past. Lets hope for the best yet to come.
THE LOWER END SPEED 3.00 GUYS:
DP = 3-5-8-0-0 (16) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.69
Mare Profile = 7-2-3-9-6 Speed = 9 Stamina = 15 Index = 0.79 Triads = 12-14-18
DP = 4-7-11-0-0 (22) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.68
Mare Profile = 4-5-7-8-4 Speed = 9 Stamina = 12 Index = 0.87 Triads = 16-20-19
Between these two guys, there are pros and cons for both which will need to be addressed come the big day. Even though the triads are very different, both configurations (when combined) give them the necessary stamina to compete at 10f. Both of these guys swing from the back, and it appears that Haikal is much faster at it. The 7 points in the Brilliant spot of Haikal’s mare profile stands out here over Gunmetal as far as where that speed is coming from and he also gained more in the stamina department from them. The Chefs roll out basically the same. For Gunmetal Gray, the 20 points gained in the Classic slot of the triads would tend to be more favorable than Haikal’s set-up, so in that regard, neither would be tosses when it comes strictly to breeding. They both have the distance capability, it would be more the matter of their speed capability when pitted against each other. Since their style of running is not the most ideal for the Derby, going forward from this day to see where they ultimately position themselves in their last prep will be important.
THE MID-RANGE 2.00 to 2.90 Guys:
DP = 6-5-13-0-0 (24) DI = 2.69 CD = 0.71
Mare Profile = 7-4-6-6-4 Speed = 11 Stamina = 10 Index = 1.20 Triads = 17-16-16
DP = 3-6-10-1-0 (20) DI = 2.33 CD = 0.55
Mare Profile = 6-1-4-5-11 Speed = 7 Stamina = 16 Index = 0.55 Triads = 11-10-20
DP = 2-2-6-0-0 (10) DI = 2.33 CD = 0.60
Mare Profile = 7-7-5-5-5 Speed = 14 Stamina = 10 Index = 1.30 Triads = 19-17-15
Out of the three mid-range guys, Mind Control is the one who would be the easy toss of the group. He has too many negatives dotted across both lines which would never be tolerated in the Derby. The other two have what it takes for completely opposite reasons. Both inherited a fairly balanced and even chef profile, with Game Winner grabbing more stamina from those chefs. With reference to the mares, Omaha Beach inherited SPEED – Game Winner inherited STAMINA. On one hand, having more inherited speed coupled with the ability to sustain that speed from the top is very advantageous. So, in this regard, Omaha Beach has the upper-hand. On the other hand, if a speed duel ensues and Game Winner is in the proper position, his stamina capability will dominate and he gains the upper-hand substantially. Because of the two dynamics, these two are major players for the Derby for two totally different reasons.
THE STAMINA GUYS – Under 2.00
War of Will
DP = 5-8-17-4-0 (34) DI = 1.72 CD = 0.41
Mare Profile = 4-7-4-12-2 Speed = 11 Stamina = 14 Index = 0.95 Triads = 15-23-18
Code of Honor
DP = 3-1-11-7-0 (22) DI = 0.76 CD = 0.00
Mare Profile = 2-10-2-13-5 Speed = 12 Stamina = 18 Index = 0.64 Triads = 14-25-20
As far as stamina competitors, there couldn’t be any finer configurations and these two talented colts will both have a say in this year’s Derby. The high amount of stamina that War of Will is holding, coupled with his form is a recipe that is hard to top for this race. The fact that he has a .95 mare index to go along with that lower chef CD is perfectly arranged and his position on the field will give him a huge advantage for this race. For Code of Honor, his triads are unmatched against all ten on this list and his balanced CD puts his optimum squarely on this race. Words can not express how magnificent the configurations of both of his profiles truly are and how each of the chefs in his chart and his important mares balance him. They are perfect. Arguably the best set of numbers I have seen in a very long time. The 10 points gained in the Intermediate slot of his mares profile tip the scales so far in his favor that it cant be put into words how masterfully configured they truly are. The fact that he runs where he wants on that field, how he wants, on surfaces that he shouldn't like, and even when he stumbles and goes on, points to something very special. The Churchill track will allow him to shine even greater than his last. The only thing standing in the way of a dominating stamina Derby is the weather. They both retain advantage on a clear fast track. As of today, if Derby Day is lit by sun, this is where I will be concentrating... I will be all about these two stamina guys. They have the undeniable stamina and they have the speed to go with it.