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Analyzing the Top 2005 Kentucky Derby Contenders


Alfeet Alex

Afleet Alex winner of the Arkansas Derby

Cindy Pierson Dulay
Updated April 27, 2005
Using historical trends and the past performances for 20 of the top Kentucky Derby entries, we have weighted many factors to develop the following ranked list. Each horse was given points for his conformation to a Derby winner's profile, and points were subtracted for negative aspects. Of course this does not guarantee that the horse with the most points will win, but it does give you a good idea who to eliminate from the winning position. It follows that if a horse doesn't fit the winner's profile, he may still finish in the money, much like how handicappers might bet anti-bias horses on the bottom of exotics. We also recommend checking workout patterns in the final week since these are a good indicator of who is ready. Preferably you're looking for horses that have at least two workouts over the Churchill Downs surface and at least one bullet work.

For more information on the trends and statistics used in this analysis, check out my article on Handicapping the Derby and the book Triple Crown Handicapper 2005 by Jim Mazur. There are also a couple of older articles you may find useful, one on angles from American Turf Monthly and a 10-step program from Kentucky Connect. On Thursday night before the Derby, Daily Racing Form will have their selections and analysis here. This is the most over-analyzed race on the planet, so there are lots of trends and angles you can use.

Afleet Alex topped our list by having no knocks and scoring points on all three of the positive angles. He had a sharp race in his final prep, an 8-length score in the Arkansas Derby, which not only gave him a Beyer of 108, satisfying the par requirement of 105, he also ran a DRF speed figure (calculated by adding the speed rating with the track variant) of 110, satisfying the par requirement of 107 in the last start before the Derby. He also just turned in a bullet work of 59 flat for 5 furlongs at Churchill Downs and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12 2/5. Good works at Churchill Downs are a VERY positive indicator.

Greeley's Galaxy also scored on all three positive angles. In his 9 1/2 length win in the Illinois Derby, a "sharp" race indeed, he earned a 106 Beyer and a 118 DRF figure. However, his front-end running style and lack of conditioning at 2 (no starts) were two knocks taking him out of the top spot in this analysis. It will take a couple of defections from the field for him to get in the race because he is a supplemental entry.

Sort It Out tied for second-best with Greeley's Galaxy in this analysis. His only knock was that he raced at Sunland Park in the WinStar Derby and finished third there, the opinion being that a trainer ducking the popular prep paths to avoid tougher competition is an obvious negative. However, he did come back from that race to finish a sharp second in the Lexington and earned a DRF figure of 109 doing so. This one was a bit of a surprise, but anything can happen in the Derby.

Bellamy Road is expected to be the favorite in Louisville, off his outstanding 17 1/2 length win in the Wood Memorial netting him a 120 Beyer and 115 DRF figure. You won't find a prep race sharper than this, however he does have two knocks against him. Wire-to-wire horses are generally bad bets in the Derby as it is the least favorable running style, and he has the double knock of having just 2 prep races as a 3-year-old. No horse in 20 years has won the Derby off of less than 3 preps. Even without this, you have to fear a bounce off that extraordinary effort last out.

Storm Surge ranked this high on the list, tied with Bellamy Road, simply by not having any knocks against him. He scored positive points from his sharp race in his final prep, a third place finish in the Lexington. Even so, his performance this year hasn't been that stellar so I wouldn't place a lot of faith in him.

The next 9 horses scored an equal number of points by our analysis and are presented in alphabetical order.

Andromeda's Hero is part of Nick Zito's Derby team, and he comes in off a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby. Despite finishing well back, this does qualify as a sharp final prep. A key negative angle with him is that he raced at Tampa Bay Downs, with his only stakes win coming in the Sam F. Davis while "hiding" from the major players elsewhere.

Bandini should go off at short odds at the Derby off his 6-length score in the Blue Grass Stakes. However, the 103 Beyer and 96 DRF fig he earned that afternoon were not enough to to meet the par in those categories. On the negative side, he only raced once as a 2-year-old. For Derby winners, it is prefered to see at least 2 starts in the juvenile season.

On to the next page for more horses

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