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.
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.