Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finish In Final Prep Race Crucial To Win, Exotics In Kentucky Derby

After the running of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Blue Grass Stakes (G1), I had a pretty good idea of the horses I would use in my Kentucky Derby wagers.

Animal Kingdom has been my favorite since I wrote about him in my 2011 Kentucky Outlook last December. Midnight Interlude was my pick to win the Santa Anita Derby. I also picked Brilliant Speed to win the Blue Grass and I tagged Nehro as a possible upset candidate in the Arkansas Derby.

Of course each race is different but I like the chances of the previously mentioned horses and I’ll use them in my Derby wagers.

Between now and the Derby, I’ll also be looking at the rest of the field to see if there are any others that I like before making my final selections. Two colts I especially like are
Archarcharch and Master of Hounds.

Archarcharch was my longshot
pick in the Southwest Stakes but I did not use him in the Arkansas Derby after his performance in the Rebel Stakes. Master of Hounds is one of the best bred colts on the trail.

In addition, I’m going to take another look at
Toby’s Corner, Uncle Mo, Comma To The Top, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire and Dialed In before making a final pick.

I’ll also be taking a look at some statistics that may help to narrow down our Derby selections.

A recent discovery I made while researching the history of the final 9-furlong prep races – Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, Arkansas Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Illinois Derby and Sunland Derby – shows that since 2000, the top four finishers of the Kentucky Derby (with a few exceptions) finished in the top three of their final prep race. Only seven horses that finished worse than third in their final prep race have finished in the Derby top four.

No horses coming out of the Louisiana Derby and UAE Derby as a final prep race have finished in the Derby top four since 2000. There were no horses coming out of this year’s Illinois Derby with enough graded stakes earnings to get into the Derby starting gate.

The Wood Memorial Stakes and Blue Grass Stakes tied at nine each have produced the most finishers in the Derby top four since 2000. The Arkansas Derby has had seven; the Santa Anita Derby had five; the Florida Derby had 4; the Illinois Derby had three and the Sunland Derby had one finish in the Derby top four.

Hard Spun won the Lane’s End (Vinery) which was his final prep in 2007. Perfect Drift won the 2002 Lane’s End as a final prep.

Here’s a look at the statistics:

Wood Memorial - 9

2008: 1st - Tale of Ekati ; 3rd in Derby

2006: 2nd - Jazil; dh-4th in Derby

2003: 1st - Empire Maker; 2nd in Derby

2003: 2nd - Funny Cide; 1st in Derby

2002: 2nd - Medaglia D’Oro ; 4th in Derby

2001: 1st – Congaree; 3rd in Derby

2001: 2nd – Monarchos; 1st in Derby

2000: 1st – Fusaichi Pegasus; 1st in Derby

2000: 3rd – Aptitude; 2nd in Derby

Blue Grass - 9

2010: 2nd – Paddy O’Prado; 3rd in Derby

2007: 2nd – Street Sense; 1st in Derby

2006: 4th - Bluegrass Cat; 2nd in Derby

2005: 3rd – Closing Argument; 2nd in Derby

2004: 2nd – Lion Heart; 2nd in Derby

2004: 3rd – Limehouse; 4th in Derby

2003: 1st – Peace Rules; 3rd in Derby

2001: 4th - Invisible Ink; 2nd in Derby

2000: 2nd – More Than Ready; 4th in Derby

Arkansas Derby - 7

2010: 2nd – Super Saver; 1st in Derby

2009: 1st – Papa Clem; 4th in Derby

2007: 1st – Curlin; 3rd in Derby

2006: 2nd – Steppenwolfer; 3rd in Derby

2005: 1st – Afleet Alex; 3rd in Derby

2004: 1st – Smarty Jones; 1st in Derby

2000: 3rd – Impeachment; 3rd in Derby

Santa Anita Derby - 5

2009: 1st – Pioneerof The Nile; 2nd in Derby

2008: 1st – Brother Derek; 4th dh in derby

2005: 4th – Giacomo; 1st in Derby

2004: 3rd – Imperialism; 3rd in Dreby

2003: 4th – Atwhatimtalknbout; 4th in Derby

Florida Derby – 4

2010: 1st – Ice Box; 2nd in Derby

2008: 1st – Big Brown; 1st in Derby

2007: 6th – Imawildandcrazyguy; 4th in Derby

2006: 1st – Barbaro; 1st in Derby

Illinois Derby – 3

2009: 1st – Musket Man; 3rd in Derby

2008: 5th – Denis of Cork; 3rd in Derby

2002: 1st – War Emblem; 1st in Derby

Sunland Derby – 1

2009: 4th – Mine That Bird; 1st in Derby

Based on the history of final prep races since 2000, here’s a look at the top finishers in this year’s final prep races.

Wood Memorial Stakes: Toby’s Corner – 1st; Uncle Mo – 3rd

Blue Grass Stakes: Brilliant Speed – 1st; Twinspired – 2nd

Arkansas Derby: Archarcharch – 1st; Nehro – 2nd

Santa Anita Derby: Midnight Interlude – 1st; Comma To The Top – 2nd

Florida Derby: Dialed In – 1st; Shackleford – 2nd

Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes: Animal Kingdom – 1st; Decisive Moment – 2nd

Sunland Derby: Twice The Appeal – 1st

Pants On Fire finished first in the Louisiana Derby; Nehro finished second and Mucho Macho Man finished third but no horses coming out of this race since 2000 have finished in the Derby top four. Master of Hounds finished second in the UAE Derby but not horses coming out of this race have finished in the Derby top four.

Breaking news today that The Factor and J P’s Gusto will skip the Derby bumps Shackleford, ranked 21st on the graded stakes list, and Twinspired, 22nd in graded stakes earnings, into the Derby starting gate if the connections decide to run. Only the top twenty horses with the most graded stakes earnings are eligible to get into the Derby starting gate.


  1. This is fascinating information, Calvin! I just finished printing it out, to refer back to in the future. And I'm glad you're taking another look at Comma to the Top. I haven't made a final overall decision yet on who I think will win, but he is the only one right now that I know for sure will be in my superfecta. I'm stuck on him! The only other one I didn't have on my list that you do, is Pants on Fire, so I will look more closely at him.

  2. Thanks Sharon.

    There’s a lot to like about Comma To The Top. He has a lot of heart and he always runs a good race. I never thought of him as a win candidate in the Derby but he's possible to hit the board.

    One concern I have is the recent switch to jockey Patrick Valenzuela. If he rides Comma To The Top like he has other speed horses in the Derby I believe it could be a repeat of 2006 when he went hell-bent-for leather with Keyed Entry on the lead and finished dead last.

    I think Comma To The Top is a better horse and can last longer than Keyed Entry who was finished after three-quarters. Only time will tell.

    Lots to study between now and Derby. Looking forward to your picks!

  3. "A lot of heart" was my thought exactly, about Comma to the Top. I don't think it's likely he'll win, but I like him in the top four. And who knows? I remembered Da'Tara wiring the field in the Belmont. Strange things happen in horseracing. I can't wait!
    (By the way, I had to laugh when I saw your remark about hell-bent-for-leather. I know you meant it in racing terms, but all I could think of was the band Judas Priest and their song by the same name, wondering,is Calvin a heavy metal music fan? lol)