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Derby Data

Until tomorrow afternoon’s post position draw, the only Derby trail action is analyzing (and overanalyzing) the contenders’ works and every possible bit of data available, no matter how tangential.

To that end, I always look forward to playing with the C-J Derby Data Track (and was pleased to discover its origins in a post at TheRail); one of the options might prove particularly salient when comparing this year’s hype horses to last year’s results — proven ability to handle traffic. Street Sense and Hard Spun had a ‘yes’ in that column; Curlin a no. Beyond the overall ‘experience’ tag, this is a factor I like paying attention to. Horses with the dreaded ‘no’ this year include quite a few I do like – including Z Fortune, Eight Belles, Denis of Cork, Smooth Air, Gayego and, of course, Big Brown. If I were judging by that factor alone, it would make Visionaire, Tale of Ekati, Pyro and Colonel John look particularly attractive.

But adding in another factor complicates matters; if I go by highest Beyers, Bob Black Jack heads straight for the top of the list (which, if anything, looks very ‘sprinty’), followed by Big Brown, Gayego, Recapturetheglory, Z Fortune and Eight Belles – no one else has cracked the 100 mark; Colonel John’s highest is a 95.

Two BRIS speed ratings of 100 or higher yields a more select group — only Big Brown, Tale of Ekati, Pyro and Cool Coal Man.

Whenever I mix and match the factors I’m most interested in, three horses keep coming back to the top: Tale of Ekati, Pyro and Visionaire.

So, with all that, who do I like (at least in the pre-post-position-draw world)? It’s looking something like this:

  • Big Brown – The Big Brown show beings in earnest today
  • Colonel John – Seems to like Churchill Downs
  • Denis of Cork – Don’t like his prep, but it was a nice work
  • Eight Belles – Looked pretty good the other day – and drew an outside post for the Oaks
  • Gayego – Not convinced he is a 1 1/4 horse, but he’s talented
  • Pyro – I’m still not convinced, but he keeps popping up
  • Smooth Air – Health concerns remain?
  • Tale of Ekati – If Barclay Tagg is happy, I’m happy
  • Visionaire – Worked in his usual style
  • Z Fortune – Still love his sire, Siphon

I’m still grumbling about Tomcito’s absence (especially after a nice work yesterday – I’d happily toss Anak Nakal, Z Humor and Cowboy Cal to let him run) and that of an also-eligible list, but at least I have the Belmont to look forward to.

It’s worth checking out the short article on Big Brown’s former trainer, Pat Reynolds, as well – he’s another one who got Curlined (and he suggests that he sold for considerably more than the reported $3 million). He mentions Big Brown’s odd patch of white on his left side (check out Barbara Livingston’s photo of it here — and a rather dramatic shot of him acting up in the Saratoga paddock before his first race); anyone who read King of the Wind as a child can probably read far too much into the white spot.

Kentucky Derby winning odds

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