Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Derby Winners and the Trail They Blazed

While the Turk is taking no real pleasure in holiday season horse racing, it's not to say he isn't having some fun. I spent some time over the past few weeks at Equibase, and in my cub reporter's notebook I've assembled a snapshot of how the last ten Kentucky Derby winners arrived at the first Saturday in May.

I guess the thesis statement is: Does a horse's preparation to increasing distance, surface, changes in venue, competition against class, and experience point towards a potential Derby winner?

As a horse player, I dislike hype. It's inevitable. Modern trainer with more horses then he should have has one of them win a graded stakes race=reporter asks him for quote=Modern trainer starts off aw shucks but declares the horse a freak with unlimited potential=Horse joins a list of 20 "on the trail". I hate hype. The horse did win, but against who? In what pace? Did his trip unfold like the Red Sea to Moses?

While I'll never go media dark and I'll read all the articles about this year's super horses, this Derby season I'm going to do my Turk best to develop a top ten Derby contender list based on nothing but what I see on the track, in the PP, and in the works. My list is like a brand new etch-a-sketch right now, blank. I'm setting aside hype and I'm spending January and February studying the 3YO's. I'm going to post my list every month, but it will be a work in progress right up to Mid-April.

Before I look forward, I will spend some time looking back.

It's hard to believe how long ago Charismatic was. My follicle count was much higher, The Patriots were still an NFL doormat, and the idea of a horse racing blog filled with video and pictures wasn't imaginable to me. About the only thing that was the same was my 401k balance, but that's another rant.

I'm going to throw up several more spreadsheets about these ten horses from the angle of earliest race, progression of distance, speed against distance. Maybe something will stick to the wall, or maybe it will just be noise.......

Happy Holidays.

1 comment:

Winston...not really said...

The last few years I have found, without fail, that the horse that has been working 'lights out' coming in to the Derby has run away with it. I imagine it's no surprise, the horse peaking at the Derby is the one to bet.

TVG's, The Works, did an excellent job of showing that. I hope they carry it next year as well.