If the Derby were today…missing certain variables that would really color in the possibilities, some horses would appear to stand out. The missing variables include works, shape of race (tho it likely will include all types), dosage info (related to pedigree, a blip on my radar), any strong angles relevant to ROI, and any notable trainer angles coming in that goes beyond what I’m able to examine 2 weeks out. In this capsule view, I’ll tell you who seems strongest, plus my odds on the horses for the moment..
As there is no defined list of contenders on one page, I used the available Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances page to look at the top 24 in points on the official trail, and compared them as if they were all running today. Categories are listed from least to most important.
Pedigree: Even though I haven’t done the extra step re determining fit along the lines of chef-de-race numbers, I do trust the AWD category. Best fit here is Carpe Diem. Sire is Giant’s Causeway, multiple graded stakes winner in Europe. Damsire is Unbridled’s Song, who won the Breeders Cup Juvenile, Florida Derby, Wood Memorial in his Derby campaign.
Inherent factors: Just 5 of the 24 have Grade 1 victories.Best performance at Churchill of the field belongs to Dortmund. 2nd lifetime was an optional claimer, non winners of 2, 1 mile. He won that race with an 98 Brisnet. You can watch that race here. His other races have been on the West Coast. Should we see an off track, factor in El Kabeir. This FL-bred horse has run such races, with wins in the Gotham and Jerome under inclement conditions, not to mention a place in the Nashua.
Connections: Incomplete mark here. ROI patterns as determined by Brisnet are to be determined as jockey announcement haven’t been finalized. I never pay attention to jockey/trainer stats within the first 2 weeks of a racing meeting. Some trainer ROI stats are already out but we know they will fluctuate.
Pace progress: 5 horses are of note here: Carpe Diem exploded in pace from 100 in last year’s Breeders Futurity to 102 last out in the Blue Grass. Frosted forged a new top last out in the Wood Memorial, a 107 score. He began his 3YO campaign after layoff with a 98 in the Holy Bull, then went down to an 89 in the Fountain Of Youth. Danzig Moon also forged a new top of 99 last out in the Blue Grass. Similar pattern of layoff score, then recovery between his maiden win in February, then 4th in the Tampa Bay Derby. One Lucky Dane exploded in pace with a 96 in an 80k optional claimer, then matched with a 101 last out in the Santa Anita Derby. Stanford has a very slight recovery line, running in the 90s all the while at 3: 95 in an 75k OC race, then 94 in the Isamorada at Gulfstream, then 99 last out in the Louisiana Derby.
Pace: Top rated horse here is Upstart. Last 3 Brisnet 2nd-call numbers for this stalker-type are 114, 106, 98. Workout info will be finalized in 2 weeks. Track bias info I’m likely to ignore as the meet will be a week old at the time of the race. Post draw will have some significance too which I’ll focus on when the time comes.
Latest trends: The majority of horses are coming out of a race where they had a surge in pace. All these are bounce risks, tho some can duplicate or improve. 7 horses also come out of a good trip. One in particular had an excellent trip; American Pharoah’s performance up front in winning the Arkansas Derby, going 9 furlongs, is tops in my book, as he is a sprinter.
Putting it all together, I rank Upstart best of these. Being that he actually leads by himself in one of the higher scoring categories, and the others have many who share in the lead in others, Upstart is my first choice for winning the Run for the Roses. I’m ranking Dortmund 2nd for his lead in the inherent factor category. 3rd goes to Carpe Diem, who has a share in 3 categories. Frosted breaks a tie for 4th, giving his pace numbers the edge here.
Here’s how I rank my top 7:
3 Carpe Diem
6 Danzig Moon
7 One Lucky Dane