BigTrends 2014 Kentucky Derby Analysis

2014 Kentucky Derby Handicapping Analysis Picks from

It’s time for our annual Kentucky Derby selections and commentary. First, we’ll start off with an updated table of past Derby winners, their speed ratings and final tune-up race. Our analysis of past data indicates that horses with strong 100+ speed ratings in preparatory races have a better probability of winning the big race.

Derby Winner
BRIS Speed Rating
Last race (No. weeks before Derby)
ORB 97, 102 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
I’LL HAVE ANOTHER 95, 102 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
ANIMAL KINGDOM 100, 89 Turfway Spiral (5 weeks, poly)
SUPER SAVER 92, 94 Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
MINE THAT BIRD 96, 98 Sunland Derby (5 weeks)
BIG BROWN 106, 104 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
STREET SENSE 98, 101 Bluegrass Stakes (3 weeks, poly)
BARBARO 104, 104, 97, 97 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
GIACOMO 100, 96, 98, 96 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
SMARTY JONES 105, 109, 101, 103 Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
FUNNY CIDE 111, 103, 97 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
WAR EMBLEM 109, 105, 88, 94 Illinois Derby (4 weeks)
MONARCHOS 108, 108, 106, 98 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
FUSAICHI PEGASUS 110, 103, 100, 98 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
CHARISMATIC 104, 94, 94, 94 Lexington (2 weeks)
REAL QUIET 107, 103, 73 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
SILVER CHARM 102, 98, 105 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
GRINDSTONE 101, 102, 93 Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
THUNDER GULCH 98, 103, 106 Blue Grass (3 weeks)
GO FOR GIN 104, 105, 99, 100 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
SEA HERO 96, 85, 77 Blue Grass (3 weeks)
LIL E. TEE 102, 96, 107, 100 Arkansas Derby (2 weeks)
STRIKE THE GOLD 109, 100, 99, 87 Blue Grass (3 weeks)
UNBRIDLED 108, 101, 104, 98 Blue Grass (3 weeks)

Price Headley, CEO of

My favorite in this year’s race is California Chrome (Post Position 5, 5-2 odds). This is not a bold pick, but he’s by far the class in the field, having won his last four races by a combined 25+ lengths. He truly looks like the best chance at a Triple Crown winner in many years (remember we haven’t had a horse win all three jewels of the Crown since Affirmed held off Alydar to win it all back in 1978).

I would not be surprised to see the favorite go off closer to 2-1, which is very short odds in a 19-horse field. The Derby usually favors closers and horses that want the extra ground. Typically, this doesn’t show up on paper yet for these colts, as they’ve only gone 1-1/8 miles or less, and the Derby is 1-1/4 miles. That last 1/8 of a mile (also known as a “furlong” in the racing business) is what separates the champions from the also-rans.

We should have a beautiful sunny day with no rain at Churchill Downs for this year’s Derby as well.

With those thoughts in mind, here are my top challengers to California Chrome:

Dance with Fate (PP 12, 20-1): I’m looking for value here among the horses that won their last preparatory race. Dance with Fate won the Blue Grass at Keeneland impressively, though his speed rating in that race was only 99. Keeneland has been one of those hard-to-judge preparatory races because of the Polytrack surface, which makes this pick a high-risk, high-reward play. But given that Street Sense won the Derby off a similarly slow Blue Grass win, I like the value here for win bets.

Wicked Strong (PP 20, 6-1): An awesome closing kick in the Wood Memorial win, has him on everyone’s radar as a logical second choice. The outside post position (the 20 horse just scratched) is not a huge issue for a closer, as he will settle in toward the back early and get a rail trip to save distance. Wicked Strong is not a super value here, but must consider in exotic bets.

Samraat (PP 6, 15-1): Gets my vote for Mr. Consistency; Samraat ran a game second in the Wood, but seems to lack the closing kick to actually win it. Like him to get on the board, though in second or more likely third.

Ride on Curlin (PP 19, 15-1): Closed strong in the Arkansas Derby behind longshot winner Danza. Gets the wily jock Calvin Borel (they call him “Bo-Rail” at the Derby for his savvy wins on longshot Mine that Bird and Street Sense). Something tells me Cal will be close at the finish. Call it a hunch play.

So my theoretical bets on a sample $100 model portfolio look like this:

$10 Win on 12
$6 Win on 20
$4 Win on 19
$5 Exacta box 5, 12
$5 Exacta box 5, 19
$5 Exacta box 5, 20
$1 Trifecta 5 with 12 with ALL
$1 Trifecta 5 with 20 with ALL
$1 Trifecta 5 with 19 with 20
$1 Trifecta 5 with 19 with 6
$1 Trifecta 5 with 6 with 19
$1 Trifecta 5 with 6 with 20

Moby Waller, Portfolio Manager,

We’ve had a lot of rain recently in Kentucky (and it’s been cold here, like in most of the country), but the forecast for Louisville on Saturday looks fairly dry and warm – should be a fast track.

Looks like there are a lot of front-running speed-type horses in this year’s Derby. A horse who can stalk a bit off the pace and/or close strongly is likely to win in my view.

California Chrome (PP 5, 5-2) is the obvious favorite here, with four very strong wins in a row. I have to put the favorite on top in this case, as much as I would like not to. Jockey/horse would do better to stalk the pace rather than try to lead from early on.

Wicked Strong (PP 20, 6-1) looks ready to run a big race and can handle the distance, but the far-out post position could hinder.

Danza (PP 4, 8-1) finished the last race very well and looks to like the track here.

Medal Count (PP 14, 20-1) can close and is bred for long distance, hasn’t done much on dirt but seems to like the track.

Suggested theoretical wagers (all exotics, based on having a favorite in there):

$2 Exacta Box: 5, 20, 4, 14 = $24
$2 Trifecta Box: 5, 20, 4, 14 = $48

Others to put in for Exotics:

Dance With Fate (PP 12, 20-1)
Intense Holiday (PP 16, 8-1)
Candy Boy (PP 18, 15-1)

$2 Exacta Box: 5, 12, 16, 18 = $24

Alternate Scenario Exotic:

$1 Exacta Box: 1, 6, 10, 13, 19 = $20

Total 4 Bets = $116

From Forbes: “The Derby exacta payouts over the last five years have been (at the $2 increment): $981.60, $306.60, $329.80, $152.40 and $2074.80”.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12