Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kentucky Derby 138 Wrap UP

Well, Kentucky Derby 138 is in the history book and overall it was a lot of fun as well as profitable.

All five of the horses I profiled in my Kentucky Derby blogBodemeister, I’ll Have Another, Dullahan, Creative Cause and Went The Day Well finished in the top five of the Derby and I cashed on the exacta and trifecta but narrowly missed the hitting the superfecta.

The pedigree is the most important tool I use to determine if a young colt has star potential. Past performances and the will to win or, as my friend Kerry Thomas would say – the Emotional Conformation of the horse – are also important factors I look at. 

However, Kerry is better than I am at measuring the emotional conformation of a horse and his herd dynamic profile of the Derby horses for the online magazine Kentucky Confidential was spot on.

Kerry is the founder of the Thomas Herding Technique and a pioneering researcher of equine behavior. Together, we co-authored the recently published book: Horse Profiling, The Secret To Motivating Equine Athletes, published by Trafalgar Square Books. (For a sneak peek of the book online visit this link: http://bit.ly/z1hBvB. To order the book, visit this link: http://bit.ly/nj6hJT.)

The book is the only project that Kerry and I have worked on and we have never compared notes on the Derby horses. His analysis of the Derby horses is always a closely guarded secret. So, it was definitely pleasing to see that when his analysis debuted online for Kentucky Confidential that he thought highly of the same horses I liked and eventually wrote about on my Derby blog.

In previous blogs I’ve used those previously mentioned tools to pick the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. And this year, those tools helped me to single out the top five finishers of the Kentucky Derby.

All of the horses I profiled had outstanding pedigrees that were well suited for the Kentucky Derby. In addition, Kerry noted in his analysis that they all had a high herd dynamic that is so crucial if a young Thoroughbred is going to be competitive at the highest level.

Here’s Kerry’s analysis of I’ll Have Another: 

… He’s very in control. He’s not a horse that wastes any emotional energy. Psychologically, this horse was born to run a classic distance.

Other horses respond to his presence, and he makes no physical effort to invoke their reactions. That means he is a very powerful horse.

His emotional conformation supersedes physical stimulus. He translates information from the environment to his body without showing any outward reactions. This horse doesn’t panic. He’s very sound mentally. ...

I look for big things from this horse, and I would not overlook him in the Derby. 

Here’s what Kerry had to say about Bodemeister: 

Bodemeister’s patterns of motion are completely different than any horse in this field or any horse I’ve seen so far. …

His sweet spot is a forward distance focus, and he doesn’t need a target. His target is open space. That’s where he does his best. …

He just wants to be free of all of it, and his comfort zone is to move forward and away.

…At this point in his development, I think Bodemeister is better at being chased than he is at chasing or moving in a group. …To win this Derby, I think he will have to get out and go. I would not want to see him tangled up in Derby traffic competing for space. That’s not his sweet spot psychologically. 

His analysis of Dullahan: 

Dullahan has shown growth at age 3, probably the most growth of any of these horses from last year. At age 2, Dullahan showed ability, but he was slow on his release points. He could get stuck in a crowd and he was prone to using up too much energy on space battles. 

In his races this year, Dullahan’s transitions are smoother, and he is a more emotionally stable horse. He still doesn’t release from his targets as fast as he could, but he has shown he can move into space with the best of them.

His patterns of motion are very specific, and I think this horse needs to be strategically ridden. I think Dullahan likes close contact, and he can use space battles to builds momentum and launch forward. …

If his jockey can maneuver him strategically to do his best work in the second half of the race, he could be the one to skirt through. 

His analysis of Went The Day Well: 

Went the Day Well shows the very rare ability to adapt to whatever situation he is in, and that’s a great quality. This horse has some grit, but he doesn’t waste emotional energy. …

He is absolutely at the top levels of herd dynamic. There is no doubt about that. …
He responds to every situation he is put in favorably. He shows perhaps the most diverse patterns of motion in this field. I like him a lot. …

Went the Day Well also shows great time-in-motion skills. I think he could run efficiently for a long ways. Distance favors this horse. If the other horse get tired or make mistakes, he should be there to take advantage. 

Kerry’s analysis of Creative Cause: 

Creative Cause rates extremely high on individual herd dynamic (head-to-head battles). … 

I rank Creative Cause a hair below the top horses going a classic distance. Creative Cause is very singular in his focus, and that could be a problem because he will be prone to using up energy dealing with traffic and space battles in the Kentucky Derby.

Creative Cause is all forward-motion energy. He is fantastic with nothing but space in front of him or with only one horse to battle with. His natural pattern of motion is to attack one target — to grab open space or fight another competitor. …

His group dynamic in the herd is less established than his singular dynamic. He’s gritty, and he’s a fighter. 

The pedigree is an important tool I use to measure the star potential of young colts and I’ve often wondered why some failed to live up to their breeding. Perhaps it was because they lacked the final piece of the breeding puzzle – a high herd dynamic and a good Emotional Conformation Profile.


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  2. Calvin

    U da Man


  3. Thanks Stan, Virgin Queen for the compliment and for following my blog.

  4. I was not following the Derby field closely this year but did have my eye on Creative Cause because he's owned by the man who also owns Swiss Yodeler, who is from the same sire and foal crop as my OTTB. However, I was impressed by Ill Have Another's manner. Even as a yearling, he was very quiet. Alert, yes, but not an idiot. After the Derby, he accepted the noise, the blanket of roses, the sponges, like it was all in a day's work. Got a good feeling about this one ;o)

  5. TBDancer,

    I thought that I'll Have Another would be tough and could, perhaps, be the stiffest competition for Bodemeister. And the fact that Kerry thought highly of him confirmed my impressions.

    It is significant that Flower Alley now has a Classic Champion Thoroughbred as Distorted Humor, the grandsire of I'll Have Another, produced the classic champions Funny Cide and Drosselmeyer.