Kentucky Derby selections

I had received a free mag in the snail today from BetUS, a leading sportsbook company, with very thorough (pardon pun) details on wagering the Triple Crown events. The details are well written and appeals to both novice and expert horseplayers. Most compelling to me was an explanation on pace handicapping, and seeing how a race will unfold based on a horse’s running style. 
Equibase has very good past performance charts that spell out early/late speed in numbers; this new knowledge has put a spin on my usual bit of pace handicapping (using the Equibase or Beyer number as a whole, irregardless of early and late fractions).  It’s not the most important factor in my toolbox, but it’s up there. Maybe adding 5 extra minutes per race to factor in pace, plus a horse’s post position, but it’s worth it. Yes, another realization; post position relevant to a prior race can reveal some tendencies, ignoring for the moment a horse’s preference for certain tracks.

I’ve since gone on to work on nearly all races for Friday and Saturday’s card at Churchill. The Friday work is done, and the Derby plus 8 other races, are done as of this typing.

So you want to know the Derby selection. Great.  Bear in mind that I’m operating with 2 variables basically unknown and incomplete. One is the lack of reliable jockey/trainer stats. This early in a race meeting, this most important variable can be overlooked, as trends really haven’t set in yet.  Also, none of the horses have ever run 10 furlongs, and none have ever experienced a field larger than 14 horses.  A most difficult race to handicap, and yet the most attractive.
For this caliber of race I will add in dosage profiles, using it as the least important (and most inherent) factor to judge a horse’s strength. Workouts, for purposes of this race, get my highest score. Pace is #2 on my list.

What I did was do 2 versions of rankings. One was to properly rank each horse 1 through 20 in all variables, the other being my standard handicapping method of assigning scores just to the leader in each variable.  I added the raw scores and determined rank from lowest to highest upon those.
Churchill is very likely to be an ‘off’ track for Saturday, so I factored in stats for all horses running on such.
Here’s a look at each horse, in post position order:
#1 LOOKIN AT LUCKY: One of the leading horses in terms of dosage befitting a Churchill Downs-type winner. Also one of the best in terms of pace. Never lost with an inside post. The workout scenario is also very positive.  It hasn’t proven itself on an off track, and middle of the pace in terms of its current class. Finish: 10th
#2 ICE BOX: Positives include great dosage profile, defeating Grade 1 horses, and has a great pace style that fits this race better than its opponents. Very good works.. Like most of the others, an unknown on an off track, or this track. Has won a few races from an inside post. Finish: 2nd
#3 NOBLE’S PROMISE has the best dosage profile and has defeated Grade 1 horses. I feel this horse will have a lot of trouble with the trip. Good enough to contend but not a win here. Finish: 4th #4: SUPER SAVER’s only blemish really is in the workout category, but shines on all others. It’s got the best speed rating on Churchill already and has won on ‘off’ conditions. It will be one of those who will positively benefit from the pace of the race and I proclaim this horse to be in the winner’s circle.
#5: LINE OF DAVID has defeated Grade 1 horses and has good dosage but average pace and workouts bring this horse back some. Very hard to figure it’s ideal post position, a real mixed bag f effort. Finish: 6th
#6: STATELY VICTOR is the one horse I can truly throw out. Has not won in middle post positions, and workouts rank at the bottom of my list. Finish:9th. Generous, but not expecting any miracle.
#7: AMERICAN LION has average dosage profile and doesn’t factor to be much of a factor with the pace. Finish: 15th.
#8: DEAN’S KITTEN’s dosage doesn’t fit this race at al. It will benefit from the pace and be one to watch in the far turn, if it gets out of traffic. Otherwise: 16th place.
#9: MAKE MUSIC FOR ME hasn’t won at high class levels at all, does not have good recent works, and will be hurt by the pace. Not sure at all how it will respond in traffic. Finish: 20th
#10 PADDY O’PRADO will be the unoffical rabbit and will not have enough horse to win. It does have some familiarity with Churchill and might be aided on a muddy track. Finish: 17th
#11 DEVIL MAY CARE: The lone filly has not revealed a trend with its stalker style, and is too slow for this race. It did work out very wel and will be helped by an off track. Finish: 12th.
#12 CONVEYANCE had the best workout tab of this field and can run very well with the traffic. Dosage profile does not fit tho, and hasn’t won anything better than grade 3 races. Finish: 14th
#13:JACKSON BEND will not be a factor. It might be caught up in traffic early on and just not get up to speed by the turns. Will prove to be outclassed  Finish: 18th. #14: MISSION IMPAZIBLE will be helped greatly by the pace. Has good speed rating for an off track, and has contended on this track prior. On the right day this horse would be a stronger contender, but not in a 20 horse field. Finish 8th
#15: DISCREETLY MINE will be caught up in the pace, tho may briefly vie for the lead.  It has the best rating for an off track and does have the right breeding to win a race of this type. Another who would win if only it were not against such top competition. Will be a nice surprise for those seeking large payoff  Finish: 3rd.
16: AWESOME ACT I have very little info, what with all its racing in the UK. It’s worked out well and might set pace late but with all the unknown factors, I can’t rate it strongly. Finish: 19th.
17: DUBLIN. is another that I considered long ago in the future wager pools.  It likes Churchil, has defeated top horses, and might be on comfy footing in the slop. Just not sure it will withstand the pace. Also very mixed in its results on outside posts. Finish: 11th
18: BACKTALK is among the best of those who have raced at Churchill, and loves the slop It has yet to defeat graded winners and did not work out well. Finish: 13th.
19: HOMEBOYKRIS is this year’s Mine That Bird, and there’s the chance it might even win. He has defeated top horses, has great early sustained speed, and has won a few times from the outside post. Might not take to the track very well…I also have it ranked in th middle in terms of its breeding.   Finish: 5th
20: SIDNEY’S CANDY has defeated graded winners, and will adapt to the pace easily, and has won from the outside before; no blemishes here.  I have the concern that it will not like the wet surface, and it’s breeding is actually weak compared to the others.  Finish: 7th.

Top 5, again:
Super Saver, Ice Box, Discreetly Mine, Noble’s Promise, Homeboykris.

Churchill Downs 4/30 selections

Selections by horse name and saddle #
I have no data on race 1 so will be skipping this.

Race 2: 5-9-10-2
Race 3: 5-2-6-9
Race 4: 9-11-10-8
Race 5: 10-11-7-3
Race 6: 4-5-3-1
Race 7: 2-5-3
Race 8: 10-3-1-7
Race 9: 4-3-7-6
Race 10: 9-4-11-7
Race 11: (Oaks) 7-5-6-11
Race 12: 7-8-10

Next post will have, at last, my thoughts re Kentucky Derby, horse-by-horse, and selections 

Kentucky Derby projections (4/20)

Todd Pletcher’s herd have arrived at Churchill and will all get their workouts in by the weekend. Pletcher’s group includes a filly, Devil May Care, who has enough $ to be in the field on Derby Day. I know very little about the filly but hope to get a good comparision soon.

Meanwhile, my updated rankings including Exhi, who won the last big Derby prep, the Arkansas Derby. Exhi I ranked as the best-fitting chef-de-race type for Churchill Downs. I have done dosage comparisons for all contenders as they relate to the patterns of winning horses at Churchill and Exhi is tops on the new list. With most of the bottom contenders out of the picture and with Exhi in the mix, here’s my chef-de-race top 5:
Super Saver
Ice Box
Lookin at Lucky

The 8 horses with Grade 1 victories are all safely in.

7 horses with prior runs at Churchill are still in. Pleasant Prince is now off the Derby Trail. This list is unchanged otherwise from the prior post.
Churchill begins its meeting on 4/24, meaning there will be little trends to go on re the horse-for-course theory, let alone jockey/trainer stats. I like to follow jockey/trainer stats when a meeting is about 2 weekends in.

The pace factor is still unchanged though I did a tiebreaker between those horses that are very close together and that factored in the overall outlook. A Little Warm is off the trail.

Workouts are still the top factor given the circumstances, and are very carefully watched here. Homeboykris, as of this typing, has my top rank, seeing that it’s the one horse off a layoff..and has put in 4 works under trainer Richard Dutrow. No other horse has so many.
Also to be considered in this category are:
Rule (Pletcher horse), with 3 workouts, one of which ranked pretty high. These 3 horses each have 2 very good works, last one at Churchill:
Ice Box, (Zito’s horse)
Conveyance (Baffert’s horse)
Awesome Act (Noseda’s horse)
Super Saver, Interactif, Paddy O’Prado, Exhi, Setsuko and Stately Victor have failed to produce anything sufficient in this category just yet.

Also did my usual handicapping method that, instead of forcing a comparative rank among all horses, simply gave a point total based on the above factors, with less points to inherent conditions, more to race day indicators. Under this method, 10 of the 25 contenders have any real chance to win on Derby Day.  The top 4 that I would bet if the race was today are
Homeboykris Eskendereya Super Saver Exhi
Other contenders, mainly on the strength of their workouts include: Sidney’s Candy, Line Of David, Ice Box, Stately Victor, Dublin, Noble’s Promise.

To sum up, my new top 20 does include Exhi now. Line Of David, Endorsement take a slight downturn.
From 1 to 20:
Super Saver Eskendereya
Ice Box
Dublin Homeboykris Noble’s Promise Sidney’s Candy Line Of David Exhi Stately Victor American Lion Mission Impazible Endorsement Lookin At Lucky Rule Discreetly Mine Conveyance Awesome Act (new) Backtalk  (new, currently outside the earnings list)
Jackson Bend (ditto)

By Monday there should be a comprehensive update to this list.