Here is a link to the consolidated race videos of the top Derby contenders. For novice handicappers, the key to predicting future race results is to properly analyze past results AND PROPERLY ANALYZE THE VIDEOS ASSOCIATED WITH THOSE RESULTS. For example, several horses won big races. Seven horses in the field won their last big race. Some won by many lengths. However, the real question is, "How did they win those races and how tough was their competition?" For example, look at Frosted's last race in the Wood Memorial.
Frosted had never run a triple digit speed rating in his life. Then suddenly in the Wood Memorial, he ran way over a triple digit number. In fact based on my speed rating methods, he had the highest such number of all the horses in the Derby! He also, as I posted before the Wood on Facebook, had likely tieback surgery to stop him from entrapping before that last race. If you analyze the Wood video, he came from dead last, ran the entire race wide thus running farther than any horse in the field, was never whipped or even shaken up with the reins. Frosted's result? He drew off comfortably to achieve the highest speed rating of all horses in the Derby field, again based on my speed rating method.
With all of this said, the pace in the Wood was very slow which means for all those who do not know, that a horse that comes from off the pace should have had a very hard time catching the front runners. However, Frosted blew by them without any urging. Importantly, my analysis of fractional times would indicate that Frosted showed very little fade in the Wood and therefore should get the Derby distance of 1 &1/4 miles. Wow!
The only thing going against Frosted is that I do not think he faced the toughest of competition in the Wood but at 16 to 1, Frosted can not be dismissed in the Derby, which should be run at a fast pace. Several speed horses need to be near the lead, and with the favorite American Pharoah drawing the 18th post position, he will likely push the pace from the outside in front of the field because he needs to be near the lead and try to get as close as possible to the rail to save ground in the turns. This expected fast early pace could shape the race nicely for a stalker like Frosted.
In my book, this is the best Derby field I have seen in years. If the competition wasn't so strong, I'd be thinking American Pharoah just might be one of the best horses I've seen in many years. Right now I think my best bets will likely be Frosted (16/1), Mubtaahij (20/1) and Firing Line (12/1), though I think American Pharoah is the best horse and Dortmund will be in the mix, but a poor bet.
Anyway watch the videos and see who had rough trips, went wide thus running farther, and who won easy without being urged. You might find your next Derby winner by looking close. Here's the link:
Well our trainer Gary Scherer and all of our horses will arrive at Canterbury Park this weekend. A few, like BJ’s Angel are already here.
Our two year olds, after being prepped down south this year in Louisiana at Cross Creek Farm, have been in Chicago at Hawthorne for a while now. They are track tested and have been running down the lane under Gary’s watchful eye. We haven’t seen our two year olds in almost 6 months and Gary says we’re going to like what we see when we see them this year. Victory Ice, privately purchased from breeders Rick and Joyce Osborne, out of Halfkarat by Brave Victory, is a particularly athletic 2 year old filly according to Gary.
While I really look forward to seeing the best Derby field in many years this Saturday, I am even more excited to wander around the Canterbury backside and see our 7 horse stable next week. Should be a great year and I hope to see many of you at the track.
What do I mean by fractional times when picking a Derby winner? While things like dosage and average winning distance of a horse’s sire & dam’s sire help handicappers understand if a horse can get the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles, I like to study the actual finishing speed of horses in longer races. In other words, all horses run races faster at the beginning than they do at the end. It’s fiction to think they speed up down the stretch. The truth is that certain horses simply have more stamina and do not fade as much as others down the stretch. So I measure the fade by studying fractional times.
I can do this because the leading horse fractional times are published for every race, as are the lengths a horse trails the leader by at various points. That combination of data allows me to track an individual horse’s speed at different points in the race. In general, every length is equal to about 1/5th of a second. For example, I know that American Pharaoh ran his last furlong in the Arkansas Derby in about 12.6 seconds. I also know that he did not show much of a fade in that 1 1/8th mile race down the stretch, and he was not whipped or even shaken up (shaking of the reins) down the stretch!
Both Frosted and surprisingly Firing Line, who won the Sunland Derby by 14 lengths in his last out after just losing to Dortmund by a head in both of his prior two races, also showed only a slight fade at the 1 & 1/8th mile distance. But here’s the most interesting horse for me, Mubtaahij.
Because he has been racing overseas I can’t get at the fractional times in a chart but I analyzed the video of his easy win at the 1 & 3/16th mile distance in the U.A.E. $2,000,000 Derby. The video had a running clock, and they mark the last 300 meters of the race. So after a series of calculations and conversions, I found he ran his last furlong in 12.5 seconds and amazingly showed NO FADE but in fact a slight 0.5% increase in speed down the stretch. I checked my calculations several times and they are far from official but if I am close to accurate, wow! He was also never ever whipped down the stretch, though he was “shaken up”.
I can only explain his stretch speed by him having a fascinating distance pedigree with the average winning distance of both his sire and his dam’s sire over 8.6 furlongs! If you what to see his surge in that race, here’s a link to the video.
Different tracks affect times differently but in the aggregate, since I am measuring fade, the track variation is less significant.
I also always wait for the post position draw to make my Derby picks but as of now I see American Pharaoh, Frosted and Firing Line as interesting but Mubtaahij is the most interesting of all.
Plus, here’s all the DERBY news that’s fit to print.
Folks sent me a couple Facebook messages about my last post related to understanding pedigree distance breeding in Triple Crown races, I constructed this comparison that I thought you'd find interesting.
Dosage is a calculated factor which considers the distance sires contained within a horse's pedigree were able to win. There's is a ton of information about dosage online if you are interested but, the lower the number the better a horse can typically run long.
Distance breeding has an effect on the Derby to a measurable degree considering 3 year olds running the 1 1/4 mile distance, but it has a huge effect on the Belmont at the 1 1/2 mile distance.
While I believe a study of Fractional Times and Average Winning Distance of sires is more effective in predicting distance capability, there is a proven correlation between dosage and distance. Of course, as with all things, there will be anomalies, just like you will occasionally throw snake eyes on two dice. (A known 1 in 36 event.) Though an anomaly may emerge, only knucklehead gamblers bet that it will.
Hope this helps and if you have more questions let me know.
“Nothing Ventured…..Nothing Ventured.”
In 2004, a horse named Smarty Jones swept the Derby and Preakness. As he then went for the Triple Crown in the Belmont, everybody seemed positive he was going to win. His “inevitable” win was so strongly supported that the early odds of 2 to 5 held right through post time. Unfortunately, Smarty Jones did not win the Belmont and now only has the distinction of being just one of the 13 horses to win both the Derby and Preakness, without taking the Triple Crown. Of course, last year we had to endure the California Chrome Triple Crown hype from all those folks who desperately want to see another Triple Crown winner. California Chrome was made the big favorite in the Belmont, near 4 to 5 odds, only to be beaten by Tonalist.
The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed, taking home that title in 1978. That means that no one under age 37 could have seen a Triple Crown winner and you would have to be over 40 to remember it! In fact the last living horse to win a Triple Crown, Seattle Slew, died in 2002, 13 years ago! Is it any wonder that a nation of casual observers, when it comes to racing, want to make sure their ticket is on the next Triple crown winner?
As I look at the 2015 Derby entries, my Smarty Jones memory is rather vivid. It doesn’t stand out because I thought Smarty Jones was any better than the other 12 horses that “almost” won a Triple Crown. It’s also not particularly significant because I had the winner of the 2004 Belmont, Birdstone, at 36 to 1 odds! It’s burned into the recesses of my mind because of a “know it all” young executive.
This now former CEO of a Fortune 100 company told a room full of other executives that there was no way Smarty Jones could lose the Belmont. After he dared everyone to bet against him at an executive dinner, being the ass that I am, I took him on saying I didn’t think Smarty Jones could possibly win at the 1 ½ mile Belmont. I didn’t think this just because Smarty had fairly grueling wins in the Derby and Preakness, but I said it because he didn’t have the breeding to make that distance. Anyway my argument with the young hotshot, who thought he knew everything just because he could do debits and credits on spreadsheets, continued until he asked, “Wanna bet?”
Now that’s a big mistake with me so of course I said “Yes.” He said “How much?” This was, of course, another mistake on his part. I said “Name it, ‘five thousand, ten thousand, one thousand, five hundred……whatever you want.” As with most false gamblers, he was flabbergasted by the amounts I threw out as if I was buying gum at a vending machine. Now embarrassed in front of all the other executives he was mouthing off to, he sheepishly said, “How about two hundred dollars because I don’t want to take all your money?” I laughed and said, “Well, if that’s what you think is a big gamble fine, I’ll take it.” So I got the field and he got Smarty Jones for $200.
Now, I’ve collected some pretty big bets in my life, and that Belmont Saturday was sweet. As I told my wife on the phone, “we are having a very good day,” which is my favorite Richard Dreyfuss line from the great horse race gambling movie, Let It Ride. Even though I made much more money on that Belmont Saturday, I never had more fun than collecting my $200 bet from that young know it all at our Monday morning executive meeting.
So what does this story have to do with the Derby? Maybe nothing. Today I see both Dortmund and American Pharaoh as possibly special horses. Carpe Diem and Frosted also have some real potential. On the other hand, I had a friend point out Mubtaahij, and I’m glad he did. He suggested I watch his last race and I was as blown away by his win in the $2,000,000 U. A. E. Derby. That win rivaled the wins by American Pharaoh and Dortmund in their last races. Over the years, I have also learned that dosage can be valuable in determining whether horse can get a certain distance, however late fractional times and the Average Winning Distance of the sire and dam’s sire tell a better story. Mubtaahij has a sire with an 8.6 furlong AWD and an 8.8 furlong AWD for the dam. American Pharaoh, by comparison, has a 7.4 and 6.3 respectively.
With all this said I’ll be looking for the best overlays in the Derby, and I assume Dortmund and American Pharaoh will get the biggest money at the betting window. However, any of the 5 horses mentioned may be my bet. I think all of these top horses can get the Derby distance including American Pharaoh, based on the fractions seen in their prior race. Nevertheless, my handicapping friend and I agree that Mubtaahij will likely be a solid overlay in the Derby. Oh, and regardless of what smart young “know it alls” say, BREEDING MATTERS.
Of course, my greatest hope is that Triple Crown hysteria occurs again to create easy money overlays in the Belmont. Whether it’s Dortmund, American Pharaoh, Frosted or Carpe Diem, I’m thinking Mubtaahij may be another good bet in the Belmont, if he doesn’t win the Derby. Oh by the way, I picked Tonalist via our Facebook page at 9 to 1 to beat California Chrome last year in the Belmont. Like I said, BREEDING MATTERS.
New angles, interviews with "real" experts, rankings of racetracks and more is now available to players in the April 2015 Horse Players Monthly. If you want to learn to be successful as a handicapper, this is a monthly must read, and you can also see where your favorite racetracks (Canterbury, Tampa, Hawthorne, Prarie Meadows, etc.) actually rate based upon payout, takeout, and other key factors. Find the link to this great publication on our handicapping page.
MN Racing starts in a month! Also since I was asked, here's a link to a website page which reflects a summary of the changes I would like to see implemented in racing. If you want the full article that was published in the Thoroughbred Times a few years back, message me.
Link to Eight Innovations Summary.
Yes, I had Frosted and a few of you who follow our Facebook page noticed that on Saturday. I liked the horse before, and much more, after the tie back surgery that alleviated his breathing problem. He became entrapped in his previous race so it was no surprise he ran the entrire Wood Memorial wide and still pulled away. For me, he may be the best bet in the Derby. FYI, you can like our page on Facebook for updates and find the page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Astar-Thoroughbreds/125247097543825?ref=bookmarks
Friends, a few of you have asked where I get my information, and now you will know. It's funny because I used to go to various websites to find out what was happening but now I go to my own "News" page on my Astarthor.com website. By building RSS feeds, I have four different main sources of daily information where I can click on the headline I'm interested in, and easily find out what's happening every morning.
Today a few of the headlines I was interested in included Dortmund as the ESPN power ranking leader for the Derby, Pimilico investing in some attractive gaming and racing options, Peter Lurie going to Hoosier Park and a Corinthian Colt was the top seller at Fasig Tipton in Texas where the gross sales number dropped almost 40% from last year. ........ and you can get it there also. Hit the link or go to the "News" page if you like.
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.