If you read my two series on pace and its implications, you should be acutely aware of the relationship between even pace and optimal time.
With tonight's Kentucky Derby in mind, now is the time to put that learning into action. Let's look at the individual splits of several key horses and think about how they relate to the final times earned in each case.
I will be using Beyer speed figures strictly for this exercise, though I do feel they are less potent as an analytical tool than the new US Timeform ratings devised by Simon Rowlands.
Anyway, for your information and analysis, here we go with the number-crunching:
Dialed In (Florida Derby): 24.9 - 23.3 - 23.7 - 25.1 - 13.1 = Beyer 93
Shackleford (Florida Derby): 23.3 - 23.1 - 24.3 - 25.8 - 13.7 = Beyer 93
Soldat (Fountain of Youth): 24.3 - 23.7 - 24.4 - 24.8 - 13.0 = Beyer 96
Soldat (GP allowance): 24.3 - 24.0 - 23.9 - 24.5 - 12.6 = Beyer 103
Archarcharch (Ark Derby): 24.2 - 23.5 - 24.2 - 24.7 - 12.8 = Beyer 98
Nehro (Ark Derby): 24.2 - 23.8 - 24.6 - 24.5 - 12.4 = Beyer 98
Brilliant Speed (Blue Grass): 26.7 - 25.0 - 24.6 - 23.0 - 11.6 = Beyer 93
Twinspired (Blue Grass): 25.5 - 25.2 - 24.3 - 24.0 - 12.0 = Beyer 93
Twice The Appeal (Sun Dy): 23.5 - 22.4 - 25.2 - 26.4 - 13.5 = Beyer 89
Animal Kingdom (Spiral): 24.7 - 22.6 - 25.7 - 26.0 - 13.4 = Beyer 94
Decisive Moment (Spiral): 23.8 - 22.8 - 25.9 - 26.4 - 13.9 = Beyer 89
Midnight Interlude (SA Derby): 23.2 - 24.4 - 24.3 - 24.4 - 12.3 = Beyer 97
Comma To The Top (SA Dy): 22.8 - 24.5 - 24.2 - 24.5 - 12.7 = Beyer 97
Pants On Fire (LA Derby): 23.6 - 24.1 - 24.4 - 25.2 - 12.7 = Beyer 94
Nehro (LA Derby): 24.0 - 24.0 - 24.8 - 24.9 - 12.3 = Beyer 94
Mucho Macho Man (LA Dy): 24.0 - 23.9 - 24.7 - 24.6 - 12.8 = Beyer 93
Mucho Macho Man (Remsen): 24.5 - 23.3 - 23.5 - 26.0 - 13.0 = Beyer 99
If it wasn't clear already, this must be one of the most open renewals of the Kentucky Derby ever. If you look at the numbers above, Animal Kingdom appeals as a horse who ran a final time competitive with the rest, while doing so more unevenly.
At this stage, we need to take a look at the stamina profile of the contenders - mostly according to their pedigree, with a little interpretation of how the individual is turning out. Here is my assessment of each, classified by 'stay', 'not stay' or 'improve':
1 Archarcharch - stay
2 Brilliant Speed - improve
3 Twice The Appeal - not stay
4 Stay Thirsty - improve
5 Decisive Moment - not stay
6 Comma To The Top - not stay
7 Pants On Fire - stay
8 Dialed In - improve
9 Derby Kitten - stay
10 Twinspired - stay
11 Master of Hounds - stay
12 Santiva - not stay
13 Mucho Macho Man - stay
14 Shackleford - not stay
15 Midnight Interlude - improve
16 Animal Kingdom - improve
17 Soldat - stay
19 Nehro - improve
20 Watch Me Go - stay
With none of the runners having achieved either a form rating of speed figure within 7lb of that required on average, it seems likely that this year's race will go to a horse improving for the test - rather than merely handling it.
The shortlist is:
Brilliant Speed - thrashed on two starts on dirt but bred to handle it
Dialed In - vulnerable one-run plodder but will surely go well
Stay Thirsty - sweated freely in first-time blinkers latest, left off
Nehro - carries head high but no denying his promise
Midnight Interlude - unraced as 2yo and has improved a lot in short time
Animal Kingdom - turf-bred but won dirt-style on deep Turfway poly
Dialed In and Nehro are solid contenders whose chance has been captured by the market - and even a little overestimated.
Brilliant Speed and Animal Kingdom are highly intriguing synthetic horses who could go very well, if they can handle dirt.
Midnight Interlude has star quality and could easily prove this year's superstar 3yo colt - if he can overcome lack of seasoning and everything which the race demands.
Stay Thirsty has a ton of stamina in his pedigree, had the Wood Memorial winner behind him two starts ago and is easily the most interesting of those at a massive price.
Good luck to all and please join me from 8pm on Racing UK for the live broadcast. It is an interactive show - as always.