05/03/2011 5:06PM

Master? Or Hound?

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Perhaps it is a Foolish Pleasure, handicapping a cavalry charge of twenty horses that have never previously raced a classic distance. 

But each one of us, whether we have money on the race or not, will be on pins and Needles when the field turns for home on the first Saturday in May.  It could be a bay, a gray, or a Big Brown that wins this year's race, but every Tom, Dick, and Clyde Van Dusen will have an opinion.  Handicappers must Determine, however, if their Street Sense is up to the challenge.  Will they Genuine(ly) Risk their hard-earned money hoping to Strike the Gold?  How will they Spend a Buck?  Certainly, they will Ponder the past performances as studious, Pensive, and attentive as possible to the nuances of the cold dope.  Some may even listen to a Broker's Tip. 

The Kentucky Derby is not only the "most exciting two minutes in all of sports," but it is also a pop culture icon, an American jewel that shines all the way from grandstands and backstretches to kitchen tables and living rooms throughout our great country.  It is a race that is American as apple pie, Washington D.C., and Omaha, an event that turns good horses into immortals.

Thus, it is with great Regret that I must inform you that the coveted trophy could head overseas, perhaps not by Venetian Way but to the land of Ireland, a place where pots of gold magically appear under colorful and unlikely rainbows.  There may be an Unbridled feeling of shock after this year's Kentucky Derby and a Sunday Silence may mute the turf media if Master of Hounds pulls off the huge upset. 

Am I confident that this will happen?  Of course not (it was the easiest way I could get the puns in).  How can one be sure of anything when dreams are sometimes dashed two strides out of the starting gate in a scramble that more closely resembles a demolition derby that a horse race?  Each horse in this year's Derby, however, from the shortest prices to the longshots has questions to answer.  Will they handle dirt?  Is the distance a bridge too far?  Will the closers avoid traffic trouble, or will there be another Ice Box situation?  Is Uncle Mo the same horse he was last year?  Is Nehro really a great price at 9-1?  Does Midnight Interlude have enough seasoning?  Can Soldat rate and win?  Will the race be run over muddy going? 

Handicapping any race is the single greatest intellectual challenge in all of sports.  But in a spectacle like the Kentucky Derby, any speculation devolves into pure gambing.

I'll give you my final opinions later in the week.

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Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (4/25/11 - 5/1/11):

1.  CAIXA ELETRONICA - 103 - Westchester Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - Belmont
2.  MUSKETIER (GER) - 99 - Elkhorn Stakes (G2) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
2.  OUR NAUTIQUE (NZ) - 99 - San Francisco Mile (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Golden Gate
4.  SUCCESSFUL MISSION - 98 - Miami Mile Handicap (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Calder
5.  SAINT ISABELLE - 97 - Time To Leave Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
6.  ATTICUS JACK - 96 - Alw 67416N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Hollywood
6.  CHORUS MUSIC - 96 - Irish Linnet Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
8.  AVENGING SPIRIT - 95 - OC 60k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Belmont
8.  DARK COVE - 95 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Keeneland
8.  WILL'S WILDCAT - 95 - Md 50000(50-45) - 1 1/16 Miles - Churchill
11. KEERTANA - 94 - Bewitch Stakes (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
11. LITTLE DRAMA - 94 - Philmont Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Parx
11. PEACE AT DAWN - 94 - OC 50k/C -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Calder
14. CHEROKEE QUEEN - 93 - Hollywood Wildcat Handicap - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Calder
14. GENERALISSIMO - 93 - Hcp 30000 - 1 Mile (Turf) - Tampa Bay
14. MY CHARMING CLYDE - 93 - OC 32k/C -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Tampa Bay
17. ACHAK (IRE) - 92 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 1 1/16 Miles (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
17. JOYFUL SUCCESS - 92 - Clm c-(16-14) - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
17. MACHEN - 92 - Derby Trial (G3) - 1 Mile - Churchill
17. POCKET PATCH - 92 - Henry Clark Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Pimlico
17. SADDLERANCH - 92 - Md Sp Wt 51k - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
17. SAFETY CHECK - 92 - Alw 52000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Belmont
17. SOUTHERN STYLE - 92 - Need For Speed Stakes - 5 Furlongs - Evangeline
24. ARTIC FERN - 91 - OC 80k/C -N - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
24. L. A. GIRL - 91 - Alw 38000N$Y - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Penn National
24. SALT FLAT SPEED - 91 - Alw 10000NC - 6 Furlongs - Fonner
24. SOUTHERN VINTAGE - 91 - OC 40k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Delaware

The past performances for CAIXA ELETRONICA are available at the bottom of this blog posting.

***

Performance of the Week videos are on hiatus this week due to Derby Madness.  They will return on Monday or Tuesday.

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Dan,
Sorry if this has been discussed (I didn't read through all comments), but you wrote: "If you go to the drf.com Kentucky Derby webpage, you can get a summary of each contender, including charts and videos of each stakes race they entered, a profile by one of the DRF writers and a Pedigree Analysis Analysis by our own Dan Illman..."
Steve D.

Actually, I never wrote that.  One of our other FormBloggers did.

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...1992 - LIL E TEE - He had an interesting pattern in his 4 preps for the Derby. He went from a 92 to a 106 (up 14 pts), back down to a 95 and then up to a 107 (up 12 pts) in his race before the Derby. I'm not sure what his Derby Beyer was (anyone know?) Did he go down and still win? Or go up again? Anyway it was kind of an interesting pattern...
Annie

Lil E. Tee received a 107 Beyer Speed Figure for his Kentucky Derby victory.

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...He has promise if they ever run him again and if they try and keep the fractions a little above 21 and change when trying to stretch him out again. He looks like a miler to me. Does anyone know what the deal is with Runflatout?...
vicstu

There were reports that he injured a stifle when tenth in the San Felipe.  One original idea bandied about by the connections was the Derby Trial, but he missed that race.  He worked five-eighths in 1:00.20 handily at Hollywood on May 1.

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Dan,
Thanks for posting the Derby PP's for 93 to 99. A commenter made reference to you also having posted the PP's for 00 thru 10. I cant find em. Can you repost or let me know where they were when you posted them.
THANKS!
CC

Where are the derby PP's located for the years 2000-2009?
Carmine

CASS C
the derby p.p.'s you're looking for are on the Monday ,April 11th blog entry
gerry v

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when i watch ROD previews Dan and Mike always have beyer figs and placing for previous opponents of the horse they are previewing does a handicapping tool; exist where that information is available besides the Key race report
drew

Drew
The only way I know of to get the Beyer figures for the opposing horses is to purchase a card(s) of Formulator. Then, let's say you want to see the Beyer figures of the horses that the horse, Iamarunner, has faced. Click on the left hand side of the form, the highlighted blue date. That brings up the chart of the race. Under options, click on Beyer Figures. That should do it.
I find this very helpful. Also, I find it very helpful to click on a horses name in the chart and up comes their past performances. I get a better idea of the quality of competition Iamarunner has been facing.
RonZ

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Dan, with the Factor out of the Derby, who would you consider likely front runners/pace setters, and who would you consider closers besides Dialed In ?
Thanks, Johnny

Barring a poor break, Comma to the Top looks like the best early speed with Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire, and Soldat not too far behind. 
You mentioned Dialed In as a logical closer.  Nehro, Archarcharch, Brilliant Speed, Master of Hounds, Watch Me Go, and Derby Kitten may be huddled near the tail end of the field with the rest classifying as stalkers (Uncle Mo, Midnight Interlude, etc.) and midpack performers (Animal Kingdom, Twice the Appeal, etc).

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...Dan- It would be great to remember this race. Please post the pp's for 1997 classic and the result chart. Thanks for your great blog...
JP

The past performances and chart for the 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic are available at the bottom of this blog post.

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Congrats to tedmur for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  This week's race will be the Kentucky Derby.  I will post the past performances when they become available (late Wednesday night or early Thursday afternoon) along with some of your other questions and comments.

AttachmentSize
Caixa Eletronica.pdf70.19 KB
Classic Chart.pdf42.65 KB
1997 Classic.pdf112.2 KB