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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

The Hype vs The Player

“Impressive Damon’s Mound romps by 12.5 lengths”

“He could be very very special”

“Damon’s Mound dazzles on debut”

“Climb aboard the precocious Damon’s Mound bandwagon”

Those are just a few of the real headlines splattered all across the internet. Don’t fall for it when it comes to the 10f Derby.

Looking for prospective Derby players begins every year in the lead up to the Saratoga meet. I have seen a few “maiden watch” winners touted so far at other web sites but winning a 6f maiden in July means nothing for the Derby unless the colt is built for 10f. Early winners now must only be considered for the 8.5f Breeders Cup Juvenile.

While we have seen a few visually impressive early races from this crop as it applies to the Breeders Juvenile, the big prep race that will hold the majority of significance is the American Pharoah stakes held at Santa Anita on October 8th. As we already know through our crystal ball, Bob Baffert will have a lead speedster who will win the 2022 Pharoah stakes, therefore, he will eventually enter the gate as the favorite in the Juvenile. Same scenario every year.

On July 2nd, Damon’s Mound won his maiden at Churchill Downs traveling 6f by an impressive 12 lengths. The son of Girvin demolished 11 foes that day. He is now on “watch lists” as a superstar in the making. While he may very well beat a Baffert speedster in the Breeders Cup Juvenile and he may be a significant threat in early Derby preps, this horse has absolutely nothing for the Kentucky Derby. As it goes every year, the bandwagons begin based on impressive flashy wins and fast beyers with no connection to distance ability for the Derby.

Damon’s Mound will be talked about from now until his 9f preps. He will be favored in the early Derby Future’s pools, especially if he pulls off a performance in the 8.5f Juvenile. Don’t fall for the noise as it pertains to the May race. As a matter of fact, don’t fall for it for any of the flashy winners this early on unless you consult their breeding first. It is the configurations that win the Kentucky Derby year after year that matter most. Take away the glitz and the hype and concentrate directly on those numbers.

Damon’s Mound

DP = 0-4-4-0-0 (8) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.50

Mare Profile = 7-3-4-5-6 Speed = 10 Stamina = 11 Index = 1.00 Triads = 14-12-15

This horse will never see the finish line in the Kentucky Derby, rain or shine. He will not see it with a fast pace or a moderate pace. He will win race after race. He will be a contender in the Juvenile. His beyer figures will continue to rise throughout his campaign. He either will not see a gate in Kentucky or if he does, he would be lucky to crack the top ten in the race results charts. The mare’s numbers say it all. When Pool One is offered at the end of November, do not waste one dollar on a future’s bet with Damon’s Mound.

Flash and speed will win these races early on. Hype and ignorance will thrust them into the spotlight and this, in turn, affects the reader’s wallets going forward. On speedy biases, use Damon freely on top of your wagers - all the way up to 9.5f but steer clear as it pertains to the Derby.

Another hyped 2 year old colt, Gulfport, won the Bashford Manor Stakes by 12 lengths traveling 6f as well. The son of Uncle Mo is loaded in speed. If entered into the Breeders Cup Juvenile, he will have a major advantage at Keeneland along with any of Baffert’s souped up speed demons and Damon. If he wins the Juvenile, he will be installed as the favorite in Pool One of the Derby Futures betting in November. Bet him along the road on any speedy tracks and most definitely if it happens to be raining that day - but disregard the hype after he demolishes those races. When it comes to the Kentucky Derby itself... save your money.


DP = 2-12-2-0-0 (16) DI = 15.00 CD = 1.00

Mare Profile = 8-1-8-5-5 Speed = 9 Stamina = 10 Index = 1.09 Triads = 17-14-18

This horse is primed for the Breeders Cup Juvenile and that is where it ends. He is not built for 10f and no amount of hype or flashy timeform figures will get him around the 10f track. If he makes a gate in the Derby, he will disintegrate before the top of the stretch.

The two young colts listed above are being splashed and promoted as the top two year old colts going into our 2023 Derby season and neither one of them is Derby material. It does not matter what graded stakes races the sire or grand-sire won. It does not matter if the mare produced winners or not. What matters is the colt’s chart – HIS CHART, and his alone.

These types of colts will win their maidens and their early races with award winning style. They will dazzle in the stretch at 9f and under but when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, they will fizzle before the final turn. These are the types that dictate the pace and affect the true 10f colts who only managed 3rd or 4th place along the way. Those are the ones to keep an eye on. They are the future superstars.

Profit along the way is the name of the game. Understanding the make-up of the colt will tell you when to bet on him, when to go heavily on him and when to stop betting on him. Visually impressive performances at 6f to 8.5f will not always translate to the Derby. In Gulfport's case, knowing the configurations beforehand, will tell you immediately, that you bet him all the way through. You bet heavily on him if it is raining out. You continue to be on him up to his last prep depending on the bias of the track - and then you make him the very first toss in the Kentucky Derby - regardless of his PP's and regardless of his M/L odds.

As important as it is to consult the numbers for the Kentucky Derby, it is even more important to consult the numbers before placing any bets in these early debut races. Speedy 2 year olds below 7f dominate as usual and you will only know that if you look at their chart. It is the quiet ones who either score or hit the board along the way that will pay you in the end. These are the ones who have the Derby distance and these are the ones who will have the higher odds. They will not be showy. They will not be hyped. They managed to compete alongside their speedy foes at these shorter distances. They are the disadvantaged stars in the making and their time comes later. They must be monitored for progress along the way. Even if they do not take the trophy early on but are competitive, the foresight to bet them in the Derby futures pool is all that matters. This is what separates a true handicapper from those who rely on visuals and hype in short early races with their betting dollars.

These are the types of colts that you don't hear about all over the internet and by the anointed special handicappers and pedigree gurus out there. They look only at the lengths won by or they talk about the sire's records. That will never help you in a futures bet.

Curly Jack

DP = 4-3-7-0-0 (14) DI = 3.00 CD = 0.79

Mare Profile = 5-6-5-10-7 Speed = 11 Stamina = 17 Index = 0.72 Triads = 16-21-22

The son of Good Magic wired his maiden race traveling only 5.5f. His equibase figure was only an 82, his beyer figure only 86. But his pace figures stood at 98/100/80. Not too shabby for a debut at 5.5f with the mare stamina that he is holding. His win was not flashy nor was it given much press at all. In the barn of Tom Amoss, his maiden win went by in the blink of an eye and mostly unheard of along the airwaves. Curly Jack may or may not win another disadvantaged race for the rest of the year. If entered into the Breeders Cup Juvenile, one of a few things will occur...

  1. He will be demolished by the speed of Damon's Mound and Gulfport and any Baffert lead speedster. His name will be forgotten and even if he still manages to get a mention on the first Derby Pool in November, his odds will be very high. Most will not give him a second thought.

  2. He is entered into the Juvenile at double digit odds. He puts on a half decent performance grabbing a piece of the board. He is barely spoken about (except here at the Dirty Horse Club) and we grab ahold of his killer odds in the Future's pool.

  3. He continues to grow and excel and makes a splash in the Juvenile. He then becomes the darling of sportswriters on the internet because he posted that win. AFTER THE FACT. We get horrible odds in the Futures.

Knowing these things beforehand is what separates a great handicapper from the pack. I will tell you now, the win in the Juvenile, if attained by Damon's Mound or Gulfport or a Baffert clone or any other speedster for that matter is not of any importance. What is most important is the performance of a horse built like Curly Jack. Using Curly Jack as an example, it does not matter if he loses a race to those speedsters travelling those distances. It matters if he shows a will and determination to at least compete.

If Damon's Mound and Gulfport were up against a horse built like Curly Jack in the Kentucky Derby, there would be no competition. Curly Jack would demolish them on a clean track at Churchill Downs. When you completely grasp the implications of understanding how important these numbers are, you will not be one who utters the words, "Hindsight is 20-20" when it comes to your betting dollars.

Curly Jack may or may not pan out along the trail, as there are many fresh starters out there built for the Derby just like him. He is an example of what to look for and the type of horse to analyze as far as will and determination in these disadvantaged races going forward. His future defeats along the way are exactly what gives us the stellar odds in futures pools because he is the type who has the proper historical Derby configurations that win year after year. If Curly Jack makes it onto Futures Pool One in November, go against the hype and bet on a horse who is built for the Derby. That is all that matters.


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