Saturday, 7 May 2011

Crunching the numbers from the Kentucky Derby preps

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


Verdict:
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.