View Full Version : Official PaceAdvantage.com Kentucky Derby Analysis

05-07-2011, 05:54 AM
http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/images/SCNums/1.jpg Archarcharch (10-1)
http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/images/SCNums/17.jpg Soldat (8-1)
http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/images/SCNums/11.jpg Master of Hounds (3-1)
http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/images/SCNums/14.jpg Shackleford (3-1)

After wracking my brain for hours on end, confronted with contradictory information in terms of pure performance figures vs. expected race shape and the nature of the Derby itself, I have finally settled on my top four picks for this year's Kentucky Derby. And as you can see, my picks don't even correspond to my projected value line. Allow me to explain.

My value line is based purely on the performance numbers I selected for each horse based on the selected paceline(s). However, my final selections, which are listed in order above, came about after reviewing the projected race shape and the late speed ability of my contenders.

I see this renewal of the Derby as a very contentious event when it comes to the early pace. This field contains two E7s (Comma to the Top & Decisive Moment), one E6 (Shackleford), along with four other horses whose early speed numbers put them potentially near the lead (Pants On Fire, Mucho Macho Man, Soldat & Stay Thirsty). I have to believe this will translate into faster than average early fractions

Combine that with the distance of the race, and you're probably looking for a horse to win this thing from off the pace. I really don't want anything to do with horses that are going to be contesting things early. I don't see anyone strong enough to battle for the lead and survive the 10 furlongs. It's just not going to happen in my opinion. That's why you see a horse like Shackleford, who has some of the best numbers in the race off his most recent win, not appearing in my top three final picks. Sometimes you have to go beyond the numbers and look at the race from the "big picture" vantage point.

So who are the best closers? And why are some of these best closers NOT among my top four picks?

To answer the first question, in my opinion, the best closers are Dialed In, Brilliant Speed, Soldat, Archarcharch and Nehro.

To answer the second question takes a little more explaining. I really wanted to make Soldat my top choice, but I just couldn't, based on the fact that it appears to me that he's not quite fast enough to get near the front where he does his best running. With Soldat, the theory goes that he needs to be on or very close to the lead from the start, as he may not enjoy taking dirt in his face. The only time he's run well from off the pace has been on turf. As for the remaining "best closers," Nehro and Dialed In both just missed my cut based on what I perceive to be not enough overall ability, and Brilliant Speed just seems too slow to make much of an impact.

By a process of elimination, I whittled it down to Archarcharch in the end for my top pick. This horse is the best combination of overall ability, "stay out of trouble" early speed and "keep the calvary at bay" late punch. As for his post position being a huge problem, I don't necessarily agree. I believe this horse has enough speed to break ahead of the three horses to his immediate outside, thereby eliminating much of the disadvantage of having post position number one.

Master of Hounds deserves a special comment. I am using the numbers from PaceFigures.com for my handicapping of the Derby. CJ, as most of you know, is responsible for PaceFigures.com and converts Racing Post numbers on foreign runners to a compatible figure that can be used for comparison purposes. The number given to Master of Hounds for his UAE Derby run puts the rest of this field to shame. If he's able to run anywhere near that number on dirt, he may win this race for fun. He's bred to run all day long, but unfortunately, bred to run on TURF (and synth). How this may translate to dirt is anyone's guess. Although I wanted to make him my top pick, I just couldn't pull the trigger with all the question marks surrounding him, but I strongly suspect he will be a win bet of mine because he will be a nice fat price.

Good racing luck to everyone!
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