One main factor I look at is the horse’s last speed figure in comparison to track ‘par’. If the horse makes a big jump in speed figure and exceeds the track par, I consider that a big negative, biggest on my list, in fact. Gun Runner’s score of 104 was a jump from his prior race of 97 in the Risen Star, enough of a jump to consider a bounce in the Derby. Plus it was a spike up and over the track par for the 10 furlong distance of 102. With the reduction to 100, the progression is below the par, and represents a healthier new top. I am now ranking Gun Runner as my #2 choice in the top 26, with Destin my top pick, Gun Runner 2nd, Mo Tom 3rd, Danzing Candy 4th, Mor Spirit 5th. These remain my top choices with a wet track as well.
I have just 2 horses figured out in this race as any sort of contenders. Many are looking to the rail post horse, Air Force Blue, as the top choice, and for good reason. Winner of the Dewhurst Stakes on this track with a 118 Equibase score in October, this was down from a 122 in the Vincent O Brien National at the Curragh a month prior. Both races were 7 furlongs on turf. Pace numbers dwarf the rest of the field. The only other horse I’ve considered seriously is First Selection. In pace bounceback mode after placing 5th last October in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in France with a 104, then dropping to 70 in a listed stakes in Dubai in March. The main reason for my liking him is how trainer Simon Crisford is responding with the changes. Owns prior wins from class rise and stretchout in distance, has also won a race with similar gain in weight, and has a shipping win. Plus he switches back to Crowley, with him he won a handicap race here at Newmarket. No other horses are serious contenders.