BigTrends 2016 Kentucky Derby Analysis

2016 Kentucky Derby Handicapping and Analysis from

By Price Headley and Moby Waller

It’s time for our annual Kentucky Derby selections and commentary. First, we’ll start off with an updated table of past Derby winners below, with 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. The weather in Louisville is expected to be warm and sunny.

Derby WinnerBRIS Speed Rating   Last race (No. of weeks before Derby)
American Pharoah     102, 99Arkansas Derby (4 weeks)
California Chrome106, 102Santa Anita Derby (5 weeks)
Orb97, 102Florida Derby (5 weeks)
I’Ll Have Another95, 102Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
Animal Kingdom100, 89Turfway Spiral (5 weeks, poly)
Super Saver92, 94Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
Mine That Bird96, 98Sunland Derby (5 weeks)
Big Brown106, 104Florida Derby (5 weeks)
Street Sense98, 101Bluegrass Stakes (3 weeks, poly)
Barbaro104, 104, 97, 97Florida Derby (5 weeks)
Giacomo100, 96, 98, 96Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
Smarty Jones105, 109, 101, 103Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
Funny Cide111, 103, 97Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
War Emblem109, 105, 88, 94Illinois Derby (4 weeks)
Monarchos108, 108, 106, 98Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
Fusaichi Pegasus110, 103, 100, 98Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
Charismatic104, 94, 94, 94Lexington (2 weeks)
Real Quiet107, 103, 73Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
Silver Charm102, 98, 105Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
Grindstone101, 102, 93Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
Thunder Gulch98, 103, 106Blue Grass (3 weeks)
Go For Gin104, 105, 99, 100Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
Sea Hero96, 85, 77Blue Grass (3 weeks)
Lil E. Tee102, 96, 107, 100Arkansas Derby (2 weeks)
Strike The Gold109, 100, 99, 87Blue Grass (3 weeks)
Unbridled108, 101, 104, 98Blue Grass (3 weeks)

Last year, I was high on Dortmund, which ran third behind eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh. I did have the top-three finishers within my five favorite horses, but only managed to hit with an exacta, picking the top-two finishers to salvage the day. This year looks more wide open to me, and I prefer to include a couple of sleepers that show good speed numbers with much more attractive odds. Remember the Kentucky Derby is the biggest field of any race in the United States all year, so in addition to talent, racing luck is needed. That’s why I like to find value in the 8-1 to 20-1 range typically for the greatest two minutes in sports.

My favorite in this year’s race is Exaggerator (Post Position 11, 8-1 odds). Fresh off winning the Santa Anita Derby, he shows the consistency I look for to “key” a horse not only as a winning bet but also in my exotic bets. Four straight speed ratings above 100 can’t be matched here. I am concerned that he could be nipped at the wire by a late-charging horse, as 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 get in the picture at the finish line:

Lani (PP 8, 30-1): The horse from the farthest distance away looked impressive winning the UAE Derby and appears to be overly discounted after the long trip to Louisville. While a win is a stretch, at these odds I have to take a shot.

Suddenbreakingnews (PP 2, 20-1): This horse is closing well after a fast-charging second place in the Arkansas Derby, and I expect him to be charging late.

Nyquist (PP 13, 3-1): The Derby favorite must be included in exotic bets. I have a hunch he finishes third.

Also include Brody’s Cause (PP 19), Danzing Candy (PP 20) and Mohaymen (PP 14) in exotic bets.

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

$10 Win on 2 and 8
$5 Exacta box 2, 11
$5 Exacta box 8, 11
$1 Exacta 11 with ALL
$1 Trifecta box 2, 8, 11, 13
$1 Trifecta 11 with 2, 8, 14, 19, 20 with 13

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