For those who missed Part 1 and Part 2, this series of posts deals outlining the factors included in my Derby 20-20 statistical system. It assigns points to each Derby entrant based on how they fit into statistical criteria. Some say statistics with the Derby are outdated and useless, my contention is that they are merely misunderstood. You can decide for yourself how valuable this information is and how you may want to use it.
It is worth noting that system does not include any jinxes or curses and there are very few arbitrary lines drawn. For instance you will find no factor that specifically requires a certain amount of preps or even a pre-determined layoff length. All the factors have to do with speed, consistency, current form, experience and endurance. So lets get back to the actual factors. Remember all stats quoted are from 1996 to the present unless otherwise stated.
#11 The entrants last two prep races must have been run around two turns. Two turn experience is vital for having a horse ready to go 10f in May. Horses with a single prep race around one turn (or less) are 17-0-0-0 in the Derby. Horses like Bellamy Road, Showing Up and Favorite Trick were all non-qualifiers.
All the Derby hopefuls this year have sufficient two turn preparation.
#12 The entrant must have at least one prep race at nine furlongs. This is another factor that deals with an entrant's endurance. Could a horse stay 10f without having prepped at 9f? Sure they could, they are merely not as tested and generally less likely. Derby entrants need a good solid 9f prep race. Horses who did not prep at 9f went 14-0-0-0 in the Derby.
That is a strike against the highly regarded Circular Quay. All other entrants had 9f prep races this year.
#13 The entrant must have raced as a 2yo. Some call this the curse of Apollo, many will swear that it is bound to be broken, and most likely it will be, but you have to stick on the side of the average. Since 1955, 43 horses have attempted to win the Derby without having run as a 2yo. They went 43-0-1-1 in the Derby. Just Strodes Creek and Agitate managed to hit the frame. Horses may just require the extra seasoning that 2yo racing gives them.
I think most people are aware that this is the biggest thing going against Curlin this year.
#14 The entrant must have a minimum of 5 career starts. Another factor that plays against the lightly raced. I think a horse needs seasoning and toughness to win the Derby. Almost no horse gets the seasoning they need with less than 5 starts. 18 horses have tried since 1996 and they went 0-0-2 in the Derby. Indian Charlie did well to be third without much seasoning but he never raced again. Congaree also ran a monstrous race in the Derby but I think he could have used some more experience.
This factor effects Curlin and Tiago.
#15 The entrant must have made their Graded Stakes debut prior to their last prep. In other words if their last prep before the Derby is their first try in Graded Stakes company then they likely do not have sufficient experience. Either that or they simply weren't good enough to try Graded Stakes company before and that really is worse than inexperience. The cumulative record of horses who have attempted to win the Derby in spite of this factor is 27-0-1-4. Many of these horses are well bet, because many of them did well in their lone graded stakes try but few of them can overcome it. Not because it is some sort of mystical blight but because it points to something about the horses level of experience or worse his level of talent.
All of the entrants this year qualified for this factor.
#16 The entrant must be a stakes winner. Not only do we want them running in stakes races, we want them winning them as well. Now they do not have to be Graded Stakes races but I do want my Derby horses to have beaten more than maiden company. The cumulative record of horses who failed to qualify for this factor is 39-1-2-2. Giacomo of course was just a maiden winner, but the overwhelming majority of these horses ran poorly because most of them simply are not good enough.
Sam P, Zanjero, Liquidity, Sedgefield and Imawildandcrazyguy have all failed to win a stakes race.
#17 The entrant must have faced a field size of 10 or more as a 3yo, or the entrant must have done so at least twice as a 2yo. The Derby has large fields and the entrants need to have experience with traffic and such. I prefer that the experience come in stakes races as a 3yo but a horse cannot control who is entered against them. I require two races of 10 or more as a 2yo because most maidens have large fields, yet many of them are won wire to wire so the entrant would not have necessarily gained much experience. Getting bumped and blocked is commonplace in the Derby, those who tried to win the Derby without sufficient experience in large fields went 31-0-3-2.
This factor is against Curlin, Nobiz Like Showbiz, Any Given Saturday and Cobalt Blue.
#18 The entrant must have earned more than 25% of their career total earnings as a 3yo. This is an attempt to isolate horses who perhaps looked good in limited starts as a 3yo but really were much more accomplished as 2yo's. Derby winners are always better at 3 than they are at 2 and the amount of money earned in prep races is an indication of how they've done. Horses who have not qualified for this factor have gone 20-0-0-0 in the Derby. Horses like Favorite Trick, Anees, Answer Lively, AP Valentine and Private Vow were eliminated this way.
There were quite a few horses who failed to satisfy this factor this year. Stormello, Street Sense, Great Hunter and Xchanger all get a strike against. Curlin gets a pass, neither a point for nor against as he obviously had no chance to earn as a 2yo.
#19 The entrant must have been first or second at the 1/8th pole in one of their final two prep races. Basically plodders rarely win the Derby. Although the race is 10f it is often really just a race to the 1/8th pole. Most of the horses who are in front at the 1/8th pole are in front at the wire. We want a horse to have enough tactical speed to get them into a contending position when it matters. Horses who did not satisfy this criteria were a cumulative 58-0-3-3 in the Derby. Even Giacomo managed to show enough tactical speed in a prep race to qualify.
That is bad news for Imawildandcrazyguy, Sam P and Tiago, none of them appear to have the tactical speed to be in contention when it gets serious.
#20 The entrants finishing position must be no worse than their position at the 1/8th pole in both final preps. This is an endurance and toughness factor. Derby winners rarely get passed in the stretch. They should be at least able to hold their position through the final 1/8th. The non-qualifiers for this factor were 50-1-3-3 in the Derby. Silver Charm managed to win the Derby after getting passed in the Santa Anita Derby but anyone who saw that race might give him a pass considering that he set blazing fractions and was only nosed out right at the wire.
Stormello, Any Given Saturday, Tiago, Hard Spun, Great Hunter, Zanjero, Tueflesberg, Storm In May, Liquidity, Sedgefield, Xchanger and Cobalt Blue all failed to hold their position in the stretch in one of their last two races.
So there you have it, the complete Derby 20-20 system. You can see how these combined factors scored the past 11 Derby's by clicking this link or visiting the sidebar where it is listed under the Derby Top 10.
This is how this years running is looking.
Horse - Points
Scat Daddy - 20
Cowtown Cat -18
Hard Spun - 18
Nobiz Like Showbiz - 18
Dominican - 14
Circular Quay - 14
Curlin - 13
Sam P - 12
Tiago - 12
Xchanger - 10
Any Given Saturday - 10
Street Sense - 10
Tueflesberg - 10
Bwana Bull - 10
Zanjero - 10
Storm In May - 8
Great Hunter - 6
Liquidity - 4
Sedgefield - 4
Imawildandcrazyguy - 2
Stormello - 2
Cobalt Blue - -2
Best of luck to everyone as they try to make sense of one of the most confusing races of the year. Hopefully some of the information provided here will help you in your quest for the winner.