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Reprise: Very unofficial, unauthorized guidelines for evaluating Derby Future Po (1991 Views)

February 16, 2002 01:22AM
Last year on this board I made a series of posts that provided some guidelines for evaluating Derby contenders using Thoro-Graph data. Now that the first Kentucky Derby Future Pool is once again upon us, I thought I would go back and try to combine those posts into a single set of guidelines that could be used for the Future Pool and also update the data based on last year’s results. If you have a good idea of the pre-Derby racing schedule for a particular contender you can actually make use of all of the guidelines right now. I don’t think they will help much in picking a winner but they may help you steer clear of some of the favorites that are bad bets if history has any predictive value. Keep in mind that these are just guidelines based on recent history. Just like they always tell you on the bottom of an investment prospectus – Past performance is not always indicative of future returns...

Guidelines for evaluating Derby Contenders:

- Derby winners run fast as 2yos but not too fast - 16 of the last 20 Derby winners ran a top Thoro-Graph figure between 6.5 and 13 as a 2yo. It appears that a 2yo top above 12 (or being unraced as a 2yo) means that the horse is very unlikely to develop fast enough to win the Derby on the first Saturday in May. Also, those horses that develop too fast as 2yos (6 or less) often do not make it to the Derby and, when they do, are normally not in peak condition. Horses seem to be developing more quickly and running dramatically faster as 2yos in recent years so this guideline is probably either going to prove to be very stale very soon or to be a great way to eliminate many of the early Derby favorites.

- Derby winners are bred to run long - 6 of the last 8 Derby winners (I only had data for the last 8 years) have a Sire Thoro-Graph Index (TGI) that is at least 2 points better at 1M or over than their Sire TGI for 1M or less. The exceptions were Thunder Gulch and Fusaichi Pegasus. The TGI is an average of the top efforts run by each foal in each category. The lack of data makes this criterion pretty soft at this time but it should not be ignored. It is also complicated by the fact that some Derby entrants will have young sires with only a few progeny that have raced. If the number of horses used in the Sires TGI is less than 50, I would treat the data as very suspect since it could change drastically as more of the sires progeny get a chance to perform at longer distances. Obviously, the 1, 1/4 mile distance of the Derby makes breeding important. I don’t want to pretend that this simplistic approach to evaluating breeding is complete or superior to others but it does seem to have some merit based on a relatively small amount of data.

- Derby winners are not "need the lead" types – Only 2 of the last 21 Derby winners were "need the lead" types (Spend A Buck and Winning Colors). In fact, of the 57 "need the lead" types to run in the Derby in the last 21 years, these were the only 2 to hit the board. It appears that several factors compromise the chances of front-runners. Those factors include the taxing 1, 1/4 mile distance, the long Churchill Downs stretch, and the typically fast early pace in the Derby. The fast pace is probably due to the large Derby field, which almost always ensures that at least one or two entrants will attempt to grab the early lead or will be forced to use their speed early to get a good position going into the first turn. Note: Go For Gin won the Derby in wire-to-wire fashion but I did not consider him a "need the lead" type because prior to the Derby he had shown the ability to run well even when not on the lead.

- Derby winners need a solid foundation of 3yo preps - All but one of the last 21 Derby winners ran at least 3 preps as 3yos before the Derby. Typically, the last 2 preps were at distances greater than a mile with the last prep in graded stakes company. It appears that without a solid foundation of 3 Derby prep races a horse is very unlikely to give a peak performance in the Derby. (Note that last year I was on the fence about including this guideline but I decided to include it this year after Point Given’s defeat. Actually, I am still on the fence with this one...)

20 of the last 21 Derby winners met all or all but one of the criteria (Winning Colors was the one exception) so be skeptical of any Derby contender that fails on 2 or more counts.

I am interested in hearing from all of you about how you evaluate the contenders this far in advance of the Derby and which horses you have strong opinions about.

Good luck to all.

Subject Author Posted

Reprise: Very unofficial, unauthorized guidelines for evaluating Derby Future Po (1991 Views)

derby1592 February 16, 2002 01:22AM

Re: (1234 Views)

Mark O'Keeffe February 16, 2002 01:42AM

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