11/29/2010 2:25PM

Late-Season, 2-Year-Old Stakes and the Kentucky Derby


Only time will tell if the winners of last Saturday's Remsen and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes will be promient 3-year-old next year, although, barring injury, it is fair to wonder how Remsen winner To Honor and Serve can help be anything but.

Still, there is a strong sense that late-season two-turn 2-year-old stakes such as the Remsen, Kentucky Jockey Club, and even Breeders' Cup Juvenile do indeed offer an early glimpse of the following year's Kentucky Derby picture.

In an attempt to determine if there is any validity behind this belief, particularly in the way trainers handle their horses in today's game, I went back and looked at the last five runnings if the BC Juvenile, the Remsen, and Kentucky Jockey Club where we also had subsequent 3-year-old data available. In other words, I looked at the 2005 through 2009 runnings of these races. I focused on what the winners and runner ups did as 3-year-olds in a Kentucky Derby/Triple Crown context, and the results were interesting.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile - Of the 10 horses who finished first or second in our five race sample, four came back to start in the Kentucky Derby. They were Lookin At Lucky, sixth after a disastrous trip in this year's Derby; Pyro, eighth in the 2008 Derby; Street Sense, winner of the 2007 Derby; and Circular Quay, 6th in the 2007 Derby.

Three of these four subsequently started in a remaining Triple Crown event, but they combined for a total of only three such starts, and they were all in the Preakness. Lookin At Lucky, of course, won; Street Sense was a narrowly beaten second; and Circular Quay finished fifth.

WATCH REPLAY: 2010 Breeder's Cup Juvenile - Uncle Mo >>

Kentucky Jockey Club - Like the Juvenile, four of the winners and runner ups from this race came back to race in the Derby. They were Super Saver, winner of this year's Derby; Anak Nakal, seventh in the 2008 Derby; Any Given Saturday, eighth in the 2007 Derby; and Private Vow, 15th in the 2006 Derby.

Only two of these four started in a subsequent Triple Crown race, and they managed but one start each. Super Saver finished eighth in this year's Preakness, and Anak Nakal finished third in the Belmont Stakes.

WATCH REPLAY: 2010 Kentucky Jockey Club - Santiva >>

Remsen - Six of the 10 first and second place finishers from the 2005 through 2009 runnings of this race came back and started in the Derby. They were Atomic Rain, 16th in the 2009 Derby; Court Vision, 13th in the 2008 Derby; Nobiz Like Showbiz, 10th in the 2007 Derby; Zanjero, 12th in 2007; Bluegrass Cat, second in the 2006 Derby; and Flashy Bull, 14th in 2006.

Bluegrass Cat was the only one of this group to race in another Triple Crown race, and in his one such start, he finished second in the Belmont.

WATCH REPLAY: 2010 Remsen - To Honor and Serve >>

Like anything else, what all of this means depends on how you want to interpret it. But there were four things that jumped out at me:

My first impression is that 47% of the 30 horses who finished first and second in these three races over this five year period coming back to start in the Derby seems like a very healthy number. As a group, the first two finishers in the BC Juvenile were of higher quality than their Kentucky Jockey Club and Remsen counterparts, and by a considerable margin. I think the fact that the Remsen being a sixteenth of a mile longer than the 1 1-16 mile Juvenile and Kentucky Jockey Club had something to do with it producing more Derby starters than the other two races. And finally, it is surprising to me that of the 30 horses in this sample, not a single one managed to start in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

perez More than 1 year ago
what does this all mean? When two year olds are asked early in their careers,they flatten out? So does mean after a little winter break returning when their three they are not the same horse we watched? Im not being silly just a little confused....... By the way I like to honor and serve/ loved his daddy, trying to draw a reference.
Howard C. Bailey More than 1 year ago
Good pre..preview
danny woytiuk More than 1 year ago
BREAKING NEWS beginning with the 2011 triple crown season any horse that enters and completes all three races will be awarded the triple crown ! yes the sport is that desparate.
nyc More than 1 year ago
honestly i believe the derby winner has not even run yet. There are trainers who have great 2 year olds who need to mature more and will run as a 3 year old next year around february and march so keep a look out for those horses at belmont and gulfstream PLUS!!!!! Santa Anita is now a "dirt track" so you will see great horses come from California like free house and silver charm did, be aware
GunBow More than 1 year ago
To Honor and Serve looked excellent again in the Remsen. My only concern is that it seems like the Remsen typically produces fairly impressive winners, some of which do little as 3 years olds, particularly during the Triple Crown, despite much hype. Injuries, like those that struck Buddy's Saint, Old Fashioned, Rockport Harbor, Toccet, and Read the Footnotes account for much of the lack of Triple Crown impact. Others like Court Vision, Nobiz Like Shobiz, and Bluegrass Cat remained healthy, but with the exceptions of Bluegrass Cat's 2 runner-up efforts, they just didn't perform well in the Triple Crown. Court Vision and Nobiz Like Shobiz went on to find their greatest success on turf. Overall, the list of Remsen winners the past 10 years is populated by some quality horses, including some that became leading winter-book Triple Crown favorites. However, these Remsen winners just didn't produce their best during the Triple Crown, with injury sidelining many of them. Hopefully, at the very least, To Honor and Serve makes it to the Derby healthy, and it is simply a question of whether he is good enough.
vegasvixen More than 1 year ago
2 YOs are just babies. To require that they run 'long' distances is insane and winners just have the best luck. Sometimes, the physical development is such that the win is 'real' and the form carries over to the later years. To try to predict a winner of the derby baed on how well a horse runs as a 2YO has very little chance of success.
Jim More than 1 year ago
Jake, Churchill's Derby futures are worthless. Wynn Las Vegas opened its book in September and you can still get generous prices on plenty of prospects. They must have 300+ available right now and will add any upon request.
Secret Triple More than 1 year ago
I look at late developing 2 yr.olds, and most importantly, their BREEDING ! I think your stats in regards too starters in the CLASSICS,( I hate the Triple Crown races term) has too do with breeding. Many are not bred too go 1 1/4 on the first Sat. in May, and definetly not bred too handle the 1 1/2 Belmont ! I'm a firm believer in the Dosage system, as well as heartlines, you can keep an eye on Remson winner To Honor and Serve, he's bred too handle all three Classics. We need more horses bred like him, good stamina female line ( trained a son of 4th dam Java Moon, by Roberto ), I bought him after he ran 3rd. in a maiden 1 1/4 race at Saratoga. Its way too early, but hang in there gang, the boys will become men, in March.
Raymond More than 1 year ago
Works like you say Mr triple , i caught Big Brown in Florida (20 to 1) using his pedigree 400 pound gorilla (Rough Shod 11). Many more since then( SHARED ACCOUNT -MIDDAY EXACTA) using pedigree that has 400 pound Gorillas , Ave (mill reef). You have to watch the work outs carefully , case in point: Musket man(Cigar Mile) hoss had NO WORKS , A FLAG ! Burned many good handicappers ! Looking a Lucky-, hoss was whipped hard to defeat a AP Indy hoss in the Indiania Debry, then cagey Baffert worked the hoss 1.10 ! CAGEY! IT show in the stretch too in the BC Classic- his lungs blew .! Ramon.
Joe-PA More than 1 year ago
Mike: You mentioned that you were surprised that none of the 30 horses in your sample started all 3 legs of the Triple Crown. My question is, between 2006 and 2010, how many horses started all 3 legs period. In today's racing it appears that only the Derby winner is even likely to try all 3. Not a good situation for racing I'm afraid.....
Michael More than 1 year ago
There should be a minimum amount of races for any derby prospect of say 8 to 10 races prior to the running of the derby. This will force the owners an trainers from hiding out the real runners. After the minimum requirement is met than let the earnings be the major factor in getting the best and most fit horses running in any of the 3 major races. This would be good for racing. Mike