04/21/2009 3:33PM

Derby facts to consider (or are they?)

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With the Kentucky Derby looming as imposing as the historic Twin Spires themselves, let's take a look at some historical Derby facts and figures:

Most productive prep races:

Breeders' Cup Juvenile - one winner
Arkansas Derby - four winners
Blue Grass Stakes - 23 winners
Flamingo Stakes - 13 winners
Florida Derby - 21 winners
Fountain of Youth - 12 winners
Illinois Derby - one winner
Gotham Stakes - one winner
Holy Bull Stakes - two winners
Hutcheson Stakes - three winners
Lane's End Stakes - one winner
Lexington Stakes - two winners
Louisiana Derby - three winners
Rebel Stakes - two winners
San Felipe Stakes - 11 winners
Santa Anita Derby - 15 winners
San Vicente Stakes - nine winners
Sham Stakes - one winner
Southwest Stakes - two winners
Tampa Bay Derby - one winner
Wood Memorial - 20 winners

Of course, the numbers can be misleading in this day and age.  The Santa Anita Derby hasn't produced a Derby winner in the synthetic era while the Blue Grass produced Street Sense in 2007.  The graded earnings system has affected the way a trainer preps a horse.  Are prep races in 2009 true prep races, or are they desperation half-court shots from owners looking for earnings? 


States bred:

Kentucky (101 winners)
Florida (six)
Virginia (four)
California (three)
Tennessee (three)
New Jersey (two)
Pennsylvania (two)
Texas (two)
Illinois (one)
Kansas (one)
Maryland (one)
Missouri (one)
Montana (one)
New York (one)
Ohio (one)

Countries:

Canada (two)
England (two)

Again, a meaningless stat (except for Derby trivia contests).  The majority of horses are bred in Kentucky.


Color:

Bay (49 winners)
Chestnut (43 winners)

Brown (17 winners)
Dark Bay/Brown (10 winners)
Black (4 winners)
Dark Bay (3 winners)
Gray/Roan (8 winners)

If you're betting colors, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like you to see.


Other interesting, but mostly useless trivia:

*Did you know that seven geldings have won the Derby?
*Did you know that the Derby was run at 1 1/2 miles prior to 1896?
*Did you know that no Derby winner between 1900-2008 has started from post 17 or 19?
*Did you know that the most prolific post positions between 1900-2008 are #5 and #1 (twelve wins apiece)?
*Did you know that Fusaichi Pegasus is the most expensive auction purchase to win the Derby ($4M)?
*Did you know that Venetian Way was the least expensive auction purchase to win the Derby ($10,500)?


The synthetic era coupled with the glacial breakdown of the breed because of the overuse of medication and the dependance of sprint bloodlines has changed the sport.  Playing the "Derby Rules" game is fun, but is it really relevant to the discussion of this Derby? 

Did Curlin lose the Derby because he was too inexperienced, or was Street Sense and Hard Spun simply better horses on that day?  If Dunkirk gets beat, will it be because of his inexperience alone?  Do you toss Quality Road, I Want Revenge, Pioneerof the Nile, or any other top contender because they draw posts 17 or 19?

Is this an angle that a handicapper can use?  Eight of the last 13 Derby winners had bullet workouts as their final preparation to the race.

Of course, that number may be skewed as we must first analyze the number of runners that enjoyed "best of" workouts during that time period:

Bullet Works in final morning prep prior to the Derby (winners in bold)

2008:
BIG BROWN (3F - 35.40)
colonel John (5F - 57.80)
Big Truck (5F - 59.40)

2007:
Hard Spun (5F - 57.60)
Tiago (6F - 1:11.40)
Dominican (5F - 59.40)
Liquidity (6F - 1:11.60)

2006:
BARBARO (4F - 46.00)
Sweetnorthernsaint (6F - 1:11.60)
Seaside Retreat (5F - 59.40)
Lawyer Ron (5F - 58.80)
Private Vow (5F - 1:00)
Bob and John (6F - 1:11.40)

2005:
GIACOMO (6F - 1:11.80)
Buzzards Bay (6F - 1:11.40)
Going Wild (5F - 59.60)

2004:
SMARTY JONES (5F - 58.00)
Tapit (5F - 1:06.80)

2003:
FUNNY CIDE (5F - 58.40)
Empire Maker (6F - 1:12.60)
Ten Cents a Shine (5F - 59.20)
Domestic Dispute (5F - 58.60)
Offlee Wild (5F - 59.20)
Supah Blitz (4F - 46.80)

2002:
Proud Citizen (5F - 58.80)
Perfect Drift (5F - 1:00.80)
Request for Parole (6F - 1:13.40)
It'sallinthechase (5F - 1:00.60)

2001:
Congaree (5F - 58.20)
Point Given (5F - 58.20)
Songandaprayer (5F - 59.00)

2000:
Wheelaway (3F - 34.60)
Hal's Hope (4F - 46.40)
Commendable (6F - 1:12.60)

1999:
Excellent Meeting (5F - 59.20)
Kimberlite Pipe (5F - 1:00)
vicar (5F - 59.80)

1998:
REAL QUIET (5F - 59.20)
Victory Gallop (5F - 59.00)
Cape Town (5F - 59.80)
Favorite Trick (6F - 1:14.00)
Nationalore (7F - 1:24.60)
Old Trieste (6F - 1:09.00)
Artax (5F - 58.00)

1997:
SILVER CHARM (5F - 1:00.60)
Pulpit (5F - 1:00.40)

1996:
GRINDSTONE (6F - 1:14.00)
Prince of Thieves (4F - 48)
Unbridled's Song (4F - 46)
Editor's Note (5F - 59.80)
Skip Away (5F - 1:00.40)
Semoran (6F - 1:13.00)
Built for Pleasure (5F - 1:02)

Is the bullet workout angle significant, or are the number of winners merely a coincidence?


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Dan,
How many jockeys have won the Kentucky Derby in his first try? I know Bill Hartack did but has it been done since?
David W

Hartack finished second on Fabius in 1956 before winning the Derby in his second try the following year aboard Iron Liege.  Here is the list of jockeys that won the Derby with their first mount:

Oliver Lewis (1875)
Bobby Swim (1876)
Charlie Shauer (1879)
George Garret Lewis (1880)
Babe Hurd (1882)
Paul Duffy (1886)
George Covington (1888)
Thomas Kiley (1889)
Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton (1892)
Eddie Kunze (1893)
Frank Goodale (1894)
James "Soup" Perkins (1895)
Willie Simms (1896)
Fred "Buttons" Garner (1897)
Jimmy Boland (1900)
Harold "Hal" Booker (1903)
Frank "Shorty" Prior (1904)
Jack Martin (1905)
Roscoe Troxler (1906)
Andy Minder (1907)
Arthur Pickens (1908)
Robert "Fred" Herbert (1910)
George Archibald (1911)
Roscoe Goose (1913)
Joe Notter (1915)
William Knapp (1918)
Charles Thompson (1921)
Albert Johnson (1922)
Charles Kurtsinger (1931)
Don Meade (1933)
William "Smokey" Saunders (1935)
Ira Hanford (1936)
Warren Mehrtens (1946)
Eric Guerin (1947)
William Boland (1950)
Henry "Hank" Moreno (1953)
Ismael Valenzuela (1958)
Don Brumfield (1966)
Gustavo Avila (1971)
Steve Cauthen (1978)
Ronnie Franklin (1979)
Stewart Elliott (2004)

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Congrats to Matt M. for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He chooses race 8 at Gulfstream for this week's heat. 

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."   Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's remember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated

Here are the past performances:

Download HandiGambling 130

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Talk to you soon.