Thursday, May 3, 2018

Here We Go Again! – 2018 Kentucky Derby Analysis

The pressure is off now! Last year I broke out of my Kentucky Derby slump with Always Dreaming. While I basically broke even on my final wagers that day, it was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I can now say the last two Kentucky Derby winners I selected were Always Dreaming and Smarty Jones!

I didn’t fare too well with the Preakness, but rebounded to score some serious “folding money” with Tapwrit in the Belmont Stakes.

This year finds me in a similar situation as last year. Overworked and traveling the state once again for the twin’s insane travel soccer schedule. I have been sneaking race replay videos on my lunch hour and on my phone while waiting for soccer games to start.

My explanation of the probable pace will be posted on USRacing. Rather than regurgitate the probable pace scenarios here, please click and watch the graphics as I explain how the race will set up.

So let’s get down to business.

5 Audible (8-1) – He ran a huge race in the Florida Derby which has produced five Derby winners since 2000 (2006 Barbaro, 2008 Big Brown, 2013 Orb, 2016 Nyquist, and 2017 Always Dreaming).
The last horse to win both the Florida Derby and Holy Bull was the great Barbaro in 2006.  He has the top Pace Based Speed Rating (PBSR) that I have computed in this field with a figure of 103. While some may be deterred by Todd Pletcher’s 2-for-48 record in the Derby and Javier Castellano’s 0-for-13 mark, these two hook up for a lot of big wins (recently 22%). Todd Pletcher will enter any horse that makes it into this field so the 46 losses skews his performance. Like the last few Kentucky Derbies, the expected weak early speed will set up nicely for Audible’s style. He overcame being wide early in the Florida Derby and ran some impressive late fractions. He did drift a little down the stretch, but you can put a knock against any horse in this field. After all, he did run one of the best final furlongs of all the entrants. Starting from post 5 next to two of the likely pacesetters (3 Promises Fulfilled and 4 Flameaway) will allow him to get a good trip early.

14 Mendelssohn (5-1) – The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf champion and UAE Derby winner. He is a bit of an enigma. Traditionally UAE Derby horses have run poorly in the Kentucky Derby, and it is hard to try to compare pace fractions from overseas races. I am not sold that he beat a great field in the UAE Derby, but did win commandingly in his lone dirt start.  Beyond his UAE win and the Turf win at Del Mar last fall as a juvenile, he hasn’t faced any real tough competition and hasn’t been that dominant. He will figure near the pace early if he can get away cleanly, but doubt remains on this one.

10 My Boy Jack (30-1) – Closers have a heck of a task navigating their way to the front with a full field of 20. Orb (2013), Mine That Bird (2009), Street Sense (2007), and Giacomo (2005) are the only horses in the last 18 years to overcome a 10 length or greater deficit at the second call to win. I think My Boy Jack can be a late factor like Lookin at Lee in 2017 and Commanding Curve in 2014 were. The Desormeaux brothers will have a live runner here.

9 Hofburg (20-1) – This lightly raced colt chased Audible home in the Florida Derby. I see plenty of chance for improvement here, but will likely find himself needing to overcome a huge deficit late. He does have some late kick, but not enough for the top spot.

Potential for Value:  High
Confidence:  Low (My most probable pace scenario is only a 50% likelihood)

So what am I toying with playing? 

Small Exacta 5 / 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 17
Small Trifecta 5 / 9, 10, 14 / 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17
Small Superfecta  Box  5, 9, 10, 14 or some mix of combinations including 8, 11, 14, 16, and 17 for the lower spots

We'll see what the weather looks like and if there are any scratches or changes first before I finalize my bets noted above.

So sit back, enjoy a mint julep, and enjoy the most exciting two minutes in sports!


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