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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

The Prep Season's Newest Attraction

2016 Iroquois Stakes Winner - Not This Time

The Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby begins on September 18th at Churchill Downs.

The march towards the Kentucky Derby begins next week with the Iroquois Stakes and will proceed all the way through to the Lexington Stakes on April 15, 2023. As every season before it, the very first prep race always begins with a bit of trepidation for me personally. In some ways bittersweet and in other ways, just plain fear. You see, it is always hard to leave behind the characters of the year prior. Studying them every step of the way and understanding their limitations, their potential, their favorite biases, their quirks, their advantages and disadvantages with such an intensity throughout their campaign falls by the wayside. All of this is now switched to cautiously walking into the unknown. The page turns and we begin with a squeaky clean slate. It's horrifying. It's challenging. It's downright nerve-wracking. It is taking that first step into the dark waters and as much as I fear living up to expectations each and every year, I do love every second of it.

Like clockwork, we will absolutely see the beginnings of a new spectacular champion. He will eventually stand out in the crowd. He will reveal himself, slowly but surely, just as it goes every year. The excitement for me is the anticipation of meeting him for the very first time - through his chart. That first spark of fire when you see those numbers and how he runs directly with them.

Is he jet black, caramel or grey? Who will his sire be? Who will be training him? Who will have the lucky mount? Who are his kin and who stables with him? Where was he and where is he going? It is the anticipation of watching him stroll into that gate time and time again and watching him mature as he demolishes field after field. It is watching him falter a time or two, but still, you know, his best is yet to come.

Will we see a new Shared Belief, Animal Kingdom, Seattle Slew or even a Secretariat? This is the finest handicapping challenge by far and it takes a keen eye, dedication, and persistence that must not waver for one split second over the next 8 months. It takes understanding what the horse is made of - both in his inheritance and in his heart - that will make him succeed over the hundreds who attempt to make that gate in May. It takes understanding the short flashy wins vs the ability to go the distance. It is a very exciting challenge that begins this very week.

Last year, an incredible amount of insight was gained into the inner workings of the trainers, specific prep races and into pace situations for the Derby itself. That learning curve coupled with confidence in ascertaining the limitations or the excesses in distance capability puts the mind at ease a bit this year. There is so much to see with each prep race that comes and goes. Every single last detail concerning each and every player will not go untouched. This involves those colts who lack in points but competed along the way. Rich Strike may have invaded that winning superfecta ticket for us last year but I am grateful for him otherwise. The wisdom he afforded us, both with tracking silent competitors with low Derby points to consideration of two pace tickets for a 20 horse field, is invaluable. A costly lesson, but then again, you simply can't buy that type of handicapping skill unless you live through and fully understand it.

A new attraction to the Dirty Horse Club can be found in the 2023 Derby Prep Info tab located on the Home Page Menu. This section will be invaluable both pre-race and post-race.

I want to let you know what this new tab is all about and hopefully it will be just as important as the Prep Winners Analysis is throughout the season.

Prior to the race, it will organize the prep races with the entries and their numbers. It will showcase the history of the race and its past winners, along with their numbers. It will focus on the bias of the track, advantages and disadvantages based on that bias and weather conditions. The PP's for the race will also be there so that if reference is needed later, it will all be in one spot. This will not be about handicapping the specific race with a full blown analysis with picks. As is usual, that will still be in the form of a blog article when the mood strikes.

Post-race, a mini analysis on EACH and EVERY player from the top to the bottom of the race results will be posted. This analysis, as is usual, will pertain directly to the 10f Kentucky Derby and nothing else. It will note specific bias outlooks moving forward, training race and trainer's insight and, of course, distance capabilities for each player.

In keeping with the norm, a regular blog article that is updated weekly with the prep winner himself will be posted with more analysis. This area will be more in depth for the winner in normal fashion, just as we have had every year.

As far as timing - Pre-Race downloadable forms will be made available shortly after the PP's are posted. The information will be imperative as you handicap the race. I know already that there will be some races when time is not on my side and full blown info may not be feasible each and every race. At the very least though, I will make sure that the entries and their numbers are at least posted there for you. Post-race analysis for the full field will always be posted in a timely manner.

This section will also be invaluable for working on your Future Derby Pools but it will not take the place of the blog articles when posted. Everything will go hand in hand. Also returning will be the Prep Schedule and Race Replays page which will be updated with every replay every week so that it is easy to review one after the other.

I hope that this additional info and work on a weekly basis will aid in your handicapping and in your quest to learn more about the numbers. Most importantly, in how they relate to the Kentucky Derby every year.

At the moment, this section is open to ALL MEMBERS of the Dirty Horse Club and I hope to keep it that way. I really hate the password thing. Since this info will be made available to download for you, I truly hope that I do not see it uploaded anywhere else on the internet. Even though I hate saying this, if I do see it posted anywhere outside of this website, the entire section gets obliterated and I'll simply keep it to myself. It only takes one to do the wrong thing.

This section will commence as soon as the PP's are posted for the very first Derby Prep Race of the season, The Iroquois, this very week. It will be updated with another downloadable form with analysis and also the the ongoing Prep Winner's Blog article will begin. I am looking so forward to Breeders Weekend and the beginning of the trail that leads to our beloved Derby.

Cheers to a Successful 2022/2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby. No Stone Unturned!


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