Volume V...Number 16
Friday, April 18, 2014


When it comes to isolating the true contenders for the Kentucky Derby...when it comes to separating the contenders from the pretenders there is a long checklist of questions that must be answered. After all, with 20 three-year-olds set to run to glory you are going to have to create a short list of legitimate contenders from which to find the winner and construct your exotic combos.

Obviously that is easily enough stated, but what are those questions to be asked and exactly how are they answered? One question that should be asked and as realistically as possible answered might be the most crucial of all...with none of the Kentucky Derby starters having run 1 ¼ miles...how do you decide which ones are best suited to get the distance?

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When Kentucky Derby bettors get their Past Performance sheets (DRF or BRIS or any others) they will definitely have distance ratings available to them. For instance, if you get the PP's for the Derby from BRISnet you can look for the Distance ratings for Chitu, who has a rating of 114 and won the Sunland Derby at a mile and an eighth while getting an individual speed number in that race of 103. On April 12, Ride On Curlin, who also has a BRIS distance rating of 114 also ran a mile and an eighth in his final Kentucky Derby prep and rallied for second in the Arkansas Derby with an assigned BRIS speed number of 99 for that race.
Given those two 3-year olds as an example, it is easy to see how even a diligent handicapper (believe me when I tell you that 90% of the people betting the Kentucky Derby won't look even that deeply) would find reason to give a slight nod to Chitu. And based on recent "True Distance Breeding Standards" to be evaluated in creating a legitimate Kentucky derby Contender Short List, choosing Chitu over Ride On Curlin would be a decision that goes against the grain of recent Derby results.

Let me try and put this as basically as I can. I stated above that there is a distance rating number that is part of any PP's you will use to handicap the Kentucky Derby. In essence, the higher the number, the better bred the horse in question is to get the mile and a quarter. But here is where that number must be qualified. The number is based on a historical evaluation of "all" races run by the combination of the sire/grand sire - dam/dam sire and previous generations and the influence. Again, those numbers are based on "all" races run by the breeding lines of influence whereas the three-year olds in question will try for the first time to live up to those numbers. That means that a colt might have been sired by a "sprinter type runner" that never won beyond 6 ½ furlongs but have a grand sire that was a long distance winner, therein skewing the overall distance runner. So you can see how difficult it can be to "truly" gauge the long-distance capability of the 3-year old Derby hopeful in question.

Fortunately, as I stated above, there has been one recent standard that has been more than fairly accurate in establishing a criteria for including and eliminating your "short list pool" of potential Kentucky Derby winners. The criteria are the average winning distance of the sire and the dam sire with slightly higher credit given to the female side (dam sire.)

In order to Win The Kentucky Derby it is crucial that Both the sire's and dam sire's average winning distance be over 7 furlongs with slight, though not overshadowing preference be given to the higher numbers. Interestingly, while these numbers have been paramount in identifying a Derby winner, they have not necessarily been as determinant in identifying the place, show and fourth place finishers, although there are many more minor award winners above the 7 furlong cutoff standard than below it.

That being said, let's take a look at the average winning distances for this year's Kentucky Derby contenders.

CALIFORNIA CHROME...Sire - AWD 6.5F...Dam Sire - AWD 6.5F
VICAR'S IN TROUBLE...Sire - AWD 6.7F...Dam Sire - AWD 6.9F
DANCE WITH FATE...Sire - AWD 6.4F...Dam Sire - AWD 7.2F
WICKED STRONG...Sire - AWD 7.2F...Dam Sire - AWD 7.7F
SAMRAAT...Sire - AWD 6.8F...Dam Sire - AWD 6.6F
DANZA...Sire - AWD 6.7F...Dam Sire - AWD 7.3F
HOPPORTUNITY...Sire - AWD 7.0F...Dam Sire - AWD 7.2
INTENSE HOLIDAY...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 7.2
WILDCAT RED...Sire - AWD 6.4...Dam Sire AWD7.2
WE MISS ARTIE...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire AWD 7.3
RIDE ON CURLIN...Sire - AWD 7.5...Dam Sire AWD 7.1*
CHITU...Sire - AWD 6.3...Dam Sire - AWD 8.2*
TAPITURE...Sire - AWD 7.4...Dam Sire - AWD 6.5
MIDNIGHT HAWK...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 6.8
RING WEEKEND...Sire - AWD 7.4...Dam Sire - AWD 7.5
GENERAL A ROD...Sire - AWD 6.7...Dam Sire - AWD 8.4
MEDAL COUNT...Sire - AWD 8.4...Dam Sire - AWD 7.2
CANDY BOY...Sire - AWD 6.9...Dam Sire - AWD 6.2
CAIRO PRINCE...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 7.1
UNCLE SIGH...Sire - AWD 6.6...Dam Sire - AWD 7.3
VINCEREMOS...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 7.0
HARRY'S HOLIDAY...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 6.5
COMANDING CURVE...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 6.2
PABLO DEL MONTE...Sire - AWD 8.3...Dam Sire - AWD 5.6
BAYERN...Sire - AWD 6.6...Dam Sire - AWD 7.6
SOCIAL INCLUSION...Sire - AWD 7.1...Dam Sire - AWD 7.2

*Notice the numbers on Chitu and Ride On Curlin. We pointed out in the beginning of this piece that both runners had an overall distance rating of 114, yet you'll notice that Ride On Curlin has equal AWD distribution from the sire (7.5) and dam sire (7.1) while Chitu has a sprinter number on the sire side (6.3) and a stamina number (8.2) on the dam sire side. You can see that the combined numbers for Ride On Curlin (14.6) and Chitu (14.5) are almost exactly the same as, but the recent Derby standard has definitely preferred the equal stamina on both sides. 

Keep in mind that while these are very important numbers, they only help in shortening your true contender list. These same "qualified" by average winning distance must also meet other criteria such as where they finished in their final prep(s), where their history at 1 1/16th and 1 1/8th miles indicates how many lengths they will be within proximity to the pace setter at the furlong marker, etc.

So make certain that you keep revisiting us here on these pages as we continue to provide the proven vital information that will help you get a handle on this year's Kentucky Derby crop.    


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