Kentucky Derby 2014 future wager Pool #1 analysis/selections

It’s my favorite wager in horse handicapping. The future wager! I don’t play the exotics,save the occasional exacta. I’m tempted to spread a superfecta at times but that’s so much $ going out, and I do know the payoff is really nice when you can hit. I do know a system that can work, from the folks at But this post is about the wager I’ve done the best with and it’s enabled me to build upon my reputation as a visionary with handicapping.

The future wager, at is being contested for the first time during the 2YO campaign of KY Derby contenders. This extra pool runs before the 3 pools that have been in place for years, along with the singular KY Oaks pool. The concept is simple, to wager a win or exacta bet on a horse well before the big race, most of the time at much higher odds than the horse will actually run at post time, if that horse manages to make it through a bunch of prep races and actually start the race. It’s been challenging to pick one out of the first pool in February in prior years, but I’ve done well in the 2nd (which is now the 3rd), taking place in March.

The approach for me is this: I’ll pick 5 horses to win, among the 23 entered in the pool. I might play the exacta using the field to win, and my 5 horses underneath. is offering an elite rewards point prize for those who pick the KY Derby winner out of this one pool, otherwise those who pick horse with the most Derby points on the trail gets the share of a million-point prize. 1000 points is equal to $1, and for wagering via Twinspires, you get 4 points for every dollar wagered at Churchill Downs.

Given my current financial status I’m NOT wagering this pool, but I’ll present picks in the manner in which I WOULD wager. The further approach for the later pools are these:
If one of the 5 horses I select gets into the 2nd pool and the odds are higher (worse) than his final Pool 1 result, I will double-down and wager on that horse again, if that horse is still a contender. Otherwise I’ll leave that horse be. Same with Pools 3 compared to 2 and 4 to 3.

Here are the variables I’m working with this year and their explanation:

DOSAGE: Which horses has the best chef-de-race/dosage profile befitting a horse that typically wins at Churchill? To accomplish this, I access two sources of data: lists the average chef-de-race score for each major race track in the prior year. Chef-de-race, expressed in 5 numbers measures the strength and focus of a horse’s particular run style, whether as a pure sprinter, a deep closer, or somewhere in the middle. There are 2 extra scores included that make a single number to translate the 5 numbers of this expression, plus an extra number that determines the balance of the 5 numbers. What I will do is check out and look up the numbers of all 23 horses, then rank each horse by the 3 sets of numbers, compare them to the average set by Churchill. Lower differential makes the difference.

AWD: Average winning distance measures just that from the horse’s sire and dam.
CLASS: Who has won at the highest level? Horses are ranked based on the level of race won. Graded stakes (specifically G1 races) get the top rank, down to ungraded stakes, and all other races following that, down to the maiden level at the bottom.

PACE: Borrowing the main component of sabermetrician Bill James’ “Favorite Toy” method, and looking at run style, I determine who has the fastest pace numbers for the moment. For sprinters I use the 1st call of the last 3 races, 2nd call for early-stalkers, overall pace for closers, and stretch call for late runners. I use the Brisnet numbers, as I trust this info much more than I do for Daily Racing Form’s Beyers.

2YO PROGRESSION: This approach comes from Dave Litfin’s book “Expert Handicapping”. h I look for horses who have run at least one before Labor Day weekend at age 2. Then, I look to see if that horse has had an overall pace figure which improved at some point than his best effort before Labor Day. Between those horses, I rank who has won and then by the winning pace number.

DISTANCE: Which horses have won at the longest distance?

For all categories, the top 7 each get a checkmark. The most checkmarks for a horse brands him or her as a horse I’d select.

So, here are the results! I did identify my top 5, presented, Letterman-style:
#5: NEW YEAR’S DAY: Winner of the BC Juvenile with a 92 Brisnet. This race is key as he outpaced Havana and Strong Mandate, 2 of my other 4 contenders. That number was his best effort, following 2 maiden races running in the 80s. Has a contending AWD score (Street Cry-Justwhistledixie, out of Dixie Union). The 8.5 furlong win makes him a contender overall. Pace numbers for this early stalker are somewhat low compared to others, and dosage is not quite a match. Also has not run at CD. 14-1 are his odds at the close of Thursday’s wagering.
#4: BOBBY’S KITTEN: Winner of the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. 3rd in the BC Juvenile Turf. One of the leading dosage scores here. (Kitten’s Joy-Celestial Woods, out of Forestry). The Pilgrim at 8.5 furlongs was won with a 97, one of the top contending post Labor Day wins in the field. 2nd call numbers in last 3 races ranged from 75 to 109. No races at Churchill yet, and AWD numbers a bit lower than the other contenders. Also, no KY Derby Trail points 21-1
#3: STRONG MANDATE: Winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, 3rd in the BC Juvenile. Contender in AWD (Tiznow-Clear Mandate by Deputy Minister). Here’s the Hopeful win: Winning at Grade 1 also ups his chances. Pace average is very high, with 2nd call numbers of last 3 ranging from 98 to 112. Progression number is contending, with the 97 Brisnet score in the Hopeful.. Hasn’t won beyond that 7-furlong distance tho, dosage profile doesn’t quite fit, and has not yet run at Churchill. 27-1

#2: RISE UP: Winner of 4 of 6 lifetime, including the Delta Downs Jackpot, a Grade 3 event. 6th in the Iroquois at CD, winner of both a 100k and 200k ungraded stakes event. Here’s the Jackpot race: The 78 score in the Iriquois doesn’t impress but at least he has the race on that track. One of the faster pace numbers (last 3 2nd call numbers are from 102 to 106). The 98 scores at Delta Downs was tied with a horse outside my top 5, and my #1 contender for best performance post-Labor Day. It helps that the Jackpot was run at 8.5 furlongs. Pedigree doesn’t quite match up to the others, and has not faced Grade 1 company yet. 68-1
#1 HAVANA: Leads this field in KY Derby points. Winner of the Grade 1 Champagne 2nd in the BC Juvenile. Top dosage score from me in the field (Dunkirk-Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man). 3rd best pace numbers of the field (2nd call numbers run from 103 to 109). The 98 scored in the Champagne is among the most impressive of these colts post-Labor Day. That win came at a mile, with the BC race at 8.5. 20-1
At Thursday’s end of wager, with a mid-Saturday deadline, the ‘all others” are the huge favorite at even- money. with New Year’s Day and Honor Code the next most-favored by the public I don’t care for Honor Code at this moment, as he hasn’t defeated Graded company yet, and, despite his pair of 98 runs in two lifetime races, has not yet run past those numbers. Also, his one win was at the maiden level, for 7 furlongs.
I’ll keep you updated on my selections as we get to Pool #2 in February.

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