Kentucky Derby Trail: Derby Dynamics


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One owner with three different horses with three different trainers is a pretty neat stat.

Steve, what are the statistics with closers in the Derby? I feel like the stretch is going to be insane this year and it will determine the winner, which ever closer/stalker gets the best ride going into the stretch.

20 Apr 2009 8:36 AM

Steve, I believe Godolphin would be silly to run Regal Ransom in the Derby. That is exactly what all the other trainers are hoping for. Right now there is no speed in the race and basically nobody wants the lead. If Regal goes than there will be 4 or 5 horses breathing down his neck but at least they have a target to run at. Otherwise they will all be looking at each other to see who has the noggin's to take the lead. I think the pace will be extremely slow this year. There is no "Real" speed.

20 Apr 2009 8:48 AM
m burry

So funny Steve. Sounds like you bet just like I do although I altered the path the Smarty Jones year and actually won the triactor but usually I'm onto the 10-1 and up horse. This year will be no exception as I plan on having GQ and MM somewhere and probably CC and WSB. About Dunkirk don't know how anyone can figure how talented he is when he has never raced enough IMO. Great column

20 Apr 2009 9:20 AM
For Revenge

The way things seem to be coming the stretch looks like it could have ten of them going head and head until some get tired, stuck behind horses, etc. This derby may just be a wide open race, then again that is only on paper. A longshot could just blow on past them all like they were standing still and keep going, this is horseracing after all.

20 Apr 2009 9:29 AM

As always, Steve, what a wonderful article with your amazing style and humor.  I thoroughly enjoyed your betting confession and your last few lines cracked me up.  Thank you once again!

20 Apr 2009 9:37 AM

i have not been a believer in trends due to one important fact its a different crop every year. also most of the trends are irrelevant.the one trend that i think is irrelevant is a horse with limited starts. i will take talent over experience every time. the last couple of horses who have run with 3 starts are big brown and curlin. tell me the horse before that. there is not alot of them. so to me it is irrelevant. most of these trends rarely happen every year in the derby.they are irrelevant.

20 Apr 2009 9:47 AM
Matt M.

Steve ..... love your workout commentary leading up to the KD each year....fortunately, I give it some good weight in putting together my tix!!!! You've been on yourself on the win ticket and try to hit the home-run on some cheap exotics!

20 Apr 2009 9:50 AM
Karen in Indiana

I've been wondering why all the focus on Dunkirk because I haven't seen what is so great. Now I know - he cost $3.7 million. And maybe that explains why Musket Man and General Quarters aren't getting the respect they've earned - $14,000 & $20,000 claimer. Boy, have they already paid for themselves many times over! The owners of these horses can sit back (or jump up and down) and enjoy the show. I'm rooting for both of them. And Mr. Hot Stuff because he's a Tiznow. Actually, it's hard to pick a favorite this year because there are so many good horses, so it does come down to their story or their personality.

20 Apr 2009 9:52 AM

Steve A+ Article.

I agree with your whole outlook of the Derby. If we have a honest to slightly slow pace is their any of the 2/3rd wave of runners going to be able to catch the front runners,especially if they are going 4/5/6 wide on the turn.

I say no.

Furthermore your last Derby article regarding how horses look have been a gold mine for me!

I have cashed the last 4 of 6 years and I owe you a THANK YOU.

Very Much looking forward to this years observation.

Keep up the great work


20 Apr 2009 10:01 AM
rich loughrey

Another interesting column. You should bet with your eye and not your heart. I always pay attention to your observations and it has paid off for me.

20 Apr 2009 10:02 AM

ASPRADLING: Are you kidding about closers?  The leader at the quarter pole wins the derby.  The race is to the quarter pole and nobody gets there before Quality Road my friend.  The horse that tries to beat him to the quarter pole will be out of gas up the lane.  Take Dunkirk for a lesson.  A word to the wise is sufficient.  All other closers are running for minor placings, with due respect to all, especially "killer" Willy.

20 Apr 2009 10:03 AM

I sure agree with you on your Smart Strike comments. Here's the other thing about his sons you mentioned, versatility. Long,short,turf,poly!

20 Apr 2009 10:26 AM

I think Quality Rd is the the best horse but I'm very anxious to see how he does against IWR and FF.  I also feel General Quarters will be right there.  Quality Rd could get a bad post which might compromise his chances of winning -you never know.  MM should be interesting also.  Steve, can't wait to hear your comments about the Churchill works.  Sure paid off for me with Street Sense although I'm not much of a gambler.  Just love the horses, but it's always fun to win a little money.  Last year my intuition told me BB and EightB were the 2 to beat.  This year it says QR but the others are up in the air.  Can't wait to see what M. Hot Stuff can do at 1-1/4 mile.  Wouldn't it be something if he stole the show!!  

20 Apr 2009 10:40 AM

Thanks for the article Mr. Haskin.  

I barely bet on my first horse race this year, thank you for the tips.

I am a fan of Mr. Hot Stuff (glad he made it in, was worrying me with him on the bubble.)  I'd like to see Chocolate Candy and Friesan Fire do well too.  I'll decide probably the day before though, after the final list of who is going is completed.



20 Apr 2009 10:52 AM
S. Lottes

Steve, I can't believe what I'm reading about you and your betting.  If I Want Revenge puts in a striking CD work in his next 2... you had better not get off of him.  You've had him as #1 on your list for how long now?  So what if he's 4-1 or 5-1.  With a decent break and run he's your likely winner... even against this talented field.  And there's plenty of ways to take advantage with an exacta, trifecta, or super with him on top.  I strongly recommend that you box the Top 4 on your list as a saver bet.  PLEASE.  I want you to cash.

20 Apr 2009 10:55 AM

Steve, as always great article! For you (and others who wish to comment) I got 100 bucks to play with for the derby, with such a wide open field, (and good prices) how would you, (or anyone) play it?


20 Apr 2009 11:12 AM
Old Timer


My hat is off to you for your humble admission on your Derby betting. It is a tough race, but a great betting race. One thing to consider in the Derby is that you don't have to throw out the favorite to get a good return. Whereas in everyday races the favorite may be 6-5 or 8-5 or less, the Derby always has great odds -- even on the favorites.  Just look at the WPS prices on Smarty or Street Sense -- they were not too shabby.

I do have one question for you. When you mention workouts, I was very impressed with the great workouts at Churchill by General Quarters right before the BG.

Any comments?

Lastly you hit the nail on the head - this is about fun. The greatest 2 minutes in sports!

Good Luck to all.

20 Apr 2009 11:23 AM
Pam S.

Hello Steve,

I also loved your comments about your betting practices and I agree, this game can be a lot of work and you can make a nice score, or it can be a lot of fun and you can still make a nice score.  And if Derby season isn't fun, then just bet the Thursday card at Turf Paradise.

Besides prices, I myself am a sucker for the "little guy" angle, so this year I like GQ, MM and also Papa Clem.  I just have a feeling the top-tier horses are going to disappoint and one of the solid second tier will spring a mild upset.

20 Apr 2009 11:23 AM
Matthew W

To the NUMBers and figures guys and gals--POTN's Robert Lewis is the best run race of any three year old so far this year! He had a sharp steady/lost his momentum for a few strides at the 1/4 pole--then he took dead aim on I Want Revenge/Papa Clem and won in style! All Quality Road has done is beat a non-stakes winner on a speed favoring track, so no way will he be getting any of my money! Steve I don't remember a race where there are SO many questions regarding the race favorites! Only I Want Revenge has answered the questions...I think IWR hooks up with POTN in the late stretch but look out for just about any other guy in the race to jump up--The West might not win the Derby this year but they've had a LOT to say about some of the major preps this season! Sometimes you have to just take a race like the Derby and try to fashion a scenario of how the race will be run...I think this year there will be MANY guys making their moves at the 1/2 mi pole....I think the race will be won by a closer this year, inside the 1/16 pole! My longshots are Hold Me Back/Gen Quarters and my pick to win is POTN, with IWR right there...that puts a lot of faith in the synthetics preps of Keeneland/Santa Anita but I just feel this year they've been the tougher races....

20 Apr 2009 11:23 AM

Can someone tell me something about the Kentucky Oaks field, not one article of possible field, Kentucky has nothing updated since middle March?

One on the best bet's of the year is the Oaks-Derby double. Did they cancel the race???? Can't find nothing Bloodhorse, DRF, NTRA, nothing, nadda, zilch.

20 Apr 2009 11:29 AM
Karen in Texas

Another great article! I like the observations on Musket Man vs. Dunkirk and on the sons of Smart Strike. Maybe Curlin will be as good or better as a sire.

20 Apr 2009 11:42 AM

Steve - maybe you should stay away from the Triple Crown and focus on say - The Withers and Derby Trial - I have made some big money on those 2 over the last few years. By the way, have you got any idea on the field for these 2 - they are both on Saturday.

20 Apr 2009 11:45 AM

  ‘Do I have a top pick?’, you asked Ranagulation. I often state that I like to go into the Derby with several names in my pocket out of the field of twenty that I will end up wagering on or around more heavily. Again, “trip” in the Derby is a huge weighing factor, so much so, that it’s hard singling out a winner ever, although I had in the past played more heavily on top “Smarty Jones”;  Afleet Alex”; “Barbaro”; and the easiest pick of near all being “Big Brown” over the last several years that I remember back. ¾  on top or 3 out of 4 for me is not bad, where I emphasis with Steve regarding any great success. Actually, as to this year’s crop, I really don’t see all that much separation between “Quality Road”;  “I Want Revenge”;  “Dunkirk”; “Friesan Fire”, and “Poineerof the Nile”, thusly one would have to weed out why he or she would prefer one of those slightly more or much more strongly over another for one’s self or toss one or two for whatever is one’s own reasoning. As many have stated some of these horses supposed discovered deficiencies in their blog entries, some that I don’t agree with.  However, as in the “Giacomo” win 4 years ago, the “trip” more than many other factor determined the winner, and we cannot predict the “trip” as even now computer models attempt to do just that. They are just horses after all and horses can get sick before the gate, lose a shoe, stumble at the gate, get boxed in, break a leg bone, and etc., where terrible things can happen and more so in the crowded field we call “THE DERBY”.  All we can do is base our picks attempting to figure who might be the ones to ‘get out’ as the identified supposed front runners; who will stalk best near such a pace; who are the expected closers, all being points Steve astutely mentioned; who are those in front from a breeding angle in terms of stamina and maturity, etc.; and all that after hopefully something else bad has not happened to them in “the trip”, and this all so after judging by what we have seen from each regarding successful trips at a   1   1/8  and some successes at   1   1/16. Of course, many will stare at high assigned “Beyer figures”; “Tomlinson Distance Rating” figures”; speed comparison at distances over different tracks deciphering ‘splits’ and comparing surfaces calculating in variance; judge more recent works; follow and route for various ancestors through pedigree, and etc., etc., where others seem to want to just toss an animal who has never run on dirt??, or whatever, all trying to narrow down to miniscule degree in the search beyond just picking a horse of our liking via name or connections associations, etc.  

  As a Virginian, right now I think I am leaning toward “Quality Road”, but as a “Redskin’s” fan, I have learned long ago to steer away from betting with my heart alone.  “Pioneerof the Nile” (15.4 breeding rating); has beaten “I Want Revenge” twice!!!  and I like “I Want Revenge” (14.5 breeding rating); a tad more; yet “I Want Revenge” has moved to the dirt with proven success. Will  “Pioneerof the Nile” fail in the switch over surfaces or mature and love it even more as others have? To me, a good horse will adapt to any surface, but many have pointed out where this is not the case. “El Crespo” thusly, should obviously STAY on the GRASS!!! “Quality Road” was super in both the “Fountain of Youth” and the Fla. Derby and the rest period since that last most trying test could only help. “Dunkirk” (15.4 breeding rating); is so lightly raced, but what a magnificent horse, he is extremely hard to toss and one has to hope that among Pletcher’s other 7 million (exaggeration) stable charges that he will properly get him ready for the Derby, where since bidding so high on him all most have known this is where he and his connections were headed all along. And, “Friesan Fire” (15.0 breeding rating) is bred for the Belmont, where all I asked from him in the Louisiana Derby was to prove that his earlier successes such as in the Risen Star were for real and that he was not just another earlier matured hoss that others would catch up to. Thusly, to me, he proved that he too is ‘for real’ and a most worthy contender, regardless of what one thinks of the layoff and none  1  1/8  tries. Again regarding his breeding,  1  ¼  should not be the issue, (and that also being the case with my identified top 7!), but what will he actually do and how will he respond when stuck in the eye is the big question to me at the moment regarding “Friesan Fire”.  “Pioneerof the Nile” has always stuck them in the eye with success and gotten his nose in front when required and retaining Gomez is a huge plus, where I was hoping Gomez was going to ride “Dunkirk”, but where we shouldn’t see much of a drop off in employing Prado. Thusly, these five to me are a slight bit over the rest considering all of the other supposed entries at this juncture. Now, as to who will get a more favorable draw post position wise, where I for one saw the advantage of  “Big Brown” outside after his Fla. Derby and nearly predicted his exact Derby trip; who will get the planned “trip” hopefully favorable to their own design, etc., and who will have the gas left at the top of stretch facing 7 to 9 others and then looking them in the eye and that can then out run the pack to the wire….it is hard to say in a field where my top 7 , that including the ever still maturing “Papa Clem” who finished so strongly at  1  1/16  off of only his maiden win; and “Chocolate Candy” who was only a length back to “Pioneerof the Nile” and coming on strong in the Santa Anita Derby, where you add that extra furlong and who knows! And even “Musket Man”, what 3rd to “General Quarters” by a dismal 10 lengths or something way back when has vastly matured and has improved with every race thereafter; and improved while adding distance each time up making him a marvelous sleeper! But, to me adding more and more selections gets a little deep. And many have their hopes on the National Velvet story line types, like “General Quarters” and “Win Willy”, and then again “Hold Me Back” has seemed to have matured before our eyes also as a late bloomer. But, then I don’t like “Storm Cat” bred horses in the winner’s circle and horses with 4.00 + DI’s I toss religiously as ‘the winner’. And, oh what a close by “Summer Bird”, (where someone said ‘from another zip code’, where such all takes me back to “Nolan’s Cat” who came a closin’ from another COUNTRY!!!), but, is he really mature enough to handle the Derby itself or this field? My brother liked “Friesan Fire” from the get go. I for one liked keeping my options opened until farther down the road, where earlier on, and apparently like you, I was high on “Big Drama” and always kept an eye on the BC Juvenile top three. Yet, now I see “Square Eddie” as way too long off the training trail to really be much of a factor, especially with the fear that I earlier carried regarding “Big Drama”’s return, although his injury was lesser and apparently was handled expertly. Many of the rest to me look like that should battle in Gr. III’s and are not of GR. I quality. I followed some earlier Turf runners too, although none made the switch over with much success this year, where I remember “Big Brown” was a horse off the Turf first as a 2 year old. Yes, and fillies, but I like to hope “the Oaks” and “the Derby” remain gender separated, which leaves open the potential for the winners to meet down the road to square off for horse of the year!  

  If you put a gun to my head right now before the post draw though, I suppose that I am leaning toward “Quality Road” and “I Want Revenge”, but then at looking at the earliest Odds watches, apparently so is everyone else, and yet I see them only a fraction above the others as stated yet with little separation and only on a near equal footing with my top 5 , where boxing them in an exact seems like the play I’ll be making. And yet, am still high on the ever-still maturing “Papa Clem” and have for a long time loved “Chocolate Candy”. Thusly, a little bit like Steve, I will be searching for tote board value elsewhere also. And again, I think the identified top 7 above all have a legitimate shot of roses hanging around their neck.

  So anyway, once again, good luck to you and all with your selections in the Derby and all of the other races and your other days at the track.

20 Apr 2009 12:02 PM

Great column Steve!

20 Apr 2009 12:20 PM
Diane J

A agree with Ghostzapper - where's the coverage on the Oaks this year?  And why on earth is it being shown on Bravo instead of ESPN or ESPN2?  I guess I should be happy someone is at least showing it.  

20 Apr 2009 12:22 PM

  As to the "Oaks DBL"; try "Rachel Alexandra"-"Justwhistledixie" as major plays and "Hooh Why"-and "Pamona Ball" and "Sara Louise" if they are entered as under plays with whoever your Derby likes are!! And, yes, lol, they are still planning on running the "Oaks" Fri. the 1st! and it may have been DFR that stated "Hooh Why" is now a definite runner recently.  

20 Apr 2009 12:23 PM

ghostzapper - know 3 for sure who are in - Justwhistledixie and Fitz Just Right along with Rachel alexander

20 Apr 2009 12:32 PM

Steve... If your writing is a display of your personality, all I can say is you are the coolest guy eva!. I can't wait to get your reports from Churchhill.  

O.K. Ranglizion: you have convinced me.  I think I am leaning towards QR for this derby. I have watched the replays of the preps and taken everything else into consideration...including his famous older brother... who I had mad love for...and think if he gets a good trip, he will cross the line first. Of course I will never be 100% sure until after the race.... there are so many talented colts running. I know its a kindof of an old tale but isn't it been said that gray horses distract the other horses in the race?

20 Apr 2009 12:49 PM
John T.

  Smart Strike was bred here in Canada by the late Ernie Samuel of Sam Son Farm fame.Like that other great Candian bred before him Northern Dancer there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to his offspring.

20 Apr 2009 1:23 PM

Thank you Steve for making me smile once again. I love and agree with the Smart Strike observation; they are one tough mothers. Your betting sounds very much like mine. $2 exacts and win bets only. I would also like to thank you for putting a face on why I also cannot

bet a favorite. The Honeymooner reference is sooo perfect! Whenever I eat peanuts at the track again, I will have to laugh and relate that story to my cohorts. Good luck this year. I think I will go with Desert Party, Chocolate Candy and Regal Ransom. I love Pioneer but he will be too short priced for me.

20 Apr 2009 1:25 PM
Steve Haskin

Adam, I dont of any stats on closers, if youre referring to how often they win. I can tell you that I believe it's 61 of the last 63 Derby winners were either first or second at the eighth pole.

Joey, if Godolphin runs Regal Ransom its because they feel he can steal it or at least help set it up for Desert Party.

Thanks to all for your kind words.

20 Apr 2009 1:28 PM
The Deacon

This is a very wide open Derby, there may be a couple of betting favorites but there are no clear cut choices. Any one of 10 horses have a legimate chance here. Bellamy Road showed us that Beyer ratings are over rated. Barbaro and Big Brown proved that lightly raced 3 year olds can win. Can synthetic based runners compete on dirt. Well, I Want Revenge has done it, but POTN is another question mark. Papa Clem looked pretty solid last week so the California contingent deserve everyone's respect. Quality Road is a classy colt who is very versatile. Dunkirk is a big question mark in my mind. I do know this, every handicapper and writer in America will put a spin on every angle of this race. What post position has won the most Derby's will also be included in the handicapping. It is a crap shoot at best. Everyone is a genius if there horse wins, and excuses will abound if there horse runs up the track. Still though, the Kentucky Derby is a great stage in sports. The Masters was last weekend, the NBA playoffs are in full swing, and MLB is off and running so it is a great time of year to be a sports fan. I just want to enjoy the whole event. I could care less who wins, but I think we all nedd to appreciate the hard word of every trainer, owner, jockey, groom, and all of the connections that go into making a horse perform at his top level. It should be a grand stage. Thanks Steve as always for your insight and writing.

20 Apr 2009 1:30 PM
Steve Haskin

I appreciate all the wagering advice, but I feel I'm a lost cause. Those 30-1 and 40-1 prices on horses I like just suck me right in. I will, however, play some trifectas with more logical horses, just so I dont feel totally stupid. As for my column, remember the expression, do as I say, not as I do.

Thank you, John, I'm glad my columns have helped you. That gives me as much satisfaction as cashing a ticket.

S. Lottes, I likely will still have I Want Revenge on top, I'm not going to go off him now. But betting him straight at his odds is not going to happen. Just call me Ralph.

Sunday Silenced, it depends on whether you really love a horse and what his odds are. Its best to bet him to win if he's a price and box in with some exactas and trifectas. You want to go all exotics and come away with nothing on a horse you really like.

Old timer, I totally agree, that was an awesome work, and I loved the way he was moving over the ground. He has an unusual stride, much like Skip Away. He stays low to the ground but had high leg action.

20 Apr 2009 1:38 PM
Steve Haskin

You're right, the Oaks is not getting the coverage it should, especially with a filly going who could be something really special. The fact that no one is writing about it tells you why ESPN dropped it. Ithink Bravo will do a better job promoting it through the fashion and glamour angle. ESPN didnt know what to do with it and used the telecast as basically a Derby preview.

SSc, I cant stay away. I'm addicted to the Derby just like everyone else. This Ones For Phil, Mr. Fantasy, Checklist, and Gone Astray should head the Withers. Take the Points is among those heading for the Derby trial, along with Hull and several other fast horses.

Thanks, Karen. I like to think it is a display of my personality. I always try to write from the heart, and occasionally from the funny bone -- although that hurts like hell when you bang it, so I dont know why they call it a funny bone.

20 Apr 2009 1:46 PM
For Big Red

TO STEVE: Although you don't need me to tell you this, your comments about watching the works are so spot on. For me, when all the other analysis is done, condition is the #1 factor. This is why I'm so disappointed videos of the KD contenders' works are not readily available online given the state of modern technology. We can't all be at CD to watch the morning works, or to view the horses in the paddock on race day. :(

20 Apr 2009 1:56 PM
For Big Red

TO STEVE: By the way, Calumet Farms won the Derby eight times with three different trainers. :)

20 Apr 2009 2:02 PM
For Big Red

Just want to take a moment to congratulate this year's Hall of Fame inductees. I'm especially delighted that Eddie Maple, who rode Secretariat in his last race, will be the 2009 jockey inductee. Also that the great California-bred, Tiznow, will be the 2009 contemporary male inductee. And, to pat California racing on the back a bit more, congratulations to 2009 trainer inductee, Bob Baffert, who has been based in Southern California his entire career.

A hearty round of applause to all. :)

20 Apr 2009 2:12 PM

OK this is the way I have finally decided to look at the Derby.  There will be 20 horses.  When they are in the gate, it is 20/1 for all of them.  I think that on that day, will be the time to pick the horse(s).  This is just all too confusing.  Horses have good and bad days.  The post parade is plenty of time to pick the wagers on the Kentucky Derby.  

20 Apr 2009 2:30 PM

btw ...Steve, where did you rank "Giacomo" in your final dozen? And, what are those ‘residual affects’ that you can identify at this juncture regarding the "MEC” bankruptcy? that you asked me to bring up at a later date.

20 Apr 2009 2:35 PM

If dreams mean anything...the winner of this years Derby will be Chocolate Candy. I dreamt that last night.  I have no idea why as I have not even taken a second look at Chocolate Candy so why he came up the winner is beyond me. Yes... I'm weird and clearly have derby fever. I am just bummed I didn't make it there this year for what appears to be the best field in a long time. I am saving my money for next year though. I just got my Kentucky Derby Barbie in the mail today. She is awesome!Steve.. I never really understood the funny bone thing either.

20 Apr 2009 2:45 PM

Big Red: I second the : (

I wish I could be there to watch them up close and personal every day!

20 Apr 2009 2:46 PM

Every year when we say it is going to be a slower pace, it never materializes...and it won't this year either.  Got Regal at 75-1 so I hope he runs.

20 Apr 2009 3:01 PM
Paula Higgins

Congratulations to all the Hall Of Fame inductees. My list is shaping up in this order: QR, POTN, Friesan Fire, IWR, Dunkirk

20 Apr 2009 3:30 PM
Matthew W

Steve I"m not a big bettor but when you talk about how the 30-1 and 40-1 odds "draw you in"--I understand, after all, a 30-1 shot in the Kentucky Derby is usually a pretty fair to middlin horse indeed! But know this: last years Derby tri (with the 2-1 fav on top) paid almost 2K...and the super was over 20k!!! I would say I'm due a little luck--last year I had Brownie on top of five for the tri--I had Eight Belles but alas I left out "The Corkster" Preakness I had a straight Brownie/Tres Borrachos/all for the tri and Tres Borrachos broke on his nose/but won Swaps in next Belmont was Brownie on top of both Nick Zito guys and that was just a shame...I think there are loads of contenders in this years Derby field--but good luck trying to find the pretenders!

20 Apr 2009 3:34 PM

Forgive me for saying this, but am I the only one who doesn't understand what the races at Keeneland mean in relation to the Triple Crown? I think all they manage to do is to confuse the issue.  The somewhat bizarre results of the Blue Grass and the Lexington stakes just muddy the waters and don't serve as meaningful Derby preps.  Can we really take General Quarters form at face value? Which form are we to believe: the Tampa Bay Derby or the Blue Grass? The Lexington is a total throwout since Advice isn't even intended for the Derby. It seems like ProRide form translates better to dirt and horses such as IWR and Papa Clem bear witness to this observation.  Obviously, Pioneer has to be viewed as a prime contender since he has demonstrated his superiority to these animals on ProRide.  I do wonder however whether that superiority extends to races on dirt, particularly the one held at CD.

20 Apr 2009 3:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Big Red, I'm talking about in one year.

As for the works this year, I have to say that unfortunately I will not be there for the works today, tomorrow, Wednesday and possibly Thursday, and don't file my first column until next Monday. They only want me there for one week instead of two. I will be there for next weekend's works, but unofficially, and will have to summarize them next week rather than report on them live.

20 Apr 2009 3:46 PM

Just another EXCELLENT article from Mr. Haskin.  His insight, humor, and honesty are so refreshing. Love your articles and blogs, and can't WAIT for the workout reports.

20 Apr 2009 3:49 PM
Steve Haskin

Zarvona, I dont believe I had Giacomo anywhere in the Top 12. Plus, he didnt ship in until three days before the Derby. There were too many top horses that year.

One residual of MEC is that Santa Anita has until April 30 to straighten everything out or the BC goes to Churchill Downs.

20 Apr 2009 4:02 PM
steve from st. louis

steve: which would be better for the industry--a win for big price tag Dunkirk or a win by small price tag General Quarters?

20 Apr 2009 4:15 PM

In the 2005 Derby, Afleet Alex ran into major traffic trouble and got beat up pretty bad. With all due respect to Giacamo.. that is the only reason he won. He got a good trip. A great examply of what can happen in the derby. Afleet Alex was clearly the better horse and went on to prove that in the next two races.  So the people who decided to place their money on the longshot, won.. they got "lucky".  I'm not sure that it is highly likely that this will happen again anytime soon but you just never know.

20 Apr 2009 4:22 PM


I used your workout report on Denis of Cork last year and wheeled him under Big Brown. Your workout reports Derby week are always my last step in analyzing the Derby. Thanks again!

20 Apr 2009 5:02 PM

What I really like about my derby horse for this year PONILE is his versatility he can make his own trip depending on the pace of the race Gomez will make the right decisions when the gates open and they run down the stretch into the turn and then if he places him correctly he will have a chance thats all I can ask he is good enough will he be good enough on that date

20 Apr 2009 5:20 PM

Wow, Steve- really after all the trouble they went to in giving the consecutive BC's to Santa Anita, now they may pull it?? I apologize, off subject, but the implications could be huge for the whole racing calendar, viz-a-viz the synth versus dirt angle.

20 Apr 2009 6:03 PM

I stand by all the Cali colts, especially POTN and IWR, but I'm gaining a new appreciation for tough Papa Clem.  I wouldn't mind it at all if he wins the big race.  Found out he is named after grandpa Clement Hirsch.  Smart Strike is now one of my favorite sires.

20 Apr 2009 6:06 PM

watch out for summer bird

20 Apr 2009 6:07 PM

since the retirement of a lot of kentucky derby jockeys in the past 5 years the only jockeys in the race this year that i recall have won the race are smith and prado and borel I would like to see in the money finishes for all the jockeys in the feild anyone have an idea where I can access this information

20 Apr 2009 6:12 PM

1. FF

2. DK

3. QR

4. PC

20 Apr 2009 6:41 PM

Steve, it has always bothered me in the past as a BH Magazine subscriber that your dozen's list does to not continue on past the Derby. Why? Why not a Preakness Dozen? and then a Belmont Dozen? Yes, maybe one feels like most all have been scrutinized repeatedly up to the Derby, but with some many defections by the Preakness and thusly with a whole new field and thusly the field ever-changing and then thereafter with new entries vying for the cross country track meet which is the Belmont, why does the list not continue and evolve? For example, Da'Tara was never or was only lightly discussed before the Belmont, and etc., where I am sure besides the many subscibers like myself there must also be bloggers and intersted others also. Why has this been policy? A contact paragraph with you and the magazine that could be re-negociated or some other reason, etc.?

20 Apr 2009 7:02 PM
born in the bluegrass

here's my take on the derby - the best horse doesn't always win!  i mean a field of 20 is hard for any good horse and jock to squeeze through.  i agree, for the most part, that the horse at the quarter pole will take it.

with that being said... i really like general quarters!!  i'm extremely biased because of his jockey (julien leparoux), but if there is anyone out there with a brilliant sense of knowing when to stay off the pace and when to kick into gear, it's julien!  unfortunately, because of all the local attention gq is getting, i'm afraid his odds wont be as great as i'd like, but they'll still be better than PON, IWR, dunkirk, etc.  

so there you have it!  GQ with julien for the win in the derby!!

oh, and i like justwhistledixie's chances now that julien has picked up the mount on her!!  

20 Apr 2009 7:06 PM

hmmm ...Let me see, "Dunkirk" is the only Jan. foal in 'the dance' and I am a Capricorn, and supposedly this the year of the next grey in rotation... Yet, I keep seeing this picture of "Musket Man" dueling with "Papa Clem" in my head... And, now Gomez prefers to stay on "Pioneerof the Nile"... My Brother who liked "Giacomo" can't get off of "Friesan Fire"... But, it was "I Want Revenge" who ran that come from behind unbeleivable Wood Memorial on the dirt?, whom Steve has at the top of his list! ...Then again, an Iranian jockey once told me to "go with the solid colored horse", where thusly if 'Karen2' is a pychic? then it was "Chocolate Candy" all along... But, Rangulazion believes in "Quality Road" ...

  Geeze, I can't decide... Well, TY GOD for melatonin, otherwise I would never get any sleep until May the 3rd, 2009!

20 Apr 2009 7:21 PM

matthew w  it's like you read my mind about florida derby bet gq to win blue grass right back in derby if he draws to the outside

20 Apr 2009 7:22 PM
Just Jenda Fan

I wish Dunkirk was being handled like Bernardini was.

1.  FF

2. IWR

3.  Papa Clem

20 Apr 2009 7:46 PM


I too have cashed a couple of tickets due largely to your excellent eye on the works. Please let me suggest a way to wager that allows one to take what may perhaps be one of the "picks", yet still have room for plenty of longer shots. Take the one you like, IWR let's say, then wheel him 1st,2nd, and 3rd with ever how many "others" you like. You can lock your pick up with let's say 8 others and for $168. I usually wager around $250 a yr on the Derby, including that wps picks for my 5 children and 1 wife.LOL!

The Derby.....where can you beat it!!!

20 Apr 2009 7:48 PM
Mike Relva


Very good read! I was wondering what ever happened to majormotionpicture? I remember he had an injury,but cannot find any information regarding him at all.

20 Apr 2009 8:05 PM
Jay P

Steve, you are my favorite columnist. I print and save your columns from November on, and re-read / study them during the two weeks before the Derby. I research the breeding points you make on horse that have made it to the dance. Then I read with earnest your columns from Churchill Downs. Your “best work” endorsement is a big item for me. I have had many Derby winners and trifectas, including the Monarchos-Invisible Ink- Congaree tri. Last year I loved Big Brown, I listen to you on Dennis-of-Cork, but stubbornly did not put the filly in and Eight Bells ran great. Before that, you really liked Street Sense and that tipped me in his favor. I also loved Smarty Jones and so did you. I do not look for a price, I look for who will get the mile and a quarter, who has best form, who will win and who will hit the board. If you are right in the Derby you will be rewarded. Keep up the great work Steve! Jay P

20 Apr 2009 8:12 PM

Quality Road is a lock. pioneer of nile also run. trouble comment.QR on top of exotics. game over

20 Apr 2009 8:33 PM

Hi Steve,

The two extract below pretty support my bold statement to you a couple weeks back. In that statement I told you that Regal Ransom will win Derby 135.

“If they succeed, they could have the only true speed in the race with a legitimate shot to wire the field”

“When Dunkirk and Regal Ransom step on to the track for the Derby, take a close look at them and think of this: Dunkirk is four months older than Regal Ransom. Dunkirk was born on Jan. 23 and Regal Ransom was born on May 26 and won’t turn 3 until 10 days after the Preakness. That means that Regal Ransom was a mere baby in Dubai competing against several Southern Hemisphere 4-year-olds who were some 10 months older than him”.

I get the impression that a lot of people including the connections of Regal Ransom think he is suspect at the Derby distance.  For those with this view, here are the cold facts:

Regal Ransom sire is a member of the most lethal group of Derby winning sires i.e., grandsons of Mr. Prospector. He has the best dam line for 10 furlongs in the field. His dam line combines two of the most successful and influential grandsires in the last 13 years and possible derby history i.e., Hail To Reason and Northern Dancer. This combination appears in the pedigree derby winners Big Brown, Monarchos and Fusaichi Pegasus and has featured five of the last nine derby winners. Hail To Reason most influential son is with out question Roberto. Roberto’s sons have been brilliant sires and dam sires.

Regal Ransom dam sire Red Ransom is a son of Roberto. He sire Dubai WC winner Electrocutionist . Two other sons of Roberto have been in the news for bitter, sweet reasons. They are Dynaformer, sire of the ill-fated Barbaro and Kris S dam sire of the unbeaten 2008 HOY runner-up Zenyatta. Kris S is also the sire of five Breeders Cup winners and dam sire to two. Regal Ransom second dam was sired by Deputy Minister. He is dam sire of Belmont winners Rags To Riches, Jazil and Sarava. It is should be noted that both Zenyatta & Regal Ransom were sired by a grandson of Mr. Prospector and their dams were sired by sons of Roberto.

Regal Ransom has speed and a stamina laden dam line powered Red Ransom & Deputy Minister. If he is allowed an uncontested lead we could be in for another Da’ Tara moment.

20 Apr 2009 9:01 PM

Smart Strike has put together a great career and has earned his way to the top. If you check out his SI you will see he is near the top or on top when it comes to producing better runners than his mares have done with other sires. Starting with next years two year olds he should even get better because the number and quality of his mares went up quite a bit after English Channel, Curlin, etc., hit the scene. His offspring are also pretty sound. He has been my favorite sire for many years.  I will be rooting for Papa Clem and Square Eddie if he goes.

20 Apr 2009 11:57 PM
Susan in Seattle

You're the most awesome, smart, funniest race writer on the planet. I love your commentary on all of the Derby hopefuls--you always offer up insights I never would have seen or thought of, and whether or not you cash a 'big' ticket on Derby Day, you're still the BEST!  Thank you, Steve!!!

21 Apr 2009 12:19 AM

Talk about bummed. I was COMPLETELY counting on Steve Haskin's works reviews to finalize my wagering strategy.

You, sir, have a gift for that, and it's a real shame that your bosses don't have the foresight to recognize the value of your contributions to the racing (and betting) public.

I could understand it, if, for example, you were under the weather, but you should be there NOW.

A real shame. Maybe next year.

21 Apr 2009 12:25 AM
Jim W.

It has been already been noted that the California contingent appears extremely strong this year and I tend to agree.  With that said, how could one not like Chocolate Candy's chances?  He was pushed extremely wide in the final turn of the SA Derby while finishing fastest of all only to beaten a length.  If that is not enough, he has never really had the kind of pace the derby will produce to produce his best effort.  Steve, I am anxiously awaiting your opinion on his looks and works leading up to the derby.  This just might be the one.

21 Apr 2009 12:30 AM
Underdog Derby

QR & RR are going to dominate the front end, but what's going to come next?  Maybe MM, WSB, CC or even SB?  It's going to be interesting.  Won't make my final choices until I see the CD works--most winners bullet at CD beforehand...

21 Apr 2009 1:04 AM

ZARVONA:  For you Quality Road will be an heart felt virginian pick that makes a lot of sense.  he has too many upsides, making it illogical (for a rational player like you) to oppose him.  

While I am all gung-ho about him romping the Derby I'm very aware that there's no such thing as a racing certainty and I do respect the abundance of class in this year's crop of 3YOs.  In fact I would not be surprised to see Friesan Fire, IWR or POTN step it up a notch(which they'd have to do)  to really challenge QR because, being stalkers you can never really tell how much they have in reserve because they follow the pace of the front runners before unleashing their closing rush.  Chances are ...and I think fair chance, that they will not be able to stalk QR and outrun him up the lane because of his superior cruising speed and overdrive based upon evidence in all the prep races to date.  I also believe that we have yet to see the best of this Elusive Quality colt.  Others I like are the Tampa Bay duo of General Quarters and Musket Man.  Both are genuine battle hardened campaigners that should relish the crowded Derby field and be running strongly at the end to pick up the pieces.  Chocholate Candy is another genuine closer that has been prepared to peak in the Derby and will be flying at the death.  And last but not least, I like Win Willy (alias "killer Willy" for exposing that Old Fashioned pretender).  If the pace scenario were by some strange alchemy to go crazy and QR become rank or sucked into a 1:09 and change 6 furlong split (very very unlikely)then Willy would do another "Rebel dance" and win because he is willing and the most explosive finisher seen in all the preps closing into fast fractions (never mind his regression in the Arkansas Derby).  I do not fancy the Dubai duo although I think that Regal Ransom will make the most noise of the two because he is a stubborn front runner that is on the improve.  There are several others in the field that can out-kick Desert Party in the stretch.

Just in case it seems as if I'm disrespecting QR's competition that's my outlook and Steve Haskins' report from Churchill Downs will no doubt help to fine tune the perspectives of all readers including your truly on this blog.  Enjoy.      

21 Apr 2009 2:07 AM
Phil McSween your observations as usual...especially pertaining to the sharpness of works and every horse's individual appearance....well done sir....

it seems like there is a developing consensus revolving around 5 horses....Friesan Fire, Dunkirk, Quality Road, I Want Revenge and Pioneer of The Nile...

I've definitely been impressed by everyone of them individually and am torn as to who to focus my big wager around.    

FF's done nothing wrong and Larry Jones is due to take the top prize in this race after two magnificent runner up finishes....

Dunkirk is a sentimental favorite of mine based solely on his grey coat...but he has fired every time in 3 career starts and with a little more foundation...might be the top qualm with him is...he doesn't seem to possess the athletic kick of the other top horses and for that reason alone i can't play him on top...

Quality Road has been brilliant...stalking hot splits, shaking off challengers and punching home with authority....he only loses if he gets caught in a crazy speed duel...has traffic trouble...or gets undone by his foot issues...Johnny V is due to win his first garland of Roses...

I Want Revenge...his Gotham and Wood were obviously both outstanding efforts...but he's not going to get a :48 half in the Derby and he won't be running down 3rd tier Derby wannabes in Louisville..and will Joe Talamo be able to give him the veteran ride at Churchill that he gave him at the big A?  I have my doubts.  

Pioneer of the Nile...i've gone back and watched all of his 3 yo races and i can see why GoGo stuck with him.    Unlike Dunkirk, this dude does have the type of athletic kick in the lane that I like to see in a Derby horse.    Concerns about him revolve around him transferring his synthetic form to dirt and the fact that he has dragged Gomez to or near the pace early in 2 of those races out West.    Conversely, he couldn't  be working any better for a trainer who has Hall of Fame karma on his side and who is due for his 4th trip to the Churchill infield.  

My main outsider horse is Musket Man.   I love this way this guy has competed on the trail and as a Chicago native, i'll always have a soft spot for the Illinois Derby winner.   It served me well with War Emblem....not so well with Cowtown Cat.   But i have a very strong feeling that the '09 Kentucky Derby winner will come from the very popular quintet that most here seem to fancy.    

I think i'm going to hammer Pioneer of The Nile....Baffert loves this dude...the Silver Fox is going to the Hall...and what a better way to cap a great spring for him.....but none of the other four would surprise....

Steve, keep up the great reporting.  

21 Apr 2009 2:14 AM

For those wanting to dismiss Beyer Speed Figures as a tool, here are some stats from 1991-2008:

1) 16 of the last 18 Derby winners had run a Beyer of 100 or more sometime before the Derby.

Giacomo in 2005 and Sea Hero in 1993 are the exceptions.  The 1993 crop was probably the slowest on record, with the winning Beyers for the Florida Derby, Lane's End, Santa Anita Derby, and Blue Grass under 100. The top figure for a prep that year was Rockamundo's 103 in the Arkansas Derby; it was a slow crop, and that helped Sea Hero. Sea Hero, though, had run a Beyer of 99 when he won the Champagne at 2.  The 2005 crop had Bellamy Road, he of the 120 Beyer, but Bellamy's 2nd best figure was under 100. After Bellamy Road, the next best figures were by Greeley's Galaxy(106), High Limit (105), Sun King (104), and Bandini (103), but none of those horses had another figure over 100. The only horses with at least 2 Beyers over 100 were High Fly (102,100), Going Wild(104,100), and Afleet Alex(108,106,102). Going Wild was coming in off 2 terrible performances, and High Fly didn't seem like a 10 furlong type. If one took a stand vs. Bellamy, Giacomo's Beyers of 98,95,94, and 93 were competitive with everyone except Alex'. And, as was brought up earlier, Alex would have likely won the race with a better trip.

1b) All of the past 18 Derby winners had earned at least 1 Beyer over 97 going into the Derby.

2) 15 of the past 18 Derby winners ran a Beyer of at least 100 in their FINAL prep.

This surprised me. It shows that in that final prep, Derby winners usually run very well, getting 1st or 2nd, and Beyers of 100+.  The 3 exceptions are Giacomo, Sea Hero, and Street Sense. Street Sense ran a 93 in the 07' Blue Grass, but that was on synthetics, and he had Beyers of 108 and 102 on dirt. Giacomo ran a 95 when 4th in the SA Derby, and Sea Hero a 91 when 4th in the Blue Grass.

2b) The average Beyer of the 18 Derby winners in their final prep: 104.3

3) 13 of the last 18 Derby winners had earned at least 2 Beyers of  100 or more going into the Derby.

The exceptions are Giacomo, Sea Hero, Funny Cide, Charismatic, and War Emblem. However, the last 3 horses did own one strong Beyer, Funny Cide with a 110 from the 03' Wood, Charismatic a 108 from the 99' Lexington, and War Emblem a 112 from the 02' Illinois Derby. In addition, all 3 just barely missed the criteria of 2 Beyers over 100, as Funny Cide's 2nd best Beyer was 99, War Emblem's 2nd best Beyer was 98, and Charismatic's 2nd best was 95.

3b) 15 of the last 18 Derby winners had earned at least 2 Beyers of 98 or more.

3c) 17 of the last 18 Derby winners had earned at least 2 Beyers of 95 or more.

4) 10 of the last 18 Derby winners earned a Beyer of 100 or more in Both of their final 2 preps.

The one problem in comparing Beyers from years past to this year is the number of synthetic races that are now run. If you are like me and believe that synthetic Beyers are not comparable to dirt Beyers at face value, then these guidelines might change in the coming years. It remains to be seens.

As it currently stands, 98 is a key number. All of the Derby winners between 1991 and 2008 had earned a Beyer of at least 98 going into the Derby. Furthermore, 15 of these 18 Derby winners had earned at least 2 Beyers of 98 or more.

21 Apr 2009 4:50 AM

I cant wait to cash in on Summer Bird at the window. Keep talking about all those other horses. I want some big odds!

21 Apr 2009 8:27 AM
m burry

Pioneer of the Nile ... won a bunch of graded stakes, has the top jockey and trainer but tell me, I was reading somewhere that the derby winner should have 2 speed figures in the 100's ... this eliminates Pioneer. Thoughts?

21 Apr 2009 8:38 AM
Mike Relva


If you think OF was a "pretender" that only illustrates truly how little you know!

21 Apr 2009 9:30 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks again to everyone for your kind words. I have to admit I feel out of sorts being in New Jersey today while I Want Revenge, Pioneerof the Nile, Chocolate Candy, and Flying Private were working at Churchill. Having missed these important works, I don't know if I am going to be able to form strong opinions on the works for my column next Friday. I will only catch some final blowouts next week. So I am not going to be as confident in my observations this year as I normally would be. I hate relying on mostly gallops. They don't prove much by themselves.

21 Apr 2009 9:55 AM

Steve - will you be at The Withers this Saturday - Shaping up to be a good field and interesting race.

21 Apr 2009 10:06 AM

Zarvona: I wish I was psychic. I could be rich...: ) and if history reveals itself about my dreams then they usually don't mean anything.  It was odd though. Especially since I haven't even given Chocolate Candy a second thought and hadn't thought of him as a contender. I loved your post! You sound as confused as I am. Yesterday I was really leaning toward QR but today I am not so sure. Coldfacts makes some great points about Regal Ransom. Rangulazion makes some great points about all of them and I have a strange new liking for Papa Clem and now feel obligated to look closer at CC. There are some incredible pedigrees matched with some talented colts. This my friends is a derby field. Is this the year of the gray??

21 Apr 2009 10:20 AM

Steve or anyone - who do you pick in The Withers  - 1 mile Grade 3 - need some cash for the Derby bets!

This ones for Phil

Mr. Fantasy

Just a Coincidence

Gone Astray

Despite the Odds

21 Apr 2009 10:21 AM
Ann in Lexington

The Beyers for Santa Anita stakes races this year have to be bogus. The track is a new surface. There are no pars because there is no history; not enough races at distance and level to calculate meaningful pars. Without pars, you can't make valid speed figures, by definition. Go back and read about how speed figures came about.

On another topic, one would think that because Dunkirk is a January foal, he would be more mature and more advanced in his training and racing regimen, not behind. Gets me wondering what problems he had that held him back....,

21 Apr 2009 10:59 AM

"m burry"...Although none of us are Andrew Beyer, there seems to be a stronger consensus this year more than in the past that 'west coast Beyer ratings' over synthetic surfaces don't seem to match nearly to Beyer ratings on 'eastern tracks'. NO explanation of the differences have surfaced, but take a near quote from J. Hollendorfer, who said after "Chocolate Candy" got some low '90 Beyer' figure, "Yeah, if I took my horse east and ran him on dirt I would probably get 25 Beyer untis higher, so I'll take a 90 in California". That alone is a very strange yet telling comment. Look at the difference in "I Want Revenge's" beyer 3rd in Cal. run and then his Gotham and Wood runs and you too might begin to see something in this apparent discrepency! Unfortunately many handicappers religiously use the Beyer figure as a tool. But, the change in surfaces over the past several years has really thrown a monkey wrench into cross handi-capping synthetic to dirt and there is little to do, but to take from those figures what you can and apply the value you want to them. Thusly, they aren't making it any easier in aiding the bettor. But, I would not dismish any strong Beyer numbers at 1 1/8 and the better ones at 1 1/16 because they still carry weight no matter what surface!  

21 Apr 2009 11:28 AM

I can't wait for some "in person" reports but from what I can see.. IWR looks extrememly fit and quite mature for his age. He looks well muscled and looks like he has good bone structure along with a richly colored coat. What a beautiful horse!

21 Apr 2009 12:33 PM

In your Derby Dozen, Regal Ransom has a synopsis paragraph, but is not on the list (for voting).  WSB is on the list.

Also, what does getting cast in the stall (IWR) have to do with high spirits?  His trainer said he has done this before.  Some horses are not very smart about lying down and rolling in their stalls (up against the wall) and will get stuck.  Most seem to figure it out after struggling a time or two as youngsters and never do it again.  Horses do not like to be trapped like that, dead meat in the wild.  

21 Apr 2009 12:34 PM

We miss your trackside comments dearly right now Mr. Haskin. You are the one that brings us live to churchhill.  Is there someone we should be speaking to about this? haha

21 Apr 2009 12:35 PM

I enjoyed your column. I have been a fan of thoroughbred racing for many many years. But for me, the sheer joy of just watching the horses run is what I live for. If there was no wagering allowed, I would still be at the rail, screaming my head off, as we say her in the south, "grinnin' like a possum in a persimmon tree." I do place a wager now and then, but to be honest, my reasonings range from who the sire is to pure sentiment. I am not a "horseplayer". But I enjoy the race as much as any one who has that 100-1 shot come streaking under the wire. This year's Derby is shaping up to be an exciting one. I will be at home watching, and cheering for Papa Clem, I saw him at Oaklawn, and had Old Fashioned not been retired due to injury, I would have two to cheer for. So here's to the Past greats, the thrills and chills that they gave us and to the future greats--with anticipation. THEY'RE OFF!!

21 Apr 2009 12:37 PM

RELVA: The fact that OF was not a genuine 10 furlong (Derby)horse was exposed by Win Willy in the Rebel Stakes and confirmed by Papa Clem in the Arkansas Derby, not to mention his pedigree (top and bottom).  Now you tell me what do you call a Derby pretender and don't bother with the excuse about his injury ...that was a blessing in disguise. How many bits of evidence will convince you buddy?

21 Apr 2009 1:06 PM
For Big Red

TO GUNBOW: All those stats about Beyer figures and KD results are interesting, BUT...I never take such stats at face value.

First question: When were Beyers first available for the KD? Not when were they retroactively assigned to past derbies, but when were they actually first used?

Second: What was the total number of starters in those derbies? That establishes the true total population basis for a "Beyers and the KD" study.

Third: How many horses in that total population fit each (taken separately) of the eight criteria you mentioned? Suppose the answer is 40% or 50%. If so, maybe the Beyers could be a useful tool to eliminate roughly half of any given field, but...what does the data for each separate criteria show? Perhaps one or two are more reliably predictive than the others? Otherwise, we have to look for horses with Beyers between 95 and 120 (lifetime and/or in their last prep), which, I suspect, probably applies to the majority of the total starters.

Fourth: As so many people have pointed out this year, what do we make of the Beyers on synthetic tracks vs. dirt?

Fifth: What do we make of the Beyer adjustments days after a race is run?

Sixth: Stakes, particularly the graded ones, normally receive higher Beyer numbers. So, are the 95+ and, especially the 100+ Beyers really indicative of class rather than the true relative abilities of the horses? In other words, do most Derby winners have higher prep Beyers simply  because they are stakes-class colts who have run in the top Derby preps? It's a chicken or the egg kind of question, but a legitimate one nevertheless.

Bottom line for me when it comes to handicapping...I still use the old, tried-and-true method of attempting to determine the real class of each horse entered in a race, which horse seems to be coming into the race in the best possible physical condition, and which horse is legitimately capable of running the distance of that race faster than the others.

21 Apr 2009 1:28 PM
Marc W

Another Marc W? Although that is spelled with a k---I guess it is such a popular moniker somebody needed to copy it. Don't want my comments to appear to be coming from someone else.

Back to the Derby---it is shaping up to be a small betting race for me-as much as I would like to say I am solid on my pick this year has too many variables. Even if I am right-the price although good probably on some-without a key horse to center on lowers the profit chances.

Right now I am leaning to a box of Chocolate Candy, POTN,Friesen Fire, and I Want Revenge-in exactors, tri's and super's without the latter two the exactor box will only offer even money or so if the chalks hit. Not really good value for risk. I don't "love" anyone to win.

I am of the opinion that the FL Derby (Quality Road and Dunkirk) horses won't show up, but certainly can be wrong.

The wonderful thing about Derby day it brings out a "new crowd" of inexperienced players which can help push "all" the pools up. Steve I know it is the Derby and that is certainly the main event, but there are supporting races--maybe insights into those as they will have value added pools for the true gamblers in other races?

Nothing is better than playing at a poker table with people that don't know the game. The KY Derby is one of those days in horse racing.

One thing though, this Derby is a great race--with a very competitive field of nice horses--great to watch --if not to gamble on.

21 Apr 2009 1:37 PM
For Big Red

TO Ranagulzion: Jeeze...I respect your right of free speech, but to say that Old Fashioned's (or any horse's) injury is a "blessing," in "disguise" or in any other way, is seriously skewed thinking, in my opinion. Your cold-hearted point of view is also an indication that not all of racing's problems can be pinned on owners and trainers.

Whether or not OF could get the Derby distance is immaterial. I'd rather see far fewer injuries and talented horses sticking around longer than a handful of races.

21 Apr 2009 1:38 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks! you are on point,big time!

21 Apr 2009 2:10 PM

I hate when people misspell my name, don't you. Sorry I put an "s" on Haskin.

21 Apr 2009 2:12 PM
Mike Relva


Your comment regarding OF's injury makes me sick! Again,you show just how little you really know,also how heartless! I'm sure Larry Jones wouldn't agree,what do you think?

21 Apr 2009 2:13 PM
Greg J.


       I respect other people's opinion, but, By you saying, about Old Fashioned's injury:

    "Don't bother with the excuse about his injury ...that was a blessing in disguise".

     WOW, talk about not giving a **** about the horse, that blows me away, You are basically saying, He got injured, good, it would have been a waste if he was in the Derby because he had no chance.  Are you that cold hearted, that you just care about making a buck, and screw the horses...

   These Horses ARE the athletes and nobody else.  His Career is over, THANK GOD he will live a long life....

    BTW, He came is second even with that injury!  You try to run with a non-displaced slab fracture of your right knee....UNREAL

    I love to bet on these athletes, but, First and Foremost is their SAFETY, NOTHING else matters to me....

    "Blessing in disguise", Sad Commentary...

21 Apr 2009 2:15 PM

Street Sense, Barbaro, Big Brown all worked fast heading into the Derby.  The last workout by IWR was average again and should show many this horse is not ready. Marc W. somehow you think Quality Road will not show up ... let me remind you that the first time he EVER ran 2 turns he posted a 135 mile.  If you are betting against a horse that can go a mile in 135 and finish the final 1/8th and post a new track record you are either nuts or crazy.  Which is it?

21 Apr 2009 3:14 PM
Greg J.

For Big Red & Mike Relva,

     How are you guys?, Spot on, with remarks...

21 Apr 2009 3:15 PM

I'm going to take a stab here and play the devils advocate. I have been reading Ranagulzion's posts for a long time on these blogs and don't believe that this is a heartless person that doesn't care about the horses. I believe it was probably not meant the way it came off and taken out of context. I sure hope so anyway. Greg J, I agree with you 100%!!! These horses are all true athletes and deserve our utmost respect.

21 Apr 2009 3:21 PM

Hi Steve,

As you gather data about the contenders could you do us a favor and note any horses with relatively small hoof sizes?  There is a theory that horses with a small hoof do not run well at CD, and Pyro was an example of this last year.  Conversely, those with exceptionally large hooves tend to grip the track better.

21 Apr 2009 3:23 PM
James Mc.

Interesting comparison with '05, Steve.

The only thing I would say is that, in addition to Bellamy Road, Afleet Alex and the other tactical speed/pressing types in that race, there was, IMO, more importantly, Spanish Chestnut, a truly classy blazingly fast hellbent for the lead sprinter of the type that you see in the Derby maybe once or twice a decade.

I think SC scorched a lot of the stalkers that year who were too close to his (45 and 1, 1:09 and 2, I think) pace.

I see Regal Ransom as maybe cutting out 47+/1:11+, and I don't see how one of the deep closers gets up.

Although Join in the Dance would certainly help if he runs.  

21 Apr 2009 3:37 PM

Pick3bettor - Since Pyro won 2 races at Churchill Downs - including the grade III Northern Dancer, I think you need to look for a different excuse for Pyro. Distance maybe?

21 Apr 2009 4:04 PM
Mike Relva


Spin it anyway you like regarding what Ranagulzion stated about OF. He's wrong for saying what he said,period! I own three horses that race in minor stakes in Fl. and my first trainer got himself tossed because of a neg. attitude.I look @ Ranagulzion as someone who probably looks at horses as nothing more than a vehicle for cashing a ticket. Hope he never cashes again!

21 Apr 2009 4:28 PM
Travis L

Take the Quality Road to the Derby and you will come away a winner. Just make sure you bring plenty of Quarters for the General admission. Take the time to enjoy the early Summer and the Birds. Don't forget to say a prayer for Papa before the race starts. And last but not least bet like a Man.

21 Apr 2009 4:39 PM

Yes, hopefully the current 'dozen list' that we bloggers get to cast our voting opinion on can be expanded to the eventual entire Derby field so that we can all see where our fellow Blood-House computer peers casting votes really stand in comparison to our selections. Just a suggestion easily programmed in, aye?

21 Apr 2009 4:42 PM

Hi Mike... I wasn't trying to put a spin on anything, just hoping for the best I guess. I get some good information and enjoy R's post for the most part. Didn't care for that comment either but thought maybe it wasn't meant in that manner. Unfortunately I believe there are some posting on these boards that could care less about the horses and that is a shame. On another blog I have seen them called garbage and bums. I don't get it.

21 Apr 2009 4:58 PM

Karen2 I agree with you, it may have been taken wrong or maybe worded different. It's hard on these blogs to take the printed word for anything else than what you are reading.Give him or her a chance to explain...

21 Apr 2009 5:03 PM

Zarvona, and otheers interested in comparing synthetic Beyers to dirt Beyers:

I agree that the Beyer scale for synthetics does not appear to be the same as the Beyer scale for dirt races, as I wrote in my original post on the subject.

Look at turf vs. dirt Beyers. Per class level, dirt Beyers are higher than turf Beyers. The top Beyers run on dirt since 1991 are in the 125-128 range (Ghostzapper, Gentlemen, Formal Gold, Skip Away, Bertrando) while the top turf Beyers are in the 114-119 range (Miesque=119, Daylami=118,Fantastic Light=117). In general, the average Beyer for top level grade 1 dirt races ranges between 110-120, while the average for top level turf races ranges between 106-114.

At the grade 2 and 3 level, the relationship between turf and dirt is similar, although the gap does shrink as one goes down the class ladder. This disparity between turf and dirt Beyers is widely acknowledged, and most take it into account when handicapping fields with horses coming from the two surfaces.

Why do turf Beyers tend to run below dirt Beyers? Well, most of the huge dirt Beyers are won by horses that are on or near a fast early pace and then never stop, running away from the field while winning by a large margin; fast fractions producing a fast final time. In turf racing, speed is not as advantaged as it is on dirt; it is difficult for horses that go out and set a torid early pace in top level turf stakes to run away and hide from the rest of the field. Thus, the pace for turf races is generally slower than it is for dirt races, and while turf races typically have faster closing fractions, that slower early pace tends to produce slower final times.

Synthetics play alot like turf, moderate to slow early, and fast late. However, no matter how fast horses finish on turf and synthetics, the closing fractions are unlikely to offset the much quicker early pace of dirt races. Consequently, dirt races tend to produce faster final times and higher Beyers, per class level, than turf or synthetic races (taking into account track variant).

I view synthetic Beyers very much like turf Beyers. At this time of year, the highest dirt Beyers for 3 year olds run from 100-113, while the top turf Beyers for 3 year olds run from 90-103. Not surprising, the Beyers for 3 year olds on synthetics run much closer to the turf Beyer scale than the dirt Beyer scale.

I do not agree with Hollendorfer that one should add 25 points to synthetic Beyers to make them comparable to dirt Beyers. However, I would feel comfortable adding 4-7 points. As it concerns synthetic horses in the Derby, like Pioneer of the Nile, I believe that if they are as good on dirt as they are on synthetics, their Beyers will "jump" about 5 points. Again, this "jump" does not reflect an improvement from synth to dirt; a "par" performance on dirt will run about 5 points higher than a "par" performance on synth. Of course, some synthetic horses might like dirt alot better, and their Beyers will really jump. For example, I Want Revenge clearly prefers dirt to synth, having, according to Talamo, really struggled to handle the synth. His "jump" in Beyers from 94 to 113 was not a typical occurrence, and it should not be used as the model for dirt to synth comparisons.

The horse I would use to estimate a synth-to-dirt Beyer scale is Papa Clam. In my opinion, Papa Clem is equally good on synth and dirt. I feel his performance in the Arkansas Derby was roughly on par with his performance in the Bob Lewis. Papa Clem's Beyer for his Bob Lewis was a 94 while his Beyer for the Ark Derby was 101. It's possible Papa improved a few points between races, but for the most part that "jump" in Beyers is representative of the type of "jump" one should expect from a horse moving from synth to dirt, at least if the horse transfers its ability perfectly. Therefore, I would estimate that Pioneer' should run about a 102 Beyer on dirt. Of course, there is no guarantee he will be as good on dirt as he is one synth; he may be better, or more likely, he may be slower.

21 Apr 2009 5:07 PM

TY  'GunBow', good post!

21 Apr 2009 5:35 PM

Loved the comment about Smart Strike's offspring. I love horses that will bow their necks and bare down. You did leave off Square Eddie however. The vets said it's a miracle he healed as fast as he did and he ran huge at Keenland for a horse that has been away as long as he has. That’s pretty gritty if you ask me. Tenpins is also out of Smart Strike. Not as well known as the others, but he won over a million dollars, raced until he was 6 and he hit the board in 8 graded stakes winning 5 of them.

21 Apr 2009 5:55 PM
For Big Red

TO GREG J: I'm fine, thanks for asking. Having a serious heat wave here in SoCal, but it's supposed to cool down tomorrow -- just in time for Derby smack to heat up. :)

Been doing some in-depth calcs on closing times and have some interesting info re FF, Rachel Alexandra and Quality Road. Just sharing it for fun. People can make of it what they will.

The 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks and Louisiana Derby were run on the same day, at the same distance, on the same sloppy racetrack, 1 hour and 41 minutes apart. Yet most people credit Rachel Alexandra with the better race. Don't know why, because it isn't true, but maybe it's due to the incorrect mile fraction shown on TV during the running of the LADerby. The DRF charts of the two races give a mile fraction for the Oaks, but not for the Derby. I decided to estimate that mile fraction.

The official DRF LADerby fractions (numbers in parens are for quarter and sixteenth miles):

:24.12 (:12.06)

:48.75 (:25.03) (:12.32)

1:13.34 (:24.19) (:12.09)

Mile not given (my est. 1:36:07)

1:43.46 (:30.12)

The official DRF FG Oaks fractions:

:23.40 (11:50)

:47.54 (:24:14) (:12.07)

1:12.39 (:24:45) (:12:22.50)

1:36.71 (:24:32) (12:16)

1:43.55 (:06.44) (:31:16)

RA wasn't pressed by another horse and led throughout, setting all her own easy fractions. FF took the lead at the top of the stretch off fractions set by Papa Clem, who led past the 6f pole.

Even though the 6f times make it appear as though the colts went slower than the fillies through 3/4s of a mile, note the internal fractions in parens. Also note that FF finished in a faster time.

Since we don't have FF's official mile fraction, I subtracted the 6f fraction from the final time. Did this for both races. FF came home in :30.12 vs. RA's :31:16. That means his mile time had to have been faster than her official 1:36.71 fraction for the Oaks.

So how do we estimate FF's mile time accurately? By skipping over RA's mile fraction in the Oaks just as we are forced to do for the LADerby. Subtract 1:12.39 from 1:43.55 to determine that RA ran from the 6f pole to the 1 1/6m finish in :31:16. Do the same for FF's race and we see he ran that distance in :30.12, 0:01:04 faster than RA.

Subtract 0:01:04 from RA's official mile fraction of 1:36.71 and we get 1:36:07. Express that in fifths of a second, and we see that FF's mile had to be 1:36 flat or slightly better.

Now let's compare that information with the vaunted 2009 Florida Derby fractions:

:23.49 (:11:54.5)

:46.83 (:23.34) (:11:47)

1:10.66 (:23.43) (:11:51.5)

1:35.28 (:24:22) (:12:11)

1:47.72 (12:44)

Now obviously we can't directly compare these three races due to different surfaces and distances. However, note how significantly Quality Road slowed down at the end of the FLDerby. Rachel essentially went in a steady :24 and change throughout her race. Friesan Fire sped up off slower early fractions and closed fast.

21 Apr 2009 5:58 PM

I suggest that some of you should go to check out the book betting the Kentucky Derby and  it allows you to view the free chapter on betting angles for the derby. I have gone ahead and copied a few things that I find helpful.

1. How important are the Beyer Speed Figures in determining

the winners of the Oaks and the Derby? Are there any distinct Beyer patterns that you’ve noticed over the years that the bettor should be aware of when evaluating

the speed figures of these developing 3-year-olds?

Andrew Beyer: A horse’s raw ability has become more important than the extent of his preparation, and speed figures have become the key factor

in handicapping the Derby. Since 1990, the mean winning Beyer

Speed Figure for the Derby has been 108. In eight of the last 11 years, the winner had earned a figure of 108 or higher before the first Saturday in May.Handicappers don’t need to be this stringent in deciding who is a legitimate contender, but it is a reasonable rule of thumb to eliminate any horse who hasn’t run at least a 102 before the Derby. (In

recent years, only Giacomo in 2005 and Sea Hero in 1993 have failed

to meet this guideline.)

What would be your best advice to the handicapper looking

to make a betting assault on Oaks and Derby Day?

Are there many amateur-bettor pitfalls to avoid?

Andrew Beyer: Often the betting public gets so caught up in pre-Derby hype that it overlooks the horse who has earned the best Beyer Speed Figure in his most recent start. In run-of-the-mill races, such horses are almost always heavily bet. But in 2002, War Emblem came into the Derby after running a figure of 112 in his prior start and won, paying

$43. In 1999 Charismatic was one of two entrants who had a last race

figure of 108; he won and paid $64.60. In 1992, Lil E. Tee

had the co-best last-race figure and paid $35.60. The results suggest that it might pay for handicappers to eschew subtleties when analyzing the Derby and look for the fastest horse.

*Each Beyer Speed Figure that reached or exceeded 100 is indicated in bold.

Prior to Two Three

Derby Back Back The beyer on the left was their last start before the derby

Big Brown (2008) 106 106 90

Street Sense (2007) 93(polytrack throw out 102 108

Barbaro (2006) 103 95 97

Giacomo (2005) 95 93 98

Smarty Jones (2004) 109 112 95

Funny Cide (2003) 110 99 87

War Emblem (2002) 112 98 85

Monarchos (2001) 103 105 103

Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) 111 106 103

Charismatic (1999) 108 94 95

Real Quiet (1998) 107 108 59

Silver Charm (1997) 110 102 110

Grindstone (1996) 100 102 92

Prior to Two Three

Derby Back Back

Thunder Gulch (1995) 101 101 105

Go For Gin (1994) 107 104 98

Sea Hero (1993) 91 91 66

Lil E. Tee (1992) 107 95 106

Another point to consider is that out of the 16 Kentucky Derby

winners listed above, 87 percent had reached or exceeded a Beyer

Speed Figure of 100 in one of their three starts preceding the

Derby. Why is this significant? As the chart below indicates, there

have only been two Derby winners in the last 16 years—Giacomo

in 2005 and Sea Hero in 1993—who had not cracked 100 before

the big race itself. (Sea Hero ran his career top of 99, as a 2-year-old in the Champagne Stakes, not in one of his Derby

Average Pre-Derby Beyer 106.9

With that said that only leaves QR IWR that fit the average pre derby winning number of 106.9.

I'm done saying why horses like POTN CHCandy, Musket Man, Papa Clem  and all the other horses that haven't run 100 beyer, not to even mention the 106 avg pre beyer they should have to be mention worthy about winning the derby.

This is not a $10,000 claiming race this is the KENTUCKY DERBY. Their is the reason usually why the best horse wins.

The only reason why there have been big prices in past years because people over looked horses that had already proved in their most recent start that they were good enough to win it. They had legit beyers. Look at these names and their pre derby beyer number before they went on and won the derby.

Thunder Gulch 101 before the derby Go for Gin,Real Quiet 107 before the derby Charismatic 108 before the derby, War Emblem 112 before the derby Funny Cide 110 before the derby.

There have been only 2 that have run in the 90's before the derby that have won it. So if you want to bet POTN ( Don't care about his work out today, didn't Colonel John do the same thing last year before spinning his wheels in the derby?) CHCandy, Musket Man, Papa Clem  and all the others that haven't run at least 100 beyer good luck to you.

I know people want to try and create value and beat the derby favorites but all I say to you is thanks for your money.  I don't like betting favorites but at the same time I don't like losing my money either.

I had my doubts about QR and I'm not a big fan of Draynay but QR Florida derby performance was a carbon copy of Big Browns Fla derby but faster. The horse can rate so he should be the favorite and deserves to be. I really don't think it matters what kind of pace it is because this is the horse that's going to get first run on the pace setters and he is the one that they are going to have to come and catch in the stretch. Will he last?

The only horses that will create some value this year will be Dunkirk, Fresian Fire, GQ just because they might be anywhere from 4th- 7th betting choice and since people think that this derby is so deep I'm assuming the post time favorite will be anywhere from 9-2 to 5-1 who ever that may be.

I will have to take in consideration his post position when the times comes. I realize that no horse on FL derby day came off the pace to finish second in any of the dirt races except Dunkirk which makes him a valuable play his last 8th was in 11 which could be a great sign with the extra distance he is going to get in the derby. Then you have IWR who put on a great show in the Wood.

I personally don't feel this derby is that hard to handicap as others are making it out to be. The numbers don't lie when it comes to this type of class,and again we are not betting on $10,000 claimers where the favorites look like everybody else in the race. We are betting on THE Kentucky DERBY THE RACE THAT WILL PRODUCE A FUTURE CHAMPION.

21 Apr 2009 6:10 PM
For Big Red

TO GUNBOW: In your 21 Apr 2009 5:07 PM post, you wrote, "Thus, the pace for turf races is generally slower than it is for dirt races, and while turf races typically have faster closing fractions, that slower early pace tends to produce slower final times."

Thank you for your well-meaning attempts to educate us about Beyer figures. I don't mean to give you a hard time. It's just that I have more questions about Beyers than meaningful answers. For example, in relation to your quote above, how is it that the overwhelming majority of Thoroughbred racing world records, especially at a mile and over, were set on turf?

21 Apr 2009 6:18 PM

For Big Red (and others):

I never meant the listing of the Beyers for Derby winners to be a definitive statement. I like Beyers, but I recognize there is  MUCH MORE to handicapping than Beyers. However, Beyers can be a useful tool, and I wanted to share that info with others. And, I do not want to imply that just because something hasn't happened in the past 18 years that it won't happen this year. As I wrote, the increasing number of synthetic races, and the typically lower synth Beyer scale, may make these Beyer trends less relevant. Again, I was simply providing stats, and summarizing trends. At the very least, I think the stats are interesting and provide something to think about.

As for performing an actual statistical analysis, I simply do not have time to do it. For Big Red, you are ABSOLUTELY correct that to truly test the significance of Beyers I would need to include the Beyers of every horse that has run in the Derby between 1991-2008. With  a "population" of every horse that has started in the Derby, I could then find the correlation between pre-Derby Beyers and Derby finish (I would need to know how each horse finished in the Derby). The dependent variable would be Derby Finish (how each starter ran in the Derby) and the independent variable would be pre-Derby Beyers (the pre-derby Beyers for each starter).  As a note, I might need a couple of independent varaibles for Beyers, one variable for last race Beyers, a second for the Beyers of the last two preps, a third variable for the number of Beyers 100 or greater, etc..

With data for Derby Finish and Beyers, I could then determine if there is a positive correlation between pre-Derby Beyers and Derby finish.

To make the statistical analysis even better, I would also need to "control" for other variables that theoretically impact a Derby finish. In addition to the "Beyer" variable(s), I could include variables like the number of starts at 2, total number of starts, time since last race, grade 1 stakes wins, won-loss record, average margin of victory/defeat, wins beyond a mile, breeding, etc.etc...Of course, I would have to operationalize these variables or, in other words, quantify each varable so that it can be expressed as a numeric value. I wold then create a large spreadsheet(Excel,STATA) in which I "code" the variables for every horse that has started in the Derby. Thus, for every horse that has started in the Derby between 91'-08' there would be a corresponding Beyer(s) as well as  data for the other variables.

Once all the data is entered, I could then run a multivariate regression; the regression would calculate the relationship of each variable to Derby Finish (dependent variable) "controlling" for the other variables. The regression would indicate the INDEPENDENT Effect of a variable (Beyers) on the dependent variable (Derby finish).      

I am well aware that in providing stats on the Beyers of Derby winners I was "sampling on the dependent variable". In other words, by looking at just Derby winners, I provided  data for a subset of the total population (All Derby starters). Like I wrote, to analyze the effect of Beyers on Derby Finish, I would need the Beyers of every Derby starter since 1991, and would also need to know how each starter finished in the Derby(this data would be easier to aquire; I would just need charts for the Derby). However, to truly test the effect of Beyers on Derby Finish, I would also have to statistically "control" for all other variables that theoretically could affect Derby Finish. This would require gathering data on a large number of variables, and then running a multivariate regression analysis. Sorry, but that's just too much work.

The Beyers for Derby winners is a limited tool, but I never claimed it was anything more. Using Beyer cutoffs, like 98 or 100, should not be used to the exclusion of other factors. And, at best, Beyers like the ones I provided may only help in eliminating a few horses, leaving much handicapping still to be done. Again,however, I never said that one should throw out any horse w/o a Beyer of 98 or 100, or that to win the Derby a horse HAD to have a Beyer of 98 or higher. I simply summarized findings about PAST Derby winners because I thought it was interesting. I tried to let others draw their own conclusions about the value of the stats, which is why I didn't discuss any horse from this year.

I do have alot of data on the pre-Derby Beyers for many past starters. In the future, I will post about the pre-Derby Beyers of other Derby starters, and compare them with the Beyers of Derby winners.  

21 Apr 2009 6:20 PM

As promised, here are Beyer figs from Derby starters other than the winner.


7 of the 20 starters in the 2008 Derby had run Beyers over 100, but only 5 had run a Beyer of 100+ at 2 turns in 2008. Bob Black Jack had a 109 Beyer at 6 furlongs, and Pyro and 105 and 100 Beyers as a 2 year old in 2007 (BC Juvenile,Champagne).

Big Brown- 106 (Florida Derby)

Big Brown- 106 (Allowance)

Gayego- 103 (Arkansas Derby)

Z Fortune- 102 (Arkansas Derby)

Recapturetheglory- 102(Illinois Derby)

Eight Belles- 100 (Allowance)

There were 2 horses that had run at least 2 Beyers over 100:

Big Brown- 106, 106

Pyro- 105, 100 (but no Beyer over 97 at 3)

21 Apr 2009 6:36 PM
For Big Red

TO GUNBOW: Just to reiterate...I don't mean to give you a hard time. I posed questions about the Beyers not to criticze your hard work and willingness to share, but because those questions genuinely make me a little skeptical about speed figures in general.

I'm a little skeptical about Dosage as a KD handicapping tool for pretty much the same reasons.

So, at best, I use speed figures, Dosage/pedigree, and other numerically based tools as guides only.

Here's an example of a mini-test I did using the multitude of figures Bris provides in their past performance charts. Before the races, I did a spreadsheet of all the Bris numbers for each starter in this year's Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass.

In the AD, the winner, Papa Clem, had only the 4th highest Bris speed figure in his last start prior to the AD. (Old Fashioned had the 2nd highest, but was injured.)

In the BG, the winner, General Quarters, had only the 7th fastest speed figure in his last start prior to the BG.

21 Apr 2009 6:56 PM

For Big stop dude you are killing me.  Look how Quality Road slowed down??? Are you nuts?  He set the track record !  First time EVER going 2 turns !!!

And you want to compare RA to FF on that day ??? Watch the race !!! FF ran to the wire RA was pulled up 100 yards before the wire and STILL ran just as fast.  Dude ... stop it you just sound silly.

21 Apr 2009 6:57 PM

For Big Red: In the BG, the winner, General Quarters, had only the 7th fastest speed figure in his last start prior to the BG.

I'm assuming your talking about his Tampa derby beyer? If that is the case he had a horrible trip that's why he didn't run that well. The race before that he earned 102. I believe people thought he ran his best race thats why he was overlooked in the BG. His BG win to me just means to me he is one of the few that  can run on both synthetic and dirt. He has  earned a 102 on the dirt so  we know he likes dirt and he is a must use to me as a underneath play because of that.

21 Apr 2009 7:16 PM

For Big Red:

What I probably should have said in comparing turf and dirt Beyers is that the early pace of turf races, when compared to fractions at other parts of a turf race, is slower than the early pace of a dirt race when compared to the fractions of other parts of a dirt race. Yes, there have been some very fast final times for turf races, moderate-quick early and quick late. But, In General, the early pace of dirt races is faster, compared to the fractions of other parts of the race, than on turf.

Typically, dirt races set up like this:

22 and 3

45 and 3 (23)

110      (24 and 2) (47 and 2)

135 and 2 (25 and 2) (49 and 4)

148 and 2 (13)

This is similar to how the Arkansas Derby was run, and looking at the past performances of previous Derbys, is common for even grade 1 dirt races. The first quarter or half is typically the fastest quarter and half in a dirt race.

For Turf Races:

23 and 4

47 and 4 (24)

111 and 4 (24)  (48)

135 and 2 (23 and 3) (47 and 3)

147 and 2  (11 and 4)

In general, other, lesser turf races on the same card are likely to have about the same first half. Where the superior turf race will separate itself from the lesser turf races is those constant :24s and :12s middle and closing splits.  Typically, the times for different turf races on the same card have final times that are fairly bunched, and in each race the finish is typically bunched. Also turf seems to suffer from less bias than dirt, although I have seen plenty of speed-favoring turf surfaces.

If the above dirt race was over a speed favoring track that was either dull or moderate (producing moderate times) the final time will produce a good Beyer. The final time, however, was determined largely by that fast early pace. On dirt tracks that are speed favoring, horses that run very fast early are able to hang on, producing finishes that are spread out, and the times for the other dirt races are likely to be significantly slower, unless one of the other races also had a quality frontrunner.

To be honest, I am not sure why dirt Beyers are, per class level, higher than turf Beyers, even though turf races do often produce faster final times. I think the answer is that a fast, pool-table like turf surface is faster than a typical dirt surface. However, even on "fast" turf surfaces, early speed is not going to dominate, so the early pace is going to be moderate, particularly when compared to how fast they travelled in other parts of the turf race. In the above pace scenario for a turf race, the early fractions were about the same or slower than the closing fractions. The early pace, thus, would have to be labelled "moderate", and the frontrunners could have clearly gone faster.

The dirt race from above had a slower final time. However, the frontrunners were going all-out, posting huge early fractions. If the track was speed biased, which often happens in big Beyer dirt races, that frontrunner, if of a certain quality, is likely to hold on, having run all-out from the beginning. Had the turf frontrunners gone all-out, the early pace would have been 22 and 44 and change. So, the above dirt race produces a higher Beyer than the turf race.  

21 Apr 2009 7:19 PM
m burry

Zarvona - what you are saying makes sense. I like to use beyers when I am in a hurry, they usually work for m. I bet Santa Anita for years (before the poly) and it was fast and all the fast horses came from Calif. I guess I'll have to add on the beyers

21 Apr 2009 7:24 PM


9 horses in the 2007 Derby had run Beyers of 100+.

Street Sense- 108(BC Juvenile at 2)

Curlin- 103(Arkansas Derby)

Street Sense- 102(Tampa Derby)

Any Given Saturday-102(Tampa Derby)

Circular Quay- 102(Louisiana Derby)

Liguidity- 102(Sham)

Great Hunter- 101(Bob Lewis)

Hard Spun- 101(Lane's End)

Curlin- 101(Maiden, sprint)

Tiago- 100(SA Derby)


Any Given Saturday-100(Kentucky Jockey Club at 2)

Only 3 horses had run 2 or more beyers of 100+

Street Sense- 108(at 2), 102

Curlin- 103, 101(sprint)

Any Given Saturday- 102, 100(at 2)

Street Sense was only one of 3 of the last 18 Derby winners not to have run a Beyer of at least 100 in his final prep. Street Sense ran a 93 in the Blue Grass, but that was on synthetic. His 2 Beyers before that, both on dirt, were 102 and 108(at Churchill). Street Sene ran a 110 in winning the Derby.  

21 Apr 2009 7:31 PM

An interesting comparison between synthetic and dirt Beyers can be seen in looking at the Beyers for the Blue Grass over the past decade.

The last 2 Blue Grass were run on synthetic.

General Quarters- 95

Dominican- 93

Now, one could argue that these were just slow horses. However, Street Sense was in Dominican's Blue Grass, and he had run Beyers of 108 and 102 on dirt before and would run a 110 in the Derby.

On Dirt:

06' Sinister Minister- 116

05' Bandini- 103

04' The Cliff's Edge- 111

03' Peace Rules- 104

02' Harlan's Holiday- 98

01' Millenium Wind- 114

00' High Yield- 106

99' Menifee- 107

98' Halory Hunter- 111

I just do not believe Sinister Minister and Millenium Wind were 12 lengths better than General Quarters or Street Sense. In both this year's Blue Grass and last year, the final times and Beyers were greatly affected by a very slow early pace. Sinister Minister and Millenium Wind were the type of horses that traditionally fared well on Keeneland's notoriously speed-biased dirt track. Both went out and cut rapid early fractions and then never stopped, riding the rail like a conveyor belt. Another horse like that was Wild Syn, who won the Blue Grass in 95' with a 109 Beyer.

The frontrunners that produced those huge Beyers on Keeneland's old dirt track were not nearly as good as their Beyers suggested, just as horses like General Quarters and Hold Me Back are much Better than their synthetic Beyers suggest.

21 Apr 2009 7:47 PM
For Big Red

Uh...DRAYNAY, both Borel on RA and Saez on FF stopped riding their horses and started celebrating at about the same point in their races.

As for the Florida Derby, the final fractions were progressively, and considerably, slower than the earlier fractions.

As I said, make of it what you will, but the math doesn't lie. And, unlike us mere mortals, math isn't "silly."

Unlike you, I don't claim to be clairvoyant. I don't know who'll win the KD, although FF is the horse I'd most like to see win it. However, if he doesn't, I can be happy if any one of several horses do, including Quality Road.

In fact, from a pedigree aficionado's viewpoint, I'd be happy if any of 13 colts still listed as possibles actually won this year's Derby.

BTW, regarding your increasingly, umm, strong replies to anyone who likes Friesan Fire, I think you protest too much. He's got you worried, does he?! Please be sure to trot out one or more of the alter egos you use here to reply. They're so entertaining. :)

21 Apr 2009 7:55 PM


You are correct that General Quarters appears to be a horse that can run equally well on dirt and synthetics. And notice that General Quarters received a 102 for his Sam Davis win on dirt and a 95 for the Blue Grass on synth. Was his performance in the Sam Davis truly 4 lengths superior to his performance in the Blue Grass? I would say no. I think they are equal performances, and that a 102 on dirt roughly translates into a 95 on synthetic. The 7 point "drop" for GQ from the Sam Davis to the Blue Grass doesn't reflect a decline in performance, but instead reflects the normal "jumps" and "drops" in Beyers due to the fact that the synthetic Beyer scale is different from the dirt Beyer scale.  

21 Apr 2009 7:55 PM
For Big Red

TO ROCKER: You asked me, "I'm assuming your talking about his Tampa derby beyer?"

No, I wasn't talking about Beyers at all there re the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass. I was referring to the BRIS figures for the speed of the starters' last races before the AD and BG. It was just a little test I did to satisfy my own curiosity.

21 Apr 2009 8:00 PM

Mr. Hot Stuff will be flying like a jet in the last quarter mile of the Derby . Corey Nakatani and Mr. Hot Stuff need " Join in the Dance " to go with Regal Ransom up front for a hot pace. If that happens throw out RR and Join in the Dance and look at Chocolate Candy , Quality Road , Mr. Hot Stuff , and Pioneerof the Nile to be there at the end . Include Square Eddie in the exotics ...he ran a nice Lexington for exercise and stamina for the Derby .

21 Apr 2009 8:05 PM
For Big Red

TO GUNBOW: I have to sincerely thank you for sharing your Beyer-related research with us, and for your excellent mini-tutorials as to their meaning. I'm going to thoroughly study and digest all the information you provided. Maybe it will finally help me lay some of my skepticism aside. :)

21 Apr 2009 8:08 PM


According to Beyer figures, the 2006 Derby field was very strong. Of course, Barbaro would win by 6, as many of the other top horses ran poorly.

12 of the horses in the 2006 Derby had earned a Beyer of at least 100.  

Top beyers:

Sinister Minister- 116(Blue Grass)

Keyed Entry- 110(Hutcheson,sprint)

Sweetnorthernsaint- 109(Ill Derby)

Brother Derek- 108(SA Derby)

Brother Derek- 108(San Rafael)

Lawyer Ron- 106(Risen Star)

Keyed Entry- 105(Gotham)

Sweetnorthernsaint- 104(Gotham)

Sweetnorthernsaint- 104(Miracle Wood)

Barbaro- 103(Florida Derby)

7 of the horses had run Beyers of 100+ at least 2 times

Brother Derek- 108,108,102,102(at 2)

Sweetnorthernsaint- 109,104,104,102(sprint)

Sinister Minister- 116,102(sprint)

Keyed Entry- 110(sprint), 105

Barbaro- 103,102(at 2)

Point Determined- 103,100

AP Warrior- 101,100

Barbaro won the Derby by 6.5 lengths w/ a 111 Beyer.

21 Apr 2009 8:09 PM

For Big Red and others interested in Beyers:

Thanks. As Rocker wrote, most of the Beyer information is from the website (wasnt sure if we could post it). They have a section on the Derby which includes the past performances of Derby horses 2005-2008, as well as the career past performances of every Derby winner since 1992. Beyer figures are included in the past performances.

I have alot more Beyer speed figures beyond what is on the drf page. I've been keeping track of Beyers since they were first published nationally in the now defunct Racing Times in 1991. Since 1992, Beyers have been published in the past performances in the Daily Racing Form. Andy Beyer has been making figures since the 70s, and in his books he makes references to figures from the past.

For example, in one of his books Beyer mentioned that Secretariat's figure for the Belmont was 148. Imagine that, a 148? I have since seen it listed at 138 by others, but either way it was huge. Other Beyer figures from the past are General Assembly, Secretariat's very underrated son, with a 130+ in the 79' Travers. Affirmed's top Beyer was a 128 in the 79' Jockey Club Gold Cup when he beat Spectacular Bid and Coastal.

Also, according to Beyer, Secretariat ran around a 128 figure when winning the Derby and Preakness. When he was spanked later in the year by Prove Out in the Woodward, it wasnt because he ran a subpar race; Secretariat ran a 129 in the Woodward, but Prove Out ran a monster 132+ . Secretariat's figures at 2 were between 116-120.

In own of his books Beyer writes that his favorite moment in racing came, on the evening after the 73' Belmont when he sat down and calculated Secretariat's Beyer for the race as 148.

Top recent Beyer horses include Formal Gold (126,125,124,122), Ghostzapper(128,124,122,120), Gentlemen(126,121,121,118), Skip Away(125,122,121,120), Best Pal(123,121,121,119), Cigar(121,118,117,117,117,117).

I believe the new editions of the American Racing Manual include Beyer figures for every graded stakes since 1992.

21 Apr 2009 9:12 PM

FF ?  You mean the horse that couldn't run faster the 113 for 6f all year?  The one who has been off nearly 2 months?  The one who has never gone past 1 1/16th ? You think that plodder scares me?  The only way he could hit the board is if the track becomes a mud party. His fractions in the Lecomte 48.67, 1:13.67, 1:37.67... how painfully slow is that ??? The Risen Star is worse 47.61,1:13.64 huh what? a 26 second quarter ???

a mile time of 1:38.58 are you kidding me ? His splits in his last 24.12, 48.75, 113.34.... geez give me a break you think this horse has a chance against a horse like Quality Road who fires a 1:35 mile like its nothing? They will fire a 1:11 in the Derby or about 12 lengths faster than ANYTHING he has ever seen.  Then he will be asked to run 3 football fields longer than he has ever run before against horses other than Uno Mas.

Beating average horses in average times at the Fairgrounds will not mean much when he has to face horses like Dunkirk and Quality Road in a few days.  Make sure you come back here and let me know how you did with all your Friesan Fire tickets.... he is a toss for me. The only way he hits the board is if he jumps the fence and runs into it.

21 Apr 2009 9:16 PM

In recent years California horses have been sub par when it comes to the derby. The last legit horse that came out of California in my opinion was Brother Derek who dead heated  for fourth in 06. In 05 by some fluke you had Giacmo win it. In 07 the best that California  could do was 7th with Tiago the Santa Anita Derby winner. Last year Colonel John winner of he Santa Anita Derby & was California's best hope he finished 6th as the second favorite in last year's derby. I don't see why this trend won't continue even as good as some of you think Pioneer Of The Nile is. He will finish in the area of anywhere from 5th- 10th.  

I'm not sure what people are considering I Want Revenge as. Is he a California horse that has been prepping on the East Coast or is he a East Coast Horse because he has had his 2 major preps on the East Coast?  Well I'm sure that the people from California are either POTN fans or IWR  I don't think they're both.

If IWR wins the derby which coast gets bragging rights?  I would lean to the East Coast after all he has won  2 preps on the East Cost out of his major 3 preps for the derby.

21 Apr 2009 9:27 PM


I see Pioneer of the Nile turned in a beautiful work today at Churchill. Should we conclude that Pioneer is just as good on dirt from this work?

It does seem that, in the past, whether horses were moving from turf to dirt, synth to dirt, turf to synth, dirt to turf, etc. that alot of horses have TRAINED well over the new surface only to go out and run terribly in an actual race.

Can workouts really tell us whether horses like a surface? It often seems that we really don't find out how well a horse can handle a surface until it is asked to dig down and run really hard, in an actual race. It just seems like very good horses are able to work well over multiple surfaces, but that doesnt always translate to running well on these surfaces in the afternoon.

There's a big difference between morning workouts and afternoon races. What happens when the horse is asked for its everything? Pioneer's workout showed that when moderately asked, he can run decently over dirt? Does this guarantee that when he is asked for his all, like in the Derby, he will be able to move over the dirt brilliantly, and extremely fast?

While some horses start spinning their wheels from the gate, it seems like other horses don't reveal their dislike of a surface until deep into the race, when they are tired and being asked for a stretch run. Thus, while I Want Revenge was able to skip over the Pro-Ride surface fairly well during the early stages of the Bob Lewis, it wasn't until the top of the stretch, when IWR was more tired and being asked for his all, that Talamo felt him starting to spin his wheels.

I really hope Pioneer and all of the other synth horses are able to transfer their form to dirt. I want to see a clean race, and want to see each horse fire its best. And then, may the fastest horse win!

21 Apr 2009 9:29 PM
For Big Red

TO DRAYNAY AND GUNBOW: This article from the New York Daily News ( might interest you, although for different reasons.

GunBow, I'm calling your attention to it as an example of why I'm skeptical about Beyer numbers.

DrayNay, I'm calling your attention to it because of what it says about Dunkirk, Quality Road, the Florida Derby, and how the Beyer numbers were revised. The article concludes, "Horseplayers will have to decide whether the newly minted elevation of Dunkirk's speed fig is the real deal -- or whether the original lowball number is his true evaluation."

21 Apr 2009 9:37 PM

For all of the Florida Derby bashers. When are you going to bring up the fact that QR and Dunkirk ran into a 30 MPH HEADWIND COMING DOWN THE STRETCH.

21 Apr 2009 9:38 PM

Don't feel bad I picked the Derby winner - in what was it '67 - only when they took down Dancer's Image and didn't pick another winner until Street Sense.

21 Apr 2009 10:02 PM

For Big Red (and others):

Living in California, do you remember a horse named Grand Canyon? He was the top 2 year old of 1989 in California, and was trained by D Wayne Lukas. I lived out in Cali at the time and went to the 89' Hollywood Futurity. Grand Canyon won the race by 6, in a record time for a 2 year old, 1:33 flat.

I subsequently read that the figure the Beyer team originally gave the race was a 120, astronomical for a year old. However, the Beyer team didn't believe that figure. The 2nd place finisher was an unknown horse that had been running slow races in Illinois, Farma Way, while the 3rd place finisher was a $1,500 yearling, Silver Ending. A 120 figure for Grand Canyon would have implied a 108 figure for the "inferior" Illinois runner and a 102 figure for Silver Ending. All 3 would have been equal or higher than the winning figure of the Breeders Cup Juvenile, a 102 by Rhythm.

Ultimately, the Beyer team downgraded Grand Canyon's figure to a 108. I have never forgiven them for this. Here's why:

The race before the Hollywood Futurity, older allowance horses ran a mile in 134 and 3; that is 8 lengths slower than Grand Canyon ran (1:33). What older horse won that allowance race? None other than Criminal Type, another Lukas trainee. Two races later, Criminal Type won the San Paqual w/ a 108 Beyer, before winning the San Antonio, Pimlico Special(117 Beyer), Met Mile(118 Beyer), Hollywood Gold Cup(120 Beyer), and Whitney(117 Beyer). The Hollywood Futurity was 1 race after Criminal Type's allowance; how much could the track have changed between the two races? Grand Canyon ran 8 lengths faster than Criminal Type that night!

Earlier on the card, allowance 3 year olds went 8.5 furlongs in 1:43 and 2. That translate to being about 15-17 lengths slower than Grand Canyon's 1:33 mile. The winner of that allowance race, eventual champion Tight Spot.

As for the horses that ran 2nd and 3rd behind Grand Canyon that evening, Farma Way and Silver Ending, both would win grade 1 races later in their careers.

After an injury plagued 3 year old season, Farma Way was transfered to D Wayne Lukas who, ironically, had been Grand Canyon's trainer. Farma Way had a HUGE 4 year old campaign, winning the San Caros at 7 furlongs, San Paqual, San Antonio, Santa Anita Handicap, and Pimlico Special, and running 2nd by a head in the Hollywood Gold Cup, 2nd by a neck in the grade 1 Iselin while giving the winner, Black Tie Affair, 3 pounds, and 2nd in the Woodward. Farma Way's Beyers were between 113 and 122 for all of those races, averaging about 118.

Silver Ending went on at age 3 to win the grade 1 Pegasus, as well as the Arkansas Derby and El Camino Real Derby.

Grand Canyon deserves a 120 Beyer for his 1989 Hollywood Futurity. It was one of the finest perfromances ever by a 2 year old.

Sadly, Grand Canyon suffered an injury early in 1990 as the winter-book favorite for the Derby. The injury did not heal quickly, and over the next summer he was stricken with laminitis and died.

21 Apr 2009 10:07 PM

For Big Red... save your breath... ask Mr. Haskin how many horses in the last 100 years have run 2 turns for the first time in a G1 race and set a new track record ??? Everyone talks like the dirt was magic during the Florida Derby.  Only longwaytomay mentions the fact that they were running into a very strong headwind coming home.  Fast Track on dirt is a fast track on dirt.  Do you really believe Gulfstream dirt is the fastest dirt in the country?  Give it a rest.  Quality Roads FOY and his FD times stand out like a sore thumb.  No horses before during or after those races came anywhere close to running those times. Quit thinking it was magic dirt it was the talent and speed of a very good horse.  The End.

21 Apr 2009 10:08 PM
Matthew W

Steve had Gomez opted for Dunkirk Pletcher would have had that much more pressure on him...To me Dunkirk is flying under the radar somewhat, after all he's elligible for NW2x!...I feel Dunkirk amswered more questions than did Quality Road in Fla Derby...I think Dunkirk and Hold Me Back will be coming late in The Derby....I just think GoGo will have steered POTN to the front at head of stretch (POTN goes by them quickly) and he will have enough to hold them all at bay...PUT AWAY THE COFFEE DRAY---COFFEE'S FOR CLOSERS---When it comes to The Derby--Bob Baffert's the closer!

21 Apr 2009 10:17 PM

For Big Red:

My post about Grand Canyon shows the Beyer team doing the opposite. There are plenty of examples of the Beyer team "revising" figures well after the fact. They are by no means the gospel. It is an inexact science, and there is some subjective element.

I'm sure many find it funny that Beyer is talking about how fast Quality Road is, how his speed figures compare with past Derby winners, etc.. when it was his controversial and seemingly subjective opinion that bumped Quality Road's figure for the Florida Derby from 103 to 111. It's like he believed Quality Road was one of the fastest Derby contenders in recent years, and when the original Florida derby figure came up lighter, he changed it to reflect his opinion.

I know some believe that this is what Beyer did and are turned off by the seemingly subjective nature of the change. I'll give him, and Quality road, the benefit of the doubt. Quality Road is a gifted horse and reminds me alot of Barbaro. Interestingly, had Quality Road's original Beyer for the Florida Derby stayed a 103, it would have been the same figure Barabaro earned when he won his Flordia Derby.

In the case of Grand Canyon, the Beyer team chose to downgrade his Hollywood Futurity from 120 to 108. 12 points?  

21 Apr 2009 10:25 PM

Gunbow we seem to think similar thoughts. Do you believe that anybody that has run under a 100 beyer this year has a shot of winning the derby?

I have made it quite clear I don't think they have a shot but some of them could be used underneath in tri's and supers. Gunbow give me your top 4 for the derby and a reason why for each of them. I'm just curious on your  picks and thoughts.

21 Apr 2009 10:29 PM


As someone who lived in California for 15 years and has lived the last 10 years in the Detroit area, I think I have a decent perspective on the regional rivalries.

Given that the "West" basically has one major prep race, compared to the 8 major preps in the "East" (Louisiana Derby, Lane's End, Florida Derby, Wood, Blue Grass, Illinois Derby, Arkansas Derby, and Lexington), the West should produce FAR FEWER Derby winners. Again, that is if only the last prep race is used.

If the "East" was broken up into 3 regions, "Northeast", "Flordia" and "Midwest", we would find that Florida has, historically, produced few Derby winners, that is if we use only the last prep race. For, it was only in the last few years that the Florida Derby has been used as a final prep. For all the past Kentucky Derby winners that started in the Florida Derby, should those that ran in the Blue Grass or Lexington between the Florida and Kentucky Derbys be considered "Midwest" or "East"? If we break up "East" into 2 and create a "Midwest", then only the Wood and, recently, the Florida Derby are truly "East" preps. The rest are "Midwest".

Using only the final prep, this is how the "East", "Midwest", and "West" have done:

Big Brown- East

Street Sense- Midwest

Barbaro- East

Giacomo- West

Smarty Jones- Midwest

Funny Cide- East

War Emblem- Midwest

Monarchos- East

Fusaichi Pegasus- East

Charismatic- Midwest

Real Quiet- West

Silver Charm- West

Grindstone- Midwest

Thunder Gulch- Midwest

Go For Gin- East

Sea Hero- Midwest

Lil E Tee- Midwest

Strike the Gold- Midwest

Unbridled- Midwest

Sunday Silence- West

Winning Colors- West

Alysheba- Midwest

Ferdinand- West

Spend A Buck- East

Swale- Midwest

Midwest= 12, East= 7, West= 6

Again, this is using only the Final Prep.

Now, if we go more than 1 start back, horses that went the Florida to Blue Grass/Lexington route like Street Sense, Thunder Gulch, Sea Hero, Strike the Gold, Unbridled, and Swale would be put in the "East'. However, remember that before winning the Wood, Fusaichi Pegasus won the San Felipe out West, Charismatic ran 4th in the Santa Anita Derby before winning the Lexington, and that Alysheba ran 2nd in the San Felipe before the Blue Grass. Additionally, before running in the Louisiana and Arkansas Derbys, Grindstone ran in a Santa Anita allowance.

Of the 25 Derby winners listed above, 10 made a start at Santa Anita prior to the Derby the same year they won the Derby. The number of Derby winners that made a start at Gulfstream over the same period is also 10. Keeneland-8, Aqueduct-6 (includes Smarty Jones who won the Count Fleet early in 04'), Oaklawn- 3, Fair Grounds- 3.

Racetracks where Derby winners ran before the Derby (the same year they won the Derby)

Gulfstream- 10

Santa Anita- 10

Keeneland- 8

Aqueduct- 6

Oaklawn- 3

Fair Grounds- 3

What was Fusaichi Pegasus, a New York or California horse? He made his final start before the Derby in NY, but had made his 3 previous starts at Santa Anita? Thunder Gulch, Flordia (East) or Kentucky (Midwest)? It certainly becomes more complicated if we go back more than 1 start before the Derby.

21 Apr 2009 11:28 PM

RELVA and GREG J:  My remarks about Old Fashioned were not meant to hurt your feelings or to be callous about the horse's injury.

If you will hear me out, the discussion was about being a legitimate Derby contender in terms of speed, stamina and pedigree for 10 furlongs at Churhill Downs on the first saturday in May.  In that context OF was exposed as a pretender.  That's all I meant.  I respect the horse and admire his trainer Larry Jones immensely.  I too am a genuine lover of thoroughbreds (not for gambling) and have spent lots of precious time around them on the farm as a kid.  

The remark about OF's injury being a blessing in disguise means that 1) The horse's frailty (Unbridled Song's offspring again)was exposed thankfully for Larry Jones (in the wake of Eight Belles last year) before the gruelling Kentucky Derby.

2) The horse leaves the scene repairable and with his high rating mostly in tact (after a gutsy performance in the Arkansas derby)for a career at stud.

Sincerest apologies fellas harm meant ...I guess it boils down to a little rough and tumble in the heat of derby fever.  Keep a cool head Relva.

22 Apr 2009 12:02 AM

FOR BIG RED:  You also misunderstood my remarks regarding OF's injury.  Sometimes one should reserve or suspend judgment especially when there are different ways of interpreting a comment.  I trust that you accept my clarification.

KAREN 2:  Thanks.

22 Apr 2009 12:17 AM


Here is my Top 4:

1.Quality Road

2.I Want Revenge

3.Friesan Fire


So, yes I have horses that have Beyered the highest on top. I have Quality Road over I Want Revenge because the pace is not shaping up to be that fast, and Quality Road has greater natural speed. I picked Friesan Fire over Dunkirk for similar reasons; I'll take FF's tactical speed, and he has excellent breeding. Dunkirk has proven himself a very talented horse, but he is more of a grinder, and doesn't seem to have quick acceleration. However, AP Indy was more of a grinder too.

5.Pioneer of the Nile

Have have him below FF and Dunkirk less because of the Beyers and more because he is unproven on dirt. I think I am like many people, including professional handicappaers, race writers, and even Andy Beyer himself, who doesn't know quite what to make of synthetic Beyers. I do not think they are comparable to dirt Beyers at face value and think the synthetic Beyer scale seems to more closely resemble the turf Beyer scale (which runs lower than dirt, per class level).

So, I tend to add about 4-6 points to synth beyers when comparing them to dirt Beyers. Doing that to Pioneer, his Beyers become 101, 95, and 100 for his last 3 races. This makes him more competitive, and he fulfills the 100 Beyer criteria, but it still leaves him about 6 lengths behind Quality Road and I Want Revenge. And that is if Pioneer transfers his form to dirt perfectly, which is no guarantee.

In most Derbys, there are usually a few horses that have run 1 big Beyer. Horses like Bellamy Road, Sinister Minister, Millenium Wind, Balto Star, Unbridled's Song and The Cliff's Edge have come in with one big figure and burned alot lof money. Sometimes these horses are done in by the Derby pace, or a bad trip, but sometimes it's just that the big beyer was earned under optimal circumstances and the horse has trouble equalling it again.  Of course, there have been a number of top Beyer horses that have run back to that figure in the Derby.

Rarely, however, does a horse enter the Derby with 2 Beyers over 110. Easy Goer did in 89', Holy Bull in 94', Silver Charm in 97', and Indian Charlie in 98'. Holy Bull had Beyers of 115 and 113 and was a genuinely great horse, but he hated the muddy Churchill track on Derby day. The same was true for Easy Goer, but he also faced another legitimately great horse in Sunday Silence, who was coming in off a huge Beyer win of his own in the SA Derby.

Indian Charlie had Beyers of 112 and 111 entering the 98' Derby, but he had made only 4 starts and had to face a stablemate, Real Quiet, that had strong back-to-back 108 and 107 Beyers of his own. In the Derby, the racing experience and pace scenario favored Real Quiet over Indian Charlie, but IC still ran a courageous 3rd.

Silver Charm was the other horse to have 2 Beyers over 110, and he would go on to win the 97' Kentucky Derby. So, only one of the 4 horses over the past 20 years to go into the Derby with 2 Beyers over 110 actually won the Derby. But one ran 2nd, and another 3rd. And the one horse that bombed, Holy Bull, went on to win the Horse of the Year and is now in the Hall of Fame. Easy Goer and Silver Charm are also in the Hall of Fame. Indian Charlie had Hall of Fame talent, but he never made another start after the Derby.

So, Quality Road is in elite company with Beyers of 113 and 111. Even if he doesn't win the Derby, he figures to have a stellar career. I know some question his 111 Beyer for the Florida Derby due to Andy Beyer's late adjustment, but 103 did seem too low (I commented after the 103 figure came out that I believed the race deserved a 107 at the lowest).

The problem for the lower Beyer horses in this year's field is that they have more than one big figure competitor to deal with. I Want Revenge ran a 113 in the Gotham. I know some have been knocking the Wood, but if you assume that IWR lost about 4 lengths due to the poor start and traffic trouble, then his Beyer would have been 110 for the Wood. That would have put him in that rarified air with 2 Beyers over 110. Additionally, this Derby field would have featured, for what I believe to be the first time since 1990 or earlier, 2 horses that had run 2 Beyers over 110. As it is, IWR's 103 for the Wood is up near the top of the list.

To win, the lower Beyer horses need BOTH QR and IWR to run subpar races. In most years, the slower horses needed just 1 horse to perfrom below par. So, I think the lower Beyer horses are facing a tougher than normal challenge. Additionally, there is a significant Beyer gap between QR/IWR and everyone else, except Dunkirk (108). Friesan Fire has 1 Beyer over 100, a 104, General Quarters has a 102, and West Side Bernie and Papa Clem both have a 101. Again, I think the synth Beyers are better than they appear at first glance, but even with an adjustment we're looking at a 99-102 range.

So, if QR and IWR run their races, I think one of them should win. Of course,  one of the synthetic horses could prove to be a dirt "freak" or the Dubai horses, for whom we have no Beyers, could turn out to be very fast (their Racing Post numbers are very solid). And, it's entirely possible that an improving type could jump up and run a career-best. It's the Derby, and no one can know the result at this time. However, using past stats and Beyers, QR and IWR are the horses to beat.

What's your take?

22 Apr 2009 12:29 AM

Steve, I remember your writing about Monarchos and the leadup to the Derby.  You gave me confidence to bet him.  I can't wait to hear what you think of the remaining works at Churchill.  I think Friesan Fire and Pioneerof The Nile work Monday.  Is Hold Me Back going to work at Churchill?  Is Win Willy going to work a 3f or something at Churchill?  Enjoy the leadup and of course the Derby itself

22 Apr 2009 5:06 AM


   Another thing that is common is that after a horse runs big the first time going two turns they will often bounce. Win Willy is a very good example of that. What makes you think That same thing won't happen to QR when he runs in the Derby and is up against more adversity and talent than he's faced his entire career. He may very well bounce off his FL Derby effort.

22 Apr 2009 7:27 AM


Check out the top beyer figs going into Smarty Jones KY Derby. I think you will find that race more competitive on that basis than the 2006 race. There may have been up to 10 entrants who had put up beyers of 100 or better at 1 1/16 or longer going into that one. In my opinion a 100 beyer in a sprint doesn't mean nearly as much as a 100 beyer at 1 1/16 or longer. I don't consider a 100 beyer in a sprint to mean much of anything for a 1 1/4 mile race unless it's backed up by a 100 in a route 1 1/16 or longer and they have raced that distance more than once. Sprinters aren't going to win a KY Derby. If you had a field with 6 or 7 sprinters who carried 100 or better beyers into a KY Derby It wouldn't make for a more competitive race. Just ask giacamo, it took less than that amount to set up the weakest winner I have seen in my life.

22 Apr 2009 8:13 AM
Matthew W

Gun Bow Grand Canyon';s 1:33 one turn mile by ten over Farma Way--is the best race I've ever seen by a two year old!

22 Apr 2009 9:57 AM
Steve Haskin

LDP, that is one angle I have among the ones I'll be writing about closer to the race. The last horse to win the Derby in only his second two-turn race was Bold Forbes in 1976. And he came into the Derby off 13 career starts, not 4, and won in a 9-horse field, not 20.

22 Apr 2009 10:50 AM

WANDA:  I should also thank you along with KAREN 2 for being the "devil's" advocate.  I do apreciate your comment in my defence even though I would not admit to being the "devil" in this case.  Blessings.

22 Apr 2009 11:12 AM
Greg J.


    My Apology to you, Thanks for clearing that up....

22 Apr 2009 11:32 AM

For Big Red, Gunbow, Rocker and Zarvona... I am so impressed with your posts. Sooooo much valuable information even with the differences of opinions. I am an amateur at best when it comes to all this scientific stuff but it is very interesting. Thanks for putting all of this out here. I am thinking you type atleast 70 WPM : )

Draynay...C'mon Dray.. stop being disrespectful to others opinions. We all enjoy all the different views on these horses. QR is a very talented colt and may be the next derby winner, but anything can happen in a 20 horse field. Keep your mind open.

22 Apr 2009 11:40 AM

Steve, When you write your next article, please include who the horses were that failed trying the Derby as their second two turn race. And please tell the powers that be that we are all very disappointed that you are not in Kentucky this week. I feel that I speak for most of us on this point. I count on your eyeballs as a major angle.

22 Apr 2009 11:40 AM

I find it interesting that people think a 20 horse field is a big deal to a front running horse.  Quality Road has already seen very large fields.  If he gets a good break like he did in both Graded Stakes races the race is pretty much over. I think if you ask Quality Road about the other horses in those two Stakes races he will only remember the one he followed in each race and the pesky one who tried to pass him at the top of the lane.  Remember this... Quality Road went 2 turns for the first time and ran a 1:47.72 the history of 3 year old racing before the Derby try to find ANY who has run faster...if you do I think you will find Quality Road is in very elite company.

22 Apr 2009 11:50 AM


    If thats the case with Quality Road why isn't anyone talking about how much he's up against? You said no horse has won the Derby off of four starts since 1918, and now no horse has won the Derby in only their second two turn start since 1976. Everyone only talks about a select few horses, one being Dunkirk, but from where i'm standing Quality road looks to have just as hard of a task as Dunkirk, history wise.

22 Apr 2009 12:00 PM
marc W

My God, so many facts and histories of races.

Gun Bow, I like the name because I liked the horse--to me that was the golden era of horse racing--the facts you present are impressive-- but the thought comes up-how do you find the time??? I have to work, the only reason my posts are more frequent is business is very slow. I enjoy reading all the info. I also still believe that all the facts in the world don't beat visual handicapping--a trained eye trumps all Beyers, Sheets and histories. In my day I sometimes would watch a horse that worked in 1:01 and say wow! The same morning another work in 58:4/5 and not be impressed.

What if the track comes up sloppy and 6 of the earlier races are won wire to wire? Safe to say I will change my selections---all the previous thoughts go for a hike. The same would apply in the reverse---Would you really want a front runner if the first 6 races have horses coming from the clouds?

My memory is pretty good, not perfect and I have done about every job on the track-hot walker -trained-clocker-odds maker--and have no where near the memory to post such facts. I do pretty well as a gambler though.

Am I the only one that thinks this is a tough Derby to handicap?

Dray and a few like him I disregard the bravado and audacity to say they have the winner as I would "anyone"--I think the Dray in his case just likes to irg on people for responses and he succeeds. Someone will be right--that is the "only" sure thing.

Which brings on the second question--anyone that truly bets serious money do they feel this is a great race to wager? I love horse racing and I am thrilled about watching this years KY D but I will be likely to keep my bets under $100 this year. If I bet that much, I am succumbing to my urges rather than being logical--and just enjoying.--Urges will win.

"There is value"---Someone like Dray "if" he really bets and isn't looking for just boasting rights, can key QR as a single on top and pound away and cover with $500-1000 to win-and hope to score big on the exotics. Best of luck to him if he is "real" hope he scores big or anyone that has the ying-yangs to put his or her money where their mouth is.

I have narrowed it down to 4 horses and I am not even solid on these although those will be the ones I bet on in exotics-doubt they will run 1-2-3-4, so I can't fire away--at least on the Derby. Trust me I will be looking for something on the undercard there or another track to do so to take advantage of the huge pools and overlays. I just wish I loved a horse in this years Derby, I just don't think it is easy.

22 Apr 2009 1:04 PM
Karen2 to Afleet Alex about a 20 horse field. Post position is a huge factor as well and at this point that is an unknown. If there is speed in the race you better be ready to either drop back and then move around horses later or gun to the front and risk suicidal fractions. If you happen do get caught up in traffic you risk some rough contact with other horses. Sometimes horses that aren't use to that don't do well. IMO a 20 horse field can make a huge difference in the outcome of the race.

22 Apr 2009 2:19 PM

Marc W.. .a trained eye has got to be the best determining factor. Some horses just make it look easy. Some literally wear their "heart" on their sleeve. Some seem genuinly happy and others rank. Horses speak volumes through their body language. I think some of these posters on here have great memories and really understand the handicapping side of all of it. They post fascinating information.  If I don't quit posting, I might just get fired : ) but its derby time and I can't seem to find anyone that wants to talk derby all the time..except for my trusty on-line derby buddies..... I have the fever.

22 Apr 2009 3:02 PM
steve s

where are the good trip experts.seems to me that GQ and HMB lost alot ground in blue grass

22 Apr 2009 3:38 PM
marc W

Note Karen 2 I thought AA had a pretty good trip in the Derby and at the 1/8 pole had every chance to win other than they said the inside wasn't where you wanted to be that day. When you are right there off the lead in mid-stretch you don't have a lot of excuses. Maybe my memory is lacking of the race.

Fact mentioned is right, just the example is poor. Trip cost him 2 races as a 2 yr old-one to Pletcher's horse and the Breeder Cup-I thought he was best in both those loses-not the Derby-just my opinion.

22 Apr 2009 3:57 PM

Gunbow heres my top 5

1.Quality Road

2.I Want Revenge

3. Dunkirk

4. Fresian Fire

5. General Quarters

Gunbow you have basically covered all the reasons why we both like the top 4 but I just want to add some thoughts.

I believe the top two have proven they deserve to be 1&2  as I stated with Quality Road performance in  the Florida Derby it was a carbon copy of Big Browns but faster. We all know what Big Brown went on and accomplished after his impressive Florida Derby victory last year.

Iwantrevenge has the a versatile running style that should serve him well in the derby and this horse has already showed  me a lot of heart with his Wood Memorial Performance.

Dunkirk, I wish he ran at 2 because deep down I believe this horse is very special. On a day that favored only speed he was the only horse that came off the pace and finished a respectable second. I believe Gomez is a dummy and instead of basing his decision as a business one he choose to listen to his heart and go with Pioneer of the Nile because of their  history. Dunkirk right now and in the future is a better horse than Pioneer of the Nile.

Fresian Fire has done nothing wrong to this point but I don't like the fact he has only run 1 1/16. I respect Larry Jones  but I don't think he is as good as the other three. He should sit a nice trip in the derby due to his running style and with the lack of speed that is being projected in the derby he will have first jump on the deep closers.

General Quarters,  The story about this horse is great but I like him not for his story but for his heart. In the Tampa Bay derby his rider didn't give him a shot and he finished mid pack. When he got a good rider and a chance to run his race we saw what he is capable of doing. Coa is another dummy who decided to ride Musket Man instead of General Quarters. He gets the hot JL.

Some other things that are on my mind that I would like to share.  Pioneer's work out yesterday was good but at the same time last year Colonel John  came to Churchill and drilled  good work out and he finished 6th.

I won't be able to go to the track on derby day which I'm disappointed about  because  I have other priorities that I have commitments to. I just want to point out that if people go to the track to bet Churchill races all day you need to pay attention how the track is playing in the early dirt races. The reason why I say this is because I remember last year the track was favoring speed and mid pack horses  it was very hard to close on derby day last year. If my memory serves me correct the only horse that hit the board that was a closer last year was Dennis Of Cork  who closed from like 20th to finish 3rd in the derby. Tracks seem to speed up on  big days. Look at last years Belmont Stakes under card dirt races only one horse closed from the back  in a dirt race and won the race. Hows The Belmont Stakes winner done since he won that race? drawing a blank  for his name. He hasn't won since and he was lucky to win that race he was lone speed  on a track that was playing to speed.

I won't have the chance to see how the track is playing on derby day but I have a feeling front runners and horses mid pack will win most of those dirt races on the derby day under card.

Gunbow very knowledgeable and much respect to you since you take time to do your research. Look forward to always hearing what you have to say.

22 Apr 2009 4:23 PM
Mike Relva


Great point!

22 Apr 2009 4:47 PM
Mike Relva


Nice spin,I'm done!

22 Apr 2009 4:48 PM

Rocker, I have watched last years derby numerous times. Colonel John lost any chance he had in the first 100 yards. I thought he ran really well to finish 6th. That being said, what really scares me about POTN is Baffert. He seems to be very confident about his horse. I remember when Smarty won the derby and Baffert said that everyone was running for second place. He isn't saying anything like that this year. He thinks he has the horse to win.

22 Apr 2009 4:54 PM
For Big Red

TO DRAYNAY: You wrote, "Remember this...Quality Road went 2 turns for the first time and ran a the history of 3 year old racing before the Derby try to find ANY who has run faster."

You really shouldn't issue such simple challenges. Heck, Quality Road's Florida Derby is the ninth fastest ever run, even though he set the record. How is this possible?

In 2004, Gulfstream Park was massively renovated. The main track was enlarged from a one-mile circumference to 1 1/8 miles, and it was totally resurfaced. Therefore, all of Gulfstream Park's current track records on dirt and turf only date from 2005. Quality Road's 1:47.72 barely broke a record of 1:47.80 set in 2006 by Brass Hat. (If timed in fifths, QR's time tied that of Brass Hat.)

The Florida Derby at GP was first run in 1952, always at 1 1/8 miles. Through 2004, the stakes and track record of 1:46.80 was held by Gen. Duke, set in 1957. (His winning time equaled the then world record for the distance.) Gen. Duke is the only horse to win the race in under 1:47, but from 1952-2004, 10 horses won in 1:47 and change. Only one of them (Swale) went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Looking quickly at the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass (all at 1 1/8m), I've found 28 other horses who won in 1:47 and change. Only six went on to win the KD.

So (not counting Quality Road, since we don't know how he'll do in KY), doing only quick research, we have 39 horses who won major KD preps at 1 1/8m in under 1:48. Seven of them (18%) also won the KD. To look at it the other way, 82% did not.

Anyone who can read a past performance chart knows Quality Road is a fast, classy colt. Of the remaining colts on the Derby trail, only three look like natural front runners to me: Quality Road, Regal Ransom and Join In The Dance. All three have demonstrated an ability to get very quick opening quarters and half-miles, but that's not where the KD is won.

The average opening quarter of the Derby is :23 and change, but the average final quarter is :25 and change. The pace will already be slowing at the end of 3/4ths of a mile, and the eventual winner will either be up with the leaders or in the lead as they hit the top of the stretch. The winner will have the best SUSTAINED closing kick.

22 Apr 2009 5:05 PM
For Big Red

TO MARC W: You wrote, "I also still believe that all the facts in the world don't beat visual handicapping--a trained eye trumps all Beyers, Sheets and histories."

I couldn't agree with you more. That's why I'm so disappointed videos of the works for the KD contenders are not available online.

22 Apr 2009 5:29 PM

Marc W.. I remember the race well. He had a horrible trip. He got boxed in and had some rough contact with the other horses. He came out of that race bloody. IMO the best horse didnt win the race that day. Anyway.... won't argue about the 2005 Derby. Just stating that a 20 horse field can be a huge factor in the outcome of the race.

For Big Red: nice post.

22 Apr 2009 6:14 PM

Pioneer of the Nile likes Churchill dirt, I hope he's 8 or 10 to 1.Papa Clem Likes dirt too but hates slop, if its a fast track

that's my 1-2 punch. I Want Revenge for my tri.

22 Apr 2009 6:45 PM
anti draynay and thong song!

QUALITY ROAD IS A BEAST. He has a v12 engine and the jockey will be looking around at the 1/8 pole for another horse that wont be there! Get on the bandwagon you have a week to do so. All this history crap is non sense people we are in a new age of racing and horses are differnt now, there are new surfaces, steriod free racing! You can take all those historic stats and shove them because may 2nd you will can see QR run and then you can talk about since 1924 no horse has ever won ....yada yada yada!

22 Apr 2009 6:50 PM
Willie Ellsworth

I don't mean to be rude or insensitive, but its a shame

anyone with their own honest

feeling and opinion about an

animal or human being on this

earth cannot share it anymore

without some individual or group

ripping them to shreds, without

even trying to reason or understand

what they mean, many times trying

to be helpful instead of critical.

Not being to critical myself to

anyone for writing this, but if you

are so sensitive of hearing something or reading something

that offends your opinion, and

you cannot agree with it right or

wrong, and you come down with some

stressful disorder from other folks

opinions, you should be quarantined

in a cocoon. I don't believe this

gentleman writing about the injury

of Old Fashioned meant any kind

of gladness that it happened. Just

my opinion.

22 Apr 2009 6:56 PM
Karen in Texas

I agree with longwaytomay about being "scared" of POTN because of Baffert! He has been a great judge of horses, their conformation and abilities since he first became a trainer (and maybe before that). I remember the story of his telling the other trainers that everyone was running for second money after he saw Smarty work at Churchill one morning. He also thought Barbaro was the horse to beat in 2006, and told Matz he had a "man among boys". Then, of course, he did what no one at the time thought possible in bringing War Emblem over for the win in 2002. I remember thinking he appeared fairly confident with Silver Charm in 1997, saying he was "big and knew how to win a tough race". So, now that he is smiling about the way POTN is handling the Churchill surface, it may be time for other trainers to be afraid, very afraid. He probably does think he has the winner.

22 Apr 2009 7:01 PM


I don't think Pioneer Of the Nile is good enough  period. I respect Baffert and what he has done in this race before but this horse is not good enough in my opinion. We can talk about comparing beyers from synthetic vs dirt over and over. In my personal opinion Pioneer is 5th best at best in this race. I will eat my words if he wins the race but his beyer numbers don't care what surface are not good enough. I'm sure after the race all the Pioneer of the nile fans will come up with some excuse.

As far as I'm concerned  after the derby he can go back to California rest and then beat up on week 3yr old in California.  I'm tired of people saying that just because he beat IWR that he is equally or better than him. Thats false, IWR has been a different horse since he moved to the dirt. Even if Pioneer Of The Nile does take to the dirt I still think he is fifth best.

I'm reluctant to use this horse in tri's and supers but I probably will just cover myself.

22 Apr 2009 7:14 PM

If you look back 30 years in the Florida Derby 3 horses have run a faster time than Quality Road.... Holy Bull, Swale, and Alydar were those horses any good ???

Pretty good company...huh....

22 Apr 2009 7:48 PM

Rocker, I said that Baffert scares me because I am leaving POTN off all my tickets right now. I will wait for post positions before I finalize my picks. It just seems to me Baffert is very close to talking smack about his horse and when Baffert talks smack, LOOKOUT!!! I did see where he said Quality Road looks mighty good so that kind of proves he is a great judge of talent. That last part was for you Dray.

22 Apr 2009 8:36 PM


    Thanks. I hope you have good luck with your Derby pick, hope you still like POTN, i still do. In fact he's my number 1. I keep on switching Dunkirk and FF up for secon and third, the i go down to QR, then after him either IWR or Desert Party, don't know yet. I don't bet, but i'm loving the challenge of handicaping this field. This years field is so deep, especialy when compared to last years. This year you can make a case for almost any of the starters to win. I still think Nile will win. If he does he's a live horse to sweep the triple crown, which i believe he can do. He's versitle, tough, gritty, has tactical speed, he just seems to be the whole package. What do you think?

22 Apr 2009 9:17 PM

the wiz:

I loved that 04' crop. A lot of anti-Smarty people at the time criticized the competition he was facing. I have a t-shirt hanging up next to where I write that, on the back, has a list of the 04' Preakness field.

Smarty Jones- gr.1 Kentucky Derby, gr.1 Preakness, gr.2 Arkansas Derby

Rock Hard Ten- gr.1 Santa Anita Handicap, gr.1 Malibu, gr.2 Goodwood, gr.2 Strub, gr.2 Swaps

Eddington- gr.1 Pimlico Special, gr.2 Gulfstream Park Cap', gr.3 Calder Derby

Lion Heart- gr.1 Haskell, gr.1 Hollywood Futurity, gr.3 Holywood Prevue, gr.3 Long Branch

Borrego- gr.1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, gr.1 Pacific Classic

The Cliff's Edge- gr.1 Blue Grass

Imperialism- gr.2 Pat O'Brien, gr.2 San Rafael, gr.3 San Vicente

Sir Shackleton- gr.2 West Virginia Derby

And Smarty beat them by a Preakness record 11+ lengths w/ a 118 Beyer!

The 04' crop also included multiple graded stakes winner Pollard's Vision as well as 2 time gr.1 winner, Castledale. Most think Castledale was a one-hit wonder winning the Santa Anita Derby, but he came back the next year and won the gr.1 Shoemaker Mile on turf.  

22 Apr 2009 9:24 PM

Matthew W:

Grand Canyon was something special. I doubt I will ever see a 2 year old that good, at least in person.

Btw, sorry to have gone off a few weeks ago on the Sunday Silence-Easy Goer thing. I'm actually very much like you, and do not like when people start comparing horses after a few starts to Hall of Famers. So, I got upset when accused of doing that myself. Trust me, Quality Road, I Want Revenge, and all of the others need to win about 5 more grade 1 races to deserve comparison to those greats. But, I think they have the POTENTIAL to do some special things.

22 Apr 2009 9:30 PM


Our lists are very similar. I have General Quarters #6.

6.General Quarters

7.Musket Man

8.Papa Clem

9.Chocolate Candy

10.Hold Me Back

11.Regal Ransom

I might start dropping Papa Clem and Chocolate Candy if their works do not improve. I was hopeful for Chocolate Candy, but I did not like what I read about his 1:42 mile work yesterday.

22 Apr 2009 9:33 PM
For Big Red

TO DRAYNAY (anti draynay and thong song!): You have got to be the most amusing person I've come across on any forum (of any type) in quite some time. Bantering with you and your alter egos is a hoot. :)

22 Apr 2009 9:36 PM

karen2, marcw:

I wish I could type that fast. I seem to get into posting frenzies. I typically do not post everyday, and can disappear at times, but when I do post it is usually more than once, like right now.

How do I find the time? I'm a full-time student. Not the 18 year old undergrad variety, but of the 30-something grad student variety. Trust me, however, I didn't plan on sitting at my computer 5 hours yesterday posting on the Kentucky Derby; procrastination played a significant part in it.

22 Apr 2009 9:43 PM
Gary Peacock

Steve...Several Derby seasons ago I had fun getting your opinion about a Jersey-bred winning the Derby. I was surprised to see in Dan Illman's blog that New Jersey breds had already won the Rose Run TWICE! This must have been some time ago. Do you have the facts? Baffert, Steve. Thanx.  G.P.

23 Apr 2009 12:00 AM
Gary Peacock

STEVE! Researched Jersey-bred Derby winners question myself...HOW did I not know that Regret,  the first filly winner in 1913 was also the first Jersey-b winner? Ouch. Twenty three years later, Calvacade became the second.

23 Apr 2009 12:46 AM

I have declared my hand and advised that Regal Ransom, the youngest horse of the top 20 graded earners will win the Derby. I have reviewed all the prep races and the horse I fear the most to beat him is Musket Man.

This moderately bred KeeSep'07, $15,000 purchase is an absolute  monster. I have researched his pedigree and the only thing that stand out is the sire of his second dam Dixieland Band. Dixieland Band sired the dams of Monarchos, Street Sense and the unfortunate Eight Belles. Those horses all had the Raise A Native sire line on top. Musket Man hails from Blushing Groom sire line.

So what make him so good? The answer may be in Thinking Cap the sire of his 4th dam.  Thinking Cap was sired by a grandson of SWEEP. Thinking Cap's second dam was sired by SWEEP. That make him closely inbred to Sweep i.e., in his third generation. Why is this significant? Well, SWEEP has done what will possibly never be equaled. Sweep sired broodmares Dustwhirl and Brushup who produced back to back Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and War Admiral.

I know a lot of you are not interested in this kind of stuff but Musket Man is doing what is known thoroughbred circle as out running his pedigree. One loss in six starts; won at four different tracks; won over four different distances; earnings $485,000. No bad for a $15,000 purchase

Could champion broodmare sire SWEEP via a grandson that is inbred to him be the reason behind Musket Man's brilliance? Well I cannot confirm this but I would not for a moment rule it out.

NB: Review the videos of the Tampa Bay Derby and the Pasco Stakes and you will see why this horse is a monster.

23 Apr 2009 1:33 AM

For Big Red- I enjoy reading your analysis of the Derby contenders and how you feel the race will be won.  You said the pace will be slowing about 3/4 mile mark and the winner will have the best sustained kick.  Do you think this could open up the door for the deep closers like Hold Me Back, MR. HOT STuff,GQ?  I realize post position will come into play here also, but do you think you'll include any closers in your wagering?  Just curious about your opinions. You seem very up on things.  

23 Apr 2009 8:45 AM

Thank you Mr Haskins for putting a smile on my face and a chuckel in my heart,great article, as usual. Winner I believe is Pioneer Of the Nike, best trainer,best jock,I want revnege hasn't beat him yet

23 Apr 2009 9:14 AM

Ranagulzion: No worries, I've read lots of your posts and I knew you didn't mean to be disrespectful.I've posted on these sites for about a year and I find them on the whole very informative and entertaining to say the least. I'm an old racetracker and understand the business but it's interesting to read about how people look at racing from the other side of the rail if you know what I mean.

23 Apr 2009 9:59 AM

Quality Road is the best horse in the race just place him on top with the next best which is Dunkirk and Musket Man.  Throw in CC, Mr. Hotstuff, and General Quarters for some flavor and you are done.  The other horses I wouldn't take if they were free !!!

23 Apr 2009 10:13 AM

Coldfacts: I like Regal Ransom as well and am thinking he will be a major contender. I need to look at Musket Man a little more.

Gunbow: you make me laugh. Its hard not to talk derby all day. I understand completely. I am spending way to much time on this blog but I love the knowledge and all the different angles. Unfortunately they all make sense. I'm starting to feel as though it will be a 20 horse photo finish! :)

23 Apr 2009 11:39 AM
anti draynay and thong song!

Trust me and draynay are not the same person but the only bloggers on here that are fun! The rest of you just spat out boring stats about history. Also I can talk about other horses while mr. drayday lol likes just QR. I love the musket man and think he is live on derby day watch all of his races and you will be impressed!

23 Apr 2009 12:06 PM
For Big Red

SPEEDBALL: Thanks for your kindness. :) I'm no big-time handicapper or better. Just have loved Thoroughbreds since childhood, and closely followed/studied the sport since 1960. That doesn't make me any more or less knowledgeable than a lot of people here. Having said that, here's what I've learned with absolute certainty:

1. Condition is the #1 factor in how good any horse will run. Unfortunately -- and frustratingly given available technology today -- we in the general public have no access to information about the true condition of any horse entered in any race.

2. True current class is #2. In order to have any chance at winning, a horse must be entered at a class level where he has a realistic shot in "today's" race. To me, speed is a component of class.

3. Natural distance limitations. Some classy natural sprinters carry their speed over a route, and some classy natural routers can beat good sprinters at 6f, but most horses will do best running at distances within their natural comfort zone.

4. Beyond the first three, any of the dozens of variables that handicappers ponder can affect the outcome of a race, as can pure luck. So the best anyone can do is handicap PROBABILITIES. Certainties just do not exist in horse racing. I don't work at trying to figure out a winner. I work at weeding out horses based on probabilities.

Due to increased media attention, we have vastly more info available to handicap races like the KD than we do garden-variety races. So they are wonderful analytical challenges. Yet big races are still a puzzle precisely due to the many variables -- and because we're pretty much blind to the #1 factor, condition. So I try to mine the news for info about the horses' condition. I also make a spreadsheet and do a lot of analysis trying to determine the true class and distance preferences of each horse. (To me, speed is a component of class.) So...

Horses still on the '09 KD trail who have NOT won a race of any kind this year are (alphabetically): Flying Private, Join In The Dance, Mine That Bird, Square Eddie and West Side Bernie. Additionally, Flying Private, Join In The Dance, Mr. Hot Stuff, and Summer Bird each have only one lifetime win. The probability is low that any of these horses will win the Kentucky Derby. Could any of them win? Yes. Likely? No.

Conversely, 12 colts have won at least one two-turn stakes this year (alphabetically): Advice, Chocolate Candy, Friesan Fire, General Quarters, Hold Me Back, I Want Revenge, Musket Man, Papa Clem, Pioneerof The Nile, Quality Road, Regal Ransom, and Win Willy. I were looking for a deep closer, it would be here. Of this group, my personal favorite is Friesan Fire. Strictly from an analytical point of view, though, I've made no choices and am still working on eliminating horses. I'm presently calculating the closing fractions in each of their winning races this year, but haven't completed the task yet. I'll share the info in these blogs when it's ready.

BTW, I respect Win Willy. However, he's one of two horses in the likely field with a genuine sprinter's pedigree (Mine That Bird is the other). So I have to eliminate him on that basis.

I think General Quarters is somewhat the best of the three horses you specifically mentioned. More importantly, he's getting the complete attention of his trainer who, according to all accounts, gives the colt lots of TLC. Can't emphasize enough the importance of condition. Anyway, GQ, Hold Me Back and Mr. Hot Stuff all have pedigrees that say they should get the Derby distance.

23 Apr 2009 12:59 PM

one BIG factor to consider is this: the Derby is one and one-quarter miles! Most horses can't handle the distance For some it will be the only time in their careers that they will be asked to race at 1 1/4 miles. Some of us get trapped into that thinking that goes like this: well, he really was closing fast in that 1m/16 race and this a 1 1/4 so therefore . . . No, it doesn't work that way. Some horses can close like a freight train at a 1 1/16 but just can't sustain a drive at the derby distance. Neither the Beyers od the BRIS figures can tell us with any certainty which horse is a true derby distance horse.

Right now I think Quality Road and I Want Revenge stand out . . . but both horses raise some concerns,to me, about their ability to go the distance.

I also think that Hold Me Back is coming up to this derby really well. He ran very well last out and Desormeaux didn't ask for everything the horse had in the stretch run. He looked absolutely fantastic in the paddock. He is going from synthetic to dirt so his figures will bounce upward. He is being very well-prepared by a great trainer.

23 Apr 2009 1:44 PM

Big Red,

you stated that "we have 39 horses who won major KD preps at 1 1/8m in under 1:48. Seven of them (18%) also won the KD. To look at it the other way, 82% did not."

Statistics can be deceiving when presented like you did. 39 horses may have entered the Derby with those times but how many Derby's does that represent? For instance, if there were 13 Derby's that those 39 horses entered your percentages would be very deceiving since only one can win. Do some more complete research and come back with the real numbers. I'm guessing this won't take you long as you already have the names and years of those who fit this criteria. I'd be interested to see if those percentages change.

By the way after next Saturday you can add one more winner to that list. Quality Road.

23 Apr 2009 1:51 PM
The Rock

I WANT REVENGE is a West Coast horse. He's only training out east to prep for the derby. West Coast connections until the half selling of him. No doubts about that. West Coast represented by IWR, POTN, PP, CC, MHS

23 Apr 2009 2:49 PM
Susan in Seattle


I think a LOT of people are underestimating RR--the only bad race he ran was in the Norfolk on Poly. And--I think he's peaking at the right time.  A front runner in the Derby is never a plus, but if if can be done, he's one of two horses that could do it (QR being the other). Thanks for your insights on Musket Man's pedigree--I found it very useful.  He is definitely out running his pedigree and you have offered a possible explanation as to why.  I like him a lot--there's not much to to like.   In case anyone cares, he ran the Illinois Derby 1/100th of a second faster than War Emblem in 2002--

Coldfacts, rock on!

23 Apr 2009 3:14 PM

For Big Red- Thank you very much for taking the time to send me such a detailed and informative reply.  I appreciate it very much.I can't wait to read about your analysis of the closing speeds when you've completed your spread sheet.  I'm much more of a horse lover than a gambler.  They fascinate me, and I love following the Triple Crown races and Breeder's Cup- especially the Derby.  I admire your knowledge and it sounds as though you've been accumulating it for about 50 years.  That makes you just a young thing!!  I also feel GQ is a great horse.  He's also a gray so maybe that means something, especially to the superstitious.  I've been checking the extended weather for Louisville,and it sounds as though the track could come up sloppy.  FF should like that!  I will look forward to your analysis.  Happy Derby!   PS-love Mr Hot Stuff.  I know it's highly unlikely that he'll win, but it would be great to see him come flying down the stretch at the end.  

23 Apr 2009 5:07 PM
For Big Red

TO THE_WIZ: In your reply to me you wrote, "Statistics can be deceiving when presented like you did. 39 horses may have entered the Derby with those times but how many Derby's does that represent? Do some more complete research and come back with the real numbers."

Not being a mind-reader, I can't know if you fully understood my 22 Apr 2009 5:05 PM post and/or if you connected it up to what I was responding to then. So I'll just clarify the matter for you. I was not presenting statistics. I was presenting a bit of history regarding four traditional KD prep races. Why?

On 22 Apr 2009 at 11:50 AM, Draynay issued the following challenge: "Quality Road went 2 turns for the first time and ran a the history of 3 year old racing before the Derby try to find ANY who has run faster." For fun, I took up his (her?) challenge and quickly researched the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes.

Too bad this style of forum doesn't allow text embellishments like bold or underline, because I'd emphasize Draynay's phrase, "in the history of 3 year old racing before the Derby." Then perhaps you'd more easily see what I was getting at. In the history of four of the oldest Derby prep races, I found 39 horses (not counting QR) who won in 1:47 and change or faster. Again, this is not a statistic. It's history. The percentages I noted pertain only to that population of 39 horses and those four 1 1/8m stakes races I named.

23 Apr 2009 5:18 PM
For Big Red

TO WISTA: You wrote, "Some horses can close like a freight train at a 1 1/16 but just can't sustain a drive at the derby distance."

True, but why limit your observation only to races at 1 1/16m? The same applies to races at 1 1/8m. Whatever a pedigree says, no one can be certain if any horse can route until they actually do it. All we can do is handicap probabilities based on what Derby history teaches us.

23 Apr 2009 5:38 PM

WISTA...Right with you.  How does POTN and Chocolate Candy's distance pedigree look?  This is what I'm betting on.  Not how fast or how slow their synthetic Beyers are.  Plus, anyone can post a fast dirt Beyer against the likes of Stately Character 87-1, Sincero 71-1, Casey's on Call 77-1, and Toby the Coal Man 35-1 and that allowance horse-even money favorite.  If QR can win the Derby it will have been against a very tallented group of multiple graded stakes winners.  He is certainly going to get the "acid" test the first Saturday in May.

23 Apr 2009 6:38 PM
UCCMJ in Saratoga

In 2001 Derby,  I loved Monarchos, thanks to you, but I also saw (and liked) Invisible Ink at the Florida Derby that year. He finished 2nd at 70-1, and made for a great Derby exacta.

This time of year, I wish someone could make a list, ans show clearly who is in the field.  It's alittle tricky trying to figure out who's in or out.

23 Apr 2009 10:03 PM
Susan in Seattle

Regarding my last post--bad typo on MM-there's not much NOT to like about this horse, although I am anxiously awaiting his final work--if it happens to be a bullet, he deserves serious consideration to win the whole ball of wax. :)

24 Apr 2009 12:23 AM

Susan in Seattle,

Mr Haskin still thinks Desert Party is better than Regal Ransom. He has him ranked #7 and Regal Ransom ranked jointly 12th with Win Willy. Regal Ransom has more tactical speed and is from a successful stamina laden dam line. What is being overlooked is the fact that neither Storm Cat nor any of his sons have produced a broodmare that has foaled the winner of a Triple Crown race. Desert Party’s dam sire is Tabasco Cat a son of Storm Cat. They all have dismal records as broodmare sires in the Triple Crown races. Regal Ransom dam line is the best in derby history.

I continue to read about Regal Ransom’s speed in a derby that has lost some of its pace with the departure of Old Fashioned. I have not read about his stamina as prevailing opinions concur that his stamina is suspect. I find this interesting as the speedy Regal Ransom was defeated by Desert Party at 7 & 8 furlongs. However, he defeated Desert Party at 9 furlongs. Now, a lot excuses have been advanced to discredit Regal Ransom’s victory. Frankie Dettori said Desert Party was flat on that day. He obviously choose the wrong words as Desert Party was two lengths shy of RR with two furlongs to go and could not get by. Another excuse was that closers were at a disadvantage. Well, why was the closer DP returning 20 cents on the dollar if there was a track bias. The truth be told Regal Ransom was not expected to see out 9 furlongs based on his losses at shorted more suitable distances. No one factored in the improvements he made off those two losses. He shows a lot of speed because he is classy, but he is really bred to run all day.

This colt is in a zone right now and with the almost five weeks between the UAE Derby and the Kentucky Derby he will return and shock the betting public who continue to focus on slow CA horses who will viewing his rump from a distance. Do not be deterred for he is sitting on a big one.

NB: I cannot believe Steve has Chocolate Candy who will be twenty lengths of the pace ahead of Regal Ransom. He will have to be used aggressive to get to the leaders. Horses with his running style rely on pace melt down in good company. The likely leaders in the Derby 135 are not horses with cheap speed and in there lie the problem for the closers.

24 Apr 2009 1:43 AM


Thanks for the pedigree info. I am certainly going to give Musket Man and Regal Ransom a longer look. Actually, I have taken more of an interest in Regal Ransom since you first started touting him.

Musket Man is a horse that many "pedigree" analysts thought, based on his immediate family, had little chance to get more than even 8 furlongs. Your analysis deep into his pedigree offers possible explanations for what he has already done, and that 10 furlongs is within his scope. Add toughness, heart, and the ability to accelerate quickly, he is definitely a threat. With General Quarter's so-so work Thursday, I might move MM to #6 in my rankings.

Regal Ransom also intrigues me. He is a horse with speed in what is shaping up to be a largely paceless race. His connections have been dubious about his ability to get a classic distance, but his pedigree suggests otherwise. The Dubai angle is the big question for me, and I'm not sold on the class of horses he has been facing, even though some that were from the Southern Hemispere were almost 4. However, the UAE Derby has produced Discreet Cat and Lido Palace. In fact, Lido Palace, a Southern Hemispere 3 year old, came out of the UAE Derby and in his next start won the grade 1 Pimlico Special vs. older horses.

24 Apr 2009 3:32 AM


I think Friesan Fire has a chance, but the line that the only chance he has to hit the board is if he jumps the fence and runs into it was quite funny. I have to admit, I was laughing out loud.

24 Apr 2009 3:37 AM

When the field for Derby 135 is finally assembled there is likely to be 12 colts from the Raise A Native sire line included. They are Regal Ransom, Quality Road, Desert Party, Dunkirk, POTN, Chocolate Candy, Win Willy, Papa Clem, Square Eddie, Flying Private, Summer Bird and Mine That Bird. Horses from this line have won 12 of the last 24 derbies. Now when there are 12 of the possible 20 derby starter from this line, one has to wonder if the other lines that have produced little or no winners in the last 24 year can survive a 12 horse attack. Folks this will be the Raise A Native’s line ‘Shock and Awe’

The next sire line with the largest block of potential starters is the A.P. Indy/Bold Ruler with I Want Revenge, Friesan Fire, General Quarters and Join In The Dance. No Horse from this line has won a derby in the last 24 years. Can these colts withstand the Raise A Native line’s ‘Shock and Awe’? I doubt it. Go Regal Ransom!

24 Apr 2009 8:59 AM

FOR BIG RED, I couldn't agree with you more on your calculations on the opening 1/4 and 3/4's which sets it up for Friesan Fire. If he can stay behind the leaders, lets the front runners burn out and comes on with his stretch run he will win.

24 Apr 2009 9:47 AM
For Big Red

TO ALL: I'm truly sorry that Quality Road may not make the Derby, but am also not surprised after watching this video last night:

I know it's from Apr. 10, but I only came across it last night (have been searching high and low for any KD contender workout vids). The colt looked dull. Listen closely to what Jimmy Jerkens says.

I think QR and Dunkirk came back exhausted from their Florida Derby race after running over that "cement" track.

For Chocolate Candy fans, here's a vid of his Apr. 12 workout:

It's easy to see how much brighter CC was coming back from his work than the way QR looked.

24 Apr 2009 11:46 AM
marc W

To- anti draynay and thong song!

Who along with Mike Reeva, might be all the same person maybe not--who cares?

About not liking all the history. I quite enjoy the respect the efforts of people like Gun Bow, Coldfacts, For Big Red and others to look up facts along with Mr Haskin's knowledge of the past. I don't always agree with them I still find interesting.

To the omnipresent and ubiquitous Dray posts the best analogy I can up with is a kid leaving high school in his first car driving in the passing lane talking on his cell with a friend he just left 5 minutes ago going 15 miles per hour under the speed limit backing up traffic. He is very concerned with the importance of "his conversation" and not the other people on the road.

As for fun--When I used references to the "Fight Club" describing his alter egos--if you saw the movie it could be considered funny-or fun--and the reference to his posts coming after listening to Christine and the Divinyl's matra too much, again takes in effect you will catch the humor and know what I am talking about. Yes, it is meant to be fun.

I will give props the thought that people sometimes take their Derby selections far too seriously. On a blog I exchange because I enjoy talking to others that love horse racing. (At the track I have the "Eye of The Tiger"--and prefer not having anyone near me--I am betting serious money and have a house, 2 yr old child and take every dollar bet seriously-I play to win) I subscribe to the Bloodhorse and not to give false flattery to Mr Haskin I enjoy his articles more than anyone in the game. He is followed by Stan Bergstein who is in the other half of horse racing. Both know their stuff and being fairly knowledgeable myself I feel they understand and don't talk on a kindergarden level.

Some non-derby thoughts

(Please catch the joke references this time-there my friend -is your fun on this blog--it is a little bit high brow and you must think to catch it)

Back to Derby

Those reading BH this morning know QR status is in doubt. I hope he is able to run-AND-if he is the best let him win even if we will never here the end of it.

24 Apr 2009 12:12 PM

For Big Red ... stop playing with the numbers ! I said FASTER than Quality Road's 1:47.72.  I said if you find them you will notice he is in elite company.  For example the only 3 in the last 30 years to do it in the Florida Derby were... Swale, Alydar, and Holy Bull. Any Questions?

24 Apr 2009 3:35 PM
Susan in Seattle


Thanks, once again, for your pedigree info.--this time on Regal Ransom--for pointing out that he's bred to run all day.  Maybe RR's late foaling date had something to do with him not coming around until now? There isn't much pace in this race on paper, which makes a quality front runner extremely dangerous--remember War Emblem and Proud Citizen from 2002--they ran 1,2, all the way around.

I think the probable/possible pace scenario ups the chances for Friesan Fire, who also has very nice breeding, and in my opinion, is the best bred horse in the race.  He's one of the few true stalkers in here, so he should be close enough to the front to challenge. Question for anybody out there:  If you like Regal Ransom, can you discard Desert Party?  Not to win, but to possibly hit the board.  He and RR are sort of the Dubai version of GQ and MM.  I have yet to see a really stellar work from any of the Derby horses with the exception of RR's work on 4/18 going 5F in 59:4--he's the only one to crack the minute mark, and it was a full second faster than the highly touted POTN's work at the same distance on 4/21.  I still want to see a bullet work from somebody!  Thanks to all of you for all of your insights--this blog has been an absolute joy to read--so many intelligent thought-provoking comments--an humor.  Dray--I, too, almost died laughing over your comment about FF--'the only way he was going to hit the board was to jump the fence and run into it!'  I like FF, but still thought your comment was nothing short of hilarious!

24 Apr 2009 5:59 PM

For Big Red:

What exactly did you see with Quality Road or Jerkens in that video that made you question the horse? I'm not challenging you, but I really want to know. I didn't see anything that jumped out at me. Then again, I admit that I did not grow up around horses, have never worked in the industry, and have really only seen racehorses in the afternoon, when running in a race. I think I have maybe gone to 2 morning workout sessions in my life.

On a side note, a remember alot of people before the Santa Anita Derby talking about how "tired" Pioneer of the Nile looked after the San Felipe. Alot of people also talked about Dunkirk being "too tired" after the Florida Derby, The Pamplemousse after both the San Rafael and Sham. How did folks draw their conclusions? All the speculation about The Pamplemousse appeared to have been validated when he came up lame the morning of the SA Derby, but Pioneer has just kept on winning.

24 Apr 2009 6:08 PM

Dray, you are hilarious...I agree with virtually everything you say about Quality Road, BUT you should not be so confident. Quarter Crack issues aside, he is the best horse in the race, but the Derby has a way of exposing just the slightest of health issues. I think if he shows up next week at Churchill then look out, because Jerkens would not run him if he was hurt. BUT I think the feet are a problem, and he will not win. Your giving way too much credit to Musket Man, General Quarters, and Mr. Hot Stuff. If you think MHS will hit the board then why not look at Pioneer of the Nile? MM and GQ might not even finish in the top 15. The Illinois Derby was very weak this year, and The Bluegrass set up for a stalker..look at the fractions. Also, one more important point on GQ.. look how many races he's run in this year. He's been runing since October. HE IS A TIRED horse. As you would say TOSS HIM!

24 Apr 2009 6:57 PM
Matthew W

I'm hoping Quality Road makes the Derby! I'm hoping tghe lemmings run to the windows after his (one and only!) two turn race produced a track record(lightning fast track!) Yes, I Want Revenge IS a different horse now that he hasn't been running vs Pioneerof The Nile/Papa Clem! That "boring, slow" guy from Cali is gonna grab the Roses next Sat! NEVER been on dirt/NEVER ran over 100 beyer---go ahead and dismiss him, I'll take POTN--He's a real street fighter!

24 Apr 2009 7:47 PM

There is no reason to believe FF is going to do anything in the Derby. He has not run 6f under 113 all year.  In the Derby the pace will be 10 lengths faster and the distance will be 3 football fields further than anything he has ever done AND his best Beyer on dry dirt is 100 and that was earned going only 1 1/16th.  Pass on this horse or your tickets will only be worth nothing!

24 Apr 2009 7:48 PM
Matthew W

Toss General Quarters because he is tired??? He's one of the (few) horses in there that gets the Derby Distance! YOU can toss him all ya want--I'll include him thank you very much! The longer the stronger for The General!

24 Apr 2009 7:51 PM
Karen in Texas

For Big Red---I have viewed that April 10 video three times now, and I see a fairly decent work. The first time past the camera he is moving slowly, but he is as big as a freight train and seems to be in no hurry to gain momentum. When he picks up the pace by the second time past the camera, he is moving beautifully, to me. (I didn't preface this very well--of course I'm referring to Quality Road.) Mr. Jerkens just seems like someone doing his job while being a little distracted, maybe. On April 10 they were probably still concerned about that original crack and he may have been anxious(?) The April 17 work was the fastest of six that day unless I'm reading the chart wrong. Anyway, yesterday's new quarter crack is a true and more ominous problem this close to the Derby. Can you tell me specifically what you are seeing in that April 10 video that seems so negative? (I'm not being confrontational. I respect your opinion and want to understand it.)

24 Apr 2009 7:57 PM
Matthew W

There's a REASON Quality Road had had ONE SINGLE two-turn race in his career---There's a reason I have not been fawning over a horse who is attempting to win the toughest 1/1/4 mi race on the planet with little/no bottom! I'm a salty dog when it comes to "little things" like that---I'll also be the first to applaud him if he wins---quarter crack/or not, he's way up against it/as is Dunkirk....

24 Apr 2009 8:03 PM
For Big Red

TO GUNBOW: I'll try to answer your questions as best I can, but putting it into words is tough. What I'm looking at is the way Quality Road walked to his work and the way he walked back. He looked dull, with no vitality. On the way back to the barn, he's shuffling his front feet rather than picking them up. Compare QR's walk to that of his own stable pony. Also, QR's head is down, his neck is stretched out instead of arched, and he shows no interest in anything around him. Don't forget. This is a young male horse, really still a teenager in human terms. QR should be filled with vitality.

Here's a couple of clips ( and  ( you can use to compare various horses before and after their works to the vid of Quality Road. These vids, from earlier in the year, show Papa Clem, The Pamplemousse, Pioneerof the Nile, Zensational and many others at Santa Anita.

Re Dunkirk after the Florida Derby, he was soaked in sweat as he galloped out. I know a lot of people think this colt can win the Derby, but in my fantasy stable I wouldn't even enter him. He's never won a stakes race, is still eligible for "non winners of 2 other than" allowance races, and slowed dramatically in the stretch in both of his 1 1/8m races.

24 Apr 2009 8:38 PM

Dunkirk is a better horse than Friesan Fire by a long shot.  Dunkirk has 2 races at 1 1/8th and FF has none.  Dunkirk faced a monster in Quality Road and he got beat by a horse that set a track record.  Friesan Fire beat....Uno Mas?

24 Apr 2009 8:55 PM

For Big Red: I think you have a very well trained eye. As a life long horse owner I can clearly see he appears to be shuffling his front feet..not really picking them up. I think another way to explain the "shuffle" is to see he appears "short" in the front at times. I am not really familiar with QR's personality. He may be a very laid back individual and may have a tendency to be a bit lazy. If that is the case, that would/could easily explain his return to the barn. Regardless horses can speak volumes to us with their body language. It is the only way they know how to communicate. I would guess his trainer knows him very well and I can only pray the pressure of the derby does not weigh in on the decision he must make with QR. He must do right by this horse. I believe QR has the best chance at winning the derby with a clean trip. Then he is on the triple crown trail. Not good for a horse with his hoof problems. I am with you and will pray they give him the break he needs.

24 Apr 2009 9:49 PM
Karen in Texas

Big Red---I see your reply to Gunbow and agree that QR seems basically disinterested as he walks to and from the track. I don't know what his usual "working" demeanor is though. His "team" was probably tense after having that first crack/patch/setback to contend with and it shows on Jerkens. He probably looks even more stressed today.

24 Apr 2009 9:57 PM

I hope QR does indeed get to run, because I think he's a monster, but it doesn't look good right now. On the subject of FF, I think he'll run fairly well. Remember Jones did the same thing with Hard Spun,(long layoff, mile works, etc) and he ran a game 2nd. The difference this year is that I don't think FF will do what HS did and that is get on a lonely lead! It looks like RR will set the pace and there will be a bunch of stalkers fighting for a good spot behind him. I think they'll go about 23, 47, and 1:11 which means a stalker will win. That should help QR, PON, or IWR. I don't think any of the closers such as MHS or HMB will do any better than 3rd. I still think PON has a big shot. I love horses going synthetic to dirt for the first time...and Matthew W please toss GQ from your wagers. He has not come out of the Blue Grass in good shape. He worked well before the Bluegrass at CD, but he is not bouncing back from that effort. Trust me.

24 Apr 2009 11:21 PM

For Big Red + The Karens:

Thanks for your observations on Quality Road. When it comes to looking at horses run or walk, I really don't know what to focus on, and if I do see something I won't know what it means. I saw what you described, but didn't know the significance. I think Texas Karen brought up a good point asking whether it was just "normal" QR.

Karen2: You're right that if Quality Road can make it to the starting gate and actually win the Derby, he would then need that quarter crack to stay quiet for another 5 weeks through the Belmont. QR is one of those rare horses that does seem to have the natural ability to make a serious run at a Triple Crown. How disappointing would it be if he were to win the Derby and then be forced to miss the Preakness due to the quarter crack, or worse, win both the Derby and Preakness and have to miss the Belmont?

25 Apr 2009 6:25 AM

kevheels(and others):

Your pace scenario makes sense. I think that with Regal Ransom, Quality Road, and either Join in the Dance or Take the Points, the pace will be moderate, as jockeys on the stalkers/midpackers and late runners will take back early, believing those 3 will keep each other honest up front. However, with only 3 horses up on the pace, their jocks should keep the pace moderate, with something like a half in 47 and 6 furlongs in 111+.

However, without Quality Road, I will refer to something Dray said. I think it is possible that the pace would be FASTER w/o QR, particularly if either Join in the Dance and Take the Points are also NOT entered. It seems to me that in big races there is a greater chance for a quick pace when, pre-race, there appears to be only 1 (maybe 2) frontrunners and everyone is worried about a slow pace. If it is clear that Regal Ransom is going to be all by himself, or maybe joined by just one other horse, and be able to set a slow pace, the other jockeys in the race will prepare for it, and at least 1 horse that was expected to stalk will be pushed to the front to keep Regal Ransom honest and "take advantage" of the pace. Often, in races with big fields like the Derby, more than one jockey/trainer gets this idea, with the end result being a much faster pace than expected. Such a scenario would be made more likely if the track apeears biased towards speed earlier in the day.

On the other hand, it seems like the lone frontrunner or slow pace Derbys occur when no one is expecting it. As long as Quality Road and either Join in the Dance or Take the Points are in the field, the jocks on the other horses will be less concerned with the slow pace/ uncontested frontrunner scenario, and will take back. But what if Join in the Dance(or Take Points) were then to break slow, Garcia on Regal Ransom and John Velazquez on QR will find themselves alone, will wink at each other and, presto, a slow pace. If either QR or RR also broke slow, then it would be the other all by itself, unexpectedly, on a slow pace. The jocks on the other horses, having not been instructed to rush up early, will likely stick to the rides they have been planning in their heads for the last week, allowing the frontrunner to back things up.

No one was talking about an uncontested wire-to-wire performance before the 1994 Derby, except, perhaps, by Holy Bull. Certainly, very few were warned about Go For Gin wiring them, particularly with Holy Bull in the race. However, when Holy Bull broke sluggishly, Mc Carron hustled Go For Gin to the lead and proceeded to steal the race while never being challenged. No one was talking about a wire job in 1985 either, but when Eternal Prince stumbled, Spend a Buck jumped out to a big early lead and never stopped. And few were talking about a slow early pace and a frontrunner stealing the race in 2002, but that is what War Emblem did. At the very least in 2002, most thought any frontrunner would be challenged early by the classy and quick Came Home, but he was taken back early in the race. And while Winning Colors was a well known frontrunning commodity, the thinking was that she would have Forty Niner breathing down her neck the whole time. In the Preakness, that is exactly what happened when Winning Colors and Forty Niner went head to head early in a suicidal duel. In the Derby, however, Pat Day took Forty Niner off the pace on the backstretch, giving Winning Colors a 3 length pocket for the first 9 furlongs of the race.

These scenarios don't always happen. Sometimes the quickest Derby paces have been when there was alot of recognized speed horses and everyone expected a fast pace. And there have been Derbys, like in 1997, when most predicted a slow pace due to the lack of pure frontrunners, and, sure enough, the actual pace was slow/moderate. However, it does seem that when there appears to be just 1 or maybe 2 pure frontrunners, the other jocks are aware of it and a few will push their mounts early, creating a much faster than expected pace. Then, there are the Derbys mentioned above when few expect a slow pace or an uncontested frontrunner, but that is exactly what happens.

25 Apr 2009 7:28 AM

that's it Steve, I just read your article and was considering Quality Road as my could I have thunk that and go against the "famous" father/son breeding curse"! Apollo curse has nothing on the "Pleasant Colony" curse![wow does that runner bring back some funny memories...Campo just exudes all the Damon Runyon characters that have surrounded this great game.

25 Apr 2009 7:41 AM

I have heard many reports about General Quarters having to be forced to even gallop.  I have to ask how many people paid attention to him before he won the Blue Grass?  By that I mean, is there a lengthy history of him acting a certain way and now he's suddenly acting very sluggish?  I suspect that he was not on many people's radar before his big win, so maybe the way he normally acts is not known by those outside his own connections, and they seem happy with him.  He sure didn't look tired to me after the Blue Grass.  He looked fantastic in the paddock before the race and was bouncing back after he won.  I hope he's okay.  

25 Apr 2009 7:50 AM


25 Apr 2009 11:02 AM



25 Apr 2009 11:39 AM

Regal Ransome is burning up Churchill Downs:

'Godolphin Racing’s Regal Ransom showed his affinity for the Churchill Downs surface when the 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor   zipped five furlongs in a bullet :59 1/5 April 25 in his final preparation for the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The time was the best of the day for 30 horses working the distance'

25 Apr 2009 11:42 AM
Karen in Texas

Gunbow---When you say that you don't know the significance of movement/behavior as you observe a horse, it is because that knowledge comes from a closeness, including having ridden them. Historical and statistical analysis of "racing" per se is great, but it has to be accompanied by the sense/feel factor. That factor brings in subjectivity, but rounds out the picture. Larry Jones, for example, frequently rides his trainees to get "the feel" of their performance situation. People who have been around horses for years may come to different opinions when observing the same set of actions/behaviors. That is what makes horse racing unique.

25 Apr 2009 11:50 AM
For Big Red

TO GUNBOW, KAREN2 and KAREN IN TEXAS: That video was shot Apr. 10. Quality Road's condition could have improved considerably since then. Young horses are no different in one respect from young human kids. Children who come down with a garden-variety illness typically will bounce back fast. So will young horses. So my recommendation is to pay close attention to the DRF clocker's report, and to whatever observations Steve Haskin may post regarding the colt's condition. You can get the daily DRF clocker's reports here:

Just bear in mind that Thoroughbred horses don't mature until the age of five. That's why entire males (i.e., not geldings or ridglings) are called colts and females are called fillies until they turn five. From five onward, entire males are called horses and females are called mares. So three-year-olds still have two years of maturing to do. (Males with one descended testicle are called ridglings at any age.)

25 Apr 2009 12:47 PM
Karen in Texas

Big Red---That the video was shot on April 10 and QR's condition may have changed significantly since that time was exactly my point! You are the person who referred everyone to that video as a point of reference on the colt's condition yesterday. I attempted to put it into a more significant context in my post at 7:57 P.M. last evening. I simply do not agree with your conclusions based on QR's performance/behavior in the footage provided. I am quite familiar with pediatric growth patterns and with comparative anatomy/physiology. I hope the new quarter crack responds quickly--otherwise I am one who believes QR should be scratched from the Derby field.

25 Apr 2009 1:36 PM

There are some very valid points by several of you, but we all have to remember that just because these horses don't look tired RIGHT after a race doesn't mean they aren't wearing down. I think MM, PC and GQ have peaked, and if you look at their day to day activities at CD you will see my point. They are training very flat. Another point...this is the Derby, and many of these horses have no business being in here. (as you all know) These owners and trainers want to be here whether they run 1st, 15th, or 20th. That being said a trainer is going to run his horse if they won their last prep or ran well in their last prep even if they see their horse training below par this week...One final thing, for all you POTN haters, (I think he has a shot) he has looked good at CD. I know you're saying so did Colonel John last year, but POTN has a few things in his favor. Number 1 being that Bob Baffert is calling the shots. He knows what he's doing in these situations. The one big problem I have with POTN is that he has pulled Gomez way too much for my liking in his last two races! If he can't settle next Saturday then he has no shot.

25 Apr 2009 2:15 PM
For Big Red

TO KAREN IN TEXAS: The slowness of this particular board format makes it difficult to have a good flow of written conversation. I find it a little frustrating. Yes, of course I linked to that video of QR. I had just found it the night before and was considerate enough to share it here. It was the first visual peek any of us have had into the colt's condition since the Florida Derby and his first quarter crack. I stand by what I observed in that video whether or not you or anyone else agrees with me. Furthermore, there have been reports in the sports media that the colt was off his feed and has lost weight since he arrived at Belmont.

I've said it before in these blogs and will repeat it. For me, condition is the #1 handicapping factor, yet the betting public is almost totally blind to the true condition of the horses on any raceday. We happen to have more info available to us for huge races like the Derby, and I'm trying to take full advantage of it.

25 Apr 2009 3:17 PM
Karen in Texas

Big Red---I want to write a couple of sentences and then let this particular line of conversation end. Yes, this board format makes exchanges somewhat difficult. QR's "condition" as of April 23 is more important than anything that could have been observed in the April 10 video. His health and racing longevity are now at stake. I care about the horse, not about the betting public. Literate people can draw their own conclusions from reading DRF, Brisnet, Equibase, etc.

25 Apr 2009 4:23 PM

QR's quarter cracks are unfortunate.  The continued defection of speed (QR, Pamp) could cost some other legit continders any chance of winning.  This may be strike three against Dunkirk, Chocolate Candy, or POTN.  Could be the year of the 35,000 superfecta.

25 Apr 2009 4:49 PM

For Big Red: I personally appreciate your posts and the research you do. Thank you.

25 Apr 2009 8:16 PM

Karen in Texas:

Yes, I'm sure being around horses allows one to look at the coat, legs, back, feet with a much keener eye, and that familiarity then aids in the assessment of a work or a race.

For the most party, people, like myself, do not need to have experience around horses to be able to tell whether a race was strong or not and be able to correctly compare the ability of different horses; handicapping does not necessitate growing up around horses.

However, I do think experience around horses can give someone an important added advantage, particularly when it comes to evaluating works, gallops, and walking. These people are going to be able to catch something that others, like myself, may miss.

Where I have improved most over the years is being able to analyze a horse's appearance in the paddock/walking ring and in the post parade/warmup. I went to the track one day and, for fun, wagered small amounts based totally on the horses' physical appearances. Somewhat surprisingly, I ended up doing fairly well. However, all I really can do is look at a horse's coat, its eyes and ears (to see if it is calm or agitated), and its mid-section (as a reflection of condition, if it is carrying too much or too little weight). Typically, I look for a horse that has a shiny and dappled coat, an inquisitive stature with the horse on it's toes and with it's ears pricked taking in it's surrounding while remaining calm, and a horse that carries it's flesh well. In terms of weight, I remember Silver Charm and Best Pal getting extremely thick at the tail end of their careers, with both Baffert(Silver Charm) and Dick Mandela(had Best Pal towards the end) commenting on how difficult it was to keep the weight off.

For the most part, I have become good at spotting the more obvious of physical characteristics. What I don't have is the ability to identify a horse that is ever so slightly off. Some are able to see a tendon bow from miles away or some other ailment that I completely miss.

For Big Red is so correct about the importance of a horse's conditioning/sharpness. If anything, fitness might be even more important in the Derby than any other race. The Derby is just so competitive, with so many good horses and trainers, horses managed by these trainers with this one race ultimately in mind. Any and every advantage becomes significant. This is why there will be so much coverage on each horse's workouts and gallops, and why Mr. Haskin will be in Louisville over the next week. I wish I could look at video of the works and be able to draw conclusions beyond just the time; that is why I will need to read the upcoming reports from Steve, other writers, as well as some of you, my compatriots on this blog.

26 Apr 2009 2:06 AM

I got to see the replay of Mr. F in the withers and it was a pretty easy and impressive win. He also ran faster than Dray's beloved QR, when running a 1.34 mile. He also didn't seem very hard pressed to hold off TOFP, while the jockey in the latter stages of the race just let him gallop down to the wire. If he gets to the Preakness watch out.

26 Apr 2009 7:43 AM
Karen in Texas

Gunbow---Of course fitness is important-where did I say it wasn't? I question the relevance of a video linked without correct/proper context. And, as I said earlier, interpretation of behaviors is highly subjective in all species.

26 Apr 2009 9:55 AM
For Big Red

TO KAREN IN TEXAS: You wrote, "QR's 'condition' as of April 23 is more important than anything that could have been observed in the April 10 video." First, I don't know why you put the term condition in quotes. No athlete, animal or human, can perform to their peak unless they are in prime physical condition. Period.

The Florida Derby appears to have been a very taxing race. Of the horses who ran in it and then came back to run again, none of them have done good. Going into the FLDerby, Theregoesjojo was one of the hot favorites. He regressed badly off that race. We know Dunkirk was so exhausted that even the TV announcer commented on it. Quality Road has had nothing but physical problems since that race.

The FLDerby was run just one month and four days before the Kentucky Derby will be run. These are youngsters and it is absolutely true that they can bounce back more quickly than older horses. It is also absolutely true that horses are not automatons. The 35 days between the FL and KY derbies is scant time to recover from the issues QR had had this month.

Can he recover in sufficient time to be fit enough to win the KD? Yes. Will he? Color me highly skeptical. Even if he wears the blanket of roses come May 2, I will not regret what I'm posting now.

It's obvious QR is a colt of considerable class and ability, with a potentially brilliant future. Yet he's only raced four times in his life, not much seasoning going into the KD, particularly when compounded by condition issues.

The great Buckpasser raced 11 times as a 2-year-old, winning nine. Yet he was kept out of all three 1966 Triple Crown races due to a single quarter crack. Later that year, he swept all before him on the way to Horse of the Year honors.

In my fantasy stable, I always take the long view of a horse's career, like Ogden Phipps and Eddie Neloy did with Buckpasser.

26 Apr 2009 10:10 AM
Matthew W

I continue to hear good things about Friesan Fire---I also hear Quality Road's quarter cracks are tiny compared to Big Brown's....which puzzles as I'm also hearing of the unofficial declaration of QR.....Steve have you heard these rumors, which is all they are/yet I heard it from a Derby trainer this morn....

26 Apr 2009 1:19 PM


Chocolate Candy and POTN are slow horses. The splits for the first six furlongs in all the prep races that have won averaged 24,48,1:12. Those splits are two seconds slowwr than derby average. Even without the defections they had no chance of winning. Dunkirk will not hit the board so forget him and is overrated trainer.

26 Apr 2009 1:36 PM
Karen in Texas

Big Red---I put the word "condition" in quotes because you had previously stated and emphasized that "condition" is your #1 handicapping factor. From a medical and practical standpoint, the second quarter crack alters and takes precedence over any "condition" that existed before. Of course 35 days is scant time to recover from his issues--that is the basis for my concern for his health. I have stated on both this and Jason's blog that without virtually 100% healing he should not run in the Derby. Whether or not he wins is irrelevant--that he risks further damage and/or injury if he runs at all is my point. I am not even slightly interested in his situation from a handicapping point of view.

There are people on this blog from many different geographical areas, lifestyles, professions, and educational backgrounds. I am not viewing racing in general, and Quality Road in particular, in the same manner as you. We can both be knowledgeable and yet not agree. Even if I wanted to continue this conversation ad infinitum, I do not have time today. I wish you luck with all your handicapping stats, but I have other tasks to accomplish right now. Thank you for your willingness to have a civil discussion.

26 Apr 2009 1:46 PM

Forr Big Red:

There are no Buckpassers in this Derby. You are referring to another world; one that included Damascus,Dr. Fager, and Buckpasser. They were bred by the Bancrofts,Tartan Stable, and the Phipps'. They were interested in "improving the breed" and even raced their superstars as 4 year-olds.

It is a different racing world today. They breed "speed to speed" and have produced exceedingly fragile thoroughbreds. Even with the aid of bute and lasix, horses today are not as tough, strong, or(dare I say it) as fast.

26 Apr 2009 3:32 PM
For Big Red

TO WISTA: You're exactly right. It's a different racing world today. I mentioned Buckpasser's situation as an example of what the people involved with him elected to do vs. what we are seeing today.

26 Apr 2009 6:00 PM

My two bits for winner:

General Quarters because he's the feel good, last chance story and they do win - what was the horse of the 90 yr/old lady who hardly realized her horse had won?  

I Want Revenge because we know he has the guts to get thru traffic.

Joe Talamo on whoever because that kid is just plain lucky.

26 Apr 2009 7:47 PM
Karen in Texas

Merrywriter---I think the lady you mention is Mrs. Genter, the owner of Unbridled.

26 Apr 2009 11:24 PM

Coldfacts... let me clue you in ... all the horses this year are too slow.  Did you know 13 contenders in the Derby have run 1 or 0 Beyer figures above 95 ?  Did you know only 2 have gone over 100 twice ?

And only 1 has gone over 110 twice...Quality Road.  Now when the horses that can't break 95 meet the horse that breaks 110 what do you think will happen ?

27 Apr 2009 12:06 AM

Karen in Texas:

I am not exactly sure what you are referring to as it conerns your opinions on fitness. I was responding to your post to me about how having experience around horses can gain one an added advantage. I was agreeing with that. I never referred to you as it concerns a horse's fitness, nor did I infer that you thought fitness was unimportant.

All I wrote about conditioning is that it is important and probably more so for the Derby than other races. I didn't say anything about whether you think conditioning is important or not.

After reading your last email to For Big Red, I now realize that you two have been going back and forth about conditioning. Knowing that now, I can see how you infered what you did about my earlier post. When I wrote, "For Big Red is correct...", I wasn't suggesting that you, Karen in Texas, are wrong. To be honest, I wasn't really aware of the details of the back and forth between you and For Big Red, having read over it all briefly. I wasn't taking sides. I was just referring to what For Big Red has been writing for a long time, and something everyone agrees on, that a horse's condition is important.

In short, my post was in response to your comments to me(which I agreed with, being close to horses and understanding them is a valuable tool I wish I had) and had absolutely nothing to do with whatever you and For Big Red were debating. I wasn't taking sides in the debate, and my comment about For Big Red being right was simply a reference to the importance of a horse's condition, and had absolutely nothing to do with what was going on between you two.

While I did address you at the beginning, because I wanted to specifically address your message to me, I was writing as if others would read it, and wanted to make sure the reader knew that I had been reading others' posts; since conditioning is something Big Red discusses alot, I wanted to reference him when I brought up conditioning. I never, never meant to imply that- For Big Red is correct.....and Karen in Texas is wrong.

To be honest, I wasnt aware of all the points of difference between you and Big Red, and wasn't thinking about it when I wrote that comment. It seems like you both agree that Quality Road's condition now is more important than what it was 4/10(seems self evident), that a horse's condition is a key variable, and that a quarter crack is serious and caution should guide Jimmy Jerkens' decision. In any event, I wasn't trying to take a side (when I wrote that post I wasn't aware  which one of you had which side in the debate). I was responding to your post to me, and my "Big Red is correct" was in reference to conditioning as a whole(being important) and not a reference to the back and forth between the two of you. The last thing I wanted with that post was to offend anyone, and I am sorry for the misunderstanding.

27 Apr 2009 7:01 AM
Karen in Texas

Gunbow---Thanks, I didn't mean to offend you either.

27 Apr 2009 11:08 AM

DRAYNAY:  Beware of the Beyer dogmatics my friend because the jury is still out on those figures for synthetics.  So far Pioneer Of The Nile's exercise gallops over Churchill Down's dirt suggest that he might transition superbly and even move up just like I Want Revenge did.  Tell me, where would that put his Beyer figures, remembering that he has already turned back the challenges of IWR twice in California?

Rethink this Draynay.  Also, i've read your postings on Friesan Fire which reflect one dimensional analysis.  FF is a classic stalker, which means that he doesn't run fast splits unless the front runners are going real fast, therefore you cannot be adamant about him being slow when he is obviously motoring down the lane in all of his races.  Chances are he is much better than you or even his connections think.  This horse is bred to stay for ever and with the maestro trainer Larry Jones doing what is necessary to ensure a fresh horse for all the Triple crown races (seven weeks off between the Louisanna Derby and the Kentucky Derby) he is my pick to win the Derby, in the absence of Quality Road.  

27 Apr 2009 11:12 AM
marc w

Quality Road is out--does not make me happy although he was not my pick--As mentioned on a previous post the extra weight of being Dray's pick probably killed him.

Now to this:

ColdFacts Wrote: (Actually reading this I wonder if it really was him)

Chocolate Candy and POTN are slow horses. The splits for the first six furlongs in all the prep races that have won averaged 24,48,1:12. Those splits are two seconds slower than derby average. Even without the defections they had no chance of winning. Dunkirk will not hit the board so forget him and is overrated trainer.

Excuse me? I am certainly not a cheering section for Todd Pletcher--but overrated? Trainer of the year 3 times in recent history selected by people "in the business". Its bad enough another blogmaster says KD can't ride--where do you get these comments? Did you folks never study history? If you are going to go by the moniker "Cold Facts" you would think you would stick to them.

As to pitching POTN and CC two of my top four--no problems with you doing so as everyone is entitled to an opinion, but factions you mention have no bearing as you are "not" comparing apples to apples given the difference of poly and dirt. One thing everyone seems to forget that if a good horse wants to work in 34 he will even if he comes out of the sky in races. A good horse --is a fast horse. Just because a race shapes up one day differently than another--a good horse will adapt. These are nice horses.

If times made the race it would be easy.--I'll go to another sport---BECAUSE IT IS A GREAT ONE TO USE FOR AN EXAMPLE- for it is recent and makes the point brilliantly.

At Meadowlands Harness the other night a $30K went over a "second faster" and may I add fastest timing of "ANY" harness horse race this year by "over a second." IF HE RAN IN THE FEATURE THAT NIGHT HE WOULD HAVE RUN LAST! PERIOD! A horse with well over 2 million made won the feature---do you honestly believe because of times the 30K beats a horse that will probably end up in their sports Hall of Fame? So much for times as an exclusive handicapping tool.

Are you sure your name wasn't stolen? --These comments are way off--I might not agree with you but usually you are fairly intelligent with your posts. This one is weird you are lost in space here.

Final notes-as a horse racing fan I am sorry to see QR unable to run.

27 Apr 2009 12:05 PM

Quality Road is out... hate to see it but now the Kentucky Derby is nothing more than a glorified allowance race.  As much as this pains me I have to face facts and if you look at the PP's of all the horses in the race how can you think any horse will win except Dunkirk.

He is the horse of destiny...everything is breaking his way.  Look at his improving Beyers and his workouts are nothing but bullets what more do you need?  Yes... I know ... no races at 2 and he is by Unbridled Song... well you can try to get in the way of destiny or you can ride with it.  I choose to ride with it.  Any move forward by this horse makes him impossible to beat.

Dunkirk is your 2009 Derby Winner.

27 Apr 2009 12:59 PM

Dray, we all should have figured that you'd go with the horse that QR beat. YOU need to get off the FLA Derby. Yes, it was a very key race, but to announce Dunkirk as the winner is a joke. I love your posts, but there are plenty of other horses in this field that merit consideration now that QR is out. I am very disappointed that QR is out as well, because I think he would have been the best horse in the race. Notice I didn't say winner, but the best horse in the race. The Derby is crazy. It's all about the trip, not necessarily who's best.. What did Monarchos and Giacomo do after their wins...pretty much nothing at all. Now I think about 5 or 6 horses have a legit shot at it...You also say this group is slow. Well if that's the case then what would you call last year (outside of Big Brown) there wasn't a horse who would be close to this year's group of Friesan Fire, Pioneer oftheNile, Dunkirk, and IWR. Take a look back even further. Two years ago was just as bad as last year's crop. I think this year's group is solid. Remember you have more horses running on synthetics nowadays than ever before, and even Andy Beyer himself admitted that they still have problems making figures for all the different syn. surfaces. I agree with you Dunkirk has a great shot, but the pace in front of him will dictate if he can win or not.

27 Apr 2009 6:16 PM

Ranagulzion:  FF huh? told u this guy can Boogie! Glad to see you seen the light.With Quartercrack Road out of the Derby,u can now focus on the 'real contenders,i.e...IWR/POTN & FF,with QR,Dunkirk sneaking in.There's your Derby play,box 'em!!  

27 Apr 2009 6:58 PM
Susan in Seattle

I am sorry that QR is out...I really liked him and thought with his superior speed, he had the best of chances to win the roses.  But moving on--the Dubai horses, RR & DP are looking pretty hot--they have great works and solid foundations.  FF did exactly what he needed to do today to prove he is a 'tour de force' in here, and--I agree with Ranagulzion--that FF is a true stalker and that he will just sit off of the front pace and just do what he has to do get the job done.  He has the perfect running style in this--he won't be too far from the front and can make his move when need be.  Larry Jones has had two 2nds in this, but the difference with FF is--he is actually bred to get the distance--watch out!

28 Apr 2009 12:39 AM
Susan in Seattle

I was THRILLED to read Steve Haskins's comments today--FINALLY!!!  We have our 'eyes' back at Churchill!  Thank you, Steve--we've MISSED you!!!

28 Apr 2009 12:40 AM

Steve, Thanks for your analysis of some of the Derby horse at the Blood-Horse site.  I think your mystery horse is General Quarters. This will be a tough race for all of them.  May they all come home and come home sound!

30 Apr 2009 5:30 PM

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