#13 The entrant must have at least one prep race at nine furlongs. This factor the entrant’s experience. 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 16-0-0-0 in the Derby.
That is a strike against the highly regarded Eight Belles. All other entrants had 9f prep races this year.
#14 The entrant must have faced a field size of 10 or more as a three year old, or the entrant must have done so at least twice as a two year old. 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 34-0-3-3 and this is no doubt what played against Curlin last year despite his good effort and decent third place finish.
This factor is against Eight Belles and Tale of Ekati.
#15 Highest Lifetime Beyer must be achieved in a two turn race. This is a pretty straightforward measurement of suitability to the Derby conditions. We don't want sprinters in the Derby, a quality distance horse will be faster in longer races than they were at short distances. 17 horses entered the Derby with this factor going against them and just one of them (Proud Citizen) managed to do himself any credit with a second place finish (17-0-1-0)
Bob Black Jack and Tale of Ekati are well respected in many quarters but this suggests that they’re actually better horses at a mile or less.
#16 The entrants sire or broodmare sire must show a progeny average winning distance of 8.00f or more. Only North American stakes races are included in the measurement of AWD. This is the only aspect of breeding I consider. Dosage is misleading but this factor looks directly at how the sire and broodmare sires best runners have fared in stakes races. If they are predominantly sprinters the average will show less than 8f and a sprinters pedigree is not ideal for winning the Derby. Horses whose sire and broodmare sire have less than 5 stakes runners are not included and therefore those horses are given a pass. The cumulative record of non-qualifiers is 19-0-1-0. Horses like Street Sense and Monarchos were given passes because of insufficient data on their sires at the time.
Recapturetheglory, Gayego, Z Fortune, Visionaire and Denis of Cork all have breeding that does not suggest proficiency at 10f. Smooth Air, Big Truck and Tale of Ekati were given passes.
So there you have it, the complete Derby 20-20 system. You can see how these combined factors scored the past 12 Derby's by clicking this link or visiting the sidebar where it is listed under the Derby Top 10. Hopefully this year the results are more in line with the systems predictions because it’s good to keep in mind that although something sounds great and works well in the past it is only useful if it works well going forward. Hopefully over the next 3-5 years we’ll be able to get a picture of how it holds up.
This is how this years running is looking.
Horse – Points
Colonel John – 14
Big Brown – 12
Cowboy Cal – 11
Eight Belles – 11
Recapturetheglory – 11
Adriano – 10
Bob Black Jack – 10
Gayego – 10
Monba – 10
Z Fortune – 10
Court Vision – 8
Pyro – 8
Smooth Air – 7
Big Truck – 5
Visionaire – 5
Cool Coal Man – 4
Denis of Cork – 4
Z Humor – 4
Tale Of Ekati – 3
Anak Nakal – 0
Observations based on the 20-20 system
I consider Speed, Fitness and Form to be the most important of the 7 factors. Those 3 make up 10 of the 16 factors and thus give those areas slightly more weight than Class, Experience, Suitability and Breeding.
Horses running on all weather surfaces once again struggled to measure up to the speed standards and this is perhaps more proof of the fact that Beyer speed figures seem lower than their equivalents on dirt. I suspect that horses like Colonel John and Bob Black Jack are faster than the numbers suggest.
The top horse according to the system is Colonel John. He is not a perfect qualifier though as he failed to measure up to Factor #2. Personally I still think he is the most solid and if All Weather Beyer figures are indeed lower than they should be then Colonel John would be qualify for Factor #2 and be a perfect qualifier.
Big Brown is second on the list but is slightly suspect considering that the two factors he failed on (#4, #6) both had to do with fitness. If the statistics ring true Big Brown will have a hard time in the final furlong.
The 20-20 system is suggesting that the biggest hurdle standing in the way of Eight Belles is experience.
Anak Nakal is the worst horse in the Derby.
Tale of Ekati is the worst winner of a major prep race.
There are no perfect qualifiers this year, which may suggest that the field is wide open because no one is perfectly suited for victory. The last time that happened was 2005, the year of Giacomo.