| Sat 29/04/2017 - 04:10 EDT

Kentucky Derby Betting Trends

Kentucky Derby Betting Trends

Trends to Toss

In 2006, there hadn't been a Kentucky Derby winner to enter the race off a layoff of five weeks or more in 50 years. So when trainer Michael Matz intentionally planned for his star runner Barabaro to run in the Derby exactly five weeks after his win in the Florida Derby, there was plenty of ridicule and disbelief from the pundits. The naysayers were quickly silenced, however, when Barbaro opened up in the Churchill Downs stretch on the first Saturday in May, easily dispatching the field by a widening six lengths.

To make an obvious point, the best horse won and the historical trend was rendered laughably irrelevant. Clearly, none of the runners entering the Derby off five weeks of rest during that 50-year span were of Barbaro's caliber. The following year, some doubted Street Sense's credibility as the Derby favorite simply because he had won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile the previous year and no horse with that accomplishment had managed to win the Derby. Again, the best horse won.

Historical trends provide a good bit of trivia, but they are not particularly useful handicapping tools. In 2008 Big Brown won the Derby despite just three previous career starts - something that had not been done since 1915. So, aside from bucking historical trends to win the Kentucky Derby, what do Barbaro, Street Sense and Big Brown all have in common? The answer is profoundly simple. They were more accomplished, better and simply faster than their opposition. Even the most cursory glance at any of the three colt's speed figures before the race would have revealed this fact. 

Speed: The Statistic to Consider

Beyer Numbers

In a game full of nuance and variables, there is one immutable truth: fast horses usually beat slow horses. Whether we are handicapping the Kentucky Derby, or a mid-level claiming race, speed figures matter. Beyer Speed Figures, which are exclusive to The Daily Racing Form, are probably the most common and widely-used handicapping instrument, yet bettors still seemingly miss the obvious with regularity. Despite a trend of declining Beyer Speed Figures for Kentucky Derby winners of the last 15 years, no horse has won the race with a figure of less than 100. 

While this year's Kentucky Derby contenders may have a case of the slows, let's look at the top performers according to their career-best Beyer Speed Figures:

  1. Classic Empire (top Beyer of 102 in 2016 BC Juvenile
  2. Irish War Cray (top Beyer of 101 in Wood Memorial)
  3. J Boys Echo (top Beyer of 101 in Gotham Stakes)
  4. Hence (top Beyer of 97 earned in Sunland Park Derby)
  5. Always Dreaming (top Beyer of 97 earned in Florida Derby)
  6. Gunnevera (top Beyer of 97 earned in Fountain of Youth Stakes)

Clearly, there's very little separating the top contenders. Classic Empire might get special consideration given that the horse has missed training time this year, just won the Arkansas Derby with a 94 Beyer, and ran a faster figure as a two year-old. He might be sitting on a big race for trainer Mark Casse who also excels with horses making their second start following a 30-60 day layoff, which will describe Classic Empire's circumstances in the Kentucky Derby

Always Dreaming's Florida Derby can be looked at from conflicting viewpoints. On the positive side, the lightly-raced colt looked powerful stalking a fast pace and powering away from a pretty good field. On the cynical end of things, that effort was a huge step forward for the colt who might suffer a "bounce" or regressive effort in the Kentucky Derby. Then there's his trainer, Todd Pletcher, who has 1 win from 43 Derby starters. While that represents a historical trend that has nothing to do with Always Dreaming, it's worthy to question the trainer's preparation of Derby horses. 

Hence might be the runner to take notice of and will be available at a good price despite his credentials. This Steve Asmussen-trained colt didn't raise many eyebrows with his Sunland Derby win, but that race was much better than it appeared. Not only did this handsome son of Street Boss earn a very competitive Beyer, but he also defeated eventual Bluegrass Stakes winner Irap and Arkansas Derby runner-up Conquest Mo Money. In short, his form has been validated. Hence will be making his third start off the layoff which often produces any runner's best effort. 

Like Hence, Gunnevera is another classy horse with a late-running style that might be suited for the 10 furlong Kentucky Derby. Gunnevera ran right by Classic Empire in the Holy Bull and soundly defeated Irish War Cry in the Fountain of Youth. 

As bettors whittle down their Derby selections, they should consider a multitude of factors, but remember that speed is the purest indicator of talent.

    Category : More news

    More articles...
    More news - 20/11/20
    Bet365 will own a big piece of the sports betting pie by 2024 

    With the online gambling market expected to grow by over $100 billion in the next five years, Bet365 is positioned to become one of the market leaders. The UK-based company is recording significant growths in recent years and had already taken over the UK in just over ten years since it was created in 2000. Both Bet365 and the online gambling market will keep growing for many reasons.

    More news - 18/11/20
    Best Slot Games of 2020 

    Slot games are a staple to any online casino and while most of them are fun and can pay out, the ten best slot games of 2020 are the cream of the crop. These slot games will dazzle, excite, and reward you for investing in them.

    More news - 17/11/20
    2020 US Election - Record $1 Billion Wagered On Presidential Outcome 

    The 2020 US Presidential election proved to be the largest betting event ever recorded. More than $1 billion was wagered on the contest between incumbent Republican Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden. And even though the networks have declared Biden the winner, Trump's refusal to accept the outcome and his ensuing court challenges are leaving Biden backers still waiting to cash in their winning bet tickets on the election.

    More news - 16/11/20
    Off Track Betting in Ontario - Best Places to Bet on Horse Racing 

    This article will tell you everything you need to know about Off-Track Betting in Ontario. The best sports bars, the best online racebooks, and will even offer the best bets for Canadian horse racing! Canada has many places to bet on horse racing, even if it is not at the track. That is why off-track betting was invented!