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Monday, April 13, 2015

Unveiling the Derby Spreadsheet 8.0

Dortmund holds off Firing Line in Robert B. Lewis
Photo Credit: Melanie Martines
That's Dortmund, one of the top thoroughbreds and ranked second on the Derby leaderboard in points holding off Firing Line in the Robert B. Lewis back in February. Both colts are headed to Louisville to run for the roses on the First Saturday in May.

The 141st Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Churchill Downs and if you want to get in on the Kentucky Derby online wagering action we recommend visiting for reviews of the best online racebooks for the first leg of the Triple Crown.

For analysis of the race, one of the tools I have put together over the past eight years is the annual Derby spreadsheet. The link, is located on the right sidebar and lists the top contenders of this year's Kentucky Derby, including such information as wins from post positions since 1970, Beyer Speed Figures (BSF), BrisNet sire and damsire average winning distances, dosage indices and pedigree information for every horse in the top 20 on the current leaderboard. Also, wet and distance Tomlinson figures as well as Bris distance figures are included on the spreadsheet.

We'll be continuously updating the sheet as new data is released and it is a tool I've used in the past to eliminate horses, in addition to who should be part of my Derby day wagering. It's also interesting to look back on prior year winners (2008-2013 tabs are included for the past seven years statistics for the winners and those that hit the board.

You'll notice some familiar trainers and currently in the top 22 horses, Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have nearly half of the projected field. 

Here's a snapshot of some of the top numbers within the sheet:

Top Beyer Speed Figure
1) Materiality (110)
2) Upstart (108)
3) Dortmund (106)
4) American Pharoah (105)

Top Distance Tomlinson
1) Mubtaahij (353)
2) Materiality (328)
3) Itsaknockout (315)
4) Bolo (307)

Top Distance BRIS
1) Carpe Diem (114)
1) Frosted  (114)
1) American Pharoah (114)
4) One Lucky Dane (113)

Top Wet Tomlinson
1) Danzig Moon (417)
2) Stanford (415)
2) Itsaknockout (415)
4) Frosted, Upstart (413)

Sire Average Winning Distance (AWD)
1) Mubtaahij (8.6)
2) Carpe Diem (8.3)
3) Itsaknockout (7.6)
4) Materiality (7.5)

Damsire AWD
1) Mubtaahij (8.8)
2) Danzig Moon (8.0)
3) Frosted (7.6)
3) War Story (7.6)

There are definitely some interesting statistics here that will warrant further research, especially on Itsaknockout, Danzig Moon and Materiality which had some eye opening information to consider.

Stay tuned and bookmark that spreadsheet!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2015 Wireplayers Derby Dozen Debuts

Far From Over winning the Withers at Aqueduct on Feb. 7
Photo Credit: Joe Labozzetta/NYRA

The sixth annual Wireplayers Derby Dozen kicked off to a rousing start with two horses tied for the top spot in the initial poll for 2015. The panel made up of 12 horse racing writers, bloggers, tweeters has once again delivered some witty dialogue and a solid first poll to kick off the Derby trail as we enter the Championship Series portion of the schedule.

The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, followed by the Preakness and culminating in New York where all of the 2015 Belmont Stakes betting will take place, hopefully on racing's first Triple Crown champion in 38 years.

Last year, I looked back at our initial polls over the past and found that in only one year was the eventual Derby champion ranked in the initial poll (Super Saver, 3rd, 2010). Last year, California Chrome was in the "others receiving votes" category just outside of the initial Dozen, in 14th place. Interestingly, in 14th place in this year's poll is Khozan, a horse who with a win or place in the Florida Derby will be attempting to break the Apollo curse on the First Saturday in May.

The two horses sharing the top spot are Far From Over (Blame, pictured above) and Dortmund (Big Brown), both horses with pedigrees to handle the Classic distance. My top pick was American Pharoah (see individual ballots here), which means he's totally up the creek without a paddle.

Here's a look at this year's initial poll:


Monday, February 9, 2015

Derby Watch: Futures Pool 2 Recap

Upstart winning at Saratoga on Travers Day
(Photo Credit: NYRA)
The Derby trail is starting to heat up with two big races wrapping up last weekend with Far From Over winning the Withers at the Big A and Dortmund winning a stretch duel with Firing Line in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 closed out this weekend with the All Others (also known as the field) betting line as the favorite at odds of 5-2, capturing over 23 percent of the total win pool.

With the Run for the Roses less than three months away and live Kentucky Derby wagering available, we'll take a rundown below of some of the top competitors in Pool 2 and where they finished in the final odds tabulation. I made two small wagers, action bets if you will, a $5 win bet on Khozan, who finished at 25-1 (will pay $131 with a win), over his morning line odds of 20-1. The second bet was a $1 exacta wager, boxing All Others with American Pharoah, Dortmund, Khozan and Upstart.

The key in making a future wager is betting on horses that you believe will be at a higher price now than they will be when they leave the gate on May 2. Of course, most of the 23 horses in Pool 2 may never even see a Derby gate, it makes the wager all the more riskier. In 2014's second pool only five of the 23 horses included in the wager actually made the Derby starting gate. There is still a third Future Wager Pool that will run Feb. 27 to March 1.

Here are some of the top competitors and some preliminary thoughts on each (in alpha order):

American Pharoah (final odds 10-1). This son of Pioneerof the Nile, a second place finisher behind Mine That Bird in 2009, has the pedigree to handle the mile and a quarter and has been described as one of the best 3-year-olds Bob Baffert has ever trained. He missed the Breeders' Cup Juvenile due to injury and has not raced since last September, and had his first recorded workout of 2015 on Feb 2.

Carpe Diem (final odds 12-1). The second place finisher in the BC Juvenile, and son of Giant's Causeway has not raced since the Breeders' Cup for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has 34 nominees to the Triple Crown. He will likely start next in the Tampa Bay Derby. Had some betting behind him in the Futures pool finishing several notches under his 15-1 morning line odds. Has a Grade 1 under his belt, winning the Breeders' Futurity last fall at Keeneland. He had a sensational workout on Saturday morning drilling five furlongs in 59 2/5, best of seven workers that morning.

Dortmund (final odds 10-1). A son of the 2008 Derby winner, Big Brown, he impressed this weekend in the Robert Lewis rallying in deep stretch after being overtaken by Firing line (final odds 35-1) to overtake his rival and win for Baffert and rider Martin Garcia. An imposing looking horse who should thrive as the distances get longer, like Pharoah is also on the west coast Derby trail.

Khozan (final odds 25-1). Another Pletcher trainee who has only an impressive maiden win under his belt at Gulfstream.  I love his breeding with Distorted Humor on top and his dam sired by Belmont winner A.P. Indy. Pletcher is pointing him either to an allowance or a stake with eyes squarely on the Florida Derby, a path that Commissioner, this weekend's Donn winner took last spring winning Gulfstream's premier 3-year-old race.

Ocean Knight (final odds 18-1). This horse was listed on the morning line at 50-1, but took some big money after his win in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa two weekends ago.  Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said to be thinking about shipping him to New York for the Gotham next. The son of Curlin's speed figures aren't quite up to what some of his competition has been running, but the thing about 3-year-olds is they develop over the course of the early spring. He could be one to keep an eye on.

Texas Red (final odds 9-1). He finished as the second choice behind the field at 9-1, after the BC Juvenile winner finished second in his 2015 debut in the 7-furlong Grade 2 San Vicente last weekend, losing by a neck to Lord Nelson. The Juvenile winner has only won the Derby once in the history of the Breeders' Cup when Street Sense performed the feat in 2007. This son of Afleet Alex should continue to blossom as the trail winds towards Louisville.

Upstart (final odds 12-1). This New York-bred (pictured above) shined in the Grade 2 Holy Bull on Jan. 24 at Gulfstream. Could see him right back in the Fountain of Youth for trainer Rick Violette, Jr. Was third in the BC Juvenile, a race that is shaping up to be one of the better ones in recent memory.

Quite a bit can happen between now and the first Saturday in May, but it sure seems like more than five of the 23 horses listed in Pool 2 will be in the gate when they spring the latch in Louisville.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Look at Racing's First Tweets

The Tweeter recently turned 8 years old and Twitter has concocted a website to take a look at various users' First Tweets. (h/t @TrendingBuffalo) Of course, this opens the door to have some fun and we're all about having fun in the Space Station (see "Twitter Accounts Back in Time").

So I decided to check out some of my racing Twitter pals and some folks I like to follow on the Tweeter from an informational and entertainment (mostly entertainment) perspective...starting with none other than yours truly before we take a little ride through the archives.

12/06/2008:  Early adopter...but what a dork...twittering...really?

6/22/2010: The Pocket is one of the best follows in surprise he's looking for a harness draw.

5/4/2011: In time for Derby 137, my pal Mac joined with great fanfare.

4/10/2007: One of the racing pioneers on twitter provided some cool racing insights. (PS dana is a super terrific follow!)

12/22/2008: My man Derek is as witty as they come.

10/23/2008: How about K-Mart promoting the now defunct TBA page and one of our blogger contests. Wonder what his pal Chad's firster was?

9/9/2011: Welcome to the Club.

5/16/2009: Couldn't find dana's response...guessing she does.

10/6/2010: One of the few racing parody accounts entered the scene in 2010.

5/11/2009: Translation - talking with my bookie.

7/25/2008: This is awesome on so many levels.

3/1/2009: No shocker here, Sid is an authority on pedigree and international racing.

12/31/2008: Happy New Year! Our guide to Woodbine snarks on Aqueduct.

4/14/2011: Late to the party and likely addicted.

10/12/2010: Classic.

1/6/2012: Maybe my favorite.

6/25/2009: You don't say.

4/21/2009: The Tweeter is a wealth of information.

7/21/2012: The Goose is loose!

7/7/2009: The eternal optimist.

I think I'll quit on that note.  Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rehashing Old Wireplayers' Derby Dozens

I decided to take a journey back to look at some of the Wireplayers Derby Dozens from the past four years since inception to see how well our panel did in our opening dozen and then the final dozen with respect to the eventual Derby winner. What I found was somewhat fascinating in some respects, and somewhat predictable in others.

You can catch this year's initial 2014 Derby Dozen here and if you are looking for live Derby odds this new site will provide you up to the minute odds for this year's Derby contenders. The Wireplayers panel has turned over some in the past four years, but the core group remains pretty much in tact to provide some consistency and some pretty funny commentary and we've added some sharpies to the team.

The initial polls typically have come out at the end of January or the first week in February (like this year's) so finding the Derby winner this early is nearly impossible. The final polls are released after the draw during Derby week so those polls should be scrutinized the most. Take a peak at how we did:

2010 Poll
First: Lookin at Lucky (1st); Super Saver (3rd)
FinalLookin at Lucky (1st); Super Saver (6th)

Commentary: We were pretty much in love with Baffert's ace who ended up winning the Preakness, but was doomed on the rail in the Derby. One of our better jobs with the eventual Derby winner as the #3 choice in the inaugural pool in January 2010, but feel to #6 in the final poll. 

2011 Poll
First: Uncle Mo (1st); Animal Kingdom (NR)
Final: Dialed In (1st); Animal Kingdom (6th)

Commentary: We were drinking the Uncle Mo kool-aid in mid-January 2011 and Animal Kingdom was nowhere on anyone's radar, he didn't even garner a single vote. He got a little more respect and ironically was the #6 horse in the final poll (see Super Saver above). We nailed the favorite in Dialed In, just not the winner.

2012 Poll
First: Union Rags (1st); I'll Have Another (NR)
Final: Gemologist (1st); I'll Have Another (6th)

Commentary: So for the second time in three years the horse on the top of our initial poll ended up a Classic winner (Belmont Stakes), but not the Derby winner. For the second consecutive year the Derby winner was unranked and without a single vote. Amazingly, for the third year in a row the Derby winner was the #6 horse in our final poll. (Man, why couldn't I play that hunch?)  Our final poll had Gemologist on top who never ran again.

2013 Poll
First: Violence (1st); Orb (NR)
Final: Orb (1st); Orb (1st)

Commentary: Unfortunately, like Uncle Mo in 2011, the promising Pletcher colt Violence, our initial poll topper, never made it to the gate. For the third straight year the Derby winner was neither on the list or received a vote (do you see a pattern here?). We nailed Orb in the final poll. By the way, Goldencents was the #6 horse and later won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last November.

2014 Poll
First: Cairo Prince (1st); Derby winner (?)

Commentary: Just going out on a limb, but guessing that Cairo Prince probably won't win the Derby and our initial list probably doesn't even include the eventual champ that will wear the roses on the First Saturday in May. I'll be sure to take a hard look at whoever ends up #6 in this year's final poll!

Moral of the story: Keep on digging...he's out there somewhere.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's Derby Dozen Time

It's been some time since we've posted, but the Derby trail is usually a good time to come full circle and start getting after it again. What better time than the first edition of this year's Derby Dozen poll, of which I am honored to be a member. Of course, we'd like to start smelling like roses if possible. I went back to my last four number one votes in the final poll for the past three years and came up with Lookin at Lucky (6th - 2010); Mucho Macho Man (3rd - 2011), Bodemeister (2nd - 2012) and Revolutionary (3rd - 2013).

It looks like Cairo Prince is out ahead of the pack in this year's Dozen based on the panel votes, wherein four different horses each garnered two first place votes. My top vote went to Midnight Hawk (no. 6 in the poll) with Cairo Prince second. We're not too far away from 2014 Kentucky Derby horse betting (less than 90 days away) and the second Futures pool is underway this weekend.


Here's a look at the initial poll by our esteemed panel....

I'll also be posting over at the Sports, Ink blog tomorrow about the big Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. I caught up with trainer Nick Gonzalez yesterday by phone and he'll enter his star 4-year-old River Seven taking on some monsters such as Will Take Charge and Revolutionary.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Breeders' Cup Friday

This weekend's office view
The Space Shuttle arrived safe and sound (well, mostly sound) in Southern California Wednesday evening after a long journey from the B-lo. The place is absolutely stunning and I could be convinced that a permanent home for the Cup has some merits. But that's a whole different topic and one that my predictions several years ago on the Blood-horse site really haven't come to fruition. (If you have time - check out the comments, some are pretty funny).

The Space Gal will be joining me tonight and for Saturday's races -- wait 'til she gets a load of this credit card is definitely not safe.

I posted a few photos from yesterday morning below at Clockers' Corner, most of the BC horses were galloping on a beautiful, crisp morning. The big news yesterday was the scratch of Ron the Greek from the Classic from a quarter crack.

I have some analysis up at the Sports, Ink blog on Friday's late Pick-4 and check the HRF website for some picks of some of the blogging brethren. I'll be live blogging tomorrow's card at the Sports, Ink blog starting at 3 p.m. ET, so check it out if you have a moment, for a few laughs and info from the Great Race Place.

Sunrise over Clockers' Corner

Mucho Macho Man



Julien Leparoux

Seabiscuit's barn

Have fun and enjoy the races!


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