05/03/2013 9:59AM

Kentucky Derby: Wet track could affect outcome

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Barbara D. Livingston
Itsmyluckyday is one of two horses in Kentucky Derby with a stakes win over a sloppy or muddy track.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With Weather.com forecasting a 50 percent chance of showers Saturday in Louisville, as of this writing early Friday morning, there is the possibility for a wet track on Kentucky Derby Day.

Should that scenario unfold, which horses stand to benefit if rain results in the Derby being run on a sloppy or muddy track? Based on their past performances: Itsmyluckyday and Vyjack, stakes winners over such surfaces, and Palace Malice, who finished second in a fast allowance race over a sloppy surface.

Five others also have wet-track experience, although not with such success, or if victorious, their wins came over much harrowed racetracks that were labeled “good.” Horses with wins over “good” tracks include Revolutionary, Giant Finish, and Falling Sky.

[KENTUCKY DERBY FIELD: Contender profiles and handicapping videos]

Frac Daddy ran second in his lone wet-track start on a muddy track at Belmont, running erratically, either the result of struggling with the surface or from inexperience, as the race marked his career debut.

One to downgrade on a wet track based on a past try would be Will Take Charge, a well-beaten sixth behind Super Ninety Nine in a sloppy Southwest at Oaklawn Park in one of the few Derby preps not run on a fast track.

Longshot Giant Finish also has a poor race over a sloppy track, running fifth in the Damon Runyon Stakes over the winter at Aqueduct.

A brief tip for horseplayers - all these off-track races can be quickly spotted in Daily Racing Form’s Formulator online database by filtering the past performances to isolate wet-track starts on dirt. Once within Formulator, video replays of the given wet-track races can also be watched.

In another feature of Daily Racing Form, Tomlinson wet-track ratings provide other clues to which horses might relish an off track. Based on the wet track statistics of the sires and broodmare sires of the horses, the higher the Tomlinson rating, in general the greater the chance of wet-track success.

Runners whose sire and/or damsire have relatively small samples (fewer than 80 runners), are listed with an asterisk (*) following the rating. 

The average Derby entrant has a Tomlinson wet-track rating of 365, with highest-rated horses, in order, being Oxbow, 424; Normandy Invasion, 418; Revolutionary, 416; Will Take Charge, 413; Orb, 405; and Falling Sky, 400.

On opposite end of the spectrum, Black Onyx and Frac Daddy have the two lowest wet-track Tomlinson ratings, with a 300 for Black Onyx and a 297 for Frac Daddy.

One more important consideration for horseplayers – when Churchill Downs gets wet, jockey Calvin Borel often gets hot. As most are aware, he regularly places his mounts on the fence, closer than any other rider, usually within a few feet of the rail.

When the Churchill surface is wet, this narrow path often leads to success for Borel. Two of his three Kentucky Derby victories, in fact, came on sloppy tracks in which he rode his mount inside for much of the race – in 2009 with 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, the following year in 2010 with 8-1 shot Super Saver.

Borel is aboard Revolutionary in the Derby, who starts from post 3.

Rainfall could also change how the track is playing by tightening the surface, and by the flow of water toward the inside, where racetracks have a slight bank to allow for drainage.

Since the meet began Saturday and through the conclusion of Thursday’s card, races on the Churchill main track have generally favored horses with outside, stalking or pace-pressing trips.

Crickett Hoffman More than 1 year ago
I would say Overanalyze but I have a Bejarano curse. He could ride the fastest horse in the world and if I bet on it, he will lose. Can Goldencents relax? Will wet unnerve him as he tries to keep his footing? He is the fastest 3 year old out there (1 1/8 in 1:48 and change compared to everyone else's 1:50 or 1:51). And he had to put away two Baffert speed bombs.
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
That 148 though was out at Santa Anita, which always runs faster times than other tracks. Still speed big plus if he can clear em and make some space.
GreenBuildingSt More than 1 year ago
Our Superabsorbents that are 100% natural would soak up all the water on the track, not hurt horses and dissolve back into the ground. Used at golf, football, other sporting events as they are natures superabsorbents, green spill cleaners.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Borel can only go through the rail if it opens, but he still is dangerous.
charles turner More than 1 year ago
if wet-revolutionary....if dry itsmyluckyday...
edb More than 1 year ago
Just one more factor to screw up the puzzle. Don't want to get too far back and have too much work to do in the stretch. Ask Julia, lost it at the gate. Oaks 6f was 1;11 and change and realistic in the derby. Front end speed got a plus with the weather, but still like mid range closers to win race. I think Pletcher had his day in the sun and now becomes a raisin. Can't believe my Oaks future paid less than day of the race. I heard Shanghai Bobby is betting $50 to win on Orb to be spiteful. Good luck to all, hope your horses smile for the camera.
Ron Gillaspie More than 1 year ago
Looks like to me that everyone is trying to "Overanalyze" this here horserace. Good thing!!!, for me and a few others. Might say "Itsmyluckyday"!!! With that said, maybe "Will Take Charge" will get third. Liked him for the win, earlier on, but don't want Lukas to displace Whitingham's honer of the oldest winning trainer. Just like the Oaks, Pletcher should rule with at least one of his entries. Wet or dry, it don't matter. One other tip for all the frustrated worry-warts. You can actually pass on the race and not bet anything. Maybe one of those 5 horse fields at Belmont with a 2-5 horse entered is more to your liking. For me, it is Overanalyze, Itsmyluckyday and Will Take Charge.
lfc1963 More than 1 year ago
How much did you lose??????????
Ken O'Hanna More than 1 year ago
Revolutionary-Normandy Invasion-Frac Daddy-Vjack......Go Cash
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
like throwing darts,ruined my derby day,almost wish they would cancel the card,all those beautiful turf races and a sloppy derby ugh. might as well play the slots, this was derby was hard enough now it is IMPOSSIBLE
Patricia Doyle More than 1 year ago
just pick the most unlikely winner! I got frustrated and did that twice this week, once at Belmont and once at Finger Lakes. Worked.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Works a lot at Finger Lakes, LMAO!
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
It does stink Chuckie Boy, but stick it out, today is the only day they run the Derby and again I say, stick it out ...
Alex T More than 1 year ago
Hope it's not a an "off track", because if it is that will throw a monkey wrench into an already very difficult race to handicap. Doe's anybody remember the last "sloppy" track conditions on derby day when Mine That Bird scored at 50-1? Bottom line a "off track= a crap shoot.......
philcoforde More than 1 year ago
VYJACK'S my boy !!!!
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
Shhhhh they might figure out the horse running 30-1 runs as fast or same as Vzano, Normandy, O analyze and dozen others at 10-1 or less.