It's that time of the year again when Derby questions come flooding in and some folks have asked me what I mean when I mention fractional time handicapping.
I've had some pretty fair luck handicapping the Derby over the last few years and always recommend folks consider fractional times whenever they are trying to handicap races where horses have not gone the distance. Of course, the Derby is exactly one of those races since none of the three year-olds have ever gone a mile and quarter (the Derby distance).
The illustrated and busy graph contains a solid line representing the fractional speed each of the illustrated Derby contenders ran in their last race. The dotted lines are the mathematical logarithmic trend lines for each horse, with the farthest point on the right representing their estimated last furlong speed in the Derby. I consider this to be the most important unknown when handicapping the Derby.
The three horses my math tells me to pay attention to are Maximum Security, Code of Honor and Cutting Humor. For example, Maximum Security averaged 12.1 seconds per furlong in the first 6 furlongs in his last race, the Florida Derby. He actually averaged slightly less than that for his last 3 furlongs in that race! That fractional pattern produces an expectation that he will get the Derby distance without losing much of his speed.
Of course, pace, weather post position and other factors that have not yet been determined will matter in the final handicapping process but in a year where there is no clear cut Triple Crown contender in my opinion, and the odds will be fairly high on many horses that have a chance, the fractions tell me that certain horses should get attention, while others should be dropped from my process.
I hope this helps explain fractional time handicapping, and with Omaha Beach and Roadster likely going the favorites at 7/2 or so, my top 3 are 6/1, 18/1 and 60/1, a few exotics seem to be in order this year.
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.