Kentucky Derby 138: A Look At How Horses In The Field Have Fared Against A Hot Pace

One of the reasons that I love the Kentucky Derby is that in recent years it has become the kind of race that I vigorously search for in my everyday handicapping process: that is, a race, especially a route, that has the makings of a meltdown. Every year now, it seems, we are confronted with a Derby puzzle that includes a couple, if not several, horses who are speedball types, who are used to winning from a lead possessed at the first call, and who will find themselves up against a pace scenario in the Derby that does not favor their running style.

No one has led a Derby every step of the way since War Emblem in 2002, and with this year's field including the BRIS Speed Point blazers Bodemeister (E8), Hansen (E8), Trinniberg (E8), Gemologist (E/P7), and I'll Have Another (E/P7), Kentucky Derby 138 would appear to be a race that sets up for a closer. With an eye toward that, let's take a look at how every horse in the field has fared in his three most recent starts with an above-par pace.

Below is a chart that uses the BRIS speed pars from the 1st and 2nd calls to gauge the pace of each horse's last three races where the pars were far above normal. Horses that don't have three races that meet the criteria have only as many lines as needed. The other columns indicate each horse's position at the 2nd, stretch, and final call. Any line that is italicized indicates a horse that has seen a hot pace and hit the board against it. Any line that is bolded indicates a horse that has seen a hot pace, and won against it.

Horse Name-Race

1st Call Race Par

2nd Call Race Par

Horse Position at 2nd Call, lengths back or ahead

Horse Position at Stretch Call, lengths back or ahead

Horse Finish

Daddy Long Legs-UAE Derby

+14

+11

13th, 13

13th, 13

12th, 19

Optimizer-Rebel

+5

+13

8th, 4 ½

5th, 5 ½

2nd, ¾

Optimizer-Kyjc

+11

+5

4th, 2 ½

3rd, 3 ½

4th, 2 ½

Optimizer-BCjuvy

+14

+11

7th, 4 ½

8th, 9

8th, 11

Take Charge Indy-BCjuvy

+14

+11

1st, ½

4th, 4 ½

5th, 6 ½

Take Charge Indy-BrdsFut

+18

+15

3rd, 1 ½

3rd, 3

4th, 4

Take Charge Indy-Arlwafut

+19

+17

6th, 4

1st,1

2nd, 1

Union Rags-BCjuvy

+14

+11

4th, 2 ½

2nd, ½

2nd, hd

Union Rags-Sarspcl

+4

+2

1st, head

1st, 3 ½

1st by 7

Dullahan-Bluegrass

+21

+16

9th, 5 ¾

3rd, 4

1st by 1 ¼

Dullahan-BCjuvy

+14

+11

11th, 8 ¾

9th, 9 ½

4th, 6

Dullahan-Brdsfut

+18

+15

5th, 2 ½

4th, 3 ½

1st by ¾

Bodemeister

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Rousing Sermon-Laderby

+6

+6

8th, 6 ½

5th, 4 ½

3rd, 2

Rousing Sermon-Cshclfut

+3

+2

10th, 7 ½

10th, 3 ¾

2nd, a neck

Creative Cause-BCjuvy

+14

+11

2nd,1 ½

3rd, 1

3rd, 1

Trinniberg-BCjuvsprnt

+5

+3

2nd, 1

4th, 6

7th, 13 ½

Trinniberg-Nashua

+5

+3

1st, 1

2nd, head

2nd, ¾

Trinniberg-Hopeful

+7

+12

1st, 1

2nd, head

2nd, ¾

Daddy Nose Best-Eddielogan

+6

+3

7th, 5 ½

7th, 5

5th, 3 ¼

Daddy Nose Best-Alw48000n1x

+22

+15

3rd, 1

1, 2 ¼

1st by 3 ¼

Daddy Nose Best-BCjuvtrf

+12

+10

9th, 4 ¾

7th, 4 ½

6th, 3 ¾

Alpha-Woodmem

+8

+4

4th, 2 ½

2nd, 1 ½

2nd, neck

Alpha-BCjuvy

+14

+11

12th, 9 ¾

12th, 15

11th, 19 ½

Prospective-Bluegrass

+22

+16

8th, 4 ¾

7th, 8

6th, 6 ½

Prospective-BCjuvy

+14

+11

8th, 6 ½

11th, 13

13th, 20 ¼

Went The Day Well

n//a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Hansen-Bluegrass

+21

+16

1st, 1

1st, 2 ½

2nd, 1 ¼

Hansen-Gotham

+1

+4

2nd, head

1st, 3

1st by 3

Hansen-Holybull

+4

+5

1st, 1 ½

2nd, 1

2nd, 5

Gemologist-Woodmen

+8

+4

3rd, 2

1st, 1 ½

1st by a neck

Gemologist-Kyjc

+11

+5

2nd, ½

1st, ½

1st by 1 ¾

El Padrino-OC75k/n1x-N

+0

+2

3rd, 4

2nd, 1 ½

1st by 2

El Padrino-Mdn 51k

+16

+7

1st, 1

1st, 6 ½

1st by 12 ¾

Done Talking-Illderby

+3

+8

9th, 13

4th, 3 ¾

1st by ¾

Done Talking-Gotham

+1

+4

12th, 7 ½

10th, 16

10th, 20 ¾

Done Talking-Alw47000n1x

+4

+11

4th, 4

2nd, 3

1st by 1 ¾

Sabercat-Rebel

+5

+13

10th, 7 ¾

7th, 7

8th, 6 ¼

Sabercat-Dedjckpt

+15

+14

6th, 3 ¾

1st, head

1st by 4

I’ll Have Another-Hopeful

+7

+12

10th, 10

6th, 14

6th, 19

Liaison-Cshclfut

+3

+2

4th, 2

3rd, neck

1st, neck

My Adonis-Woodmem

+8

+4

2nd, 1

4th, 3 ½

7th, 9 ½

My Adonis-Gotham

+1

+4

3rd, ½

2nd, 3

2nd, 3

My Adonis-Holybull

+4

+5

6th, 11

5th, 7 ½

3rd, 5 ½

Some things that jump out at me:

  • El Padrino, Done Talking, Dullahan, Gemologist, and Hansen have all won twice against a hot pace, while Rousing Sermon and My Adonis have hit the board two times. I will be giving each of them serious consideration.
  • Other winners of fast races include: Union Rags, Daddy Nose Best, Sabercat, and Liaison. Other horses getting into the money: Optimizer, Take Charge Indy, Trinniberg, Creative Cause and Alpha.
  • Interestingly, Bodemeister and Went The Day Well have not seen any hot paces yet. I don't think Bodemeister can win given his style, but Went The Day Well may interest me because he possesses great final fraction numbers in races that crawled along. He could rate mid-pack and be just the type that unleashes a late surge to hit the board.
  • The horses that most interest me are those that have closed from five lengths back or more at the second call to hit the board (a more important consideration than merely winning to me, since I heavily play vertical exotics in this race). Horses that interest me on this point: Dullahan, having come from 5 3/4 back to win in the Bluegrass, and 8 3/4 back in the BC Juvenile to nab 4th. Rousing Sermon, who was 6 1/2 back in the Louisiana Derby and came in 3rd, and who was 7 1/2 back in the CashCall Futurity before closing fo 2nd. Done Talking, who moved from 13 back in the Illinois Derby to win.
  • Optimizer and Take Charge Indy both had races where they closed into the money, but both were within 4 1/2 lengths of the lead and I fear that may be too close to the pace we might see here.
  • Take Charge Indy, Creative Cause, Trinniberg (three times), and My Adonis all have had hot pace races where they were 1st or 2nd at the second call and failed to win. I think that makes them tosses for the 1-hole.
  • Can Hansen rate a little? He is hard to reckon with as he has never been worse than second in three races against above-par paces, which makes me wary to toss him. But can he go that fast with the added distance and still hold for fourth or better?

Ah, the Derby....the greatest horse race puzzle of them all.

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