Finding the 2016 Derby Winner Could Be a Simple Numbers Game

Finding the 2016 Derby Winner Could Be a Simple Numbers Game

Category : News - Sun 20/03/2016 - 20:39 EDT

With just 47 days until the 2016 Kentucky Derby, this year’s three year-old crop has been collectively uninspiring – and not just in the mind of a cynical horse player. The numbers and results tell the story.

Of the major prep races, just two - the San Felipe at Santa Anita and Tampa Derby - have produced Triple digit Beyer Speed figures with Danzing Candy and Destin both earning a 100 for their winning efforts. A third leading contender, the undefeated Nyquist, earned a 101 sprinting 7 furlongs in the San Vicente - easily his best figure and a positive indicator that the horse is ready to move forward. As visually impressive as Mohayman was winning the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth, he did not run particularly fast, recording a pair of 95 Beyers. Of course, it should be noted that Mohayman was geared down in both races and clearly had much more in the tank should it have been asked of him, and that his anticipated matchup with Nyquist in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 2 could reveal much more about both horses.

Figures suggest a slower bunch

But what about the rest of the group? By comparison, 8 of the 18 runners that contested the 2015 Kentucky Derby had surpassed the triple digit Beyer benchmark in at least one prep race. With just one more major prep to go, it may not be premature at all to conclude that this year's contenders may have a dreadful case of the slows. 

Exceptions and anomalies 

In recent years, Animal Kingdom (2011), Super Saver (2010), Mine That Bird (2009), and Giacomo (2005) all won the Kentucky Derby without ever eclipsing the century mark in any of their preps, but all four ran 100 or better on the big day. Those, however, were special cases for the most part. Mine That Bird and Super Saver both caught sloppy tracks which possibly aided their vicotories. Animal Kingdom had never run on dirt before the Derby and clearly took to the surface. While the jury is still out on the quality of this year's three year-old class, the early indicators suggest a mediocre bunch with obvious reasons for bettors to take special note of any runner that earns a Beyer Speed Figure of at least 100.   

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