04/11/2012 10:59AM

Looking At Derby Prep Beyer Figures

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There are only two truly major Kentucky Derby preps left, they being Saturday’s Blue Grass at Keeneland and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. And if one of these races is won by a horse who runs fast enough to earn a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, it would mark only the third time this year such a winning Beyer was assigned to a next-to-last round, or final round Derby prep.

Here’s a list of this year’s major final, or next-to-last round Derby preps, followed by the winning Beyer:

Wood Memorial               98

Santa Anita Derby           94

Illinois Derby                   85

Louisiana Derby              90

Florida Derby                   95

Sunland Derby               100

Spiral                               92

Rebel                               92

Tampa Bay Derby            90

San Felipe                      102

Gotham                            95

Fountain of Youth             95

Risen Star                         98

There was a time not very long ago when Beyers like these in late Derby preps would cause a skeptic to think that no one was worthy of winning the big one at Churchill. But that might no longer be the case.

Take a look at the following list. It encompasses only the last 10 Kentucky Derby winners, which admittedly is a small sample size, but it still makes for interesting reading. Here are the last 10 Derby winners, their winning Derby Beyers in parentheses, and their 3-year-old Beyers prior to the Derby, with the most recent one listed first:

Animal Kingdom (103)    94 – 83

Super Saver (104)          98 – 93

Mine That Bird (105)       80 – 81

Big Brown (109)            106 – 106

Street Sense (110)         93 – 102

Barbaro (111)               103 – 95 – 97

Giacomo (100)                95 – 93 – 98

Smarty Jones (107)       109 – 112 – 95 – 97

Funny Cide (109)           110 – 99 – 87

War Emblem (114)         112 – 98 – 85 – 86

One thing that really jumps out is the winning Derby Beyer has declined five years in a row, and it's easy to wonder if it is more than a coincidence that the last five Derby winners all had only two prior starts at three. Another thing that strikes me is, Smarty Jones and War Emblem were relative iron horses with four starts at 3 prior to the Derby. Yet both also won the Preakness, and Smarty Jones very nearly swept the Triple Crown.

S. Jamal More than 1 year ago
Okay Players, I picked the Derby last year and Hansen in the BC, I have tripped every prep race for this year and it will take more than a perfect trip to beat Hansen in the Derby. He will rate probably off Bodi if he runs and wait for the big three to come late, Union Rags, Creative Cause, and Dullahan. They will have to go early and will be to spent when the sprinting starts.... ITS HANSEN ,,, CHAMPION HANSEN.!!!!!
dark horse More than 1 year ago
Creative Cause seems to have a bit of hang in him, game as hell but, that little hang should make him a lock in all tri boxes, Union Rags, already won @ Church, and don't believe he was fully cranked for Fla. Derby, liked the way he galloped out strongly in that race showing me he is wanting the distance, tough beat in Derby.the long stretch at churchill, will take its toll on Pletchers horses, see them backing up mid stretch, and Santa Anita Derby winner along with Motions horse coming late
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
Actually Mike its OBVIOUS steriod testing......When the Big Brown people opened up on national tv and bragged about steriods the testing all changed and now the horses cant run juiced up and the numbers are dropping.....its pretty simple.
Paul Garcia More than 1 year ago
Cool. Maybe. Good observation. Hope you're wrong, but, pretty funny at least.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
The ILLINOIS DERBY was sooooooo slow thought it was a maiden claimer at Turf Paradise.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
Oh So True , I COULD NOT BELIEVE THE MORNING LINE ODDS ON 13 ( DONE TALKING ) ! I Truly thought that was the UPSET PIC of the day . I was really abit surprised to see the time .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes it was slow but sooooooo was the track that day it wasn't a perfectly groomed track it was a deep unforgiving one.Done Talking ran quite a race finishing up like a horse that will relish the extra 1/8 mile
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Of course the Wood came up with the best Beyer Figs. The best horse was in the race and set himself up nicely for a winning effort in the Derby. Alpha. And Mike.....Where did you come up with My Adonis? You throw out the 3 wet track races and he finished right where he figured.....Last of the horses that finished. No excuses other than he is a wet track horse.
Edward Kelly More than 1 year ago
I've thought the very same thing and it seems to happening all over raving at the stakes level. I don't understand why more trainers do not race their horses more prior to the Derby because it seems clear that the potential best run for your horse is increased by having 4 or 5 races coming in. You could create a slight advantage for yourself over the lightly raced school of thought. Also, do a lot more training at 7f and a mile. Trainers should check out how the highest level human athletes(runners) train to peak performance. In the last century human ability has been growing at an insane rate while horses aren't really any faster than they were a 100 years ago. It would be laughable for a human 800-1500 meter runner to train for it by running a series of 400 meter sprints. They train by running long distance miles with interval training while doing it. meaning they run 5 miles with Furlicks or small distances where they run all out and then continue running at a long distance pace, etc. That is how humans have evolved at the olympic level to run races where they bridge the distance between an all out sprint and some stamina(10f for a horse). Horses jog out for a few furlongs and then run 4 or 5f with a mix of very light 2 mile jogs in between. Somebody can learn from somebody here and I will go with humans who have the advantage of being able to talk with the athlete and have basically obliterated race records every five years going on a 100.
Alan More than 1 year ago
Actually a series of 400m repeats would be classic training for a 1500m runner, and to a degree an 800m runner. Your average for 8-10 x 400m with 90sec-2 min recovery is very likely your 1500m pace. An 800m runner might do 4 x 400m at 800m pace or a bit quicker, with a longer (maybe 4 min recovery). However, humans would prepare for such training (which would generally take place in spring or summer) with a winter of steady distance running and then hill and tempo (near lactate threshold pace work). With horses you have a whole different situation. The thoroughbred has undergone more than 30 generations of selective breeding. As a result, they have quite simply reached a peak of development (probably happened about 30 to 40 years ago). The same thing has happened in human 800m running with the men's record shifting just a few tenths in 30 years. However, while the best horses are running no faster, the average horse is closing in, which has made races more competative. In addition, equine physiology is rather different from human, and has many factors that are not going to be improved by the volume of training that humans do (even if a horse were physically and mentally capable of withstanding it).
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
Hi Mike, just read the new updated top 20 KD list, and was very happy to see "Gemologist" as #3, JP comments continue to uphold long standing support for "Gem", I was a bit encouraged by your comments as well that he appeared to easily handle "Alpha", but what is a "Stream Horse" at CD? If Mike does not respond can someone please articulate what a "Stream Horse at CD" means? Sounds good, we know this guy "Gem" loves the CD track, as all top 3 do as well....? thanks Don
Kentuckyhose More than 1 year ago
STEAM horse means the hot horse on the backside.
jeo slok More than 1 year ago
One has to consider the human element. Are the Beyers being calculated in the same way? By the same people? Please enlighten the players on how they are so calculated!
Jon More than 1 year ago
beyer numbers should not be part of any serious handicappers weapons.cant believe mw uses them in his articles...smh!
Lee Jenkins More than 1 year ago
Their record in separating Derby contenders from pretenders is outstanding. Why wouldn't he cite them?
Carmine Joe More than 1 year ago
The way this here Derby is to be reckoned is that one should bet all he has and all he's ever going to have on Union Rags. There is Union Rags; there is Death and if you are so inclined, there is taxes.
wilson More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't really want to see Creative Cause run any faster raw times than he ran in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby because to do so would mean he had already run his fastest race. You wouldn't want to see a Sinister Minister or Bellamy Road type of performance right before the Derby. The 102 Beyer in addition to the fast raw times leave no doubt that he is fast enough. If he runs his best race in the Derby he will be tough to beat, no matter who else runs their best.