04/21/2009 3:33PM

Derby facts to consider (or are they?)


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)


Canada (two)
England (two)

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


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)

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

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

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)

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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?


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)


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


Talk to you soon.

dk More than 1 year ago
HG 130: $60 win #9 $1 tri key 9/3-4-8-10-11 $4 exacta key 9/3-4-8-10-11 #9 Nice win for 50k & 2 good works over at Payson Park since the win indicates a step forward likely. Bunch of speed signed on so he should get good pace scenario to close into. # 3 looks to be the horse to beat at low odds, #4 attracts Lezcano who rode several others last out & goes for high percentage trainer. #10 is 2 for 2 on turf when rider stays on his back and has Tagg calling the shots. Interesting longshots are #8 - good Payson works and back class as a 3 yold (can he replicate it??) & #11 Good turf trainer, stretching out from sprint but has won at distance before, think he may be one of the speeds to hang aroung for 2nd/3rd at a price. Good Luck everyone!
billg More than 1 year ago
HANDI 130 Looks like plenty of speed in the race. The #10 should rate just off of the 5,8,11 and have 1st run. The #3 is knocking at the door and the #5 is moving up from the 35k clm. ranks and the 9 from the 50k. Both finish well. Will bet 50 win on #10. $10 ex 3,9/10 $4 tri 10/3,9/3,5,9 $3 tri 3,9/10/3,5,9 $2 sup 10/3/9/5 Good luck!
David W More than 1 year ago
HG130 I like the #4 for the following reasons. The 1st is this is the 3rd start of the form cycle, so the 4 should show an improvement off his last race. The 2nd reason is his trainer is winning at a 30% rate at the meet. The 3rd is the #4 has a higher win% than the #3. $14Tri Key 4/3,9/1,3,9,10 $84 $1Super 4/3,9/1,3,9,10/1,3,9,10 $12 $2ex 4-3 4-9 $4
Dale More than 1 year ago
HDG: Not much value, but Blues Street appears best on paper in here. Should get a good pace to close into and a repeat of his last should get him into the winner's circle. T Harry (moves up in class and may not be quite as good), Murch (may have too much work left when turning for home and poor last race winner stats for trainer), and Gold Pageantry (also moves up in class and is zero for 6 ITM on Gulfstream turf) all could upset the favorite but I will only play them underneath as I could really use some free PP's during the next month: The wagers: $10 SP PW: 3 / 4-9 / 1-4-9 / 1-4-6-9 $0.50 SP PW: 3 / 4-9 / ALL / 1-4-6-9 $2 TRI 3-9-4 Dale
Alan More than 1 year ago
HG130: FIELD: #1 Gold Pageantry: best Beyer last-out as a 6yo! ?Is he at risk for a bounce (see below)? #3 Blues Street: has done everything at GP this meeting but win. #4 T Harry: am I over-interpreting the jockey switch? #6 Colonial Causeway: by Giant's Causeway and HB to multiple GS-winner Summer Colony. How the mighty have fallen!! Was a $900K yearling and resold 2yrs later for $26K!! #7 Evenings End: I call this first-off layoff "ambitious placement"! Do they not have fare to ship him back to Jersey? #8 Alezzandro: Was quite the Canadian star in '07! Appears to be training well...watch out... #9 Murch: rhymes with Lurch (for you Addams Family fans stuck reading my picks.) Jockey move is intriguing but perhaps makes horse an underlay, 4 wins in 32 tries? #10 Carson Hall: the "wise guy" horse in the race. HB to ill-fated Bevo ("Are we not men?"...oh, that's Devo.) Many angles to like. #11 Just Playing Around: Jockey is "0 forever" on turf. Even I have standards! WAGER: Chalk is likely best but I'm intrigued by 1st-off-layoff Alezzandro. You don't finish 2nd in the Queens Plate and win the Prince of Wales for nothing!! $50 WP #8 The dreaded "bounce" is another topic that begs for analysis. Is it really true? Are there certain characteristics of a last-out performance that statistically can be shown to more likely decrease next-out performance? Every horseplayer in the midst of a watching a frustrating performance by a selection wishes to find any excuse...other than their own handicapping!! Is the "bounce" really true or is it just another example of horseplayer anthropomorphism of a losing pick? Good luck to all HandiGamblers!
easygoer More than 1 year ago
Handigambling 130: I like the favorites, with the slightest nod to Mssrs Ziadie and Walder. There oughta be enough speed from the 8,10, and 11 to set up my all-chalk super. $4 SB 1,3,4,9 $2 SPW 1,4/1,4/3,9/3,9 And I'll add an additional shout-out to cayman01 for the spreadsheet. Bravo!
Ray Manley More than 1 year ago
HG 130 Blues Street, the 3, has run 4 nice races in a row after an extended absence. He missed by a head to a hard trying New Yorker, Rogue's Victory in last. Can't see him not making the exacta. Murch, the 9, has lots of gaps on his paper. Perhaps they have finally gotten him close to 100% healthy. He comes back after a short (for him) rest. He too should be part of the exacta. The bet is as follows: $30 exacta box 3-9. $40 win on the 3. Good luck to all.
C More than 1 year ago
10cent, I figured #6 was me last time. Those would be great real-life silks. PGM, No, not me again... how about Jason NOT in Austria for #11.
Tom Savonick More than 1 year ago
HG 130 Tons of speed here, and that's always key on the Gulfstream turf, even with the rails at 72 feet. Despite the trainer stats of the 5 and the Canadian form of the 8, I'm chucking all the speed except the 10, who still has enough upside potential to learn to rate. So, out go the 5,6,7,8, and 11. I'm skeptical of the likely favorite, the 3, giving a top performance after running a lifetime best in his last and then showing only one work since. The last question mark for me is the 1. His trainer shows a near-30% winning percentage, and that's only possible with liberal use of, well, you know. So, I'll wager that a 6-year-old can go from $25k to $62.5k in six weeks. My bet: $8 tri 1,4/1,3,4/1,3,4,9,10 $4 exacta 1/10
Dick W More than 1 year ago
HG 130 Looks to me like there is enough speed in here to set it up for one of the closers (1,3,4,9). Interesting that all 4 of these are coming off lifetime best beyers (89, 95, 91, 91). I would feel better about the 1 if the race was at Tampa. But he has done little at Gulfstream. Tough call between the other 3, but I will go with T Harry. He likes to win and has been the most consistent. Lezcano gets off the 9 to ride. The 8 looks a little scary with that 570k bankroll, but his recent form is not so hot. His only grass try was not bad, but also not great. So the bet will be: $50 exacta 4 / 3,9 ($100) Good luck to all.