Haskin's Derby Trail: Points of Interest

The Kentucky Derby graded earnings system is gone, thank goodness. No more one-time 2-year-old hotshots getting a free pass and riding the gravy train all the way to Louisville. Those lucrative 2-year-old races no longer will get you a starting berth in the Derby, although we feel some tweaking is needed to separate the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Champagne, and FrontRunner from the other 10-point juvenile races. Perhaps 20 points for those three stakes would serve the system better. They still produce the marquee names on the Derby trail until they either prove themselves unworthy or others come along to replace them.

Another possible change would be an upgrade to 20 points for the Holy Bull and Robert Lewis Stakes, which has attracted top horses the past two years. But those are suggestions to ponder for the future.

What is most fascinating about the new point system is that we really don’t know how many points it’s going to take to assure a spot in the field. Churchill Downs is estimating around 40, with a group tied at 30 fighting for the final spots, which will be decided by earnings in non-restricted stakes. Those estimations are based on how it would have played out last year had the point system been implemented, and extensive research over the past several years.

While we as prognosticators, speculators, and fans can just sit back and enjoy the show and deal with everything as it develops, the trainers are going to have to do a great deal of adjusting on the fly, while figuring out when to call last-minute audibles and leaving themselves room at the back end in case their original plans don’t materialize as hoped.

You would think the new points system would encourage trainers to run their horses three times instead of two, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Therefore, many trainers will be relying heavily on their horse’s performance in the Second Level stakes, worth 100 points to the winner.

Although there is always the danger of good horses, such as Shanghai Bobby, Violence, Normandy Invasion and others with two scheduled starts encountering an unforeseen roadblock along the way, the result of a terrible start or bad trip in their final race, there is the satisfaction of knowing that the Derby field will be comprised of horses who are all in top form, making the race even more competitive than in past years. This year could turn out to be a learning experience for trainers who took the conservative route and left themselves with no back-up plan, and in the end failed to get in.

One of the reasons we don’t have Triple Crown winners anymore is that the Derby is so much deeper and more competitive than it used to be back in the 60s and 70s when anyone could run in the race and often did, from cheap claimers to bad allowance horses who were still eligible for nonwinners of two after 15- to 20-plus career starts. With the new point system, the Derby will be even more difficult to win, with basically the entire field coming off a top effort.

As for horses like Violence, Normandy Invasion, Uncaptured, Overanalyze and other top-class 2-year-olds scheduled to make their two starts in a 50-point race and 100-point race, if they can’t earn more than 20 points in those two races to go along with their 2-year-old points, perhaps they’re just not good enough or ready to tackle the Derby. They can’t hang their hat on the Remsen or Kentucky Jockey Club or CashCall Futurity. They can only hope if they are on the bubble, those 10 points will provide that extra little push to get in the race.

Also, as much as we all feel badly for Hawthorne having the Illinois Derby omitted completely from the qualifying stakes list, it will force trainers to run their horses against the top contenders in their final prep instead of using the much easier Illinois Derby as a backdoor entrance into the Derby, as in past years. Hawthorne recently upped the purse of the race, and if they can establish it as a legitimate 50-point race and perhaps eventually a 100-point race by attracting better quality horses then they will have a good chance of becoming a serious Derby prep. In the meantime, the omission of the Illinois Derby, as bad as it is for Hawthorne, will weed out horses who used to get in the Derby, even though they didn’t measure up against the real contenders.

The bottom line is that the Derby trail is going to be a fascinating, entertaining, thought-provoking journey.

Pedigree strikes it rich

It looks as if Steve Asmussen has himself a potential Derby trail horse in Proud Strike, who demolished a maiden field at Fair Grounds going 1 1/16 miles, despite having to go four-wide into the first turn after breaking from the 10-post, rallying three-wide around the far turn, and racing a bit greenly in the stretch, ducking in toward the rail.

Brian Hernandez hit him left-handed after turning for home, then switched to a right-handed whip and kept hitting him right-handed even as he was bearing in. Once he got to the rail, he ran perfectly straight, displaying a smooth, efficient stride, and kept widening his margin, gliding past the wire 7 1/2 lengths in front.

Not only was this colt extremely impressive, even with questionable competition, the first five generations of his female family reads like a Who’s Who of Blue Hen producers and racing champions. You would be hard-pressed to find a greater collection of racing and breeding legends in a single female family.

Gallorette – One of the greatest fillies of all time, she defeating colts 14 times, including victories in the Met Mile, Whitney, Brooklyn, and Carter, while competing against the likes of Stymie, Armed, and Assault. Dam of Irish St. Leger winner White Gloves II.

Flower Bowl – Foundation mare for Darby Dan Farm. Dam of Graustark, champion sire His Majesty, and champion 3-year-old filly Bowl of Flowers.

Misty Morn – Champion 3-year-old filly and Handicap Filly and Mare, Broodmare of the Year and dam of champions Bold Lad and Successor.

Grey Flight – Phipps family foundation mare, dam of nine stakes winners, including What a Pleasure and Misty Morn.

Natalma – Dam of Northern Dancer and three other stakes winners, as well as four stakes-placed horses. Granddam of legendary international sire Danehill and undefeated 2-year-old champion filly La Prevoyante, who finished the year an amazing 12-for-12.

Flaming Page
– Won the Queen’s Plate and Canadian Oaks and was second in the Kentucky Oaks. Dam of England’s last Triple Crown winner, the great Nijinsky II and top-class producer Fleur.

Fleur – Dam of English and Irish Derby winner The Minstrel and three other stakes winners, including French group winner and top sire Far North.

Minstrella – Three-time group I winner in Europe and champion 2-year-old filly in Ireland. Dam of multiple graded stakes winner Colonial Minstrel. Granddam of Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm

Flight Dancer – Dam of Misty Gallore, winner of eight stakes, and European champion Minstrella. Granddam of top sire Silver Ghost, and great granddam of Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Saint Liam.

Oh, yes, and Proud Strike’s sire is Smart Strike and his broodmare sire is Pleasant Colony, in case you were wondering about his distance capabilities. This is pretty much the history of Thoroughbred racing and breeding in North America, wrapped up in one female family.

Now, a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Fair Grounds that was originally scheduled for the grass (he was entered main track only) is a far cry from becoming a legitimate contender on the Derby trail, but it sure is a start, and if he can get over the next hump, facing better quality horses, then you have to regard him as a serious horse. Until then, we can just drool over his pedigree.

This was his third career start, but it must be noted that the only two horses to finish in front him were Bradester, who came back to win an allowance race at Gulfstream, and the brilliant and highly regarded Titletown Five, who was coming off a neck defeat to Violence.

New faces of the week

Treasury Bill -- This Ron Ellis-trained colt, owned by Gary and Mary West of Flashback and Power Broker fame, looked awesome breaking his maiden going 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita, in which he came from far back with a powerful stretch run to win by 1 1/4 lengths while still under wraps. He may have the best stamina pedigree of any horse on the Derby trail this year, which makes his sprint score all the more impressive. Watch out for this one.

Transparent – Well-bred Darley colt finally put it all together and broke his maiden going 1 1/16 miles by almost six lengths at Aqueduct, despite being wiped out on the backstretch and carried out past the middle of the track.. Son of Bernardini had previously run second to the exciting Revolutionary.

Cerro – Another find for Team Valor, this former Italian-trained son of Mr. Greeley looked good wiring his field by 2 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream, running a full second faster than Orb in the second division. Strong female family and should have no problem getting classic distances.

Orb – Shug McGaughey colt by Malibu Moon, owned by Stuart Janney III and the Phipps family, scored his second straight win in the second division of the nine-furlong allowance, winning by a length. He has a victory over Revolutionary and was third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, by Violence.

Tiz a Minister – After eight starts on grass and synthetic, he made his dirt debut in the California Breeders Champion Stakes and came from the clouds with a spectacular late run to defeat the odds-on favorite Omega Star, who ran an excellent race himself.


Leave a Comment:

Bill Two

Speaking of Cerro, I read in the Baltimore Sun that Michael Phelps and his trainer Mr. Bowman have an interest in this horse.  With Baltimore's fortunes looking up lately perhaps this horse has a future?

31 Jan 2013 2:21 PM

Just watched Transparent's race; I don't know how tough the competition was, but that was an impressive display, dealing with the adversity and then routing the field.  Six starts seems to bode well as far as soundess and seasoning.  As a big fan of Bernardini, I hope this horse continues to do well.

31 Jan 2013 2:28 PM

Proud Strike has an amazing pedigree.  Sometime well bred distance horses need a couple of starts before it "clicks"  Revolutionary, Code West are other examples in this crop of that.  Plus once they lose they are "babied" less.  Proud Strike has been on the work tab twice since that win.  Risen Star is shaping up as the best prep in the 2nd round.  Normandy Invasion, Proud Strike, Oxbox, Mylute etc.

31 Jan 2013 2:34 PM
Jean in Chicago

Hi, Steve,

  Another thought provoking column.  Why do you think the 'old days' had fewer horses in the Derby field?  It obviously wasn't that each owner/trainer really felt they had a good chance to win since anyone could look at the horses going to the post and knew some of them absolutely didn't belong (so the 'I've got the money and I want to sit in an owner's box' mentality was already operating).

 The total earnings and now point system only became necessary when the potential fields had to be REDUCED to 20 horses.  (I'm sorry, I just don't have the energy right now to research exactly when this occurred.)  Has the Derby become so important on a horse's resume that he has to try no matter what or are there just a lot more top notch horses around?

31 Jan 2013 4:16 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Dan C -

The competition was non-existent.  Dreadful in fact.  Three of the 2nd timers were 16-1 or more in their debuts.  The 1 horse who caused the traffic issues was a big price in all three prior starts and there was an 0-1 failed maiden claimer stepping up.

31 Jan 2013 4:52 PM


Your reason for glee at the changing of the qualifying system for the Kentucky Derby appears rather hollow since you would be hard pressed to come up with two good examples of "one-time 2-year-old hotshots getting a free pass and riding the gravy train all the way to Louisville" (your own words).  I challenge you to name two and only two, Steve, and to say which other worthy Derby contender was denied entry on their account.

Such criticisms of the abandoned Graded Earnings system are obviously directed at the Delta Jackpot and only Sabercat in 2012 fit the "one-time hotshot 2YO" profile, of graduates from that race to run in the Derby since its inaugural running in 2002. Even in Sabercat's case I can't think of a more qualified colt or filly that his presence in the starting gates denied a place in the race.  Z Humor in 2009 finished 14th in the Derby, well ahead of your most notorious Derby selection, Monba (remember him). One other graduate of the Delta Jackpot, Decisive Moment actually earned his way into the Derby,in which he was a pace factor, after running creditably behind eventual Derby victor, Animal Kingdom, in the Spiral stakes 2011.  The Breeder's Cup Juvenile in 29 years (inaugurated in 1983) has not outperformed the Delta Jackpot in Derby-impact yet there seems to be this big prejudice against the DJ.

Tell me how can this new system with its arbitrary allocation of points be superior when it:

1) eliminates fillies 2)eliminates graded stakes quality speed horses 3)reduces the number of qualifying races (options for trainers to guide their charges) and 4)reduces the cumulative financial rewards to the connections of horses on the Derby Trail?

Also, do you realise that the points bias against 2YO futurity races like the Hopeful Stakes and the Champagne is "bone-headed" and imbecilic because it downgrades races which historically have had greater or at minimum, equal impact on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby as the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial?  Do you realize that those premier 2YO stakes races are only superceeded in impact on the Derby by the Florida Derby and logically should be awarded at least equal points?

If the fascination of a new system that's unpredictable and which bamboozles all prognosticators is what the Churchill Downs Authorities is after, I understand their folly.

31 Jan 2013 6:17 PM

They have changed the qualifying system for the Derby,but the TC remains the same.I have thought for about a decade or more that the rules for the TC should be tweaked also.How many colts won the first two of the races in the series,and out of that group how many were beaten by a colt that only ran in the last leg the Belmont.I think there should be at least an impost of added weight if trainers wait out the first two legs or just think they have a better shot of winning one race especially if a colt has already won the first two legs of the  grueling three races.I dont think they will make it a requirement and force the connections to run in at least two so there has to be some other type of handicap to make this a series again.Otherwise the Triple Crown is just three classic races spaced apart the same as they have been for I dont know how long.

31 Jan 2013 7:33 PM
Little Bill

Great research on Proud Strike's pedigree. I love reading that info. Thank you.

I have only two horses on my under the radar watch, the other being Tour Guide. Four wins at four different tracks,two minor stakes. Hasn't stetched out yet but,I'm optimistic he will.Broken Vow over a Came Home mare. He doesn't look like a sprinter to me, but I really don't have a good eye for confirmation or stride. Training at FG.

31 Jan 2013 8:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Action This Day and Anak Nakal

31 Jan 2013 8:41 PM

Those are two good examples, Steve

31 Jan 2013 9:05 PM
El Kabong


Let's address your claims.

1) eliminates fillies  

FALSE, fillies are not banned from running in any of the Prep races where points are allocated. If they want in they need to run against the boys before they get to the Derby. That is a good idea since it was the path of the most successful Fillies who did run in the Derby and win.

2)eliminates graded stakes quality speed horses.  

FALSE. Horses like Hard Spun, Bodemeister, Shackleford just to name a recent few, would have made it to the Derby because their speed is honest around two turns. One turn sprinters will be eliminated from a 10F classic. AMEN!

3)reduces the number of qualifying races (options for trainers to guide their charges)

TRUE, but there are still plenty and the races that are in the fold should be more competitive to watch. Can't complain about that, or can you?

4)reduces the cumulative financial rewards to the connections of horses on the Derby Trail.

FALSE, not one race that I know has reduced it's purse because of the point system.

31 Jan 2013 9:38 PM

I'm kind of "on the fence" with this, but admit that I'm leaning more toward liking it.

You mentioned a couple of things in this piece that struck a chord.  One of the things I thought could be beneficial in this new system would be that 3yos would maybe race more than twice before the Derby.  As you said.....not to be.  Trainers appear to be pretty firmly entrenched in the 2-prep MO these days.  Down the road, if the points system remains in place, that still might change as the dust settles on the first Sunday in May after a couple of years.

Also, you mentioned the Bob Lewis.  The Lewis is a 10-4-2-1 point race run the first weekend in February.  Since everybody seems to be married to the idea of only 2 preps, and since (for this year) Flashback is seen as formidable, running in the Lewis might be seen as a wasted start.

I really believe that it IS the new system + calendar placing that caused the Bob Lewis to attract only 4 runners this year.  Two of them are Baffert's, by the way, but that's a whole other discussion.

I am interested to see how all this plays out.  I understand the reason for it, and I think it has great potential for changing the prep season and even the Derby itself to the good.

I am disappointed, though, with only 4 entrants in the Bob Lewis this year.  It's hard for me to think that the new points system isn't largely (not completely) responsible for that.

31 Jan 2013 10:30 PM


Whatever merits the new system might have, it preserves one glaring bit of unfairness. It includes races that are not run under weight-for-age terms.

A horse earning points in such races should suffer a penalty of say 10% of the points for each pound it carried below the top weight.  

The ideal solution would be to exclude such races altogether.

31 Jan 2013 10:52 PM
Age of Reason

Ranagulzion, I'm glad you didn't suffer an apoplectic fit when you read that first line (or anything else following, for that matter). For some reason that was the first thought to pop into my head while reading Steve's piece. As an aside, Steve wasn't the only person who fancied Monba in the Derby; my brother still gives me a hard time about it, being by far my worst Derby pick ever (not that others I've selected haven't also finished up the track, but 19th is just sad). Of course, after Super Saver won in 2010 I told him, "See, I was right about Maria's Mon getting a second Derby winner--I just missed it by a couple years!" Speaking of notorious Derby selections, weren't you rather fond of Trinniberg (grin) just last year? =) Finally, and I'll try to put this in the form of a question: I've heard you criticize the new system a lot based on your hypothesis, as yet to be demonstrated, that said system will somehow eliminate the typically frenetic early pace we've seen in years past by eliminating "quality speed horses" (which seems to be silly; sure the points system leaves out quality speed horses, it probably also leaves out a lot of quality turf horses too because they really have no business running). I digress. However, a quick review of recent Derbies reveals that the pacesetters are typically not "speed horses" (Hard Spun, Recapturetheglory and Cool Coal Man, Regal Ransom, Pioneerof The Nile, Shackleford, all of whom came by way of traditional Derby preps) and even those who might retroactively be considered speed horses(Bob Black Jack, Join In The Dance, Conveyance and Sydney's Candy, Comma To The Top, Hansen etc) still came to the Derby by way of established two-turn prep races like the Santa Anita, UAE, Sunland and Tampa Bay Derbies, to name a few. Also, as a poster on DRF noted after last year's Derby when Bodemeister outran Trinniberg pillar-to-post, "classy distance speed always outruns the cheap speed". So, just out of curiosity, since your theory is that the new points system will eliminate 'quality speed' from the Derby: could you please provide me a couple examples (obviously we already know about Trinniberg) of past Kentucky Derbies in which the elimination of a pure 'speed horse' would have changed the likely outcome of the race, esp. to the detriment of a legitimate contender?

31 Jan 2013 10:55 PM

I can't help but chuckle, that took less than 3 hours to be settled.  Good one Steve but I don't think we've seen the end of it (if there is an end to it.) :)  

Thanks for Proud Strike, I'll keep an eye out for him.  One horse I'm high on is Ground Transport, also won at FG at 2nd asking going 1 mile and 70 yards from PP 12.  He's a Big Brown (Extry by Broad Brush) baby.  I'm anxiously awaiting where he'll show up next.

31 Jan 2013 11:29 PM
Mike Relva


Ok, so what's the answer? Any suggestions? I'm waiting.

01 Feb 2013 12:48 AM
The Deacon

Not a fan of the new system but lets see how it plays out.

01 Feb 2013 1:33 AM


Is that the sum total of your response, Action This Day and Anak Nakal?

I offered you a life boat and you've taken it (naming two and only two), suggesting that your "Points System ship" is a sinking ship.  Action This Day was champion 2YO, 2003 that had a reasonable 4th place finish in the Sham, suffered a back injury in the San Felipe which wasn't properly diagnosed until after the Blue Grass. After vigorous chiropractic treatment the colt ran his heart out, under the circumstances, closing from last to a 6TH place finish in the Kentucky Derby behind Smarty Jones and you think that he didn't belong?  Your points system would've eliminated him ...and now you make this horse a poster child for for scrapng the Graded Earning system?  Think again Steve.

As for Anak Nakal, he qualified for the 2008 Ketucky Derby, in which he finished 7th behind Big Brown, after winning and placing 2ND in 2YO Graded Stakes: The Kentucky Jockey Club (which graduated 2010 Derby winner Super Saver) and Nashua Stakes respectively. In his final prep he ran 5TH in the Wood Memorial behind Tale Of Ekati and War Pass (zero points under your new system) but his placing in the Derby justified the Graded Earnings System IMO ...and you don't agree?

I can name two colts from the 2010 3YO crop that 'your' points system would've let in the Derby, that most knowledgeable fans would agree did not belong ...they could be considered "one-race hotshot horses" under this new system but were eliminated under the Graded Earnings system, and rightly so : Pleasant Prince and Setsuko.  The former lost the Florida Derby by a bob of the head to Ice Box and the latter was runner-up to Sidney's Candy in the Santa Anita Derby (40 points each).  Feel free to make a case for their defence ...if you can.

Steve, the only thing that really needed fixing and still does, is the situation with the draw for post positions and the #1 hole in the starting gates.  I think that the horses that are top qualifiers under the fairer GE system should've been awarded priority in the draw and that would likely eliminate the situations were top horses like Looking At Lucky and Union Rags were compromised by unfavourble post positions before the race even began.

I maintain that this new points system and your support of it amount to barking up the wrong tree.  It creates controversy and in your case, fascination but fixes nothing.      

01 Feb 2013 5:46 AM
Steve Haskin

Ranalgulzion,  my "notorious" Derby selection, Monba, fractured a knee in the Derby. We all cant be as proficient in our Derby selections as you no doubt are. But I thank you for bringing up the subject to bolster your credibility.

01 Feb 2013 7:58 AM

Plod Boy Phil:

So what you are saying is that I better get ready for my Bernardini horses to fade again in the KD? :(

01 Feb 2013 9:53 AM
Plod Boy Phil

There's quite a bit being made about the prospects of top horses being left out of the Derby.  Considering the history of the 'also rans' in the Derby, is this really such a bad thing?

I've held the opinion for a long time that this 'great' race does much more damage than good to those that run in it.  

A review of the charts for the last three years reveals the names of 57 horses that did not win.  From those 57, only 6 jump out to me as having gone on to win a Graded stake after the Derby:  2010) Looking at Lucky, Jackson Bend, Sidney's Candy;  2011) Mucho Macho, Shackleford, Stay Thirsty;  2012) Union Rags, Trinniberg,  Optimizer.  Two of those won turf races, one was a one turn miler and one was a pure sprinter.

Those with the time to do further research or have the data at their finger tips are encouraged to provide evidence to the contrary.

01 Feb 2013 10:02 AM
Rusty Weisner


It doesn't eliminate fillies.  They can get points by racing against males before the Derby.

Your point about the Champagne, etc. is a good one, but Steve Haskin made the same point:  he said the BCJuv, for example, should get more points.

01 Feb 2013 10:12 AM
Rusty Weisner


That's a very good point.  But it probably means those displaced runners will make for a very good race in the 50-point phase.

01 Feb 2013 10:19 AM


Reading your post (31 Jan 2013 6:17 PM) I could not help but to think of  Julius Caesar Act 3, Scene 2, in which Mark Anthony famous quote was uttered:

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”

It appears you have come to bury the new Points System and it associated supporters and not to praise it in any conceivable way. WOW!

The new system will have its merits and demerits just as the old. Your reaction to change is understandable as its human nature. However, I think you should reserve your criticisms until the 2013 season has ended.

I have not evaluated the merits and demerits of the news system and consequently I am operating from a position of ignorance. In most organization when major systems changes are going to be implemented, there are always parallel runs. Did Churchill Downs undertake a parallel run with the new Points System and the Graded Earning System after Derby 2012 before implementation? If the answer to my question is yes, then they should be in a position to determine if any of the leading Derby contenders were adversely impacted and would not have made the field.  

Cay you accurately state the Derby starter/s that would not have made the cut in 2012 had the new System been in place?

Throughout my working live I have been exposed to numerous system changes in several capacities. In some cases I have supervised implementation and in others I have just been impacted by them. These experiences have taught me to accept change as inevitable and instead of whining it is better to devote time to determine the requisite adjustment that are necessary to best manage and minimize the impact of  change.

Let change occur!

NB: Your criticism of the moderator’s position on the issue was well received. I have never been so emphatic with my criticisms. In fact, I mostly request justifications, yet I am demonized and vilified. I wonder why?

01 Feb 2013 10:33 AM
Rusty Weisner


One-shot wonders?  Cuts both ways and people on either side of the argument can go on remembering horses that made it to the Derby and finished up the track.  Plenty of others hit the board and disappeared forever after that.  The old system allowed for many horses that shouldn't have been there; the new one may, too.  Who's to say Setsuko and Pleasant Prince wouldn't have improved off those races of their lives and run in the Derby like Mine that Bird or Super Saver?  This race, at the 10f distance with a 20-horse field (I love that, which probably shows insensitivity to the welfare of the horses on my part) is going to produce flukey results.

That said, I think your best point is about the prestigious 2-yo races.  I think they really should hew a little more to the tradition of the sport by honoring several of the classic 2-yo races with more points.  It seems like it's slightly undermining a traditional way of developing racehorses.

The positive?  Probably classier races in the 50 and 100-point preps.  

The idea of preference in the draw is a form of anti-handicapping.  Races can have even weights, or horses can be handicapped, but the idea of giving a positive advantage to the best horses is new.  You could maybe have two tiers of entries, but then you're already jerry-rigging things.  By the way, since when was the 4 post insurmountably bad?

01 Feb 2013 11:05 AM
Pedigree Ann

"One of the reasons we don’t have Triple Crown winners anymore is that the Derby is so much deeper and more competitive than it used to be back in the 60s and 70s when anyone could run in the race and often did, from cheap claimers to bad allowance horses who were still eligible for nonwinners of two after 15- to 20-plus career starts. With the new point system, the Derby will be even more difficult to win, with basically the entire field coming off a top effort."

You have said this before and I still think it is inaccurate.

I did an analysis of the 1974 Centennial Derby field, the largest ever at 23. Seventeen of the runners were already SWs; a couple others became SWs before their racing careers were over; a couple others were SP; the imported Sir Tristram (yes, the same who become a chef-de-race in New Zealand) had the worst race record of the participants. 1974 was a year of chaos in the preps, unlike 1969, when a few horses  dominated the preps - Arts and Letters, Top Knight, Majestic Prince, and Dike - and had a field of 8, including the Arkansas Derby winner and Del Mar Futurity winner in the other 4.

The biggest upsetter of the 1960s, Proud Clarion, was coming off of a second in the Blue Grass.

The only horse in the 1973 field of 13 without pre-Derby blacktype was a big, late-developing gelding named Forego (he ran fourth).

Facing Alydar and Affirmed were 7  SWs plus the second and third in the Arkansas Derby, who later gained SW status.

The 1971 field of 20 was full of SWs and SP horses; the winner was the non-SW horse from Venezuela, who had beaten older horses at 10f in allowance company. (I have a notion that if the Wood winner Good Behaving and the Flamingo winner Executioner had been entered, the field would have been smaller. The first wasn't nominated - the race closed in December back then - and the latter was hurt in the Wood.)

The average Derby field of the 1960s averaged 12.6 runners; that of the 1970s averaged 16.1, but if you subtract the two 20+ fields, it drops to 14.75. No limit was needed then because the majority of trainers didn't enter horses who didn't belong, who hadn't won or placed in Derby-prep stakes. Can we say that today?

01 Feb 2013 11:14 AM
Steve Haskin

Pedigree Ann, go look at the PPs for the Derby in the early 1970s and you will see how totally innacurate you are. Or you can read "Holy Grail" for a list of all the terrible horses who competed back then, who didnt even belong in a stakes. I dont have the time to list them all.

01 Feb 2013 11:30 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Dan C -

Just responding to your question regarding the competition Transparent faced. Nothing more.  I'll focus on the Derby on the first Thursday in May.

01 Feb 2013 11:38 AM
Plod Boy Phil

re: Derby damage

Of course,  change '6' to read '9', as I listed 9 horses that went on to win Graded Stakes after being 'also rans'.  I may have omitted Brilliant Speed - another turf horse.

01 Feb 2013 11:41 AM

mr. haskin, with all do respect this is statement ludicrous:

"One of the reasons we don’t have Triple Crown winners anymore is that the Derby is so much deeper and more competitive than it used to be back in the 60s and 70s when anyone could run in the race and often did, from cheap claimers to bad allowance horses who were still eligible for nonwinners of two after 15- to 20-plus career starts. With the new point system, the Derby will be even more difficult to win, with basically the entire field coming off a top effort."

big fields do not equal deep fields--and the horses running in the triple crown in the 1970s did not win any of these races, let alone the multiple triple crown winners in this period, becuase they were running against weak fields. most of the horses tht have run any of the triple crown races in the last 12 years, even those who won a race or two, who could have competed with any success against the powerhouse horses of the 1970s.

there where a few horses between 1980-2000 who were competing in equally large fields of triple crown quality who only lost their bids to the harsh vagaries of fate, not the depth of competition.

the reason we have no more triple crown winners is precisely becuase trainers only prep their horses a handful of times--the horses are fit, and like all unfit athletes, succumb to injuries after a big effort for which they were unprepared.

secretariat and spectaclur bid raced almost every two weeks rom their 2 YO debuts until their retirements--we have triple crown bound horses these days who may have run 3 races in the 6 months preceding the KY derby.

the fields are deep these days, their cheap--filled with horses not up to the task asked of them. an unfit horse with raw talent is no better than a super fit claimer with no talent, when it comes to winning the triple crown. in fact fileds of super claimers might actually produce a triple crown winner, with more frequency that these blue blood couch potatoes.

01 Feb 2013 11:49 AM
steve from st louis

Proud Strike certainly was bred on the right side of the tracks and he comes from a spectacular who's who of distaff producers, but I don't think Revolutionary has to take a back seat to anyone. He traces to the best female family in the history of the sport, La Troienne. She's the dam-side producer of Busher, Black Helen, Bimelech, Searching, Easy Goer, Smarty Jones, Caerleon, Sea Hero, Go For Gin, Pleasant Tap, Mineshaft, Woodman, Princess Rooney, Prarie Bayou, Rhythm, Forklore, etc. Revolutionary must not be made so well as he cost only $80,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling and just $235,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. With that female line, he warrents a seven figure price if he looked as good as his catalogue page.  

01 Feb 2013 12:17 PM
Karen in Texas


Your list of 2012 Derby starters to later win a graded stakes would include Hansen--Iowa Derby, Gr.3


The 2012 Derby starters who would not have made the race under the new system were Liaison, Done Talking, and Trinniberg. As Ranag and I discussed a couple of threads ago on Steve's blog, this information is found in an article from Thoroughbred Times in which the points for previous Derby winners are also shown. I think it's a fairly comprehensive, yet concise piece written shortly after the new point system was announced.


01 Feb 2013 12:18 PM
Mike Relva


Find it interesting whom you select to call out. Also,for a former host you always gave a free pass,that didn't deserve one.

01 Feb 2013 12:42 PM

Karen in Texas,

Many Thanks.

As previously stated I have not been following this issue.

01 Feb 2013 1:04 PM

Proud Strike - I watched his MSW win and I was not impressed. His rider kept whipping him long after he had disposed of his closest pursuer. The fractions of the race were slow but he is from the Mr. Prospector sire line and in light of this the possibilities are endless.

I believe the little known Devine Ambition would have destroyed him.

01 Feb 2013 1:21 PM
Pedigree Ann

Steve -

I went back to the charts and the APR listings for the performances of the horses therein. It is a fact that every horse in the 1978 Derby was or would become a SW save one, who was G2-placed twice. Or that the 23-horse field included 17 SWs. Now not all SWs are created equal, but these SWs were not "eligible to n1x" or "claimers."

I would say that in the average field, less than 20% of the runners fall into the category you mentioned. That's maybe 3 of 16.

Yes, there were some awful horses who ran in the Derby - Saigon Warrior was there because his owner wanted to make a statement about the Viet Nam war. (Thankfully he went to the back of the field and stayed there.) If you make a list of these for a couple of decades, you might get the impression that the fields except for the stars were trash.

But while not all the other 80% were stars, those animals had shown some talent; the "he's finally coming around and ran a good second in the Blue Grass, acts like he can go on" sort of horse - the Dunkirk model, if you will, only with more seasoning beforehand.

Trainers may have been fooling themselves about such possible progression, but a placing in the Derby was not out of the question for these. Like Hudson County, second in the '74 Derby - won the Bay Shore, 3rd in a division of the Wood, in the "field" or he would have been higher in odds than Wood division winner Flip Sal at 59/1 (pulled up lame in his 25th start). Horses were often raced into shape in those days, remember?, so a recent improvement negated conditioning losses farther back. (War Emblem was trained that way, too, before B-squared got him.)

One should note that stakes races were rarer in the 1960s and 1970s than they are today (you can check that in the Blood-Horse Stakes Annuals). In 1960, 1.90% of races were stakes races, and that included the cheap stakes that no longer get black type these days. In 1970, 2.20% of races were stakes races; in 1980 it was 3.07%. These days, without counting the "cheap (non-black-type) stakes, it is up to over 4.5%. It is far easier to get a gate-full of SWs when there are proportionally twice as many stakes races to run in.

01 Feb 2013 1:26 PM

The critics of the points system seem quite spurious; how can you argue against a system that has not even completed an initial 'trial.'

For me, I would prefer a field containing the 'lightning rods' of March/April than a group comprising mostly  flickering pulses of last Octobers' 2 year old starlets.

The die has been cast for this year, embrace the thrill of the unexpected.

01 Feb 2013 2:46 PM
Steve Haskin

Pedigree Ann, good example 1978, one of the best Derby fields ever. If you feel Fourulla (0-for-4), Big Brown Bear (1-for-18), Saigon Warrior (1-for-18), On the Money (1-for-13), Royal Leverage (1-for-10), Majestic Needle (2-for-21), Napoise (2-for-13), Fathom (2-for-12), Introductivo (2-for-10), Hassi's Image (3-for-22), Knight Counter (3-for-19), Sensitive Music (3-for-18), Our Trade Winds (3-for-17), Vegas Vic (3-for-15), Dr. Behrman (3-for-13), Spouting Horn (3-for-11), Action Getter (4-for-18), Pacallo (5-for-21), and Royal JD (5-for-18) all belonged in the Kentucky Derby, the subject is closed as far as I'm concerned. You can use all the stats you want. I saw those Derbys in the early 70s and I know how bad those horses were.

01 Feb 2013 3:42 PM

I have just one question. If we get a Triple Crown winner would that mean they would be the all time greatest TCW of all time,considering some of the comments. Thank you Steve and I just love all the confusion and mystery leading up to the Derby.

01 Feb 2013 3:52 PM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, I cant say I'm surprised to see you chime in with your dissatisfaction regarding Proud Strike's race. My mention of him was of his female family. No comments on that, but thank goodness he is from the Mr. P line. Why you would say a horse from Tampa with 2 starts would destroy a horse from Fair Grounds is beyond me. As for Divine Ambition being little known, to whom? I was on the radio yesterday and picked him to upset the Sam Davis tomorrow. I assume you were aware he was running.

01 Feb 2013 4:01 PM

Change for the sake of change makes no sense to me.  Necessary change to something better or superior I have absolutely no problem with ...such change I'll champion.  Some folks need to see everything played out before they are convinced its no good while there are those possessed with intuition enough to see an inferior product from the gitgo.

They are going to tweak this half-baked points system until they're forced/ pressured to return to the GE System.  The finalcial implications will push the hardest towards a return to Graded Earnings because the change should not only make sense but also dollars and cents.  Owners & trainers will ship across the country for stakes rather than measly points.  I'd say the Bob Lewis field marks the beginnings of sorrows and the increased purse of the excluded Illinois Derby confirms this.

BTW can somebody rationalise for me how the Blue Grass stakes merit 100 points when it has become almost irrelevant in its impact on the Derby in recent years, while the Illinois Derby, which Steve now calls a backdoor to the Derby is excluded?

Call me a prophet of doom if you will but I think that there are few trainers who will support this kind of change, their opinions having never been canvased.

Mike Relva,

Speak/write plainly ...I have no idea what/who you are talking about in your post 01 Feb 2013 12:42 pm.

01 Feb 2013 4:03 PM

I am only focused on the races today.I watch ALL the derby preps even if I replay them, but if I have any skin in any of the preps It will help me to remember the race a lot better because thats just the way I think.I like exotic wagers so in the US it will be the ONLY 20 horse field the entire year.

01 Feb 2013 4:11 PM

BTW Vetky if your out there, do you think you are the only bettor that will play all others in pool 1 of the Derby futures,I dont, I will bet you $50 that the odds for all others this year will be the lowest in HISTORY.

01 Feb 2013 4:14 PM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

What is this list of horses?  That wasn't the 1978 Derby field.  Those are early 70's horses and the couple I looked up never ran in a Derby.

01 Feb 2013 4:15 PM

I will be passing the 10 point results in pool 1,thats the only way the odds wont be the lowest, is that people decide to pass.I wonder how Churchill will react to the rule changes if the pool 1 and 2 handle is a lot lower for the derby futures then you complainers have a legitimate shot to go back to grandpas system.

01 Feb 2013 4:18 PM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

Sorry, misunderstood that post.

01 Feb 2013 4:20 PM
Steve Haskin

Rusty Weisner, those horses all ran in the Ky. Derby. Perhaps one or two were a late scratch, I cant say for sure, but they all were entered in the Derby.

For the record, I dont think the Blue Grass Stakes should be 100 points, but try telling Keeneland it's being lowered. That's all politics. There also were politics involved in the Illinois Derby snub, but I can also see their desire to knock it off the 100 point level because the fields have not been very strong recently. I wouldnt mind seeing it a 50-point race. Churchill wants them to attempt to stengthen the race before they consider it a viable prep and include it in their points. Meanwhile, Hawthorne moved the date up two weeks to make it a Preakness prep, and I think it actually will fare better in that role.

01 Feb 2013 4:30 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

If you want to find out who is going to win The Derby, I don't come cheap. It's a hundred dollars a day plus expenses. The Derby Dozen has started which is the official start to the new year so Happy New Year everyone.


    I', sorry for your loss and hope you feel better soon.

01 Feb 2013 4:46 PM

Keeneland may argue that Dullahan winning the Bluegrass Stakes, then running 3rd in the Kentucky Derby last year, that their 100 points are valid.

01 Feb 2013 5:15 PM

That's an interesting debate re-quality of Derby fields, past vs present. My recollections begin a bit before Steve's, and while I haven't "researched" it, it's my strong feeling that there's been a decrease in field relative quality every decade from the 60s forward. Notice I used the word "relative", but I'm also inclined to believe my statement to be accurate with the word, relative, ommitted. I think there are several causes for this, such as in years past- more complete resume relative to quality; smaller overall population-all else equal, more easily differentiated; much higher % of entrants from "established" breed-to-race farms (tended to produce a higher caliber of horse than today); motivation for running was more about whether or not the horse "belonged" and less about owner desire to be a part of it; higher % of horses bred for classic distance-and, the elite of the crop tended to have greater quality then vs now (there's been a gradual erosion of our best breeding stock), etc., etc.    

01 Feb 2013 6:29 PM
Rusty Weisner

Steve Haskin,

That field of 11 accomplished horses from 1978 is impressive.

But give me the 20 horse field larded with undeserving mediocrities any day.  The betting prospect is just too unique and exciting.  Half my yearly budget goes towards Derby Day.  And I mean it goes.

By the way, I really enjoyed looking up some of those forgotten horses with 20 starts at 3 years old.  It must have been paradise with that much racing going on.

Didn't know that about the Illinois Derby date.  Sorry to see them muscled like that, but War Emblem blew the race out of all proportion.

01 Feb 2013 6:42 PM

You are going to have a year when a bunch of longshots knock off all the high pointed late preps and some really good horses who might miss a prep or two be eliminated due to lack of points. Too many eggs in too few baskets. It just seems to me over weighting the latter prep races with high points is a recipe for disaster.

01 Feb 2013 7:17 PM

I think that the ones that changed the rules know that 2yo form, and form more than a month before the Derby dosent hold up as it did when the horses could run every two weeks.I got news for you, it wont go back to a system based on earnings, it dosent make sense.I think they will make changes as needed but the people that make the rules know a lot more about the business and sport of thoroughbred racing than someone who only has the perspective of a bettor or even a writer.I got news for you, I think this is just the begining I think the spacing of the races and or more regulations are coming whereas a colt will not just be able to come into a SERIES in the last race without some type of monetary(more money to run) or physical handicap(weight)be given to him.

I personally dont think a lot of the recent Belmont winners could win if they had to face relatively fresh colts  as the Derby field five weeks before.

I think the breed is weakened in a way which cant  be explained easily, but some of the Belmont winners that fit this profile to me shouldnt be considered true distance horses although they won a dirt race at a mile an a half unless of course they continued winning routes over 9 furlongs on any surface.

I am pretty sure the horseman take all this into account but when the colt has won a grade one at a mile and a half, his early stud fees are definitely going to be higher.Makes a lot of sense for an owner monetarily to take his shot against recently raced horses in the Belmont its worth a lot of money.

01 Feb 2013 7:32 PM
Mike Relva


Saying you never called Shandler out, even when he deserved it.

01 Feb 2013 8:50 PM
Mike Relva


What is exactly the injury to Gulfport?

01 Feb 2013 8:53 PM


I just read your post (29 Jan 2013 5:11 PM) on the Derby Dozen Blog. At this time the Derby Dozen blog is hostile domain for me and I think it best that I avoid making submissions. There seems to be a different contributor attacking me every cycle. My wife once told me I have perfected the art of making enemies and sadly she is correct. I do not mind being taken to task but the manner in which it is done suggest a lack of regard not just for my views/position but for the individual represented by the ID. This faceless forum can be brutal.  

I do not mind be chastised by Mr. Haskin as all submissions are posted/displayed at his or his nominee’s discretion. However, I take exception to those who feel they have an obligation to rudely attack those that dare to criticize or challenge either views or methodologies of one so revered by many. What these individuals fail to recognize is the fact that dissenting views and constructive criticisms can be useful. No effective leader wants to be surrounded with yes men.

01 Feb 2013 9:10 PM


I recounted the number of RAN/Mr. Prospectors colts comprising my sire line dozen and I got 12. You must forgive me for not specifying that it was not a baker’s dozen

Overanalyze, Violence, Oxbow and Vegas No Show: Who are those colts?

Overanalyze was destroyed by Uncaptured and had to be fully extended to repel Normandy Invasion who was ridden from another zip code to get into contention. How will he contend with good colts that have tactical speed and stamina?

Violence is regarded as the best colt on the Derby trail. He is a nice colt that has a defeated his opponents by a combined 3 3/4L in his three victories.  When a horse keeps his opponent close, there is no margin for errors. Mr. Pletcher does not have a stellar record of winning the Derby and he  also has no margin for error. High risk!

Oxbow over powered an average field in the LA. The best colt in the race was Avies Quality who did not make a successful transition from turf/synthetic to dirt. Oxbow was destroyed by Gulfport who struggled against top class horses at Saratoga. The coach will destroy him to get points for a Derby spot.

“As far as I can see, not many of those RAN/Mr. P line colts you listed will likely hit the board.”

You might just have a point.  Omega Star should have been added to make it a baker’s dozen.  The list provides a mixed  of speed and stamina. I’ll Have another announced himself in the Bob Lewis in 2013. You therefore can keep your eyes open from Saturday and beyond for the horses from the most powerful sire line in TC history. Start with Little Distorted and follow with Devine Ambition.

"Palace Malice and Ore Pass from your RAN/Mr Prospector not in your line-up;"

Ore Pass was sired by War Pass who was sired by Cherookee Run. That’s the Blushing Groom sire line.

Palace Malice is a Pletcher horse and an automatic toss.

“Darley / Godolphin's Derby horse is going to be Transparent or El Mutahid ...forget Fortify “

A P Indy bred only 67 mares in 2009. It was his smallest book in years. The A P Indy colt Long River got beat by 1/2L in an 8F race at Belmont that was completed in 1:35 and a bit. He contested that race without Lasix. When an A P Indy colt runs 1:35 as a 2YO without Lasix, how fast will he be  as a 3YO when the performance enhancing drug is added?

I noticed something about Transparent from the first time I saw him. At the risk of laughter and ridicule I highlighted this unimpressive colt and suggested that he be watched. The first thing I noticed was that he needed blinkers. His trainer was slow to this realization. The second thing was the way he covered ground while not having a clue of what was required of him. For him it was just a matter of time. I hope his last race signaled what is to come. His trainer is loaded with talented 3YO for both Darley & Shadwell that have the pedigrees for the Derby distance. Will he be able to get any to the Big Dance?

01 Feb 2013 9:43 PM

I don't understand why they even count the 2 yr old races in determining who gets in the Derby.  The Kentucky Derby is for 3 yr old horses, not 2.  At the risk of being tied to an ant hill covered in honey, I vote for not counting the 2 yr old races as a "tweak" to the new points system :)  

If a horse can't duplicate its form as a 3 yr old, then they don't deserve to run in the Kentucky Derby so I really see no reason to count their 2 yr old races.  I checked the last 20 Derby winners and here's a list of races they won as a 2 yr old :

1992 : Lil E. Tee

1993 : Sea Hero - Won the Champagne

1994 : Go For Gin - Won the Remsen

1995 : Thunder Gulch - Won the Remsen

1996 : Grindstone

1997 : Silver Charm - Won Del Mar Futurity

1998 : Real Quiet - Won Hollywood Futurity

1999 : Charismatic

2000 : Fusaichi Pegasus

2001 : Monarchos

2002 : War Emblem

2003 : Funny Cide - Won Sleepy Hollow Stakes and Bertram F. Bongard Stakes

2004 : Smarty Jones - Won Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes

2005 : Giacomo

2006 : Barbaro - Won Laurel Futurity

2007 : Street Sense - Won BC Juvenile

2008 : Big Brown

2009 : Mine That Bird - Won Silver Deputy, Swynford and Grey Stakes

2010 : Super Saver - Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes

2011 : Animal Kingdom

2012 : I'll Have Another

Note :  I didn't check who the winners were of the Champagne, KJC, Remsen, Hollywood Futurity and Del Mar Futurity in each year to see how they did in the Derby or if they made it to the Derby.

01 Feb 2013 10:44 PM
Paula Higgins

All interesting comments. I think this is a system which will work but may need some fine tuning down the road. Will it make the Derby field smaller? It needs to be. ITA that it will make a Triple Crown winner just about an extinct species. Coldfacts, you are right, faceless forums can be brutal, but I think many of us enjoy reading your posts.

01 Feb 2013 11:19 PM
Arts and Letters

I went and looked up Proud Strike's pedigree.  Very impressive! But you neglected to also mention the inclusion of the fabulous Canadian mare, No Class, ancestress of Always a Classic, Grey Classic, Regal Classic, Sky Classic, Dance Smartly, Smart Strike, Dancethruthedawn, Scatter the Gold, and others.  

That's a heck of a pedigree!

01 Feb 2013 11:54 PM

I wouldn't be crowing too much about the dominance of the RAN/MR P. line in the Kentucky Derby over the past 40 years or so.

It's 'bleeding obvious' that the rise of this line has coincided with the introduction of lasix/salix. Coincidence, maybe - fact, yes.

02 Feb 2013 12:45 AM

The Wikipedia article on Canonero II (1971 Derby and Preakness) says he qualified because of his breeding.

Steve, you're footnoted as a source on this. Why not defend your rep and clean up the article?

02 Feb 2013 2:09 AM


Since the Mr P sireline has been represented by vastly superior numbers in the TC and everywhere else, like just about any yearling catalog, I'd like to see a little more arithmetic before accepting it as the most powerful sireline in TC history.

02 Feb 2013 3:01 AM
Ted from LA

Coldfacts and Ranagulzion,

Keep posting.  I'm a huge fan of both of you and your posts.  Ever since Jason died, I've been off my game.  I am going to come back strong this Triple Crown season.  I plan to make a ton of cash.  I will then use that cash to buy gold.  My last move will be to have my gold bronzed because I will be so proud of it.

02 Feb 2013 3:27 AM


Here is an example of the simple-mindedness of sireline statistics.

Take Distorted Humor. He is a top sire from the Raise a Native line. What are the odds of an offspring of Distorted Humor winning a graded stake of any kind, lifetime?

The answer taken from the Stallion Register of the Bloodhorse, is 46/795 or 5.8%.  

Since there is only one winner of a race, the only relevant statistic is the percentage of each sire, taken individually. The siring of offspring is not a group activity. In fact, the most prolific sire in the line might not even be represented in the crop of potential starters.

This is the difference between analysis and recitation.

02 Feb 2013 9:05 AM


Little Jerry a colt from the Mr. Prospector sire line that will be making his dirt debut in the Bob Lewis. He will be the longest shot in the race based on the 15 1/2L drubbing he took in the Cash Call Futurity. I hope to recover some funds I lost on him in said race. He has a lot of hidden positives that that can only be identified if he is not dismissed as merely being entered to fill the race.

Below are some quotes from his trainer:

“We didn’t enter just to make the race go,”

“That’s not the reason,” Baltas continued. “I feel like we’ve got a legitimate shot. He’s a nice horse. We entered because the horse is doing well.”

“The first time he ran he really wasn’t ready to run,”

“When he (jockey Aaron Gryder) broke he put the horse right on the rail and he ate all the dirt or whatever you want to call it (Cushion Track). He came back, he coughed like 20 times and he had a bit of mucous”

“Since then he’s trained really well. He’s not a real speed horse, so we’re just going to let him run his race.”

Of the above quotes the one that is of most significant is the 4th. In his debut victory he defeated Curly Top who two races later took down the very promising Footbridge in what was his dirt debut. Forrest Boy whom he defeated as well came back to run the promising Belvin close in a 6 1/2LF race completed in 1:14 and a bit.

Little Jerry closed from about 15-20L last to run by Curley Top and added another 10L in the gallop out. Now, if he was not ready to run and defeated a Speedy Bob colt that he spotted 20L, this colt is clearly much better than his 8th place finish in the Cash Call.

This handsome son of Candy Ride stands well over 16 hands. He clearly has the size and I believe some hidden ability and is worth a small win wager as he will be totally disregarded.

02 Feb 2013 9:15 AM
Karen in Texas

Mike R.,

Gulfport has a hind cannon bone injury per report in the C-J. I'll try to link it.


02 Feb 2013 10:18 AM
Your Only Friend

Point Systme is the best System....must run too participate....as to how many points which race should get ...let it play out for few years see how this works...ya all never going to satisfy everyone.

02 Feb 2013 10:26 AM
Rusty Weisner

I haven't seen any threads for today's Derby preps.

I'm going to bet about $20 on a couple of them, just to have a lively betting interest in them and do some handicapping warmups.  Won't be playing the full card so will be blind to track conditions.

I don't think I'll play the Robert B. Lewis.  I like HHE, but in a four-horse field he could have the race stolen.

In the TB Sam Davis I'll try Speak Logistics, Dynamic Sky and Midnite Poppa in boxed exactas for a big $12.

In the Withers (cold there!) I am going to put Amerigo Vespucci in exactas with Revolutionary and Siete de Oros.  Amerigo beat Long River by 3 lengths last out, so why not take the odds?  Revolutionary seems to find a way to lose and had a wet track last out, so I'll be boxing these exactas, again for a total of $12.

02 Feb 2013 11:19 AM


No; what is, in fact, "bleeding obvious" is that the widespread use of lasix/salix more or less coincided with the use of the fiberoptic endoscope.

02 Feb 2013 11:27 AM

sceptre Im inclined to believe some of what you posted, but now that their are more colts bred and pointed to the Derby and the TC the races leading up to any stake race are a lot more difficult.

Winning a MSW is a lot more difficult and NX 1 also.The colts that were good or great back then were a lot better than their counterparts so those preliminary conditions were just a formality.

In the information era that we live before a colt steps into the gate for his first race the majority of the track(tote board) knows how he has been working and his expectations,inotherwords if talented cant miss prospects(dont want to use names dont have the records)were entered in a MSW with a 12 horse field with trainers that get their 2yos to break their maidens early, it would be the favorite,and only trainers that knew this and thought their colt was one of the best would try the well regarded prospect unless they only wanted to find out how good their colt was.In decades past I think only the track insiders knew this and they hid it well on the tote board.In 2013 with all the speed figures the fields for ALL races are a lot more contentious top to bottom more times than not.  

02 Feb 2013 11:34 AM
Mike Relva


Appreciate you taking the time to let me know- thanks.

02 Feb 2013 11:36 AM
Age of Reason

One "under-the-radar" colt (since we all love those types this time of year) that I'm looking forward to seeing in action this weekend is Irish Surf. The regally-bred son of Giant's Causeway and multiple grade 1 winner Surfside (who also placed in two Breeders' Cup races and is by Seattle Slew), though winless so far in 3 starts, has shown marked improvement from one to the next while competing against notables like Den's Legacy, Tiz A Minister, Gabriel Charles, Avare, Dirty Swagg, etc. He might end up preferring turf, but is making his dirt debut at Santa Anita in a 1-mile msw so I guess we'll find out soon enough, won't we? And speaking of under-the-radar, why the heck is Eton Blue giving four pounds to Verrazano today at Gulfstream?!

Cold Facts, love Candy Ride!--speaking of which, I hope you haven't jumped off the Omega Star bandwagon!

Jersey Boy, I still remember my Stats professor (may he rest in peace) saying that the results of statistical surveys and numbers-crunching are mangled and horribly misinterpreted sometimes as often as not. Point taken.

02 Feb 2013 1:36 PM

sceptre, exactly right. The Breeders' Cup Ltd are attempting to clear the air.

02 Feb 2013 1:51 PM

Took some corporate guts to basically mess with success, since the Derby is already the top of the heap as such events are concerned. It transcends the sport itself, so it was not without some risk and trepidation I'm sure the corporate brain trust had to feel in instituting a whole new system. To look into the crystal ball and see that the then current system had serious flaws that were eroding the quality of the fields and then come up with a radically different qualification method was pretty remarkable, I think.  They ran the risk of a "new Coke" "old Coke" fiasco. Once a complete cycle has run, I'm fairly certain they will make some "tweaks" that have been suggested by several. It will have to wait until after this year's Derby and maybe even longer to see if one of their stated objectives of creating new fans actually comes to pass. Old joke: so far so good, said the man who jumped off the 10-story building as he passed the 8th floor! (Joke told by Steve McQueen in the movie, "The Magnificent Seven"!)

02 Feb 2013 2:55 PM


It seems you may have misunderstood my point. I was, in fact, disagreeing with you, and I am very much pro-lasix.

02 Feb 2013 3:43 PM
Paula Higgins

Ted from LA it's good to see you back! Laughed my head off over your gold to bronze comment. Can someone answer my question? Has any horse won the Derby and the Breeders Cup Classic?

02 Feb 2013 3:44 PM


Flashback is a cinch but I'll be watching Little Jerry.

You should ignore some detractors who make personal attacks instead of dealing with the issues.

02 Feb 2013 4:23 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Revolutionary better get a whole lot smarter in the next three months....imagine that in a 20 horse field at short odds.

02 Feb 2013 4:45 PM
Pedigree Ann

Interesting horses you included in your 'trash pile.'

Vegas Vic had been 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby, then won the Derby Trial; he would go on to be an accomplished turf horse (as one might expect from a T. V. Lark).

Sensitive Music was coming off of a second in the Blue Grass and had terrific breeding to improve at the distance, a profile similar to Derby 3rd Sanhedrin (in 1978).

Our Trade Winds won the Rebel in the one and only year that Oaklawn choose to run the major prep for its own Derby as a purse race.

Action Getter had won the Le Comte H at Fair Grounds. Would go on to win the Omaha Gold Cup at 3, and the Cornhusker at 4.

Wasn't Alysheba eligible for an n1x race going into the Derby, thanks to the DQ in the Blue Grass? Placed in a bunch of stakes, but only had one win. Counting wins and losses doesn't tell the tale.

I guess we must agree to disagree.

02 Feb 2013 5:01 PM
Rusty Weisner

Bet $6 to win on He's Had Enough.

02 Feb 2013 5:02 PM
Steve Haskin

Paula, just off the top of my head, Ferdinand, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Unbridled

02 Feb 2013 5:03 PM
Plod Boy Phil

re:  He's Had Enough

Are you all ready to put this guy to sleep now?  Those that are familiar with the stance Racing Flow took regarding the BC Juvenile know we've had a negative opinion of this one since three days after the race.

02 Feb 2013 5:09 PM
Rusty Weisner

My Name is Michael is 6/5.  Rosario has won several today, I think.  Otherwise, don't know why -- Payson Park training?  How deep is that track if they're so impressed by 1:02 and :48 workouts?

02 Feb 2013 5:24 PM

Mike Relva,

Jason Shandler and I had some very spirited exchanges a few seasons back when I chided him over his exuberace about a colt named Mr Fantastic that was blown away by I Want Revenge in the Gotham 2009, as well as Larry Jones' colt, Old Fashioned, neither of which made the Kentucky Derby. However we did agree about Blame and Zenyatta although I wouldn't echo his words "bla bla bla...get over it" to you. Peace my friend.  

02 Feb 2013 5:58 PM

Flashback & Verrazano are two that fit the profile.

02 Feb 2013 6:01 PM

PBP : It's easy to say " I told you so" about losing horses but it would be better if you can post BEFORE the race that the horse does not have a chance.  It seems you wait until after the race posting your comments.  If you really didn't think HHE was going to win, it doesn't take much to post it before the race.  You did the same with Mountain Eagle, you started talking about how bad the horse was after the race.

If you didn't post anything before the race, then some might take that as you not being sure if the horse will win or not.  I'm just saying...

02 Feb 2013 7:21 PM
steve from st louis

I'd say Revolutionary just got a whole lot cheaper to win the Derby after his move Saturday. Of course, you'd rather have a horse who can make his own pace but if he has half the talent his pedigree shows, he'll be odds-on come May. My goodness! You usually don't see inexperienced runners lower their heads and stride out like this one did once he hit Aqueduct's stretch. Like I said, thanks Steve for pointing this one out! I knew his dosage screams a championship  mile and one-quarter but this individual ran better than advertised. I can't see Steve having this one lower than first or second in your next Derby dozen.  

02 Feb 2013 7:32 PM

predict : You may be right about Stevens having a derby horse.  Not sure if he'll win but he looked really good winning today.  I'm a Tiznow fan and always looking for one of his babies to make the field.  Gemologist disappointed pretty badly last year but maybe that's the Pletcher curse.  I'm hoping Baffert will get one of his babies in.  Had the tri and exacta which paid really nice considering his odds.  Going to add him to my watch list.

I thought Amerigo Vespucci ran well, I really hope they do a jockey change though.   This horse seems like it keeps losing focus in the stretch, Rodriguez can't keep him straight and it's always too late by the time he gets the horse going again.   He did the same thing in the Jerome, mid stretch, the horse starts to turn his head to his right, almost at the same spot in both races, not sure what that means but I think a more seasoned jockey would really make a huge difference.  In both the Jerome and Withers, Amerigo looked really good, in hand and cruising at the final turn into the stretch.  I hope they get Irad or Cornelio on this horse.  I love this horse, I just hope he makes the derby.

02 Feb 2013 8:01 PM
Plod Boy Phil

JayJay -

Stop your nonsense - your read every post I made at Pete's Blog about the BC Juv and about this horse in particular.  In fact, after the Cashcall,  I posted that the race was closer favoring and that HHE had failed again.  

Go buy a lottery ticket.

02 Feb 2013 8:11 PM
Plod Boy Phil

and, every one of our customers, includinjg the runner-up in the NHC, knew the horse was a downgrade, as was Little Mike. LM had been a downgrade for us since his Bias aided debut win and his failed effort next out despite a favorable set-up.

02 Feb 2013 8:14 PM

sceptre, we can agree to disagree. I believe graded stakes races should eliminate the assistance from lasix/salix. If the rest of the world can, why not here?

I do appreciate the problem trainers in the US do/will have complying with this rule but many respected owners are leading by example and to their own detriment, possibly. Is that fair?

02 Feb 2013 8:18 PM
Plod Boy Phil

correction:  Little Jerry of course.  We like Mike.

02 Feb 2013 9:41 PM

PBP : All I'm saying is post something right before the race, you can't go back to the BC, that was back in November... last year.   You didn't say anything about this horse this year when this prep was being discussed...then after the race, you post that you "knew" all along.  You did exactly the same with Mountain Eagle, you stay quiet before the race then after, it's like "I knew it !  I told you all so! "  lol.  Come on now...you and your site's credibility depends on how you post here :)  

02 Feb 2013 9:52 PM

Anyone else notice that Tiz The Truth would have won the Robert B Lewis?  He ran it .3 seconds faster under a full hand ride, while closing his final 1/8 in under 11.8!!!  Take Flashback all you want, but I'll take Tiz The Truth to the bank!

03 Feb 2013 12:09 AM

Hi Davids,

As the topic of this blog doesn't at all relate to the EIPH/lasix issue, I think Steve would prefer that we not get into this. Let me just simply say that I can't truly agree to disagree. For me, the present data is overwhelming in support of lasix. The rest of the world? Consider that we also didn't treat with lasix until relatively recently. Yes, there was racing, pre-lasix, they ran around the track and most survived. But this proves nothing. Some then tried other "remedies", others, perhaps, nothing. They "bled" then, as they do now (but far less now because of lasix), but then "bleeding" was defined only as frank epistaxis-there wasn't endoscopy...The most credited study was performed on South African racehorses. S. African racehorses run without lasix-it isn't permitted. Yet it was found that these horses "bleed" ,just as ours in the U.S., and that lasix helped curtail their "bleeding". Just an example of your "rest of the world", if you catch my drift.    

03 Feb 2013 1:41 AM
Pedigree Ann

I think my point on modern black type has been made by at lest one prep this weekend. Four- or five-horse races or even more, dominated by a front-runner backing up the pace, then sprinting clear. Nice work-out, but nothing that tells you how good a horse will be in a real race. Trainers don't want to test their good young horses for quality, they just want to get enough points for the Big Dance. The doubling of available stakes races from 'the olden days' makes that possible.

P.S. Watch out for Old Tune, who made her US debut a winning one at Tampa yesterday. Back in the 2011-12 season, her 3yo year, she won the Rio Triple Crown for fillies - the Guineas, the Oaks, and the Vermeille equivalent, 8f to 12f. She is now in the second half of her 4yo season (considered 5 here) and ready to meet Northern Hemispherians on a equal footing.

03 Feb 2013 11:11 AM
Plod Boy Phil

TJLuvs -

For a little perspective,  since SA went back to dirt, there have been ~150 races each at the 8f and 8.5f distances.  On average,  8f races are ~1.5 lengths faster in the 1st Q than at 8.5f while the half miles are ~2 lengths faster.

TTT enjoyed as easy a trip as Flashback did.  Both wins should be viewed with a grain....

03 Feb 2013 11:16 AM
Karen in Texas


I did not notice that TTT would have won the Lewis, but I certainly noticed the hand ride and his general demeanor. He lowered his head, flattened his body and drew off with no wasted motion. Baffert was interviewed later on HRTV and said (something like), "Yeah, Gary's face was fixed in a smile after that race." I realize that all races set up differently, but I couldn't help but remember that when Tiznow ran on the front, he would never let another horse get past him.

03 Feb 2013 11:21 AM

Im sticking to what I said about Long River after the Jerome that McLaughlin would go conservative with him and try to get him ready for the 3yo distance races at Saratoga.He added performance enhancer salix and it didnt work,he might not be a stakes horse at all.

03 Feb 2013 11:43 AM
Mike Relva


Revolutionary showed me alot. Maybe you weren't watching the same race.

03 Feb 2013 12:07 PM
Rusty Weisner

The BC Juvenile had a slow time and it is looking like it wasn't a strong race.

03 Feb 2013 2:00 PM

Steve Haskin what speed figure did Verrazano get for his cakewalk NX1 Saturday at Gulfstream.I think last year you had access to more than one provider.If you have Thorograph, Rags, Beyers, Brisnet or any others can you post?

03 Feb 2013 5:58 PM

Too early for to book Verrazano for the Derby but Beyer 105 Brisnet 104.Does anyone know Rags and Thorograph figures.I would like to see him in the Florida Derby on the same track as the figure and against the high figure of Itsmyluckyday and S.Bobby but the timing wouldnt be right as his next prep will probably not come until early March.

03 Feb 2013 8:20 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Mike Relva-

It was an impressive race by Revolutionary. I did not state otherwise. My point was poor starts and the lack of a clue will not get it done in a 20 horse field.  

04 Feb 2013 8:08 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

As I stated two months ago,  the only horse worthy of serious consideration from the race was the pace presence and winner SB.  The reason the time was slow was the absurdly fast early pace.  The key to quality handicapping is understanding the potential productivity of races before horses return - not after.

04 Feb 2013 8:10 AM
Rusty Weisner

"The key to quality handicapping is understanding the potential productivity of races before horses return - not after."


04 Feb 2013 11:05 AM

Rusty : I think everyone knew the race was not going to be a good gauge for the horses because of the no-lasix rule.  I don't think anyone took that race as a measuring point for the TC trail.  It did give us a good show with the head to head battle between Bobby and HHE.

Baffert's other horse Belvin will be running in the San Vicente (7F) and I'm really anxious to see this horse run, not sure how he'll do in his first race as a 3 yr old but it being a stakes race, makes me believe that  Baffert thinks highly of this horse.  Either that or he's behind on him and needs to find a race for him so he can be ready for the SA derby.  In any case, I'm thinking he'll be Baffert's top derby horse when all's said and done.

PBP : Can you elaborate more on "understanding the potential productivity of the races before horses return" ?  I may have missed it but how do you analyze a future race without knowing the track surface, the field, the post position ?   I'm only asking since you said this is the "key" to quality handicapping, just wondering if this really is the "key."  If so, I'll try and understand it so I can make loads of money and retire.

04 Feb 2013 12:34 PM
Plod Boy Phil

You asked.

We analyze past races to look for horses that have performed better than they look to everyone else,  or those that have been glorified by advantageous scenarios in prior races. In general, the former leads to overlays and the latter leads to underlays.

Those with the opinion that a Speed Bias on BC Saturday (non-existent) carried SB to the win had an over-inflated opinion of HHE. Our stance on HHE has never been more clear going into and coming out of the Cash Call. I have the same opinion of Fortify, Capo, and any others that were in the BCJ that failed to take advantage of a race Flow that was nearly as favorable to a closer as there can be. The fact that these were 2 yr olds at the time makes the opinion more risky,  since there is much room for development.  That said,  all must show a race to change that opinion before I will change.

This is typical of what we do at the Flow.  We isolate races that have fallen outside the norm, thus those events were advantageous to one running style and disadvantageous to another.  It is our opinion that being swayed by standard handicapping factors as class, distance, surface, post, and potential pace scenario serve only to eliminate the big mutual pay-outs for which we are known.

The point is, only now do I read comments that perhaps the BCJ field wasn't that good.  No kidding.  There was one very good 2 yr old in the race.  That is Shanghai Bobby, who, as posted the Thursday after the BC, recorded a rare 'vs Zip Win'.  This opinion has nothing to do with whether or not he is a potential Derby winner.

I'll confirm as soon as figs are competed later this afternoon,  but I believe that HHE may have run his first good race from our perspective.  Chasing the wire to wire winner of a Speed favoring race from a length or more back at the first call is never easy.

04 Feb 2013 4:26 PM
Rusty Weisner


You know, I'd forgotten the whole Lasix thing, so that's a good point.  But it was also slow.

PBP's point is good:  try realize what kind of a race it was before the runners run their next out.  I should never have made a bet on He's Had Enough (even the small one I made) after Shangai Bobby failed to win.  

04 Feb 2013 4:53 PM
Mookie's Hero

Maybe they should make the Kentucky Derby an invitational race ( and maybe even let the fans vote for their choices with the officials having the final say) Some horse kept Ruler on Ice from the Kentucky Derby and then Ruler on Ice won the Belmont. So is this race about speed or about distance?  Also, most people say some speed horse changed the race that Giacomo won. And then these speed horses don't turn up in the Preakness-Why??

Mookie's Hero

04 Feb 2013 7:39 PM
Paula Higgins

sceptre, I totally agree with you about Salix/Lasix. Horses can have bleeding that can't be seen without a scope. Horses are bleeding in countries that don't use Salix. You just may not see it without scoping the horse. I guess their phiosophy is if they can't see it, it isn't happening. So why wouldn't you want to give the horse something that prevents a problem that is relatively common in race horses and everyone knows it? That's why people like John Shirreffs advocate using it. It's not a steroid that masks a problem. It's a drug that prevents a problem. Huge difference. The sport has lost it's perspective and sense of balance because of all the negative publicity.

04 Feb 2013 10:37 PM

PBP : So HHE is an upgrade next time out ?  

05 Feb 2013 1:22 AM
Plod Boy Phil

HHE modest upgrade from the RBL is not enough to offset the strong downgrade from the BCJ and supporting modest downgrade from the CC.  He's neutral for me now - aka, 'just another horse'.

05 Feb 2013 11:30 AM

PBP does the service have ratings on Flashback and Verrazano going into their next race?

05 Feb 2013 12:46 PM
Pedigree Ann

Paula - I believe it has been established for humans that most athletes have some small amount of bleeding in their lungs after a strenuous contest. It may be a natural reaction to physical stress and does not need to be treated because the body takes care of it.

The problem with the "preventative" use of any drug is that drugs have side effects. Lasix is a diuretic; loss of fluids post-race can debilitate a horse, leaving him unable to recover normally from an effort. You can check the insert for other effects.

Actually, I think more interest should be taken in the routine use of Bute. It is an NSAID (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.), and we all know what kinds side-effects these drugs can have - stomach upsets, liver damage (I get blood tests every year to see if my arthritis med is affecting my liver), etc. It may even be possible that using Bute as a preventative (rather than when clinically recommended)  CAUSES some bleeding in the lungs. Lasix may be treating a side-effect of Bute! I do know that the demand to use race-day Lasix arose about a decade after race-day Bute was allowed. And even then, it was only permitted for horses who actually had bled in a race, not every horse in the barn. Raceday Bute is more likely to send a break-down-waiting-to-happen into a race than Lasix.

09 Feb 2013 12:40 PM
Your Only Friend

Cannot wait for some of the Big Money Races.....then we will be able to sort out the real players....right now everyone is guessing....hope is all everyone has at this time until the points show up on the board.

12 Feb 2013 11:37 AM

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