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Analyzing the Top 2006 Kentucky Derby Contenders


Bob and John wins the 2006 Wood Memorial

Bob and John is one of 4 who scored top points

© Walter Pitcher
Updated April 27, 2006
Using historical trends and the past performances for 22 of the top Kentucky Derby contenders, 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 2006 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 online. This is the most over-analyzed race on the planet, so there are lots of trends and angles you can use.

Bob and John comes into the Derby off of his win in the Wood Memorial, qualifying under the sharp prep angle, and is one of four horses who tied for the top spot in our ranking system. He had no negative angles at all, having raced at 2, at least three prep races at 3, and at least 6 career starts. He did not score maximum points in the running style category with his stalking, grinding style, and he did not make the Beyer par of 105. His 102 in the Sham Stakes earned him a point in that category, since we credit horses with any triple-digit figures in their 3-year-old season.

Cause to Believe has a similar profile to Bob and John, with his third place finish in the Illinois Derby qualifying as a sharp final prep. He fails in the Beyer department, having not run any 100's in his career, but he likes to close from off the pace which is the preferred running style in the Derby, especially this year with so much speed expected to enter. He also had a sharp workout at his Golden Gate base on April 22nd, a positive sign.

Lawyer Ron is this year's Smarty Jones or Afleet Alex, taking the Oaklawn path to the Triple Crown, capped off with a front-running win in the Arkansas Derby. His 106 Beyer in the Risen Star Stakes earns him maximum points since this beats the 105 par, but his running style is not favorable. With so much speed expected, it is unlikely any horse will get an uncontested lead like War Emblem in 2002 and the early pace could be a killer.

Sweetnorthernsaint comes out of the same prep race as War Emblem, winning the Illinois Derby racing near the front and checking in with a 109 Beyer. He is the only horse entering the Derby with four 100+ Beyers as a 3-year-old. He has all of the same positive attributes as Lawyer Ron, the only negative again being his running style, where he could be a victim of a hot pace in this event that historically favors closers.

The next 3 horses scored an equal number of points by our analysis and are presented in alphabetical order.

Brother Derek is the California flag-bearer, coming into the Derby off of 4 consecutive wins capped off by a front-running win in the Santa Anita Derby where he earned a 108 Beyer. He shares the same attributes as Lawyer Ron and Sweetnorthernsaint, but he did not earn a point for his workouts, given his lack of a bullet work since the Santa Anita Derby. In any other race he would be a deserving favorite, but his front-running style, favorable over California's speed ovals, is statistically a negative angle at the Kentucky Derby.

Point Determined comes into the Derby off two consecutive triple digit Beyers, including a sharp final prep where he was second to Brother Derek at Santa Anita. He does come from off the pace which is a definite advantage here, but there are two knocks against him. He does not have a stakes win this year, and he is a member of the "ducks", horses which shipped to a cheap track elsewhere to duck the classier competition at home. In his case, his win at Golden Gate in an optional claimer in February qualifies under this negative angle.

On to page 2 for more horses

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