KENTUCKY DERBY 2011: How Slow Was The Derby Pace?

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: Jockey Jesus L. Castanon (R), riding Shackleford #14, leads the field through turn one during the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Most people realized that the pace set by Shackleford in yesterday's Kentucky Derby, won by Animal Kingdom, was on the slow side. But do you realize how slow it actually was? Below is the ranking of fractional times for the 2011 Kentucky Derby when compared to every Derby since 1988.

1/4: 24th of 24
1/2: 24th of 24
3/4: 24th of 24
Mile: 17th of 24
Finish: 10th of 24

Every step of the first six furlongs of yesterday's Kentucky Derby was the slowest we've seen in 24 years. Every single step. In this light, it's pretty amazing Animal Kingdom was able to make up the ground he was in the final furlongs. On the other side of the coin, front-running Shackleford had everything handed to him on a silver platter to win the Derby - an uncontested and easy lead. While his 4th place finish was nice, a top quality frontrunner would have won yesterday's Derby gate-to-wire.

(An additional note on that six furlong split of 1:13.40 - the next slowest over the last 24 years came in 1999 when Valhol went the opening six in 1:12.52, almost a full second faster than Shackleford.)

The final quarter mile internal split of 24.55 ranks 4th fastest since 1988, behind 2006 (Barbaro), 1990 (Unbridled), and 2002 (War Emblem),

In terms of individual numbers; the fastest come home time in yesterday's Derby was 23.79 by Dialed In. Dialed In also ran the fastest fourth quarter (23.21), making Dialed In the horse that ran the fastest final half-mile in the Derby. Unfortunately for the Zito trainee, he had nothing to run into due to the slow pace. Unless your name is Zenyatta, you ain't gonna win as a stone-cold closer into fractions like that.

Here are Animal Kingdom's individual internal splits:

1/4: 24.26
1/2: 25.42
3/4: 24.72
Mile: 23.55
Finish: 24.09

The early Beyer figure for Animal Kingdom is 103.

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