Kentucky Derby Trail: Memorable Moments

We're getting close to judgment day -- finding that single horse or betting angle or most attractive overlay possibilities. Until the horses can be observed in the flesh starting next week, here are some of the most memorable moments on this year's Derby trail in one person's opinion that will help in finding potential overlays.

Read the full column here.


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Steve- I'm suprised that you didn't mention IWR.  I got the impression that he was your top pick.  Also which horse do you think will provide the pace in the race?  It seems as though there really isn't a horse who might relish the early lead or have I missed something?

15 Apr 2009 12:08 PM

Great column.  Just one thing though.  Where does General Quarters have a distance oriented pedigree??  Certainly not in his sire or grandsire, and absolutely not in his broodmare sire.  Danzig will get him some stamina, but you have to go all the way back to his 3rd & 4th generation on the dam side with Unbridled and Round Table.  On the Sire side you do have A.P.Indy, but he is in the 3rd generation.  I know the roots are there, but the leaves are not stamina influences.  Pulpit was out of gas a 1 1/8 miles and Sky Mesa.....forget it.  He was toast after 1 1/16 miles.  Unbridled's Song never won past 1 1/8 miles and his get don't show enough of an affinity to go farther.  Storm Cat is not solid enough past 1 1/8 miles to be considered stamina.  SO where do you see General Quarters as having a pedigree of stamina.  It would not surprise me if he won the Derby, based on his Blue Grass race, but I don't think he will.  Most of his stamina is way back in his pedigree and with Pulpit, Sky Mesa, Storm Cat, Unbridled's Song, and Danzig all close up, it tends towards speed.  Don't get me wrong.....he is well bred and maybe that pedigree of quality will overlook the speed influences that are up close.

15 Apr 2009 12:32 PM

Just a typo to point out Steve.  You meant Arkansas D instead of Rebel for Win Willy's disappointing performance.  Nice article, as always.

15 Apr 2009 12:35 PM

"Solidified your opinion" that Dunkirk is a special horse? Why, last week, Haskin, or was it the week before?, you wrote a whole column about how you've never seen even a glimmer of a move, not the slightest sign of explosiveness from this horse!

Dunkirk exposed as a midget by hulking Quality Road - will likely get dusted in the Derby.

In fact, come to think of it, also, you take some real big leaps that this or that horse "we know will get the distance." Getting 1 1/8 miles doesn't guarantee that any horse will stay 1 1/4. Yet, according to Haskin this and that horse will...Boulderdash.

15 Apr 2009 12:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Speedball, please read the column, more carefully this time and look for the two times I mentioned him, and what this column is about.

Robert, being inbred to Round Table, having three Triple Crown winners in your pedigree, in addition to Danzig, Unbridled, Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, and Caro gives him enough stamina for me.

15 Apr 2009 1:13 PM

I like to say that I discovered Dunkirk since no one knew who he was when he entered the paddock at Gulfstream. I knew he was special the moment I saw him, and told my track-friends to bet him, he's the winner.  I told them it was too bad he came on the scene so late, because he's a Derby horse. Look at Dunny now -- a Top 10 Derby contender.  

15 Apr 2009 1:16 PM
Steve Haskin

fastnick, I have no idea whose column you're reading but it's certainly not mine. Go back and read what I wrote about Dunkirk and you'll see you have no idea what youre talking about.

15 Apr 2009 1:23 PM
Steve Haskin

thanks, helsbelles. Its fixed.

15 Apr 2009 1:23 PM

I really like Dunkirk. I'm glad he's going to be able to get into the Derby since I believe he belongs there. I don't know if he'll win. At this point, I don't look for a horse who can just win the Derby, I look for a horse who can win the Triple since I have yet to see a horse win one in my life time. I think Dunkirk will be a great summer race horse and I look forward to seeing him run this summer. I think he'll be a force to be reckoned with once he gets some more experience under his belt.

15 Apr 2009 1:29 PM

Sorry,Steve, I guess I was concentrating on the numbered paragraphs only

15 Apr 2009 1:40 PM

How's this for a memorable moment... Pioneerof The Nile worked 4f in 46:20 handily at SA this morning (1/39).  After just reading POTN mentioned by you in the same sentence with the phrase possible triple crown sweep, now I am really excited about him, and have my fingers crossed.  Although, I am unabashedly in love with I Want Revenge.

15 Apr 2009 2:06 PM

Of all the horses mentioned, the one with little or no flaws is Dunkirk, no 2-year old races notwithstanding.  I like him, Pioneerof the Nile, General Quarters, and Musket Man.  That will be my 4-horse exacta and tri box come Derby day.

15 Apr 2009 2:10 PM

  Other than whatever you see in “Desert Party”, not my cup of tea with reasons expressed in an earlier blog, my picks 5-6 weeks ago have run somewhat with near the top cream of your own ever changing ‘dozens lists’, where we have nearly agreed over the past 8 weeks, or so, yet where I had “Papa Clem” much higher all along and you only inserted him more recently.

    Again, I earlier identified 6 horses, and 9 horses, some 4-5 weeks ago that I thought were respectable enough and that I thought had a shot at the win in the  1  1/4 'dance', with that list having been made up of: "The Pamplemousse" (one of the six , injured out) and "Imperial Council" (one of the nine, falling to make earnings-thusly out) having fallen out of that nine, all while "Dunkirk" (long in my ‘sack of potatoes’ and so noted before his first 1  1/8 run!) and "Papa Clem" joined in from the lower side of that original ‘9 list’, and “Dunkirk”, although in my top five after his  1  1/8 run, a slighter consideration shortly thereafter because of his mere “150,000 earnings, where it then looked like that he would have no shot deciding not to run again, and where $180,000 was long ago projected as my assumed cut off number for required earnings this year as it has been in that range in the recent years’ past. Thusly, going in, my top 3 now are, and for sometime have been: "Quality Road"; "I Want Revenge"; and "Dunkirk", where following closely behind them are "Friesan Fire" & "Pioneerof the Nile". And I stated long ago, I like to carry five or six possibilities going with me to ‘the dance’ watching the odds board. Moreover, that cream bunch are closely followed by "Chocolate Candy" & "Papa Clem", whom I have been high on each after their respective early first 1  1/16 runs. In this entire group I see little trouble with any getting a   1  ¼  regarding their various breedings, so it seems that it is just who gets the trip, stays out of traffic jams, and who makes it to the stretch turn with gas still in the tank ready to burn it faster while looking others in the eye!  And, I also might add, that I have been giving some consideration to potentially playing “Musket Man” into the lower end tear of some exotics, although I do not see him as the winner. But, like you also stated in your article and thusly to near quote you, “we are getting a little deep here!”, are we not?

    As to the Coolmore, “Square Eddie’s” long layoff is a worrying factor, as we have seen most others, other than “Big Drama”, fail badly after such returns! Thusly, I will be looking for efforts from “El Crespo” off of his impressive Turf effort( 5    2  -1 - 0 ) ... Mdn. winner  1  1/16  (T)  1:41.88 92 Beyer;  &  winner Gr. III Palm Beach 1 1/8  (T)  1:47.71; Baffert’s “Mythical Power” another Turf switchee with a record of ( 4 1-2-1 ) off of his 2nd in the Sunland Derby; and  “Pitched Perfectly”, B. Tagg’s and formerly G. Contessa’s trained Kty. Bred ( 5 2-1-0) by Pleasantly Perfect-(Pleasant Colony)-((Affirmed))/Musical Minister-Deputy Minister; those of my more serious considered plays, should all make the entry tray.

   And again, good luck to all with your Derby picks and other days at the races.

15 Apr 2009 3:16 PM

Okay - I'm bucking the trend here - but I'm stating now that - if he makes it in - Mr. Hot Stuff will have a real shot at winning.

If he doesn't make the money cut - I will go with Friesan Fire.  Too many "rules" have been broken over the last several years regarding what you must do to win the Derby - I just don't think they stand up any more.  And Larry Jones will have him ready.  He's Secretariat top and bottom close up and has Seattle Slew to boot.  Throw in that Australian stamina - you have a Derby winner.

I have been very taken with Quality Road throughout - but the quarter crack is a big deal leading into the Derby.  You can't have anything go wrong leading up to this particular race.  He'd have been my pick if not for that unfortunate bit of luck.

There - I'll either look like a genius or an idiot in a few weeks!  

Either way - is there really any season better than Derby season?  Good luck to all!

15 Apr 2009 3:31 PM

The Florida Derby was indeed the most memorable of the prep races but the high point was not the loser's big move on the far turn but the winner's press button response when roused by Johnny V.

While I am very happy that Dunkirk and his trainer will be at the big dance, with a respectable shot, I don't think that Pletcher wants his charge facing Quality Road again without a rabbit, given that he's determined to "take the points" this time around.  However I do believe that they will all be seing a clean pair of heels (quarter crack included) from a respectable distance behind.

15 Apr 2009 4:29 PM

I am still wondering who will be my pick for this years Derby, there are so many quality runners this year. Dunkirk is one of my favorites. I loved his move on the turn and the guts he showed. To me if he'd been more experienced, and had some more things go his way in that race he would've won. Though i like him and he will be one of the picks i get from my emotions, my head says he will not win the Derby, but end up more like Curlin. Another favorite of mine, both head and heart is POTN, i just love that horse, and think if he takes to dirt he'll be a force to be reckoned with. FF is another, mainly because of Larry, but i also got to see this horse's latest work and was astonished at how easily he did it. Lastly, if this horse puts in a nice effort in the Lexington, Square Eddie. I can't help but pick him, especially since I was a very big Curlin fan.

15 Apr 2009 6:54 PM

what do you think of terrian,for my feeling is his next race will be his best .do you think it could be good enough to win the derby.

15 Apr 2009 7:25 PM

You are right, Steve, no surprise about Charitable Man.  Also Square Eddie.

15 Apr 2009 7:55 PM
Matthew W

Steve I believe POTN has the most wins in a row, most two turn wins, most graded wins, most Gr 1 wins and he still may be fifth choice--especially if GoGo goes! And I also like Gen Quarters--you just sense his stamina and quality and you'll get 15-1!! I Want Revenge is a MUST use! But those form a potent threesome--maybe add a little Freisan Fire...dash of Dunkirk and a smidgen of DWayne...with a little Kent on the side...playing against Quality Road but they all will have to tangle with Baffert!!

15 Apr 2009 9:21 PM
Matthew W

If I'm planning on running Square Eddie in Kentucky then no way would I go 1 1/8 two weeks prior--rather I'd train him up to the race--they don't need the graded earnings...This is the hard luck guy---he had all the needed earnings last fall--and he still can't get ready in time...

15 Apr 2009 9:23 PM
John T

 When I saw the ground that Dunkirk made up at the top of the stretch I thought also he was going

on to win but it proved 2 things [1]Inexperiense is still there [2]This is a top class colt who should go on to win major races.

15 Apr 2009 10:07 PM

The one you are leaving out, Steve - Chocolate Candy's El Camino - was the race that proved he had the mettle to win the Derby. It was enough for Hollendorfer to lay him off (from racing) for 7 weeks, training him up to the SA Derby, where he reverted to the style that makes him  so dangerous, relaxing, and closing fast (like Alysheba) for a strong 2nd. Heading to Kentucky for his 2nd off the layoff (30% last 5 years), Candy, switching to what may be a pronounced favorable surface (strong female dirt family), he should be expected to run the very best race of his life. He needed the El Camino. This was a necessary race after the el camino, accomplished with every bit he had to  give that day. On Derby Day, it figures that he will have more to give.

The El Camino is my number one prep.

15 Apr 2009 10:17 PM

I guess I better expound on that point of view.

Why would a top trainer like Larry Jones take seven weeks to train his horse up to the KD?

Because, like Eight Belles, he has gotten the answer he was seeking and now his job is to get the colt there in tip/top condition.

Was I alone in thinking the El Camino was a startling effort? As it turns out, mostly yes. But Hollendorfer was so impressed he trained the colt for 7 weeks up to the SA Derby, the most important race in the young colt's life. Had he run 3rd, he might be on the outside looking in? He was rewarded with a closing second where he came home faster than POTN, while being wide (in the middle of the stretch, which if you look at the very next race, may have been a compromising part of the track), yet he closed fast - a Derby must. The way he galloped out proved he needed the race. He gave everything he had while relaxing early, the very thing the connections wanted to see (along with closing fast).

Coming into the derby with his 2yo foundation (including the real quiet stakes in record time), 2nd off the layoff, should produce the race of Candy's life. You have to love how he has been conditioned for the KD, don't you?

A surprise package?

15 Apr 2009 10:53 PM

Steve, some points on your memorable moments.

It appeared to me that Dunkirk was ridden to get into contention. A horse under strong urging will move forwards unless it is out of gas. His move was not as effortless as those made by Monarchos in the 2001 FL Derby and Azari in the 1991 Breeders Cup Juvenile. There are some horses that get on term with the leaders without urging, Dunkirk is not one of them.

I have no quarrel with your Desert Party assessment. However, his stable mate has yet again not made your list. The youngest horse in the UAE Derby field, that was easily defeated by Desert Party in the UAE Guinea, led from gate to wire. He turned the table on DP going a distance presumably more suitable to him. He relaxed beautifully for his rider and stretched out like a rubber band last two furlongs while refusing to let the charging Desert Party get by. On the two previous occasions they met he willingly surrendered the lead.

POTN closed fast in the Beverly Lewis off six furlongs in 1:12.18. How fast would he have closed if he was chasing the 1:10.07 of the San Rafael or the 1:10.29 of the Sham. Quality horses will always close fast if they are allowed to follow slow fractions .i.e, I Want Revenge. His explosion was simply due to the slow pace of the race.  His stretch run does not compare to that of the Evita Argentina in the San Vincente.

Musket Man, General Quarters and Hold Me Back I totally agree with although Musket Man had twelve a pounds sing in weight on GQ in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Win Willy had to be ridden for all he was worth to get by tiring Old Fashioned in receipt of five pounds. Good yes, memorable no.

My memorable moments are Regal Ransom in the UEA Derby for the way he relaxed and powered home and Summer Bird for closing from another zip code in his graded staked debut on a speed favoring track.

16 Apr 2009 1:11 AM

I thought IWR's CASH CALL was a great prep race.  He split horses along the rail in deep stretch and stares into POTN's eyes the last 16th.  Those two ding dong down the stretch like Easy Goer and Sunday Silence and along comes CC running fast late for a show.  This could be your Derby trifecta as none have regressed.

16 Apr 2009 2:06 AM

I'm glad somebody finally mentioned Summer Bird, thanks Coldfacts. His confident move on the outside, reminded me of Charismatic. I noticed that Bejerano acknowledged that he almost got beat to Summer Bird's jockey, past the wire. I love Summer Bird's pedigree, with Birdstone, Drone, Stormbird, Summer Squall and Alysheba, what about the Belmont for him? I guess

he's going to the Lonestar Derby next.

16 Apr 2009 9:29 AM

Steve:  Thank you for the great energy here with all that you bring to the Derby trail.  Regarding the latest Derby Dozen and the reference to the ARK DERBY being a hard read for various reasons.  The reference to Summer Bird, the maiden winner (prior 78 Beyer effort).  Here is a short list of some substantial horses who broke through in major stakes with wins and were only maider winners when they did so; Papa Clem, 1 of 5 going into the ARK, Giacomo, 1 of 7 going into the Derby, Charasmatic, 1 of 12 going into the LEX, Real Quite, 1 of 8 going into the HLY FUT, Street Sense, 1of 4 going into the BC-J, Alysheba...I saw where Papa Clem's winning ARK beyer was just raised from 99 to 101 (now satisfying some people's rules on the 100 or greater beyer).  But, how much can we trust the Beyer's these days.  PC, just noted.  QR from 103 to 111 in the FL Derby, Candyman downgraded Hutch after not performing as well in a subsequent race.  Beyers figs. for synthetics period.  Is it really that IWR and others "really took to the dirt" or the synthetics figs. were bogus to begin with.  It must leave the public confused, maybe?  Handicappers, confused too and an opportunity at the same time.  It is bothersome that Beyer gets so much room for adjustment.  Seems like a Chicago weather analyst.

16 Apr 2009 1:20 PM

Steve,  will there be a transcript available of your live blog yesterday?

16 Apr 2009 1:51 PM
Steve Haskin

Bill, if you go to the Blog stable under Hangin With Haskin, you will see it there. Just click on to replay.

Elusive Quality, Summer Bird is not intended for the Derby, so none of it matters in that respect.

Slew, I didnt include the El Camino Real because there wasnt one specific memorable moment. I liked his race, but as a whole.

16 Apr 2009 2:35 PM
Julie L.

I have to agree with you on POTN he has been my choice for the Derby since the CashCall Futurity and everything thing about him (breeding, running style) says he could very well take the crown but I hate to jump to far ahead so lets wait for the Derby and hold our breaths in the stretch as I believe it will be Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge battling it out.

16 Apr 2009 2:52 PM

I would add a memorable moment: The Pamplemousse in the Sham. I was in awe watching him run. His high cruising speed, his machine like stride that seemed to cover twice the ground as the others and the ease in which he ran. Everything about this horse was everything I love in a horse. He was the whole package!

16 Apr 2009 4:59 PM

I love the comment about Summer Bird coming from another zip code! I think there are about 3 of us that love this horse. Too bad he came on a little late in the graded races as I would put my money on this guy for sure to win the derby. But if I have to settle for Belmont I will. He is quite a horse. I Love Birdstones babies!

16 Apr 2009 5:54 PM

What I liked in the Sham, Karen, was after high speed cruising on the lead like that, Alex S gave him a swat at the 1/8 pole (?) and he drew away from the crowd.  

16 Apr 2009 8:32 PM
Matthew W

Julie L I too think it will be POTN/IWR in the last 1/16...and Slew Of Damascus you make a real good case for Choc Candy but I just think he's a) not as good as POTN and b) not trained by Bob Baffert! In my opinion, prio ride surface causes closer, more bunched finishes--notice it's always POTN beating CC...IWR...Papa Clem in those close finishes---but I cannot argue with your train of logic--BTW Slew Of Damascus had the most beautiful red-chestnut coat!!

16 Apr 2009 9:59 PM

    Also, as to another discovered further quote regarding ‘DI’, “Dosage Index”, being an issue which Steve repeatedly seemingly wants us all to just ignore the value of addressing as being somehow less relative in this day and age, yet where we are expressly talking about horses that were all sired from horses to which these figures do and did also apply. So why ignore such data, I ask?, where I for one do not understand and thusly I do still keep this particular tool in my bag when paring down lists from 400 down to 20 and then from 20 down to however many it want to consider more seriously on Derby Day!

    “Historical research at the time (the early 1980s) revealed that no Kentucky Derby winner since 1929 had a DI over 4.00 despite the fact that about one-fourth to one-third of all stakes winners did. That suggests [that] we should have seen as many as ten to fifteen Derby winners exceeding the DI 4.00 figure over the previous half century. Surprisingly there were none.”

    Yes, in the most recent years D.I. as a consideration rating is rising at a rate of something like “.04 D.I. units per year”, (to which the likes of a “Giacomo” win contributed to it rising so dramatically, etc.) and there have been 3 winners exclusive of that rule that I identified in some past blog posting somewhere. However, does that show enough of a trend and such a swing to ignore the above rule? Did you really have “Giacomo” at 50-1 as your pick 4 years ago?? I doubt it! And, he is one of those that broke the norm and the following of that rule! (GO BACK and look where STEVE ranked him!) Thusly, there are exceptions to every rule, and you can like a horse for some other reason other than a 4.00 + D.I., “Curlin” being one with a D.I. of 4.00, but we are talking narrowing the field down to a DERBY WINNER here, which there is only one each year, and which “Curlin” didn’t make it either!, Although, I must admit that I broke my own following of the rule that year and played him in an exacta box, where I think he finished 4th????

  Yet, for those that overlooked “Giacomo”: (quote below):

  “2005 Derby winner Giacomo is by Holy Bull and out of a Stop the Music mare. Although he has a DI of 4.33 which is just marginally above the DI 4.00 guideline, his Tomlinson Distance Rating is well over 300 indicating suitability to a classic distance. With the Tomlinson data in hand…, one might have looked at his pedigree differently. Combining this knowledge with the fact that Giacomo was the 7th highest rated two-year-old of 2004, assigned 122 pounds on the EFH (four below the high weight), we probably should reconsider whether he did, in fact, have the attributes of a “DQ” [“Duel Qualifier”]. At 50-1 odds certainly it was worth some thought”.

 “The term ‘Dual Qualifier’ was assigned to any horse meeting both the DI and EFH [[Experimental Free Handicap]] criteria. The intention was to demonstrate, if possible, a positive correlation between DQ characteristics and classic racing success”.

  And then again isn’t hindsight great! (The lucky b******d my brother had him in the pool and on race day!!) Surely, at 50-1 anyone is worth some thought!! So, whatever extra you can spend on a horse with a DI of 4.00 or higher getting 50-1 one should never overlook, as an insurance play if for no other reason, right?. And yet, we don’t make insurance bets on horses, do we??? Do you??  

Of further interest: (quote below):

  …”Based on historical observation it became evident that the vast majority of American classic horses could be defined in terms that didn't apply to almost all other Thoroughbreds. We identified three unique characteristics that made these horses different, the latter two being closely inter-related. First, they were bred to stay a mile and a quarter as young three-year-olds. Second, they had matured earlier than average and, third, they were among the elite runners of their generation as two-year-olds, exhibiting exceptional class virtually from the beginning of their racing career. The rationale behind this hypothesis is that under the unique conditions of classic racing these factors are critical for success. For one, we felt that Grade 1-level pace pressure requires genetic suitability to the distance.  Furthermore, that suitability will be fully expressed under the race conditions. In addition, we believed that early maturity combined with extraordinary class is needed to handle the unique configuration of classic racing, particularly in the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby is like no other race, …[as it]… is uniformly of exceptional quality with superstars… converging to confront one another. …The pace of the Derby is almost always very quick, putting special emphasis on strength and physical development, as does the usually large field size where those same attributes help the runners to overcome the inevitable crowding and bumping that occurs and which can be intimidating to those less mature. Advanced physical development is obviously an asset once we realize that the challenge of ten-furlongs comes at a point in time when the starters are still very young... Finally, maturity helps the horse to maintain a relaxed demeanor in the midst of the Derby's circus-like atmosphere and spectacle, enabling the horse to stay focused on the task at hand...

…Dosage figures are a good first approximation of distance potential and the Dosage Index (DI) was chosen as the metaphor for genetic suitability to ten furlongs. This was done for the sake of simplicity even though we had established earlier that the Center of Distribution (CD) was the more accurate statistical tool and that the Dosage Profile (DP) was the most useful tool for pedigree interpretation.

DQs in the Preakness and Belmont have performed as well or better than they had previously… The failure of DQs in the Derby in contrast to their continued success in the last two legs of the Triple Crown is difficult to understand and the subject of speculation. That the public is generally unaware of this information is directly attributable to the media's focus on Dosage only in the context of the Derby.

Since 1940, the average DI of Derby winners has increased by about 0.04 DI units per year.   A consequence of this trend is that by the year 2020 it is projected that half of all Derby winners will have a DI exceeding the historical 4.00 guideline. [[Yet, where this article failed to mention anywhere that the current DI average is currently around 2.40!!! to continue to calculate adding .04 a year to!!! So just how accurate is this supposed ‘projected’ finding? I am no mathematician.]] The Thoroughbred is changing.  It is continuously being infused with more speed.  There is pressure from owners and trainers to shorten the distance of major races as fewer horses remain competitive over a distance of ground.  Under these conditions it should come as no surprise that the DI criterion alone may be insufficient for determining whether a pedigree meets the Derby standard.  In simpler terms, the standard is changing.  At the same time, the continued success of DQs in the Preakness and Belmont suggests that, unlike the Derby, there is a more stringent selection process at work.  Everyone wants to take a shot at Louisville and in huge fields a dream trip by a horse otherwise ill-suited to the challenge will often determine the outcome.  Perhaps it is not merely coincidence that between 1991 and 2005 the trend line of the Beyer Speed Figures of Derby winners is in a downward direction while the trend line of the DI of Derby winners is in an upward direction.”  

              From “Dosage: Pedigree and Performance” … “The Concept of Duel Qualifiers”

  But, this is 2009 and not 2020 that we are considering!!!! And once again we are only talking of distances of 1 ¼ and beyond!! Although, I personally have scrutinized all present thoroughbreds with a DI above 3.60 currently regarding the distances of 1 3/8’s and beyond. You can go back and look over all of the 1  3/8  races and longer and research all the over under 3.60 DI’s if you want, I WON”T!! Also, I am no scientist nor mathematician that would sit here all day and crunch numbers or research each pedigree and look for flaws or other interpretive data to cancel out this general discovered finding. or that, just to dispute the GENERAL THEORY here of 4.00 being the accepted cutoff figure, but I do understand the theory behind probability and statistics to a degree to still use this axiom as a tool!!!  Thusly, I exclude all horses presently with a DI of 4.00 and higher as potential Derby winners and have to find something else extremely exciting when considering entries in the 3.60 to 3.99 range currently. And, this holds even greater for the Belmont and should hold up well beyond 2020 in regards to that race, where we are talking of an added extra furlong making such even more attributable.

17 Apr 2009 11:47 AM

Again, Hello all. I got these postings off of various web sites, I don’t now remember where, but thought they might be of interest in selecting your choices in narrowing down your own lists if you are not already an astute handicapper and also think that the likes of Dray may in fact not be “God’s gift” at picking horses. Thusly, the author first mentioned below suggested listing your top picks, (one could apply the potential entire Derby field) and then using the below list of questions, putting a check mark by those that you give a ‘yes’ answer to. Then, obviously the ones with the most checks get the greater consideration. Thusly being how he arrived at his choice “Big Brown” last year, etc.

Therefore, does the horse under consideration have a:

Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or better in one of the Derby Prep races?

A Tomlinson Distance Rating, [“Dist”], (see DRF) of at least 300?

Has he finished 1st or 2nd in a Derby Prep race contested on a “dirt” track?

Has he previously won a race on Churchill Downs’ “dirt” track?

Does he have a speed or tactical speed running style (runs on or near the lead)?

Do each of last 3 Beyer Speed Figures show improvement over previous one?

Does he have a least one top 5 morning workout since its last race?

            Does the horse’s Trainer and Jockey both have previous Ky. Derby experience?

Next, total the check marks for each horse and select the four (4) with most checks.      

   From this reduced set of four (4) candidates one could apply [other] various qualitative factors.  However, I like to return to the above questions and further reduce the candidate list by selecting the horse with a Beyer Speed Figure above 105, whom runs well on a dirt track, and has a speed running style. Therefore, my selection for winning the 134th Kentucky Derby is BIG BROWN.

 Note: This is not my own picking tool or deciphering tool, and thusly I take no credit for the above, as it is just someone else’s tool that one might find interesting in narrowing down your own potential players or the Derby winner, etc.

17 Apr 2009 11:53 AM

Dosage Index Chart:

“Beethoven”:       5.86

“City Style”:      5.67

“Mind That Bird”:  5.40

"Old Fashioned”:   5.22 high DI

“Win Willy”:       5.00

“Massone”:         4.71

“Mr. Fantasy”:     4.20

“Munnings”:        4.00

“Flat Out”:        4.00

“This Ones For Phil”: 4.00        

“Musket Man”:      4.00  


“Desert Party”:       3.90

“Pioneerof the Nile”: 3.89  high DI

“Flying Private”:     3.67

“Checklist”:          3.62

“Uno Mas”:            3.57


17 Apr 2009 12:03 PM

Steve, I was greatly amused from your live blog at Mike asking you for 'odds help' in setting the odds for "IWR" and "QR". I hope you passed along to set them at 99-1 so I can get a better return on my plays come Derby Day.

17 Apr 2009 12:13 PM

ZARVONA: Enjoyed reading your posings.  Good stuff.  Regarding the Dosage Index, it will be interesting to watch the outcome of Win Willy's (DI 5.0) stretch run in the Derby although he may be compromised somewhat by the absence of The "Mousse" and Old Fashioned on the front end.  If the fractions are slower than 1:11 for the first 6 furlongs it's gonna be "money for jam/ marmalade" for Quality Road.

17 Apr 2009 2:17 PM

My last line should read " for jam/ marmalade for Quality Road backers"

17 Apr 2009 2:58 PM

  TY Ranaglzion, you and all are entirely welcome.

  Let me again state another consideration. I also disqualify as a "potential winner" all horses with "Storm Cat" breeding, where it did once cost me dearly not playing "Blue Grass Cat" for 2nd applying my own rules again, even though I liked the horse and even played him in the Future Pool that year as a winner!!! lol! at myself.

  However, the above DI rule much like this breeding exclusion rule does not exclude anyone from coming in 2nd through 19th!! and occasionally even 1st, as in the case of "Giacomo", being one outside of the rules that proved against my own exclusions!! [[But then again, since 1929 (let us see, that is 90 yeras times 20 entries per year (ave.) thusly of near 1,800 entries??, what 4 have broken the rule !!!  DO YOU LIKE THOSE ODDS???

  Thusly, these general rules are critea for picking against a WINNER ONLY on a percentage basis! And yet, don't cast out a play you like because of my logic!!! Again, I didn't have "Giacomo", but my brother did!!! My thoughts are only to aid and help guide the readers and bloggers on Steve's blog. Again, nothing I contribute will shatter the odds on Derby Day, and if you like a horse because of his name, or whatever, (my brother's girl friend liked a horse named "Lemon's Forever" and got a 99-1 winner!!!)  and that or whatever is your critiea, I wish you the best! (and then I just have to hope that your pick is also one that I arrived at applying logic and my used tools, etc., so that we both are standing in the window line cashing! and hopefully we thulsy did arrive at the winner together however we got there! lol.)

17 Apr 2009 3:56 PM
steve s

Iwant rev and gen q(lost about four len in blue grass)are about equal in speed rating yet come derby day odds Iwr 4-1, GQ 25-1

17 Apr 2009 4:38 PM

having seen square eddies first two races in the uk let me tell you he wont stay in the kd.musket mans performane in the id and the crucial decision of coa to ride hime is significant wont be out of the first three ill be watching from newmarket with bated breath

17 Apr 2009 4:43 PM

This derby is driving me nuts. I simply cannot decide who I like for the win. Everytime I zero in on one of them, I watch a replay of a race, or see a work and change my mind. Why should I care?? I don't even bet......

17 Apr 2009 5:12 PM

Just out of curiosity Zarvona, why do you exclude Storm Cat breeding? Thanks.

17 Apr 2009 5:12 PM

Zarvona I am intriqued by your blogs. Can you help me understand exactly what a dosage index is? If I am reading this correctly, the lower, the better? I would imagine with the new proride and synthetic surfaces, this will have an effect on the DI? Beside PON and WW you have written "high DI". What does this mean? Sorry about all the questions.

17 Apr 2009 5:32 PM

KAREN 2: If you go by the truism that "pace makes the race" and consider the developing pace scenario in the Derby with Quality Road as the controlling speed, the outcome will be clear.  Don't go nuts, go bananas over QR.

Just my two cents on the Storm Cat question:  that stallion has a dismal record in the Derby (as well as AP Indy) despite being bred to the creme de la creme of the North American broodmar band for two decades.  I believe that his dam Terlinga carries a very dominant speed/stamina-deficient genetic trait (perhaps inherited through grand sire Bold Ruler) that stymies the chances of Storm Cat progenies in the Kentucky Derby.  Most of the Storm Cats are stamped in multiple traits with Terlingua' qualities.  Cat Thief, High Yield and Bluegrass Cat were the only ones I can recall out of a large number that had real Derby shots.  Cat Thief matured later in the year to win the Breeeder's Cup Classic, High Yield appeared to have been mismanaged by D. Wayne Lukas (running two gut-wrenchers as preps plus a bad draw in the derby) and Bluegrass Cat ran into "Hurricaine" Barbaro in the 2006 Derby.    

17 Apr 2009 6:19 PM
For Big Red

TO KAREN2: To answer your question about what "Dosage" is, it's a complex theory that uses a mathematical formula to attempt to quantify speed and stamina influences passed down from prepotent sires in the breed. Here's a link to the overview on the official site:

Unless you're a mathematician, it will make your head spin. So let me boil it down. The late, great DRF pedigree analyst, Leon Rasmussen, became a believer in the Dosage system circa the late 1960's or early 1970's, and he began incorporating Dosage information into his pedigree analysis columns. He also modified the original methodology and discovered that no Kentucky Derby winner had a "Dosage Index" over 4.00 and a "Center of Distribution Index" over 1.25. Naturally, many people rushed to include Dosage in their Derby handicapping. All went fine for years, until a horse came along who did not qualifiy on Dosage, but did win the Derby. Since then, it's happened several times -- how many, I can't say without doing a lot of research.

Dosage only relys on prepotent sires (who are designated "chefs-de-race" in the methodology). This is why I've never been a big supporter of the system. It only takes a cursory knowledge of genetics to realize any system that excludes half an animal's genetic inheritance is flawed. But after all these years, the Dosage concept is very ingrained in the sport.

I don't want to bore you with a long write-up of the several reasons why I'm not a huge Dosage proponent as a handicapping tool. But here's the best one. All but a few horses in any Derby field will qualify on Dosage. In many Derbies, all the starters qualify.

Here's the probable 2009 field. The first number after the horse's name is the DI. The second is the CDI.

Charitable Man - 2.06 - 0.69

Chocolate Candy - 2.08 - 0.70

Desert Party - 3.80 - 1.00

Dunkirk - 3.00 - 0.68

Flying Private - 3.67 - 0.88

Friesan Fire - 3.00 - 0.65

General Quarters - 2.69 - 0.67

Giant Oak - 3.00 - 0.94

Hold Me Back - 3.44 - 0.80

I Want Revenge - 3.00 - 0.69

Mine That Bird - 5.40 - 1.19

Mr. Hot Stuff - 2.11 - 0.64

Musket Man - 4.00 - 1.10

Papa Clem - 3.36 - 0.92

Pioneerof the Nile - 3.89 - 0.86

Quality Road - 2.38 - 0.73

Regal Ransom - 2.00 - 0.54

Square Eddie - 3.40 - 1.00

Summer Bird - 2.56 - 0.69

Take the Points - 1.35 - 0.30

West Side Bernie - 1.80 - 0.50

Win Willy - 5.00 - 1.13

You'll quickly see that only Mine That Bird and Win Willy don't qualify on Dosage. Some system, huh. It only gives itself a 90% to 100% chance of being right most years.

17 Apr 2009 6:52 PM
The Phantom

Revenge and Eddie, Quality ,Nile, Dun, Fire  Desert who knows but one thing for sure there will not be a heavy favorite to win so the prices should be real good.

Eddie could be a serious threat if he's ready, a big if.

17 Apr 2009 7:13 PM

I just read about Summer Bird heading to the Derby! Im so happy about that.

But on a sad note, that was a horrible accident for Tin Cup Chalice. My condolences to his connections. He was a very nice horse.

17 Apr 2009 7:55 PM

Wow.. thanks Big Red and Rangulzion for the info. Now my head is spinning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!maybe I won't worry about the DI : )

17 Apr 2009 8:27 PM

I just read the story about Tin cup Chalice...How sad. I hate to hear about these accidents. I hope the jockey is o.k.

17 Apr 2009 10:08 PM
Matthew W

I think POTN wins The Belmont...if he gets the Derby I think he'll get it all....I also think he's the best horse of this crop.....The Robert Lewis clearly shows he's the best horse of his crop seen so far!...I Want Revenge will be his biggest challenge...General Quarters is also a contender but I think it's down to those three for me...I'll let the Florida guys beat me/go with the proven class---POTN is the proven class/has Baffert which is a HUGE advantage in this theatre!

17 Apr 2009 11:06 PM

  TY FOR BIG RED for you explanation that would have taken me as long as finding and posting the other info to explain. Google is a great search engine that is where I started! If one needs more on the “D.I.” explanation! or on “chef-de-race”, or “CD”, or “DQ”, etc.

   And ok ok, I did make a slight error in stating 90 years times 20 entries, told you I was no mathematician. It has been pointed out to me, that it was only over the last 80 years, thusly not knowing the exact number of entries (20 per year estimate) or how many entered with a DI of 4.00 or higher, etc., there have only been 4 WINNERS from 1600 entries thusly 1 in 400!! or .25 % that won the Derby in the past 80 years and that had a D.I. of 4.00 or higher... and as stated, thusly 4 of 1600 have broken the rule. Do you want to fight those odds?? .25 % ??

   Again this is only a tool and only a tool used to distinguish a NON winner. Odds are therefore just math not horses on a track, not getting out of the gate, slowing the pacing, bumping, get trapped in traffic, and etc., where I can’t tell you about “the trip”, I can only single out those that I don’t see crossing the finish line First based on pedigree.  Anyone can finish 2nd through 19th!! But the point was, that the chance of a horse with a D.I. of 4.00 and higher at a  1  ¼  is vastly diminished. The explanation above re stamina via breeding etc., generic to the longer  1  ¼  race only should make one therefore see the concept behind its value and that such applies even more to 1  1/2. It is not an absolute, but spanned a 50 year period without a winner as specified. There are only 20 horses this year to be entered in the Kentucky Derby, 3 with a D.I. of 4.00 or higher so far per the above list by FOR BIG RED (I earlier listed others that I singled out and identified that were earlier contenders to make that list during the year, which one might want to refer to if they are entries in the Belmont, which history and the above article tells us THEY SHOULDN’T BE. Thusly, my premise is that in betting on the likes of “Win Willy”; “Mine That Bird”; and “Musket Man”, being those so identified, “TO WIN”, the chance of any of them being “the Winner” is greatly decreased and I actually like “Musket Man”, just not as the winner as stated earlier. If all factors were equal, with 20 horses entered and non scratched, each should also be a assigned a Morning Line Odds figure of 20-1, right?. Yet, this isn’t the case, is it?? Because all the factors aren’t even. Some other factors make the Morning Line Odds set varying widely from 3-1 to 50-1. Why? because the horses are not all clones and because Mike Battaglia loses so much sleep figuring out who should be assigned what odds! he has to ask Steve Haskins for help! But the point is, “Giacomo” wasn’t the 3-1 favorite and neither will “Win Willy” be. I won’t bet “Win Willy” to win by percentage! But, if you love him feel free, because he may go off greater than “Giacomo” at 50-1!!! for larger than a $102.00 return on a $2.00 bet! But percentages alone via the “DI   RULE” says he won’t be the 1 in 20 winner at the finish line. Again, this rule is based on the 400-1 figure over 80 years and yet is not an absolute, as proven where it has been broken, and only applies to the  1  ¼  races or longer as designed, and is just a simple easy handicapping aid. However, my earlier point was, that Steve keeps dismissing ‘the rule’ as outdated and I certainly don’t see why if one reads the above posting thoroughly! This is not to say that “Win Willy” won’t come in 2nd just appears to lesson his chance of winning versus the other 17 entries with a lesser D.I. than 4.00.

  And, I never understood the “Storm Cat” line breeding problem either, as stated several times, but by “percentage”, his bred line never is in the winner’s circle, and yet I like his breeding and for most all distances under  1  ¼ !!!  And again, “Blue Grass Cat” went on to be 2nd in the Derby and the Preakness. I had him ‘to win’ in the Future Pool, but forgot to add him as 2nd on Derby Day in my exacta plays! He didn’t win, thusly the “Storm Cat Rule” of getting to the winners circle held up, but that didn’t stop him from finishing in the money!! We are talking here of narrowing the field down by percentage to identify a WINNER, that is simply all. These are tools to aid one that I follow. But, if I get 95-1 or 99-1 on “Musket Man”, believe me I will spend a few dollars, expecting a bad investment! But then again, even “Giacomo” crossed the finish line first! so who knows!!  

18 Apr 2009 6:09 AM
TouchStone Farms


As of this morning Mafaaz is still listed under the graded stakes listings (now withdrawn), and "Mine That Bird" isn't listed at all and yet is reported as a starter on May 2nd? In my mind's eye it strikes me a little odd as I think once they check the finish line on the 2nd they may find a colt by the name of "Mr. Hot Stuff" waiting to greet them all as they cross the mile & a quarter mark. Just my way of responding to all the hoopla that seems to encompass the rest of the potential entries.  

18 Apr 2009 9:57 AM
For Big Red

West Side Bernie is reported to have had "a touch" of colic after shipping to Churchill Downs. That, and other factors, make him a complete toss for me.

I Want Revenge is reported to have gotten cast in his stall, causing some scrapes and bruises on his left knee. This can be a minor issue, but let's see his works. The colt's first work at CD was an extremely easy 4f breeze in :50, out in 1:04.60. The work was more of a gallop than a true breeze. What we in the general public can't know is whether or not this incident has affected IWR's condition in any but a minor way.

Based on their first works at CD, the Dubai horses might be training with somewhat different agendas: Regal Ransom to go out quickly, Desert Party to finish quickly. Although his overall time for his 6f work was slower than RR, DP actually finished up quicker. Let's see if this work pattern continues.

At Santa Anita, Pioneerof the Nile worked with a "rabbit" stablemate to chase. POTN wasn't pressured by the rider, but was still extended to pass his stablemate and get 4f in a bullet :46.20 breezing (1/39).

I wish videos were available in a central place for every work of every Derby contender. Actually seeing a complete work tells me a heck of a lot more than just reading about them.

18 Apr 2009 4:17 PM
Mike S

MR. HOT STUFF all the way! Whoooo Hooo!

18 Apr 2009 4:28 PM

My most memorable moment was the AD, picking the tri of Papa Clem, Old Fashioned & Summer Bird...PC's and OF's duel, neither willing to lose, Papa Clem's & OF's hearts showing in their faces, Summer Bird's athletic, beautiful run against such class in his 3rd start...finding out OF ran with a slab fracture made his determination only the more poignant...

That's the race that stands out for me.

Tin Cup Chalice and Zany, we remember you.

19 Apr 2009 7:50 AM

  And “Yes”, Karen2, a lower DI. only means “more suitable to the distance”. But, any DI lower than 3.60 is totally acceptable and most all up to 4.00, the established cut off figure, (not by me) per the founders conclusions and is just a cutoff figure one should guard against when picking the winner or a horse suitable to a  1  ¼  race or longer.

   And, “NO”, Karen2, a lower DI does not mean one horse is more suitable, or faster, or should be favored over another with a higher DI, that is, up to the 4.00 cutoff class by comparison so established, where 2.40 is the current average so presently arrived at. Which again is not to say, that a horse with a DI of 1.80 is any better or faster or more suitable to win than a horse with a DI of 3.50. So do not get confused along those lines!!! And, that does not mean that a horse cannot be successful if his DI is at or higher than 4.00 either, ie. “Curlin”! and “Musket Man”, thus far. This is all based on multiply bloodline followings and the expressed math that one falls asleep to reading  as introduced by Rasmussen. If your get your "Blood-Horse" Magazine religiously, just take a highlighter and highlight winners’ pedigrees back the several generations listed each week, where eventually you’ll easily start to see some trends, like the names of "Northern Dancer"; "Mr. Prospector", "Raise A Native", etc., which start repeating themselves, and such might intrigue you more and more. Unfortunately, the most races that we all have to look at for determining success at  1  ¼  have to be taken from the lesser distances  of a  1   1/16 and  1   1/8  races and the like. Youthful 2 and 3 year olds are not in the business of training at a   1  3/8  or  a  1  ¼  and I am not even sure if many such distances are even offered to them until we run the Derby!  Thusly we have to look even more attentively at bloodline to scrutinize as to who ‘might’ be successful at the greater distance. Many in these blogs have traced pedigrees back identifying the traits on the male and female side that they have found desirable to aiding toward the breeding of producing more successful “DISTANCE HORSES”. Stamina, unfortunately coupled with “the need for speed”, and some suitability to the distance and then some percent of a number of wins by some such an ancestor, or the fact that he or she has produced other successful racing offspring seems to be what most are looking for from such a bloodline analysis. Thusly, this is the “Bloodline Sport” and why so many point to this and that trait and potentially significant in the various multiple different breeding lines out there.  The DI grid so established was merely to have been an aid in pointing out greater strengths for distance and stamina from various bloodlines and that is where it is a useful tool. Apparently, not all agree with Rasmussen’s theory or his conclusions, yet we list “DI” and “CD” in all pedigree charts!, thusly some took note of its value!!

  Thusly, the theory being, that the better bred for the purpose of this particular distance will have a better chance of success in this marvelous spectacle of what we call “The Derby”. This is the Super Bowl of horses races, where some goodly portion of the entire country gets involved for one day for the “Fame” in this, ‘the greatest two minutes in sports’.  And not all are bettors or gamblers! Most forget the “Blue Grass Cats” that ran 2nd or lower that don’t follow the sport more intently, like remembering and naming last year’s runner-up baseball or basketball team. But many remember and talk about past Derby winners! The names of “Smarty Jones”, “Secretariat”, and “Barbaro”, and etc., become house hold names that people remember years after the fact. No race, not the Preakness or the Belmont, is publicly remembered liked the Derby. Some accomplished P.T. Barnum type sold us all on this concept once long ago via the media airway of the day and we are all still intrigued by it, some more than others obviously like the ones that read and post here.  My blog contribution was to give some awareness to bettors that read here. Again, my words are not gospel, take from them what you will. I just think that Steve might see more in the value of Rasmussen’s work and occasionally point out where maybe the consideration of DI is possibly a factor. If your memory is short, Steve had a horse with a DI of 5.22 on the top of his marvelous “dozen list” for x number of weeks and stated even ‘he was only there by default’ and that he did not necessarily see him as the Derby winner until someone else came along??? Of Course way back when, I had “Big Drama” at the top of my list and neither will be going to ‘the dance’. LoL. Procrastinating a week before the Derby is actually kind of silly then isn’t it? huh? But, it sure is fun!!

19 Apr 2009 1:49 PM

P.S. Thusly, my most memorable moment was the return was "Big Drama", returning after injury and putting away the Sunshine Million Dash 6 fur. winner over 7 fur. in track breaking record time!! And, my biggest worry prior to that re "Big Drama" before then was his speed! He took that consideration right off of the table.  

19 Apr 2009 1:52 PM

Bravo again Zarvona! It's always reassuring to read the musings of like-minded fans of this wonderful game.

For a long time I felt lonely on these Blogs touting the (somewhat masked) brilliance of Big Drama.  With your esteemed opinion of this horse out in the open I can see the a rush to the Big Drama bandwagon for the Preakness.  

You haven't clearly stated your pick for the Derby or have you?  However this year's Derby winner will have one serious "customer" awaiting him in Baltimore and conceivably, two if Rachel Alexandra somehow enters the fray).  I believe Quality Road is "el numero uno" thus far and if things proceed according to empirical data and savy horsesense (minus injury and misfortune) it's gonna be a "thrilla in manilla" when the Preakness arrives.  This is turning out to be a deep and talented crop of 3YOs.      

19 Apr 2009 8:21 PM

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