I'm curious for this: take the horses w/ the 5 highest beyers made in the last round of preps (like the winner of the Fl derby, 1st and 2nd in the Arkansas, and the BG winner) what's the record for those horses?
If you had focused solely on the horses that earned the five highest Beyer Speed Figures in their last prep races you would have at least always had a rooting interest in the stretch run.
From 1996 to the present the top five last highest Beyer earners compiled a record of 69-9-6-8 in the Derby. That's 9 winners from 13 runnings of the Derby and every single Derby I have data for included one of the top 5 hitting the frame on Derby day. I know those of you with agile minds will wonder how I got 69 horses from 13 top 5's. There were some ties in certain years which accounts for the extra few horses.
For those wondering who this year's fab five are here is the list:
Quality Road - 111
Dunkirk - 108
Friesan Fire - 104
I Want Revenge - 103
West Side Bernie - 101
Papa Clem - 101*
*Papa Clem's Beyer for the Arkansas Derby was just upgraded from 99 to 101
The good news is that a flat $2 win bet on each of these 69 contenders would have cost you $138 and returned $201.80 for a nice 46% ROI. You also could have had 4 exacta's and 2 trifecta's. As simplistic as betting the biggest figures is it's a pretty decent method for finding winners.
If you want an even more simplified method with less overhead try taking simply the horse that earned the highest last out Beyer figure.
2008 - Big Brown 1st (106)
2007 - Curlin 3rd (103)
2006 - Sinister Minister 16th (116)
2005 - Bellamy Road 7th (120)
2004 - The Cliffs Edge 5th (111)
2003 - Empire Maker 2nd (111)
2002 - War Emblem 1st (112)
2001 - Millennium Wind 11th (114)
2000 - Fusaichi Pegasus 1st (111)
1999 - Charismatic 1st (108) General Challenge 11th (108)
1998 - Halory Hunter 4th (111) Indian Charlie 3rd (111)
1997 - Silver Charm 1st (110) Free House 3rd (110)
1996 - Skip Away 12th (113)
1995 - Serena's Song 114 16th
1994 - Holy Bull 115 12th
1993 - Diazo 109 5th
1992 - Lil E. Tee 1st (107) Pine Bluff 5th (107) Devil His Due 107 12th
6 winners from 22 contenders in 17 runnings. It yielded a lower winning percentage but a much higher rate of return with a gaudy $122.60 flat bet profit and a 278% ROI.