I sincerely hope that my work in the Enlightened Derby Trail has produced just the right horses.
The ones that reached my mythical Derby that did not make the actual field: Conquest Typhoon, Metaboss, Ami’s Flatter, Bridget’s Big Luvy, Why Two, A Day In Paradise, One Lucky Dane, Bodhisattva. So that means I agree on 12 of the 20 horses. I can live with that.
Here’s the 9 horses that were in the opposite position, those that are in the show but not for me: Ocho Ocho Ocho, Mubtaahij, Itsaknockout, Keen Ice, Mr. Z, Far Right, Frammento, War Story, Bolo
Here’s my analysis of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, horse-for-horse:
OCHO OCHO OCHO won the Delta Downs Jackpot, and won his first 2 races at Santa Anita from an inner post. In fact it’s his 5 race of 6 with an inner post. Gained in Brisnet from 83 to 96 last time out in the Blue Grass Stakes, so a possible bounce risk here. Not in my top 10.
CARPE DIEM won the Blue Grass, Tampa Bay Derby and Breeders Futurity. Only horse in the field to make a small improvement over his 2YO numbers that still can impact today. He scored 100 in the Breeders Futurity, and then a 102 last time out in the Blue Grass. It was also ahead of his 96 score in the Tampa Bay Derby…one of three horses to show great pace progress, tho also might show a slight downturn as well. Projected odds: 15-1.
MATERIALITY is undefeated in 3 at age 3, all at Gulfstream Park, winning the Florida Derby last out with a 105 Brisnet, plus a 100 in the Islamorada. One of several with outstanding wor tabs…3 works, each very fast, one at Churchill. Proven to handle extra weight, as he won with 122 in the Florida Derby, gain of 5 from previous. Good current numbers, but is outclassed in this field. Not in my top 10.
TENCENDUR placed in 3 Graded events to get here. All 5 lifetime races at Aqueduct. Exploded to a 105 Brisnet running 2nd in the Wood Memorial last time out, ahead of a 90 Brisnet in the Gotham. Switches back to Manuel Franco. Certainly a bounce risk here. Not in my top 10.
DANZIG MOON placed in 2 Graded events. Owns a basic recovery angle here. After a pair of 92s (sandwiched by a 14-week layoff), he bounced to 81 in the Tampa Bay Derby then pushed forward to a 99 in the Blue Grass. Bounce risk but minimized by his good pace progress. Projected odds: 15-1. Overlay.
MUBTAAHIJ is the big wildcard, as I have no pace numbers to reference. I have seen him win twice with a middle post, and put up final times that would probably be worth 80 to 90 Brisnet. Won the UAE Derby to qualify. Top average winning distance numbers of the field (sire Dubawi, damsire Pennekamp, both of who were multiple stakes winners across Europe). Comes out of a good trip. Projected odds: 42-1.
EL KABEIR switches back to Calvin Borel for this race. Placed in all but 1 race of his 9 lifetime. Won the Kentucky Jockey Club here in the autumn. Several wins from a middle post. Gained in Brisnet from a 95 to 101 in the Wood Memorial last time out, matching his lifetime best. Not in my top 10, tho I’d have ranked him higher if there were an off track situation. He won the Gotham under such conditions.
DORTMUND is undefeated in 6,winning the Santa Anita Derby last time out with a dazzling 106 and totally on the front end. A great effort for this sprinter, tho I take him down a notch for some trouble at the start of that race. 2 wins from a middle post.Best Churchill performance of the field,a 98 winner in an optional-claimer race on 11/29. Inherent numbers in spades. Steady increase in high Brisnet numbers. Projected odds: 10-1. Rank: 6th.
BOLO placed in two Graded events to get here. Only reason to give attention to him is the fact he’s posted a triple of good Brisnet numbers ahead of previous, 98, 100, 102. He could go either way with this. Not enough supporting evidence for a further increase, therefore not in my top 10. Finished better on turf and seems quicker against Graded rivals on dirt but I doubt this trend will translate in this unique event.
FIRING LINE briefly was my top choice and remains an elite. 1st or 2nd in all 5 races, including a win in the Sunland Derby. Forged 4 consecutive lifetime bests, up to a 101 last out. Has the most positive trainer changes (Simon Callaghan) of the field. Stretching out from 9 furlongs and hasn’t run since 3/22. Took on 4 extra pounds, 122 in all to win the Sunland, which was also his lone shipper win. One of a few entering this big race with a good, generally trouble-free trip. Projected odds: 10-1. Rank: 4th. Will include in wagers.
INTERNATIONAL STAR won his last 3, all Graded events (Louisiana Derby, Risen Star, LeComte) all at Fair Grounds, plus the Grey Stakes in Woodbine. Forged small lifetime bests in his last 4 and each of his 3YO starts, peaking at 99 last time out with a good trip in the Louisiana Derby. His last 3 scores, all in the 90s, are just ahead of his prior races. I have him ranked evenly with Firing Line, but rank him lower because he has less changes entering. Projected odds: 10-1. Overlay. Rank: 5th.
ITSAKNOCKOUT placed in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. Won 3 of 4 lifetime, all at Gulfstream. Great work tab here, with 3 works, 2 fast ones, one at Churchill, one a bullet work. 2 wins from a middle post. Seems ready to win today. Projected odds: 8-1. Overlay. Rank: 3rd. Will include in wagers.
KEEN ICE scored in 3 Graded events to earn his ticket. All 3 works at Churchill, 2 of them very fast. No real evidence to support a win here. Not in my top 10.
FROSTED won the Wood Memorial and placed in 3 other Graded events before that. Good recovery angle in play. Following layoff and matching his lifetime best of 98 in the Holy Bull, he bounced to an 89 in the Fountain of Youth, then exploded to 107 last time out. Another who could go either way with pace. Both lifetime wins from a middle post.Projected odds: 11-1. Possible overlay.
WAR STORY placed in all 5 lifetime races. Only horse with a blinker change reported (blinkers off for the first time). Despite the small gains in Brisnet scores and placings in Graded events at Fair Grounds, no other evidence to support a win. Not in my top 10.
MR. Z has run in Graded company for a number of races, and has burned a lot of money in the process. Needed his 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby to belong. I was an early believer in him and I’m glad he’s in. Top dosage profile befitting a winner at Churchill in this field (Malibu Moon/Stormy Bear by Storm Cat). One stat pops out to me: 5 races in the last 60 days for both Ramon Vazquez and D Wayne Lukas, earning 2 wins and 4 placings, for a 6.04 ROI. Sharp gain in Brisnet last time out, 76 to 92. Projected odds: 5-1. Big overlay. Rank: 2nd.
AMERICAN PHAROAH is the projected favorite, having 4 wins in 5 races including the Arkansas Derby, the Rebel, the Front Runner and the Del Mar Futurity. Thing is, he’s yet to do any better than his 103 in the Del Mar just after Labor Day. Adds 4 lbs from his prior race; he won the Front Runner adding 6, so carrying 126 shouldn’t be an issue. I did like his trip in the Arkansas Derby but I just can’t find a place for him in the top 10.
UPSTART won the Fountain Of Youth, Holy Bull, and ungraded Funny Cide. This stalker has the top pace numbers in the field. Last 3 2nd-call numbers are 114, 106, 98. 2 wins from an outer post. Gained in pace from a 95 to a 103 last time out, plus showed a good trip in the Florida Derby last time out. Adds 4 lbs here; added 6 in winning the FOY also. This is my pick to win the Run for the Roses. Projected odds: 4-1. Big overlay.
FAR RIGHT won the Southwest, adding 5 lbs for that race, and adds 4 more here. Also won the ungraded Smarty Jones. No evidence to support a win here today. Out of the top 10.
FRAMMENTO gets in with the defection of Stanford (whom I did like a lot early on). Placed in the Blue Grass and FOY. Also has no evidence to support a win. Out of the Top 10.
My top 4 that I will use in wins and exactas to each other, with a few exceptions:
2 Mr. Z
3 Firing Line
Future wager impact:
Mr. Z 44-1
I have exactas between Upstart over and under field from Pool 4: Tencendur, Danzig Moon, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Frammento.
Should any of my horses from here do worse in odds on Saturday, I’ll put up an extra win bet. I will not wager extra if the odds are better. As you know, I can afford to just keep things simple: $2 win bets, and $1 exactas.
In essence I have 9 horses to root for, 5 of them specifically in the win position.
Overlays based on most recent live odds (at the time of International Star’s scratch, Saturday morning): Mr. Z, Upstart, Itsaknockout, Firing Line. Yes, that’s 3 of my top 4.
I might place the top 2 post-time favorites over my top 4 as well.
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