The Kentucky Derby Prep Season is over and today begins the Kentucky Derby Championship Series.
My criticism of the current system is that the prep season rewards are too meager, with the leaders after 19 races accumulating only 24 points while today the winners of the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Risen Star Stakes will each receive 50 points and the Place Horse will receive 20. What it does do it motivate the winners of the big 2 YO races to start running sooner, in February, and maybe, just maybe, it adds one additional start before the Derby for some of these runners, and 2 additional starts for fringe horses in the field.
I like the concept, I just think it will need tweaking. I would like there to be real motivation for trainers to run the horses more often and one tweak I'd suggest is a veto on gate draw for the Derby: If you collect X number of points and you started Y number of races during the Prep and Championship Series, a Trainer should be able to Veto Gate Position 1 or 20, or some variation of this, to improve his odds further and reward him for running. Maybe I'm missing something, but how does Winning Colors make history in this arrangement, how does Eight Belles get her chance? Maybe this closes the door on fillies, as while a filly does draw interest, a dead filly does not. I'm also not down with the suits at CDI deciding which races are in the circle of trust and which ones are not. I'm OK with most of the races they selected, but there should be some slots that rotate every year. I dunno, I'm the Turk, a hack handicapper and not one of the deep thinkers of the sport in general. For real talented voices in horse racing, I strongly urge you to read some of the top writers at Turf or Hello Race Fans!
This weekend we have the first two Championship Series Races. Most horses have two starts left before the Kentucky Derby. In the 1st Leg of the Championship Series, there are 95 points for the taking in a start, with the Show Horse gathering 10 points. In the Second Leg of the Series which begins about 5 weeks from now with The Florida Derby, there are 170 points available in a start, with Place gathering 40 and Show getting 20. A Show finish in one of the Big Races (Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass Stakes) and as few as 4 points or a Place in the Prep Season races, and I think you are safely in the Top 20. Let's assume the top ten in the list keep hitting the board, from Shanghai Bobby to Super Ninety Nine, then valuable scraps will be left over for between 14 and 25 other horses to fight for.
I've handicapped The Fountain of Youth Stakes and will be watching the Risen Star today as well. As a fan who doesn't care much about 2 YO's, by following the Prep Race Season, I feel like I am more in tune with this year's key 3 YOs, so in this way the Race Series and Points Method has enhanced my interest.
Let's get after this!
I think Violence (pictured above) is good. I respect the field that he defeated in the Hollywood Park Cash Call Futurity G1 but I don't know that he is 9-5 good until I see it again. I'm going to bet against him and my base handicap supports this by favoring Cerro (Ire), a typical Team Valor International runner; improving Beyers, a cutback of a 1/16 off his last race win at GP. His pilot, Castellano, jumps off for Violence, and that gives journeyman Rocco a chance.
I have Violence in the Place spot but he's talented enough to Win, and a wildcard enough to finish out of the money. I dunno and that's why its called gambling. I'm playing the odds, perhaps against my gut, and I'll cover him in the Top 4 in all spots.
My next five are a jumble and I think very little separates them. Falling Sky and He's Had Enough seem to be the best of the bunch but they have to show it.
Today's a good race day and I'll be back tomorrow to update the standings and talk about implications.
Enjoy! Turk Out.