Derby Handicapping Tips

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Kentucky Derby Handicapping

Systems – Trends – Tips



The goal in all wagering circumstances is to defeat the favorite in order to gain a more favorable payout. This rings true in the Kentucky Derby and in all horse racing events. Statistically speaking favorites win only 30% of the time and are thus a poor wager given the odds. Horses from every end of the wagering spectrum have won the Kentucky Derby. In 2009 we saw Mine That Bird win at odds of 50-1. The year before that the solidly favored Big Brown took the Derby at odds of around 5/2. Let’s look at some historical trends as we approach the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

Post position is very important in a field with 20 horses and will be no different on May 4th, 2013. There will be a cavalry charge to the first turn, and horses will be able to save or lose ground depending on their post position. The race can be won or lost in the first turn. Only three horses have won the race from the 1 hole since 1960, and one of those winners was the speedy Winning Colors. The 1 hole is difficult because the jockey either has to send early with speed or take back to last. There really isn’t an in between. Every other horse in the race will be trying to get over to the rail in order to save ground, and the horse in the 1 hole can get cut off very easily. The extreme outside 16-20 is tough, but not as bad as positions 1-3. Most trainers would tell you they would prefer to be anywhere from 6-10. This is not a hard and fast rule though. Sometimes a horse is just much the best as Big Brown was when he won going away from the 20 hole.

A popular system for determining the winner of the Kentucky Derby is to look at Dosage numbers. These numbers are determined by looking strictly at pedigree. Sires referred to as chefs de race appear constantly in almost every horses bloodlines. The system says that a horse cannot win the race with a Dosage Index over 4.0, but has been proved wrong when Giacomo won in 2005. It has been very strong historically, but is not a fool proof system. Some horses with good DI numbers this year are Lookin at LUcky, Interactif, Awesome Act, and Noble’s Promise.

Popular thought says that a horse cannot win the Kentucky Derby if he is a gelding, but this has been proved wrong on several occasions. For those that don’t know, gelding is when a horse is castrated. This can be done because of a medical issue, or a colt may just be too focused on the fillies. Often times a horse is more calm and less hard to deal with after being gelded. Top horses typically won’t be gelded, but it is possible that they weren’t considered a high class runner at the time the surgery took place. Horses can go bad overnight and they can also get really good over night. This is true for geldings too.

2009’s winner Mine That Bird was a gelding, and Funny Cide was also castrated before he took the Roses. Clyde Van Doosen and Vagrant were also geldings that won the Kentucky Derby. If you like a gelding in the Kentucky Derby you disregard the naysayers and give him a shot.

In the end superstitions and odd beliefs run abound whether it be about post positions, dosage, or gelding. If you truly like a horse you shouldn’t let any of those things bother you. The only rule is that there are no rules. Anybody can win the Kentucky Derby!

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