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HandiGambling 232 (Kentucky Derby)
Today's HandiGambling 232 exercise is the eleventh race at Churchill Downs, the 137th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles.
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. Please post your plays and analysis to the blog. Past performances are available at the previous blog post. In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. One entry per person please. I reserve the right to approve or deny any entries.
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 processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.
As of this writing, the main track is FAST.
Let's scratch #18 UNCLE MO.
John Velazquez rides #16 ANIMAL KINGDOM.
A lone handicapper lurches out of the murky evening. He clutches his battered overcoat to his chest in a vain attempt to ward off the chill. Like a modern day night watchman, he clears his throat. But, instead of informing the populace that "all is well," he begins to recite Kentucky Derby also-rans, the names disappearing into the fog with the rest of the ghosts as soon as they are mentioned.
These are the horses he picked. An uncomfortable silence falls upon the community. All, apparently, is not well.
It's safe to say that the Kentucky Derby has become my white whale. I haven't picked a Derby winner since Fusaichi Pegasus returned a paltry $6.60 in 2000. While most handicappers are bemoaning the inscrutable nature of the 2011 edition, I find them all puzzling. Am I really betting on a field of 20 inexperienced runners that have never previously raced the distance? To say the financial beatings sustained on the first Saturday in May are disheartening would be an understatement.
This year, I'm just about ready to wave the white flag. There are question marks surrounding all of the entrants so I'll try to get alive to three horses in the multi-race wagers. If I'm out by the Derby, I'll enjoy a mint julep and watch the spectacle unfold. If nothing else, it will give me something to write about next week.
If I can make cases against the whole field, at least I'll go out with a bang. #11 MASTER OF HOUNDS
struck me as a second-rate turf horse after finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The only really good thing you could say about his race was that he got experience in the detention barn beforehand. Previously, he didn't do much to distinguish himself on grass, bombing twice as the favorite before winning a maiden at Tipperary that was so weak it made Uncle Mo's Timely Writer Stakes look like last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.
Perhaps it was at that point that international super-trainer Aidan O'Brien realized that Master of Hounds didn't have much of a future on grass. He certainly wasn't going to challenge the fabulous Frankel, the winter book odds-on favorite for the 2,000 Guineas. And, despite boasting a strong pedigree, there had to be doubts from a pedigree and a quality standpoint about the 12 furlongs of the Epsom Derby.
So, he went to Dubai, and he got his earnings
And, now he's in the Derby.
Hey, it's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Master of Hounds has never raced on dirt. He had a rather soft trip from the outside in the UAE Derby, prompting moderate fractions before being run down late by a filly. A filly!
He will probably be outrun early, thus getting dirt kicked in his face for the first time. He probably won't like that.
Master of Hounds does have a classy pedigree although there are some sprint influences on the bottom half that could hurt him going 10 furlongs. Perhaps he's a better horse on the main track than he is on the turf. That's what I'm hanging my hat on although I realize the nail in the wall is rusty and brittle and I might find my hat crumpled on the floor at 6:25 pm ET.
I guess it's an indictment of the rest of the field that I picked Master of Hounds on top. Considering my past history in the race, it's probably a blessing to them.
I'll also use the two coming out of the Arkansas Derby. While #1 ARCHARCHARCH drew poorly, he really hasn't run a bad race in his career for the veteran horseman Jinks Fires. He was caught up in a ridiculous multi-horse speed duel when the beaten favorite in the Smarty Jones, then upset the apple cart in the Southwest. I feel he was compromised by a speed-favoring rack when an even third in the Rebel and he got it done, albeit barely, in the Arkansas Derby. Obviously, it's all about pace and trip for him from the post position, but I feel he's one of the more talented horses in the field.
is eligible for a 'n2L' race, but he doesn't have to be Secretariat to win this year's Derby and he seems to be improving with each and every race for Steve Asmussen. As with Archarcharch, and every late-running type in the history of thoroughbred racing, he is at the mercy of pace and trip. Will he be able to go around/through a slew of tiring horses under stressful circumstances? He could be this good.
As for the others:
#2 BRILLIANT SPEED received a brilliant ride from Joel Rosario to win the Blue Grass. I felt closers ruled the day at Keeneland that afternoon and that Brilliant Speed may have been aided by the nature of the track. He also must prove that he can stand up on dirt, having been beaten 40 1/4 lengths in two prior starts on the surface.
#3 TWICE THE APPEAL is 8-1 as I write this blog which is only surprising since I expected him to be favored in the early wagering based on the Calvin Borel factor. He's a perfectly nice horse that may have been stymied by synthetic and turf surfaces in California earlier in his career and has flourished since switching to dirt. He received excellent pace setups in his last two races against weak fields and has yet to reach 90 on the Beyer plateau. After 10 races, I wonder if we've already seen his best.
#4 STAY THIRSTY didn't impress me when winning the Gotham as he had trouble with his lead changes in the stretch. He reportedly overheated prior to the Florida Derby and I guess that's an excuse, but he simply didn't run that day and hasn't moved forward much on the Beyer scale since his juvenile season.
#5 DECISIVE MOMENT is a gritty, blue-collar colt that looked good winning the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs in his 3-year-old debut. He didn't run well in the Risen Star when tiring after setting the fractions, but that track may have favored closers and Decisive Moment came out of that race with a soft tissue injury to his left hind ankle. He returned with a big effort in the Grade 2 Spiral on polytrack, dueling on a hot pace throughout before grudgingly giving way in the stretch. He should be close to the early pace, but I'm not sure he can survive fast splits at this distance.
#6 COMMA TO THE TOP, like Decisive Moment, is one tough customer. He has a huge heart and I believe that he'll be in front going into the first turn. I guess he could make things interesting if they leave him alone through moderate splits, but I have a feeling he'll have to go fast early and he hasn't shown the stamina required to last 10 panels.
#7 PANTS ON FIRE reportedly suffered from a lung infection earlier in the winter, but he rebounded to win the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Perhaps the illness adversely affected his prior performances, but I felt that he was exposed when beaten in races like the Count Fleet, LeComte and Risen Star. Did he simply find himself prior to the Louisiana Derby, or is the fact that he beat Nehro and Mucho Macho Man more of a negative mark against those two? He has some tactical speed, and I wouldn't mind using him "underneath," but a win could be a hair or two out of reach.
#8 DIALED IN is definitely the horse to beat. He's done nothing wrong in four lifetime starts, should relish this distance, and it looks like he's put it together mentally with each and every race. Earlier in his career, he would lug in or would be late to change leads, but he stayed straight and strong when reeling in SHACKLEFORD in the Florida Derby. His running style concerns me as he is a one-run closer that needs to weave his way through a bulky field. That could make him prone to Ice Box-like trouble (Zito's runner-up last year with the same running style). He wouldn't be a surprise at all.
#9 DERBY KITTEN won the Grade 3 Lexington on Keeneland's polytrack. His only prior dirt start resulted in a 27 1/2-length defeat in a one-turn maiden special weight at Belmont on October 2. He looks like a promising turf or synthetic runner, but will have to step it up to win the Derby.
#10 TWINSPIRED's lone prior dirt race ended up with him finishing a well-beaten eighth in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. He ran pretty well in the Blue Grass, but was no match for Brilliant Speed in the final furlong. Note that he has lost ground from the stretch call to the wire in all three of his races at distances longer than one mile.
You can draw a line through #12 SANTIVA's recent loss as he had trouble over synthetic in the Blue Grass. He won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club over this surface last year, and I thought he ran pretty well in the Risen Star two starts back at Fair Grounds. It's just that his prep schedule seems so weird on paper. One race in February followed by a synthetic race in April followed by the Derby? Perhaps that will work this year. Santiva isn't the worst longshot in the world.
#13 MUCHO MACHO MAN changed back to his wrong lead during the late stages of the Risen Star and that bothered me a little bit going into the Louisiana Derby. He seemed reluctant to go into the gate that afternoon, and then ripped off his shoe coming out of the gate. He finished a game third behind Pants On Fire and Nehro in the Louisiana Derby and his quick workouts allay fears concerning the possible lingering effects of that minor foot injury. He wouldn't be a shock.
was very green when winning an entry-level allowance race on February 5, but then was terrible in the Fountain of Youth. Then, he was pretty good in the Florida Derby, setting brisk fractions before being run down late by Dialed In. All reports have him looking fantastic going into the Kentucky Derby, but I wonder how this race will set up for him. Will he stalk Comma to the Top, make the front and hold off the closers? Doesn't that seem like a lot to ask? He's another contender considering the way he looked this week.
I'm rooting for #15 MIDNIGHT INTERLUDE because if he wins, then we won't have to listen to the Apollo jinx/nonsense anymore. While it's true this horse doesn't have a great amount of inexperience, he has as many races under his girth as the favorite, and showed courage in winning the Santa Anita Derby, his first race against winners, despite a wide trip. He is bred to run all day long on the bottom of his pedigree so distance shouldn't be an obstacle.
#16 ANIMAL KINGDOM is a runner that I'll seriously consider on the bottom half of my exotic wagers. He flew past the field, albeit with the help of a hot pace, when winning the Grade 3 Spiral on March 26. He has a stamina-oriented pedigree, but has never raced on dirt and those bloodlines scream turf. I think this horse has a nice future.
#17 SOLDAT is the only runner in the field with a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure around two turns this year. He showed high speed in winning two nine-furlong races at Gulfstream, then seemed to dislike racing in behind horses in the Florida Derby. He should be prominent from his outside post while avoiding the kickback and could be more comfortable stalking the early leader. He's a solid, solid runner offering overlaid odds at the moment.
#20 WATCH ME GO is hard to recommend. After winning a weak renewal of the Tampa Bay Derby at 43-1, he reportedly scoped mucus before running a poor sixth as the favorite in a weak renewal of the Illinois Derby.
Here's my donation for the week:
$50 Win-Place - Master of Hounds (#11)
For more-detailed video analyses, check out the individual contender profiles on drf.com:
(for example): http://www.drf.com/news/master-hounds
Or, you can go to the usual weekend stakes preview page here:
Best of luck to all.
Quick and Dirty selections:
Turf Sprint: BRIDGETOWN, REGALLY READY, CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE
Humana Distaff: AMEN HALLELUJAH, HILDA'S PASSION, TWELVE TWENTY TWO
Distaff Turf Mile: UPPERLINE, KISS MINE, NEVER RETREAT
Mervyn LeRoy: COFFEE BOY, SIDNEY'S CANDY, HONOUR THE DEPUTY
Churchill Downs: APRIORITY, LE GRAND CRU, AIKENITE
Turf Classic: AL KHALI, TEAKS NORTH, GET STORMY
Saving the best for last, Olivia Katherine Duckworth, 4, who shocked the racing world by correctly selecting Mine That Bird to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby, is extremely confident that Nehro will win this year's edition. "Take it to the bank," she proclaims.
vicstu, About riders, I once mentioned to you or James that we should bet on what the riders are likely to do, rather than what we think they ought to do. Once Shackleford assumed the lead, no rider was going to challenge him on the backstretch and risk a duel. Again, Shackleford/Castanon weren't going to just let them waltz on by. A duel would've been certain. I also think that most of them figured, correctly, that Shackleford wasn't going the full 10f. As for Leparoux, he took Dialed In to the rail immediately. I'm sure they were counting on a faster pace, not that it would've mattered anyway. Realistically, nobody is going to sense a slow pace within the first 1/16th or even 1/8th, but he was already several lengths behind going into turn 1 anyhow. Same for Nakatani. You may be giving him a little too much credit. I don't think he was up close because he immediately sensed a slow crawl. IMO, his post and pre-race strategy had more to do with it. They got lucky the way things turned out. As for Soldat, he got a fine trip and just came up empty. No excuses there. His pedigree kicked in, as 1 1/4 is too far for him, particularly if he's not setting his own slow pace. Again, I doubt Shackleford would've just let him take the lead without a major fight. I think Shackleford and Soldat are the same kind of runner, actually. If Soldat pressed, I don't think either one would've been close at the end. And yeah, I'd say the main difference between Shackleford and Hard Spun is that this year's edition unfolded more like a turf race. Not surprising, since half the field had barely run on dirt before, if ever. And it's not that I hated Hard Spun... I just don't think 1 1/4 was his game, much like Shackleford. As for the Derby rules, you are correct. The Derby is a good example of why handicappers must be able to adapt to changing circumstances at times. Turf, polytrack, whatever... it really doesn't matter. Half the field was a non-dirt horse. They're going to win. Come in fresh and lightly raced or experienced and well-tested... it also doesn't matter. Sooner or later, a horse without 2yo experience is going to win this thing. That's how most horses are coming into the race these days. Just look at Animal Kingdom, Big Brown, and Barbaro. Time since last prep... 3 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks... depends on the horse and the prep schedule that year... nothing there can be considered a disadvantage. AK and MMM were both off 6 weeks. What matters? Distance ability (pedigree combined with stamina demonstrated in races), fitness, overall quality and ability, and racing luck. Mike, It has to be remembered that Nehro was tiring quite a bit within the final 1/16th. That may be forgivable to some degree. Could a stronger rider have gotten 2nd on MMM? I don't know. I do know that Nehro was cracking, Shackleford is no 10f horse, the rest of the field had no run for whatever reason, and Animal Kingdom was still widening on everyone at the wire. Among the horses that actually fired some kind of race, Animal Kingdom may be the only one who actually stayed the full 10f on Saturday.
PGM, You're not out of line at all. BTW, on the surface, my son Dan should be the perfect candidate for a "next generation horseplayer". Growing up he watched me handicap races, occasionally went to the track with me (he even met our fearless leader Dan at Belmont) and has seen me have long term success horseplaying...which, less face it, is not common in gambling. To top it off, my son is extremely bright, especially in mathematics. Still, my son Dan prefers internet poker and sports betting. Like so many young ones who are part of the video-game generation, my son doesn't seem to have the patience to be a horseplayer. Instead, he views the Triple Crown as an event - similar to watching the Indy 500 when you are not an auto racing fan. Betting on the Derby and Preakness (since living in NYC, he is also now interested in the Belmont) is just part of the event. When he goes to the Preakness infield with his friends (this will be his 4th time), they don't even bet on the other races on the card...unless they like the name of a horse in a race.
PGM, "If you took umbrage at my post, ..." No, I did not at all.
Belated congratulations to Annie for her big score, Calvin Carter who was the first person on the bus with Animal Kindom, any others who got paid & ME! Redboard alert - hit the exacta & a small win/place on Animal Kingdom. For those who stated (Mike A. & others) that turf to dirt horses train well on dirt but have not experienced kick back, that was not the case with Animal Kingdom. I've watched enough Turfway Park races to realize it's like driving behind a big semi on the freeway in the rain. He received plenty of carpet kickback in his final prep. Victstu, while I tend to agree with you on the Preakness being more difficult than the Belmont due to pace, three races in five weeks on a lightly raced horse could be his downfall due to others fresh legs & all. They don't call it the "Test of Champions" for no reason. Cautious optimism is in order & I don't think everyone will be as lathered up as when Big Brown ran. Has anyone else noticed the Karma surrounding Animal Kingdom. Albarado received his after alleged spousal abuse & even received a check to cover the legal fees & any therapy required. Valesquez finally gets a winning Derby mount after two (going on three) scratches. And finally Mr. Clean, Graham Motion ends up in the winners circle. Maybe the triple crown is/was waiting for good karma! Captcha: poropsy Fist:? Ask Robby Albarado.
Everyone, Thanks again for all of the nice compliments. I appreciate them and it means a lot to me. Thanks. blackseabass, I’m still working on the research of Family Numbers but I did not have the time to put it together before the Derby. I find the study fascinating and from what I have gathered it appears that Bruce Lowe’s claim that the most Classic Champion Thoroughbreds come from the lowest numbers of his Figure System still holds true to this very day. Bruce Lowe believed that the better horses came from the lower number families and the history of the Kentucky Derby appears to back up his claim. Family 4, with a total of 17 winners, has produced the most winners: Family 4: Layton Barb Mare – 4-r = Monarchos (2001). 4-d = Real Quiet (1998). 4-m = Sunny’s Halo (1983). 4-n = Canonero (1971). 4-d = Majestic Prince (1969). 4-m = Venetian Way (1960). 4-m = Middleground (1950). 4-c = Assault-T (1946). 4-e = Gallahadion (1940). 4-m = Lawrin (1938). 4-n = Gallant Fox-T (1930). 4-r = Black Gold (1924). 4-r = Donau (1910). 4 = Wintergreen (1909). 4-r = Manuel (1899). 4-r = Halma (1895). 4-m = Day Star (1878). (17). Of Family 4 Kentucky Derby winners family 4-r (Cub Mare) and 4-m (Magnolia) are tied with the most at five each. Family 1 ranks second with 14 winners: Family 1: Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare – 1-h = Animal Kingdom (2011). 1-x = Super Saver (2010). 1-x = Smarty Jones (2004). 1-c = Grindstone (1996). 1-x = Go For Gin (1994). 1-x = Sea Hero (1993). 1-r = Unbridled (1990). 1-s = Spend A Buck (1985). 1-n = Swale (1984).1-n = Genuine Risk (1980). 1-k = Riva Ridge (1972). 1-t = Proud Clarion (1967). 1-n = Tomy Lee (1959). 1-p = Pensive (1944). 1-o = Morvich (1922). (14). But since 1990, Family 1 has been the most productive with a total of six winners and four of them are descendants of La Troienne (Family 1-x): Family 1: Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare – 1-x = Super Saver (2010). 1-x = Smarty Jones (2004). 1-c = Grindstone (1996). 1-x = Go For Gin (1994). 1-x = Sea Hero (1993). 1-r = Unbridled (1990). All of the top three finishers in this year’s Derby are tail-female descendants of low family numbers. 1st – Animal Kingdom: 1-h (Sunshine) 2nd – Nehro: 4-r (Cub Mare) 3rd – Mucho Macho Man: 4-r (Cub Mare) The fact that Mucho Macho Man is a descendant of Family 4-r, my own observations, what Mike A and Kerry Thomas said about him, inspired me to use him in some of my exotic wagers but I did not have him in the trifecta. The 4th through 7th place finishers are also descendants of low Family Numbers. 4th – Shackleford: 2-h (Martha Lynn) 5th – Master Of Hounds: 1-l (Paraffin) 6th – Santiva: 4-m (Magnolia) 7th – Brilliant Speed: 2-n (Alexander Mare) Here’s the rest of the field 8th through 19th. 8th – Dialed In: 37 (Merlin’s Grandam) 9th – Pants On Fire: 17-b (Biddy) 10th – Twice The Appeal: 20 (Daffodil’s Dam) 11th – Soldat: 2-n (Alexander Mare) 12th – Stay Thirsty: 4-c (Maniac) 13th – Derby Kitten: 2-p (Miss Chantrey) 14th – Decisive Moment: 2-h (Martha Lynn) 15th – Archarcharch: 8 (Bustler Mare) 16th – Midnight Interlude: 2-f (Hyacinthus Mare) 17th – Twinspired: 5-e (Belvoirina) 18th – Watch Me Go: 19 (Davil’s Old Woodcock Mare) 19th – Comma To The Top: 1-x (La Troienne) Of the 8th through the 19th-place finishers, Dialed In, Twice The Appeal (Calvin Borel factor), Archarcharch and Midnight Interlude were the only horses I thought had a chance to finish in the money or hit the board. Not only is Nehro a descendant of Family 4-r, one of the most productive branches of Family 4, but his sire Mineshaft is a tail-female descendant of La Troienne (Family 1-x) which has produced the most Derby winners since 1990. Nehro’s 5th dam is Legendra, one of the Matriarchs of the turf that Edward L. Bowen chronicled in his book Matriarchs Volume II: More Great Mares of Modern Times. Mucho Macho Man is a tail-female descendant of Sun Mixa who is ranked 21st on Roger Lyons’ Top 40 Dam Lines of SW’s, 1995 to Present. And his sire, Macho Uno is a tail-female descendant of family 1-c (Mustard).
Annie, congrats on you Super hit; it means you are probably making 50c/hr for all the work you do on the MKB drawing. It was well deserved. I hope you enjoy your new computer. Congrats to Ray Manley on his AK winning the Derby. ST
Annie and Taz, First to Annie: You Rock Blue Thong!!!!! Second, are either of you joining this year's racehorse owning group at Canterbury? I will be joining again and hope to see Taz again this summer (with her car keys safely in her pocket LOL). Annie, were you a member too? Lindsay
Hi Dan, Thanks for all the work you do! Reading your blog and the responses get me through the work week. If possilbe would you post the PPs for Lone Traveler. I was in Reno back in the 90's when he broke his maiden at first asking at Phila Park. I continued to follow him throughout his career. Thanks Bill M
Laura , you still don't get it so I'm not going to try to explain it to you anymore. You are not capable of grasping the concept. You just go on thinking that what I told everybody on this blog is FLAWED.
Vicstu, total points doesn't mean a lot & never did. . Animal also has dominant classicity. I'm a big fan of BSB's Full female family method. I'm the inventor and it considers all the mares in the first 5 generations to arrive at the numbers. It FLIPS many horses that have a certain TAIL -female line and converts them to another number. I was on Animal kingdom before ALL 6.5 billion people on this planet. I was on him before he was born!! Dosage total points don't enter into it and CD is a better indicator anyhow.. Nehro didn't qualify on dosage unless you project Mineshaft as a Chef-de-race. I do. BTW I know more about how to use dosage when wagering than Romans ever will. I'm no great fan of his. I just pick up the baton when dosage detractors that don't know $#!+ about it like Tinky start to pop-off. Do I have a website ? No . Am I trying to make money off my analysis of pedigrees while at the same time being afraid to bet on my analysis ? No. (Not you Calvin) Sorry Laura but you told me in your chat room that you liked Tinky's type of tough love. If you're afraid to bet your analysis there is a reason. You have great secretarial skills. Very organiZed. Your analytical skills not so much. If your analysis was any good you wouldn't need to try and sell it. I'm not tied to the traditional way of doing things. I'm an innovator. Not a regurgitator. Look at what Calvin posted about TAIL-female horses. Everybody on the planet believes Nehro is a Family 4. He is in tail-female. NOT overall . He has more mares from Family 1 in his 5 generation pedigree than any other number. Ditto REAL QUIET and a bunch of the other family 4s that Calvin posted today. The first two finishers this year were BSB's family 1s. Same as last year. Same as Grindstone /Cavonier. Sunday Silence /Easy Goer etc etc. Calvin nice work as always. You are a thinker not a file clerk. Under the BSB FFF method there have been 12 winners of the Derby since 1990 that were FFF 1s . Twice as powerful as the Tail-female 6 winners. Bruce Lowe was correct in his own way as you and I both know. Animal Super Saver street sense smarty jones giacomo war emblem real quiet silver charm grindstone go for gin sea hero unbridled Vicstu, it wasn't obvious because the guy that wrote it knows nothing of BSBs full female family method. What was obvious was that Soldat was a straight line throw-out off his last race.(Sorry Eddie Haskell) In a way I'm disappointed that only Meathead01 is picking up what I'm laying down.( Smart guy that Meathead is) On the other hand its just as well because the BEST information is "informacion secreto". My extremely large EGO is the reason I wanted to inform the Formbloggers. I thought I would get a few "hey this BSB guy is pretty sharp" comments.(I like to look smart) Oh well. Is it the only way to end up on the winner ? NO. Its just the easiest and most reliable way to consistently end up on the derby winner. Do they win them all ? No . Just half of them !! C, answering your question from many months ago . Yes a mare from 300 or whatever years ago does exert an influence on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby. Tregonwells natural barb mare. WHY ? I don't know and don't care. Why does 1+1 equal 2 ? BSB's FFF1s exert total domination over any other family BY FAR in the KY Derby.