04/08/2015 2:26PM

Arkansas Derby all about the points

Coady Photography
Far Right is on the bubble for the Kentucky Derby and needs points in the Arkansas Derby to assure himself a berth.

The Kentucky Derby preps are to the Kentucky Derby as the National Hockey League regular season is to the NHL playoffs. It is a months-long grind that began last fall, it ends on Saturday, and it involves quite a bit of scoreboard watching to see who’s in and who’s out.

A maximum of 20 horses can start in the Derby. If it overfills, then the points earned in the prep races will determine who gets to run. For those on or near the bubble right now, it’s nervous time.

How much scoreboard watching did Ron Moquett, the trainer of Far Right, do last Saturday, when the Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, and Wood Memorial were run?

“The honest version – quite a bit,” Moquett said this week on a national teleconference.

The results of those races were mixed for Far Right, who has 22 points and has his final Derby prep Saturday in the Arkansas Derby. The second-place finishers in those three races – One Lucky Dane, Danzig Moon, and Tencendur – each earned 40 points to leapfrog over Far Right. Bolo and Prospect Park earned enough points for their Santa Anita Derby finishes to move past him, too, as did Ocho Ocho Ocho for his third-place finish in the Blue Grass.

:: DERBY WATCH: Top 20 list | Kentucky Derby: Who's hot, who's not

So, as of Wednesday, Far Right sat 23rd on the points list. But that is apt to change. The Arkansas Derby point value – 100 for first, 40 for second, 20 for third, and 10 for fourth – will alter the standings further. The short history of the Derby points list has shown that the total needed to get in is far lower than what it would appear as far as three weeks out, and there are horses ranked above Far Right whose Derby participation is unlikely.

Far Right could move into the top 20 with at least a fourth-place finish Saturday, but his position would change if he’s outrun by one, two, or three horses who currently have fewer points, like Madefromlucky (20 points), Bold Conquest (17), The Truth Or Else (11), or Mr. Z (14) if he runs in the Arkansas Derby. Of the Arkansas Derby entrants, only American Pharoah, the heavy favorite, has enough points to be assured a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

The race is equally critical for Madefromlucky, Bold Conquest, and The Truth Or Else because even if they finish ahead of Far Right, they might not have more points than him. For instance, if The Truth Or Else runs third and Far Right fourth, Far Right still would have more points (32-31) than The Truth Or Else.

But what will it finally take to actually get into the Derby? Likely fewer points than it might appear as of now.

The current points system was adopted by Churchill Downs for the 2013 Derby, so there have only been two prior runnings under this system, hardly a detailed statistical sampling. But in both prior years, the points necessary to make the Derby field dropped precipitously in the final weeks leading up to the race because horses were injured or the connections of horses with sufficient points took a pass.

In 2013, there were four horses with at least 50 points – Flashback, Govenor Charlie, Hear the Ghost, and Ive Struck a Nerve – who ended up not making the field. Giant Finish got into the Derby with a mere 10 points, and Fear the Kitten, who had 6, would have been in it, too, had Black Onyx been scratched before early betting opened the day before the Derby. There are 24 horses allowed to be entered in the Derby, with the final four being placed on an also-eligible list, in order of points. But those horses have to get in by scratch time on Kentucky Oaks morning, before early Derby betting opens.

In 2014, the final horse who made the field was Commanding Curve, with 20 points, and he ended up running second behind California Chrome. There were four horses who had at least 50 points – Constitution, Midnight Hawk, Ring Weekend, and Toast of New York – who ended up not being entered, owing to either injury or by choice.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

This year, horses who have enough points to make the Derby but are likely to pass include Maftool (40 points), the second-place finisher in the United Arab Emirates Derby, and Ami’s Flatter (40 points), second in the Tampa Bay Derby and third in the Florida Derby.

Maftool is “not a consideration at present,” Jimmy Bell, president of Darley USA, said on Wednesday. Maftool is owned by Godolphin Racing, which like Darley is owned by the ruling Maktoum family of Dubai. Godolphin will have a Derby starter in Frosted, the Wood Memorial winner.

Ami’s Flatter is already at Woodbine, where he is the early favorite for the Queen’s Plate on July 5.

“At this point in time, we’re probably going to wait and aim for the Queen’s Plate,” Josie Carroll, the trainer of Ami’s Flatter, said Wednesday. “But we’re not ruling the Derby out just yet in case it weakens. Right now, though, it looks like a very contentious race.”

Bob More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't be too concerned about points...it takes talent, luck and fast legs to win the Derby. Assuming Baffert's pair start in the KD they have the talent and fast legs wrapped up so the only unknown is luck and as we all know bad luck has cost more than one rightful Derby winner the blanket of roses. That being said, if Dortmund or American Pharaoh don't win it and Pletcher continues his substandard performance in the Derby, then it's literally a crap shoot! The Wood winner isn't anything special, which means that if Watchmaker's line is anywhere near accurate the Derby winner could produce another boxcar payoff. But don't hold your breath because Pumpkin Head holds all the cards...
tommy More than 1 year ago
Zayat stables thinks he's very smart in this race. He has to be careful, otherwise he risks Mr.Z from not going to the derby along with the purse money!!! Zayat strategy in this race is to push American pharaoh very wide so he makes all those outside horses go wide while Mr.Z uses his speed up front from number 2 post !! Then on top of the stretch he wants to try and make american pharaoh best Mr.z so they finished one two !! But what if Mr.Z gets tired and falls for third while American pharaoh wins but jockeys claim objection due the bump and stewards claim inquiry ??? Unless the stewards are paid off, they should be very careful with this strategy. They are me playing this strategy to make Mr.Z qualify for the kentucky derby.
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
Wow Something is wrong with you.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Tommy, I enjoy your posts. Besides you being enthusiastic, I think it's great that you are having a mental picture of how you think the race will be run. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong, but this I know, picturing how the race itself in present time is the key to being a great horse player. Past information and statistics are good to have in your arsenal....but, looking at what's going to happen in todays race, with todays tactics, with todays bias, on todays post positions will increase your ROI. Keep up the comments. I truly enjoy you.
Rickey Cooper More than 1 year ago
billybudd16 More than 1 year ago
Well Mr. Lucas got his horse in the Derby and he didn't have to use your conspiracy theory to do it, but nice try.
BOBBYHARKINS More than 1 year ago
I like the point system, but feel they need to make changes. Like anything new it's kind of like a work in progress. 10 points for the Breeders cup juvenile winner should change and be worth 50 this way there almost sure of a spot and if they lose some time training for a reason they wouldn't have to force a race to get points. Also there should be 1 race for fillies that the winner would get 50 points. Let the filly try the boys for the 1st time in the derby if that's what they want.
saratogajunkie More than 1 year ago
I'm more a fan of the point system... It essentially is a win and your in. The alternative was every year seeing the Delta Jackpot winner or any other casino willing to pony (pun) up a million dollar purse...though I do feel champion 2yo should get a bye. 20 horse fields are great for Betting and even in a 12 horse field the best horse doesn't always win ( see BC classic 2014)
Jim Majors More than 1 year ago
Tuff call on points system. Why not a "win and your in" format, just like The Breeders Cup ? This is would solve 2 problems--who's eligible to enter, and in my mind, the biggest issue-- limiting the field for the Derby. It's just insane to have an auxiliary gate and 20 horses in the field. The Triple Crown "powers that be" should designate no more than 12 "road to the derby" races, beginning in January and concluding in early April. The winners get their tickets punched for Churchill Downs, while the second and third place finishers earn the right to participate in the Preakness & Belmont Stakes--if their connections choose to enter them.
Big Woodys More than 1 year ago
If the point system was in effect earlier, Bodemeister would be a KY Derby winner over that fraud, I'll have another
Keith Valentine More than 1 year ago
I'll have another won the Robert Lewis (10 Points) and the SA Derby (100pts)...that would put him in 4th this year.
Scott Kromer More than 1 year ago
I think big woodys is trying to say trinniberg wouldn't have been in the race to pressure bodemeister...too which I greatly agree
tom More than 1 year ago
of course Bodemeister would have easily won the Derby had Trinnieburg not been in the field, he would have loped along on an uncontested lead, opened up a clear lead in the stretch and won for fun, just like he did in the Preakness, bodemeister was a great mile and eighth horse, too bad I'll have another was BY FAR the better racehorse beyond 1 1/8th.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Point system is horrible. They need to go back to top twenty money earners for those entered. I do, however, like having four horses on the also eligible list. I'm different than most...I like the twenty horse field. Besides being a spectacle, which is great...it also allows great odds for whoever you bet. I thought Big Brown was a great bet at 2/1 and thankfully was correct. This year I love his offspring Dortmund. Unfortunately I do believe Dortmund will go off the favorite, but, because of such a strong field this year Dortmund will probably still be about 3/1....which in my opinion is a great price.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Frank what is your bet ??? Win, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, single in pick 3 , 4 and daily double ?? I won't play Dortmund for first but will use him underneath exotics !!
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Hi Tommy, I'll bet a win ticket on Dortmund and I will most likely single him in my pick 4. For sure I'm betting Dortmund.... I say most likely single because that's what I'll probably do....but, depends....if I think a horse is working good pre Derby and/or gets an advantageous post position draw....depending on where the speed of the speed is.....I might use another on my pick 4. But, no matter what I'm betting Dortmund to win. I will not be betting all those other gimmick bets. I'll take a stand with Dortmund and let the chips fall where they may. By the way....if you wonder how he'll do from a little of the pace....just watch his Daddy's Derby.....pull up Big Brown's Derby on Youtube and you'll see what Dortmund is going to do. Best of luck to you Tommy. Oh, by the way....when that other Frank posts on here...that's not me. I always post under my full name. Just letting you know, because some people thought that was me and it's not.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Good luck with your Dortmund bet!! I will use 6 horses in my pick 3 bet and I will use 4 horses in my $5 daily double bet. The horses I will use 1st on exacta and daily double is materiality , Firing Line, mubtaahij, international star ( only because it's Maker and Ramsey owners part owner of Churchill and I know they reside as major investors in kentucky) . For 2nd in my exacta I will have the same horses I listed in 1st plus Dortmund, American pharaoh, carpe diem, frosted, tencendur, the truth or else, far right, and Bridget's big Luvy. For the trifecta I'm thinking to put Dortmund , American pharaoh and carpe diem only for 2nd and have a the 3 horses for 1st and a bunch for 3rd. What so you think about my bets ?? If one of my horses ends up the winner, I should come out making a big profit right ??
tommy More than 1 year ago
I will also put frosted underneath exotics
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Well you know I think you should include Dortmund on top. If you hit it could pay really well. The Derby is only one race, so, I won't talk you out of doing all those bets. But my advice in the long run is don't spread so much with so many horses. Your ROI will be better if you take more of a stand. Don't forget in the long run when you are correct on a race you need to profit as much as you can. When you spread....sure you maybe will cash a ticket more often, but that takes investing too much spreading on picks and your ROI goes down in the long run. It's always about making a profit, not just cashing. Good simple example...if someone bets place or show bets on horses...yes, they may cash more...but, in the long run they will lose money. If you stick with putting your best horse on top only, then when he wins..( and let's pretend he'd run 2nd as much as win), you still collect more than twice that amount to win, rather than place per say. Bottom line, I like your enthusiasm...but, I recommend you narrow it down a bit and take a stand on who you think will win.
tommy More than 1 year ago
The 3 horses I like best are materiality, firing line, and mubtaahij for 1st !! You are right about if Dortmund wins, I will lose lots of money!!! Normally when I spread my money, I make at least double my profit. Right before the travers, my father was cursing since I had 4 horses on top which were VE DAY, Mr. Speaker, wicked strong and tonalist on top of my pick 4, pick 3, double , exacta and trifecta ticket!! I couldn't believe I hit them all !!!! That day I made more tha. 5 times profit. Of course all those tickets cost a total of $300 but I came away with 3 thousand . He only mistake was not placing a win bet since VE DAY was 20-1. If a horse is 20-1 and I put $20 to win, it should pay more than the $1 trifecta?? Also frank in this derby, they got 10 cent superfecta, 50 cent trifecta, even 50 cent pick 3 which is good if you want to play around with long shots. What do you think? I think it is very smart and wise to do!!!
Maynard Runkle More than 1 year ago
Bridget's Big Luvy has to win or get second in the Arkansas Derby because he doesn't have any points yet. Who will you pick instead if Big Luvy doesn't get in the Kentucky Derby?
Richard Eckman More than 1 year ago
the point system is a joke. you should have to have a min. amount to get in like 40 points which would knock down the number of runners and make it an honest racr
Maynard Runkle More than 1 year ago
There already is a minimum. It's one. Since Commanding Curve placed with 20, why couldn't a horse with fewer than 20 get show? This year, I think the minimum will be 30. The point system is better than the earnings total because it eliminates sprinters, most turf specialists and most horses which peaked at two.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Made from lucky, the truth or else, and mr Z will get the points to qualify. The truth or else is breezing 5 furlong in 58 seconds !!!! I won't bet this race but I want the truth to qualify so I can use him underneath in kentucky derby exotics !!! Can you handle the truth ????????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
shut up
Felonius More than 1 year ago
the truth I can handle just fine. You? not so much
Dom DiNatale More than 1 year ago
DD PR More than 1 year ago
Hahaha that's a good one. I like this. For the starter in this topic, just keep it simple, don't do anything fancy. Tha'ts how you make money.
Mark Garcia More than 1 year ago
Leslie Burke Fernandes More than 1 year ago
uckin fidiot
Norman Albanese More than 1 year ago
58 secs blinkers added
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
Great now I just canceled my wager on the The Truth Or else, because you Mushed him. MUSH!