Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Handicapping the KY Derby

   Here's what I do to handicap the Derby and what I look for in a Derby horse. One of the first things I do is narrow down the field  to somewhere around 8 horses depending on the quality of the field. I really don't do anything final until I see how every horse takes to the CD track, obviously, it would be stupid not to, so really it comes down to the pp draw and then I make my final choices which is about 6 horses give or take depending on the field, same as you. But in terms of what I look for in a Derby horse, it is their pedigree, running style, their preps and my favorite thing to look for is who has a quick turn of foot with a nice, late kick (e.g. Afleet Alex and Street Sense).
   I have found that those PFs and pace parameters are pretty accurate, too, no matter what people say about them. However, I dismiss horses who have a high PF in a sprint and then come out with a lower one in a route and that don't have the pedigree/running style like The Factor (even though he has the highest PF, he doesn't fit my profile - I didn't like him in the AD if you look at my comments on him before the AD), although he might not run anyway, but that's an example. The other horses with high PFs - Pants on Fire, Nehro, Dialed In, MMM, Shackleford and Archarcharch are fine because of either having the pedigree, running style and/or nice preps.
   Another important thing I look at is a horse that is improving at the right time and who's figs go up with every start and added distance like Nehro and Midnight Interlude. Many will dismiss MI and in any other year I might do it to, but in this field he has a chance. But they will dismiss him because he just broke his maiden in March, but he is improving at the right time, his figs go up with every start and added distance, he has the pedigree (plenty of stamina from the bottom half with his dam winning at 9.5f and 11f and his bms at his best at or around 10f) and running style for the Derby, has Baffert as his trainer (a big plus with such a lightly raced horse!) and has a quick turn of foot which his sire and bms both had. Just watch the SA Derby again. He went 4w the 1st turn and then like 6w into the stretch. And most horses that would have to check up like he did, and so lightly raced, when coming to the wire would not come back that quick and pass up the horse they almost ran into and who had the momentum. It was very impressive and he should only improve off the 95 BSF and being so lightly raced. He is one to watch out for, trust me! My top 8 horses as of right now are: 1. Dialed In 2. Nehro 3. Mucho Macho Man 4. Midnight Interlude 5. Uncle Mo 6. Archarcharch 7. Pants On Fire and 8. Toby's Corner. But that could change depending on the works and post positions. Hopefully that helped a bit! I will get more detailed about each horse and the preps as we get closer and closer to the Derby! GOOD LUCK!


  1. I'm in complete agreement with your top 8 list. Now that Shackleford's in, would you be inclined to add him to your list given his impressive run in the Fl Derby with a -54 PF?

  2. That's a very good question! I'll have to look and see what he's all about cuz I haven't looked at him that much/handicapped him yet. I don't like the fact he's by Forestry who produces mainly sprinter/miler types, although he gets some stamina from the bottom half of his pedigree. He did run a good 2nd to DI in his last prep at 9f, however he came home in almost 14s for his final 1/8 (which doesn't scream give me another furlong) and it looks like he'll need to go to the lead in the Derby to have a shot and i don't see him winning it from there with other speed horses right there pressing him. He could show up in the top 4 though, so it's up to you but I like others much better and will probably pass on him.

  3. Thanks for answering my question Brent. I've been paying close attention to your posts on HRN for some time now and am very impressed with your insight and methodology to handicapping.

  4. No problem! Thanks for the compliments! No one has ever really said that before. Or if they have they put it in lesser terms. That means a lot to me cuz I've always thought I have had a pretty good style of handicapping and have proven myself over many years of betting. Who are you anyway, if you don't mind me asking?

  5. Well, believe it or not, my name is Brent too. I haven't registered to post comments on any sites yet but I check them out every day to see what's going on. I mostly go to HRN, BH and DRF and use Equibase for my handicapping. I've always been interested in horse racing but haven't had the time until recently to be involved in it so I'm pretty green at handicapping.

    I think 4 of the contestants on your list of 8 will come in 1-4. I've been trying to construct a $1 super for the derby but given the quality of the field with the above 8 of relatively equal talent with DI and Mo being soft favorites, it's difficult to do a wheel and very expensive to do a box because I can't see leaving any of the above 8 out. If I'm going to shoot the works I might as well play a Super HI-5.

    I don't have any criticisms for any of the colts on the list except I think Mo may have distace questions and I don't think Two Punch on the dam side is doing MMM any favors for distance, which is too bad. I really like all of the horses on your list, particularly Dialed in and Nehro, but I've been been most impressed with MMM's heart. To me, his LA Derby performance on three shoes speaks to the colt's grit and determination. AAA seems like a really good colt too. In short, it seems to me that all 8 have an equal shot at winning or coming in 2,3,4.

    I'm sentimental toward the A.P. Indy line because I think Big Red and Slew were two of the greatest ever. I'm also a fan of Afleet Alex. The '05 Preakness and Belmont were both monumental.

    It will be interesting to see how things develop leading up to May 7 but in the meantime I'll be following the works as you suggested and I'll be interested in your observations.

  6. No, you're exactly right about MMM and Mo. And if you look (I just checked) on MI's comment page, on down a little I said that I don't think MMM is a 10f horse. Well, here it is...brent.austin.neikirk "Yeah, my top 3 as of right now are Nehro, Midnight Interlude and Pants on Fire! It looks like all 3 are improving at the right time and are coming into this race off of excellent prep runs. I also like MMM, but I don't think he is a 10f horse. Mo could be tough if he runs anywhere near his 2-yo form and of course DI and Archarcharch are tough and have the running style/stamina to excel in the Derby! Good luck to all!!" 20 hours ago.

    MMM is a great horse, but the extra furlong worries me a bit! I think he is more of an 8-9f horse, but his class and heart could carry him the extra furlong. And Mo is not a 10f horse either. I use to think that he might be able to get the 10f because he has showed he can rate and having Arch as his bms gives him some much needed stamina and of course his class, but now I don't think he is and is more of an 8-9f horse. I don't like either MMM or Mo for the win, but I do like them to possibly finish in the top 4 because they're both great horses/runners in a weak field.
    Yeah, I'm also a big Afleet Alex fan. He is one of my favorite horses of all time and in all honesty, I picked him out as my Derby pick after I saw his awesome, strong late kick in the BC Juvy in his 2-yo year even though he finished 3rd in that race. I absolutely love horses that have a strong, late kick, especially for the Derby. That's why I like MI so much. He has a great late kick and turn of foot which will serve him well in the large Derby field. And Nehro has a good late kick as well and as you know by now, is my Derby pick! I believe Nehro will love the extra furlong and will be at his best at or around 10f, now and in the future.
    I, too, mainly use HRN, Bloodhorse and DRF, but I also like and use the pace parameters and PFs every year for the Derby and is a pretty good one as well.
    In this year's field, there are not too many horses that look like 10f horses, so I think a key factor come May 7th will be those horses that can stay the 10f. And believe it or not that extra furlong is a lot for young 3-yos to overcome. I mean, if you look at past Derbies and pick out some horses that looked pretty good at 9f and looked like a good horse to bet on in the Derby (look at their pedigrees too), some of them, once they get halfway down the stretch, hit a wall and run back up the track. So, a lot of people dismiss the fact that the extra furlong isn't that important and that if a horse ran well at 9f, then they'll have no problem getting the 10. So anyway, the horses that I think are geared toward the Classics, especially the 10f Derby distance are the following: Nehro, MI, DI, Archarcharch, Brilliant Speed (although he's geared towards the turf/synthetics), MoH, PoF is tricky because of his running style, but he has the pedigree to last 10f, though some would disagree with me, but his sire produced Rail Trip who won at 10f and his dam is a half-sister to Key Hunter, the winner of the off-the-turf Russian Tango Handicap going 10 furlongs at Gulfstream and Cape Town provides some stamina, too, as his dam, Seaside Attraction (which is the chromosome/genes Cape Town passes on to Cabo de Noche, I don't know if you know much about genetics, but I have pretty good knowledge on the subject as I was a biology major in college and have studied the passing of the LH gene), by the great Seattle Slew, who obviously won at 10f, 12f, etc., is in the X-passing position which is a key position in the pedigree to determining the large heart gene. Sorry, I'm kind of going off on a tangent. So anyway, the other horse that is geared towards 10f is Santiva, so all the others are pretty much 9f or less horses. And if I left any out it's because they don't have a shot at winning the Derby.

  7. Thanks Brent. Brilliant Speed wasn't even on my radar screen. I'm presently reading all the pedigree analysis' from, Iron Maidens, HRN articles and wherever else I can dig them up.

    One item of note: as I stated above, I've been keenly interested in following your comments on HRN and I've probably read them all so far but have tried highlighting your user name to see if I missed any. Usually highlighting the user name brings up a profile page with a history of comments and ratings, personal information, etc.. submitted by the poster. When I highlight your user name however, the page shows "error".

    I think it would be of great benefit to people like me (I need all the help I can get) if we could access the comment history of the relatively select few on that site who exhibit an in depth knowledge and actually know what they're talking about.

    I'm not very astute at genetics but have a rudimentary understanding. I'm intrigued with "the x factor" which I understand is passed strictly on the dam side. Please correct me if I'm mistaken, I think I read somewhere that a colt generally gets his speed from the sire and stamina from the dam. Interesting note on DI, he has Big Red top and bottom so he may well be gifted with the "Princequillo heart" gene from the bottom via Terlingua? The author of The X Factor says this is 100% reliable.

  8. Yeah, I forgot about the user "home page". I just tried clicking on my own name and it won't take me there either. Like you said, it says error. But yeah, the "X-factor" or Large Heart gene, is rather intriguing! I'm sure you probably already know this, but the female has 2 X-chromosomes and the male has a Y and an X chromosome and the LH gene is only carried on the X-chromosome. So, when you have a colt, the sire passes on his Y-chromosome and the dam passes on the X-chromosome, so the LH gene can only be passed through the dam's side of the pedigree when it's a colt. That's why broodmare sires are very important because they have to pass on their X-chromosome to the broodmare. And the bms can only receive his X-chromosome from his dam. So that's why the "X-passing position" that I was talking about is very important as well. It is easier to track the LH gene when you go female (dam) male, female, male, etc, cuz the male HAS to pass on his only X-chromosome, whereas a female passing to another female, the LH gene can get lost or not passed on because of the females having 2 X-chromosomes. But then you can get into Double-copy mares, which have the LH gene on both chromosomes. Sorry if I'm telling you the stuff you already know. So yeah, I had a list of all or most all of the more modern double-copy mares. I'll see if I can find it, unless you already have one.

    So you know the 4 main large-heart lines, right? The 4 major modern carriers: Princequillo- found to transmit the very largest heart of them all, this is the heart Secretariat was running on. He received it from his dam: Somethingroyal, a daughter of Princequillo. War Admiral- the second largest variation of this gene, this comes to War Admiral from his dam: Brush Up, a daughter of Sweep. The great champion Seattle Slew ran on this heart and this same heart was found in the champion Whirlaway who received it from another daughter of Sweep. Blue Larkspur- almost as big as the War Admiral heart, the great Roberto conquered the Europeans with this heart. Mahmoud- The English Derby winner, gave his large heart to Northern Dancer.

    And about DI, yes, his bms, Storm Cat, has the LH gene that he got from Terlingua, etc. and passes it on to DI's dam, Miss Doolittle, BUT since females have 2 X-chromosomes, Miss Doolittle could pass on her other X-chromosome that she got from her dam, Eliza. This is why double-copy mares are very important in determining if a horse has the LH gene. So then you have to figure out if Eliza had the LH gene on one or both of her chromosomes and it goes on and on. I'm not sure if she does or not right now, but I do know she was a 2-yo champion so that is a good indicator that she might be a carrier! You pretty much just have to keep going back in the pedigree and mapping it out unless you know for sure if a mare has a double copy, like that of AP Indy's dam, Weekend Suprise and Terlingua. I know a few off the top of my head. Lassie Dear, dam of Weekend Surprise...umm...Seattle Slew's dam, My Charmer...Natalma, Northern Dancer's dam. I'll try to go over the top Derby contenders and see if I can map out their pedigree and come up with a percentage of them having the LH gene.

    For example, take a colt's dam, if you know her sire has the LH gene and her dam is a double copy mare, then the colt in question has a 100% chance that he received the LH gene. But if the dam's dam was just a single copy mare then the percentage goes down for the colt in question. You might already know this. Just trying to help out in any gray areas you might have.

    1. Hi Brent, I think you forgot to 'quote' me. has informed me that you have lifted the paragraph of the 4 main large heart carriers from my webpage : I don't mind people quoting me, or putting a link to my articles, but I do mind them lifting my work without identifying it as mine. I believe it is just an oversight as I see in your other blogs that you do put the web address of your sources. So do me a favor and put my site page in with the quote. Thanks. Kathleen Kirsan

  9. Yeah, I think a list of the double copy mares in the Derby runners' bloodlines would provide us with some insight that the public tends to overlook. With that said, as they say, "anything can happen".

    Logic would dictate that even if some of the borderline pedigrees can hit the board, the strong stamina pedigrees stand a much better chance.

    I'm of the opinion that a colt cannot necessarily be expected to outrun his pedigree but a colt with the right pedigree could reasonably be expected to perform according to his genetic predisposition to the distance.

    On the other hand, "anything can happen", e.g., it stands to reason that the colt with the 22 lb. heart won the '73 Belmont by 31 lengths but the same reasoning would dictate that the colt with the 18 lb. heart would finish a respectable second, yet Sham ran out of steam and finished last. And on that note, even the "tremendous machine" didn't win all of his races.

  10. No doubt! Anything can happen. One can be the best handicapper in the world and still lose. I try to make the best educated guess that I can and play the percentages. Most of the time I do rather well, but you cant win 'em all and you'll have those "Mine that Bird horses" once in a while. But that's what makes it fun and why it's called gambling! Lol!

  11. I recently had 5 question marks on my list as to starters. The Factor, Jaycito and JP's Gusto erased three of them. Only two tentative question marks left now and it looks like Mo is a go as well as CTTT, so, it would seem that barring any unforeseen defections, the field is pretty much set.

    Throwouts=Twinspired, Watch Me Go, Decisive Moment, Twice The Appeal, Comma To The Top.

    I would add Animal Kingdom but Shutty likes him to hit the board. I'm having difficulty assigning a running style to this guy; he's all over the place. I usually assign the term "versatile" but that's usually for animals I consider more talented. Also first time dirt. Don't know what to think of him given the Shutty recomendation. I'm just not very impressed for some reason.

  12. On 4/23 he worked 5 in 1:02.80 @ Keeneland which doesn't blow my skirt up and besides that it's on syn which really doesn't tell me much. I wonder if he's going to work @ CD before 5/7.

  13. Oh, I see he's scheduled to work Sat @ CD. We'll see.

  14. Yeah, I don't like him. I had him in the Spiral, but for the Derby I don't like him, mainly because I like others much more. He came home very slow in the Spiral and he's not a dirt horse. Plus, he barely got by Decisive Moment who was pretty much on the pace setting some very fast fractions, so that's not very impressive AT ALL! But put it this way, I don't think he can beat Nehro, MI, MMM, DI,, obviously, that means I don't have him hitting the board. That's just my opinion of him, though. I even like Brilliant Speed more than AK. And a lot of the time when a horse first encounters dirt, you don't know how they will react to getting dirt kicked up in their face, but most don't like it. And with such a large field, he will be behind horses in the get-going, so he'll have dirt getting kicked up in his face and something tells me he won't like it. I'm tossin', but like I said, mainly because I like my top 8 much more!

  15. Wow! Sounds like Dialed In is in great shape! Getting his last 1/8 in :11.62 w/o any urging, too! Very nice!

  16. Although, it was just a 4f work. But still, doing that all by himself is impressive!

  17. Re AK I agree. I would consider him at best perhaps the best of the second stringers, i.e., will do no better than fifth and probably not even that close.

  18. I don't know if you have the brisnet pps, but here they are:

  19. So now, minus The Factor, here are the top 5 in PFs: 1. Pants on Fire (-57) 2. Nehro (-56) 3. MMM, Dialed In and Shackleford are tied (-54), so that's your top 5 horses, but then you got Archarcharch (-53). MMM and Nehro also have a -52 and DI along with his -54, has a -50.
    So, as you know, the top 5 in PFs since '98 have won 77% of the races!! I'll take those odds all day long!!
    Also, the Derby winners have been among the top 5 in 3Fr, 10f and TE, 8 times each. Here are the top 5 in each:

    3Fr - 1. Uncle Mo 2. Brilliant Speed 3. Twinspired 4. Dialed In 5. MMM.

    10f - 1. Dialed In 2. Midnight Interlude 3. Twice the Appeal 4. Uncle Mo 5. CTTT.

    TE - 1. Uncle Mo 2. Dialed In 3. Twice the Appeal 4. Midnight Interlude 5. Brilliant Speed

  20. I made note of those PF numbers when you posted them on HRN and then I went to chefs-de-race. I had also previously used chefs-de-race to get dosage indexes after I read about them in an article. Do you put much stock in DI's?

    So much of this technical stuff is new to me cause like I said, I've just gotten involved in this fairly recent although I've been a spectator most of my life, just not a handicapper.

    As to the other stats though, I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the abreviations. Does 3Fr stand for third fraction? Don't know what 10f means, I could only guess it refers to 10 furlongs and have no idea what TE refers to. Sorry to show my ignorance (but I'm a fast learner).

    By the way, did you graduate from UK?

  21. No, I don't put much stock into dosage indexes because there are non-chef-de-races that have juat as much influence on a horse's performance/distance ability.
    If you go to the cdr site and click on 2011 ky derby pace parameters or leading contenders, it will explain 3Fr (you're right, 3rd fraction), 10f (10 furlong time) and TE (total energy).
    And no I didn't graduate from UK, but I have a lot of friends that did. I went to Georgetown College (about 15 min. North of Lexington, KY).

  22. Thanks, I'll check that out. I knew some girls that went to Georgetown (dated one of them). I graduated from Transy.

  23. That's funny cuz I dated a few chics that went to Transy. Did u know a girl named Stefanie Scalcucci? She graduated in...I think was '04. Ashley Delaney?

  24. I'm sorry to say I'm not as young as I used to be, it happens if you live long enough, but I still think young.

    I graduated in '82 so I probably don't know anyone you would know that went to Transy unless their old enough to be your parents.

  25. Oh, my bad! I just assumed you were somewhere around my age.

    So anyway, how's the handicapping going for you up to this point? It's funny cuz sometimes the more you look at it and the more you read other people's comments the more perplexed you become. Though, I hope I'm helping and making it more clear. If I were pressed into choosing 6 horses right now, I would take Nehro, MI, DI, Mo, MMM and TC. But don't get me wrong, I still like PoF and Archx3, but their running styles are what would make me toss 'em. PoF could get caught up in a speed duel with Shackleford or Soldat or even chase fast fractions and not have enough left in the stretch getting passed by Nehro, DI,, that makes me worry about him a bit. And regarding Archx3, he's at his best when he settles than comes with one big move entering the stretch and with a big field like the Derby he could get caught up behind horses or go very wide and his running style wouldn't help him if that occured, although with the perfect trip he's very dangerous. And I know, you could say that about any horse, but I just don't think he has the tactical speed to move in and out of traffic because like I said, he is at his best when he has one big move without any interference from other horses or having to check up. Who knows though, I could be wrong about him. So, it's hard to narrow it down to 6 cuz I do like the other 2, but it must be done so that you don't spend a fortune on one exotics bet.

    But what should help us out a ton is their post positions. So, if one or two of the top 6 gets a bad post, especially speed horses/stalkers on far outside posts like MMM or Mo in post 19, 20, etc., then PoF and/or Archx3 could make it back in my top 6. So, the final works and pps will help us to narrow our top contenders.

  26. After a quick study, I would tend to put the most weight on PF's (10 times), then 3Fr (8 times), followed by TE (8 times) and finally 10f (7 times). 10f is essetntially a theoretical is it not? In that context, I just can't see CTTT performing according to the extrapolation. I think he'll run out of gas well before 10 furlongs. Only question is will he cause POF to burn up too. I think were it not for CTTT there would be a possibility of POF leading uncontested provided Soldat and maybe Shackleford get caught in traffic.

    As an aside, I was there in '85 and had Spend A Buck across the board. He wired it and ran the third fastest at that time. Interesting that you were there for Monarchos.

  27. In case you haven't already read this, I find this article rather insightful as well as amusing: "Inscrutable" by Bill Christine

  28. Yeah, I put the most weight into PFs and not so much on the 10f because it is theoretical. But the 3Fr and TE are good factors to consider.
    I pretty much look at their PFs, pedigree, running style, are they improving with added distance/good figs?, their works and/or how they take to the CD dirt and does it look like they will peak for the Derby and primed to have their best performance of the year, so far. This is why horses like Nehro and MI stand out and DI and TC.

  29. Regarding Dialed In, and this is just my unscientific opinion , he seems like a very intelligent animal who has performed consistently according to his training, i.e. there's no mystery as to what his style is or what he's going to do. He reminds me of Zenyatta in more ways than one; dark brown or bay, white shadow roll, deep closer, doesn't set any speed records but has a nose for the wire and DOES JUST ENOUGH TO WIN and not a smidgen more. While others may look better on paper, we should keep this in mind. I'll have in in all 4 spots just to be safe.

  30. I agree 100%!!! I've been high on this guy ever since I watched him win his maiden at CD and was very impressed. He's lightly raced so he should only improve off his last. Will get the pace he needs to make a big run coming down the stretch. He won the Fla Derby on a track that was not setting up for closers which is all the more impressive. I really do think it comes down to the 2 Mineshaft colts for the win. I prefer Nehro, but DI is just as lively. I love both of their pedigrees and both should be charging late and passing tired rivals no matter where they are in the get-going.

    I'm also REALLY liking Midnight Interlude and as some will dismiss him because of being so lightly raced and just breaking his maiden in March, I think he's better than 3/4 of the field and is improving at the right time. He has the pedigree to excel in the Classics and has a great turn of foot that I love in a Derby horse! Baffert said that this horse doesn't get tired: “He’s a heck of a horse; he doesn’t get tired,” Baffert said on Tuesday morning after Midnight Interlude breezed six furlongs in 1:13.60 in company with multiple graded stakes winner Mythical Power. “He can get the distance. It takes him awhile to get going, but he’s fast when he does.”

    I think starting Monday I'll put together a detailed analysis of the top contenders, maybe like 2 or 3 a day through Friday. Are there any questions/suggestions that you have for me? Or anything you want to see me put into the analysis? Figs, pedigree analysis, personal preferences, other info?

  31. WOW!!! Did you see Archarcharch's work? Getting 5f in :59.36 breaking a length behind his workmate, then finishing 7 lengths in front! All while setting very nice fractions! Maybe he has more speed than I originally thought. That's exactly what you want to see in a Derby horse just a week away from the race!

  32. Like I said, I think you've got the first four or five finishers nailed in your top 8 and the only two I'm not sure of are Mo and MMM for distance, but that doesn't mean they won't hit the board.

    My tops right now are DI, Nehro and AAA in all 4 spots to be safe. I think for second spot on down I like POF, Toby, MI, BS, MMM and Mo. I think that's a ticket that stands a decent chance of being cashed. But a $1 super with that kind of shotgun approach would cost $1008 so, short of going the ten cent or twenty cent route, I need to either do some more throwouts, be more selective in the positions or bust my picks out on different tickets and take my chances.

    If you put together a detailed analysis of the contenders that would be great. I can't think of anything I would add to what you've already done though. I think we've got them all; it's just a matter of getting them in the right order, i.e. prudent ticket construction.

    If I come across anything or think of something we might look for I'll bring it up but I think the bases are pretty well covered.

  33. Oh, I left out MOH, which would have me with 10 colts/half the field at this point. Looks like I need to do some fine tuning.

  34. Great info guys, Thanks a TON! This has really helped me narrow down my selections...

    My Top 5 as of today
    Archx3,Nehro,Dialed In,Midnight Interlude,Uncle Mo,and Mucho Macho Man

    I will continue to monitor the works as we countdown til D-Day! 8 days 6 hours to go!

  35. Should have said Top 6 :)

  36. Provided I remain confident in my top three: DI, AAA & Nehro, I can keep those three and revolve the fourth colt on ten boxes for $240. That's certainly doable.

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Lane: No problem! That's why I created this site, to help us narrow down the field and hopefully hit the big super come May 7th! Like I said on HRN, I've hit the super only once, but it was a nice one! In '08 I hit the $1 super for just under $30k by singling BB and then went 5 deep. Let's hope we all can do something like that this year. Your top 6 is looking good so far.

    Brent: Like I said earlier, I think the post positions will help to narrow down the top 10 that you have listed to maybe 8 and then if we see BS not take to the CD dirt, then we can probably eliminate him, too. So, maybe by this time next week we can have it to about 6 or 7. That sounds like a reasonable number to get it to from your 10. What do you think?

    I attempted to come up with a ratings index (Neikirk's Rating Index, NRI) last year by having different categories like figs, hitting the board in last prep, pedigree, works and so on setting point values to each category. Super Saver ended up in the top 5, but let's just say it needs some tweaking. It was basically just an experiment to see if it might be significant for Derbies to come. Not something to "put all your eggs into one basket" kind of thing. So, I'll see what happens with it this year and maybe eventually I'll have it to where it's something you can really "put your money into". I haven't started grading this year's horses yet, so I'll probably either do it this weekend or next week sometime.

    I will, for sure, begin a detailed analysis of the Derby contenders on Monday. And hopefully, that will give us an idea of how each horse looks coming into this race and give their pros and cons and my opinion of the horse. Hope everything is helping, guys! I think we have a great shot at hitting the big super this year and it should be a very nice payout! The odds should be pretty well spread out.

  39. Awesome! I hope we can all ca$h in big this year! Ive never hit anything substantially large, maybe a $1k ticket or 2, but my grandma on the other hand has always been pretty lucky on D-day. In '06 I was with her, when she hit the $1 tri with Giacomo, that paid her over 60k. I couldnt even imagine what the super paid that day, whoever hit that im sure had a BIG :)

  40. That sounds great Brent. 10 is more than plenty but not too bad a start. Like you say, if somebody doesn't take to the track or gets a crumby post position they can probably be tossed.

    One housekeeping item; I'm not the handiest guy with technology, remember, I'm 50, which is probably really old to you guys and I've had no computer training. I tried to identify myself when I started posting but couldn't figure it out so had to select "Anonymous".

    Could you be so kind as to tell me what I need to do so I can identify myself by something other than "Anonymous"? Thanks.

  41. This really has been a great dialogue guys.

    Brent- I've been following on HRN for awhile and have been attempting my own sort of ratings system as well. Very novice though, so this is helping me to process all the thoughts. I'll post my top group on here soon, but I'm very much in "Anonymous" shoes. Tough to narrow from 10.

    The one horse that i've heard mentioned a few times on different sites is Toby's Corner. I don't really like anything about him, but I'm wondering why I don't. Thoughts?

  42. Brent, re your analysis, if it wouldn't put too much of a burden on your time you might consider looking for double copy mares on the dam side.

  43. Brian, I think Toby's Corner is a decent colt. At 6:4-0-1 with a win and a show in his graded starts you could do alot worse. Although I don't expect him to win, if the track is sloppy I think his chances go up. Just my opinion.

  44. Correction, he's 6:4-0-2 so he's won 66% and hit the board 100%.

  45. Brent, if you have a google account you can sign in using that, but if not just use the name/url profile and just put your name in, you don't have to provide a url.

  46. And Brian, I agree with Anonymous/Brent on TC. He hasn't done anything flashy, but he's pretty consistent and is improving at the right time. He has the pedigree/running style to excel at the Classic distances. He showed a great turn of foot in the Wood which is one of my key factors in selecting a Derby horse. Now, I don't like him for the win mainly because I like others much more, i.e. Nehro, DI, MI. Though, he should be good value and I'll use him in the bottom part of my exotic bets/supers. He received a 6 1/2 rag compared to others like DI's 7 in the Fla Derby, PoF's 7 in the LA Derby and MI's 5 in the SA Derby. And I think he will improve off of that rag # which is a big positive for him. His last 3 late pace numbers (Brisnet) are very good beginning with the latest, a 105 at 9f, a 102 at 8.5f and a 111 at 8.5f (all this year, too), which is exactly what you want from a Derby horse coming down the stretch passing tired rivals! In case you don't have them, here are his Brisnet pps:

  47. Brent, I'll try to see if I can come up with some double copy mares and even better I'll come up with the possible percentages of each horse's probability of having the LH gene. I'll explain how to do that if one is unfamilar with it. I'll be hitting it hard this weekend and all next week with good detailed analysis of each horse and their chances in the Derby. Anything you guys want me to add to the analysis besides what we've been talking about and going over this past week, let me know. I'm doing this so that we know exactly what each horse brings to the big race next Saturday and not having to sift through all the info and different sites trying to find their figs, times, pedigrees, works, etc. So, it will be handy to put all their info/analyses in one

  48. Thanks Brent. I go by Brent too, which is my middle name. My first name is Howard so in order to avoid confusion to the others as to who is posting I'll go by "Howy".

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Sounds good! I don't know if you have these sites regarding the LH gene, but these might help a little:

  51. I'll add anything I come up with to help.

    On that subject, it would appear that with the possible exception of Toby's Corner, Brilliant Speed and Twinspired, all of the works are in. Note: Can't find anything on MOH works in Europe either.

    To date (all are Breezing):
    Best 4f=DI 4/28 Palm Meadows/Dirt@ 48.40

    Top 4 5f:
    AAA 4/29 CD/D @ 59.40
    Stay 4/24 CD/D @ 1:00.00
    Shack 4/23 CD/D @ 1:00.20
    POF 4/23 PM/D @ 1:00.80

    Top 6f (waiting on TC)
    MI 4/26 CD/D @ 1:13.60

    Only one 7f to date
    MMM 4/24 CD/D @ 1:29.20

  52. Another great way, I think, to evaluate a horse's pedigree and their chances of becoming great is to look at their family's success. For example here is DI's pedigree and their earnings:

    If you go to and click on the Derby contenders, then click on the horse you want and just below his pic/name you'll see his sire-dam, bms' names and just click on that.

  53. Awesome, Howy! If we can start putting info like that on here, then I'll take it all and put it into each horse's analysis that I'll probably start on Monday, so that most if not all of the works and everything else should be in and ready to for post positions.

  54. Kentucky Derby Workouts through 4/30/2011 (to date, all are Breezing)

    4 Furlongs Date Track/Surface Time
    Dialed In 4/28 PM/D 48.40
    *Twinspired 4/9 CD/D 48.40
    Santiva 4/26 CD/D 49.20
    *Brilliant Speed 4/11 PM/D 51.00

    5 Furlongs
    Archarcharch 4/29 CD/D 59.40
    Stay Thirsty 4/24 CD/D 1:00.00
    Shackleford 4/23 CD/D 1:00.20
    Pants On Fire 4/23 PM/D 1:00.80
    Soldat 4/29 PM/D 1:01.40
    Decisive Moment 4/29 CD/D ` 1:01.40
    Uncle Mo 4/26 CD/D 1:01.80
    Comma To The Top 4/25 HP/S 1:02.40
    Watch Me Go 4/20 TB/D 1:02.60
    Animal Kingdom 4/23 KEE/S 1:02.80
    Nehro 4/25 CD/D 1:02.80

    6 Furlongs
    Midnight Interlude 4/26 CD/D 1:13.60
    *Toby’s Corner 4/3 FH/S 1:15.40
    Twice The Appeal 4/22 CD/D 1:17.20

    7 Furlongs
    Mucho Macho Man 4/24 CD/D 1:29.20

    Master Of Hounds Nothing found

  55. Got 'em a bit out of order: POF should come after Decisive Moment

  56. Wait a minute, it's ok as-is (my eyesight ain't so great) POF is fine where he is @ 1:00.80 (not 1:01.80).

  57. 4/30/2011 Works update-all Breezing CD/D

    5 Furlongs Time Rank

    Shackleford 58.80 1/36
    Mucho Macho Man 1:00.40 4/36
    Twinspired 1:01.20 5/13 (training track)

    6 Furlongs

    Animal Kingdom 1:13.00 2/9

  58. As of right now, it looks as though the CD dirt is running fast. Most of the works are fast and the Derby Trial yesterday was fast for the "2nd string 3-yos" when they set a fast and honest pace which set up for closer, Machen, who crossed the wire in a nice time of 1:35 2/5 for the 1 mile race.
    *Something to remember if we get these kind of conditions for the Derby next weekend.
    And by looking at Shackleford's work, it looks like he's ready and I'd say he'll go to the lead and set a fast but honest pace with CTTT and Soldat right with him. So, it looks like it will set up beautifully for a closer like Nehro, DI, Archx3 and the like as long as we get similar conditions. Now, we just need their post positions and we can start visualizing and mapping out the Derby trip.
    We also have a few more works from some Derby contenders and, like I said earlier, I can start on the detailed analyses which will include categories such as pedigree (including distance capabilities, X-factor, family success and personal analysis), prep races, works, figs (BSF, Brisnet, PFs and other important figs), my
    personal opinion and anything else that you can think of to add. We're getting there guys and I feel pretty good about what we've got and done so far. And we should feel even better once all of the works and post positions are in!

  59. It's supposed to rain today, Monday and Tuesday in Louisville. Partly cloudy Wednesday and Thursday.

    Hopefully it will be dry and fast by Saturday because if it's sloppy we could see an entirely different race.

    Toby won the Whirlaway on a wet track and "Soldat loves the slop" but I'm not so sure Soldat's pedigree will necessarily love the distance.

    We might consider an alternate setup if it looks like it will be a sloppy track by looking for potential mudders and having a closer look at the turf horses that would otherwise be throwouts on a fast track.

  60. 5/1/2011 Workouts. Churchill Dirt. Track wet.

    5 f Time Rank
    Uncle Mo 1:01.60 8/20
    Stay Thirsty 1:01.80 9/20

    4 f
    POF 47.80 7/37

    Fair Hill synthetic
    6 f
    Toby's Corner 1:15.00 2/5

  61. Note: All of the 5/1/11 works above were Breezing.

  62. Did you see how JV, a filly fo the Oaks, worked 5f in :59 1/5 over the same sloppy track that Mo and ST went 1:01 and change? What does that say about them? Maybe nothing, but I thought it was a bit interesting seeing that. Plus, PoF worked 4f in good time, :47 and change.
    Also, Machen's win yesterday, Nehro's 2nd in the Arkansas Derby and as good as MMM is, madke PoF's win in the LA Derby look very good!! He's had some excellent works as well! Plus, he has won on an off track. And depending on his pp, he could sit right off the leaders and get first jump coming into the stretch, just like his win last out. He should be great value, too!
    But yeah, we'll pick the mudders out just in case of a sloppy track on Derby day. And there are a few in our top 10.

  63. Yeah, if POF can rate behind the speed he's got a good shot.

    I find that works often don't tell me much. Perhaps because different trainers approach works differently and at different distances of course. If every one of them had the jockey make the horse go all out and all at the same distance that might tell me more.

    Case in point, I played the Appalachian and didn't have Dos Lunas because she had the slowest work as well as the longest odds. She came in second.

    Sometimes I get the impression that works are used to sandbag the public. More likely they use works to simply keep the horse in conditioning rather than to see what he can really do.

  64. For some reason I'm not surprised about Joyful Victory. The fillies this year seem faster and more consistent than the colts.

    R Heat Lightning ran a much faster race at Gulfstream than Dialed In did on the same day.

  65. Yeah, you can't put everything into the works in terms of their times, although if it's a fast work, it can tell you if the horse has good speed (I.e. Shackleford and even Archx3's works). They just help mesometimes gauge a horse and if it's what the trainer was wanting or looking for. But really, the main part of handicapping a horse for me comes from their prep races, figs and pedigree (mainly for Classic type races). So yeah, works aren't everything and one shouldn't throw out a horse because is wasn't fast.

  66. "More than I’ve ever done, I’m reading with keen interest the workout commentary from Mike Welsch in the Daily Racing Form and Bruno DeJulio at Grade One Racing. If somebody comes to Churchill Downs and just looks great and the clockers love him, it’s an indication a horse is stepping up from those 97s.” -

    This makes me like MI and Archx3 even more because of their last preps and their works since then. And the fact that both are Classic-type horses. I also put Nehro right there, too, so I guess that would be my top 3 as of today (05/02), but obviously things can change once we get the pps on Wednesday. However, it doesn't matter as much for the closers as to where they end up in the gate. So, here's my top Derby contenders as of today:

    1. Nehro
    2. Midnight Interlude
    3. Archarcharch
    4. Dialed In
    5. Pants on Fire
    6. Uncle Mo
    7. Toby's Corner
    8. Mucho Macho Man
    9. Brilliant Speed
    10. Master of Hounds

    Just saw where Nehro worked 4f in :51.20 which is right on par with how he has worked in almost all of his pre-race works.

  67. I have a new post on this site, "2011 KY Derby Contenders: Final Analyses", if you haven't seen it yet. Right now it's just Nehro's final analysis, cuz I want to see what you think. Let me know, guys!

  68. I really like the list Brent.

    Since I wouldn't even qualify as a novice when it comes to pedigrees, I spent a considerable amount of time reading pedigree analyses from HRN, Iron Maidens, DRF, and wherever else I could find them.

    Somewhat to my surprise, there can be differing opinions on any given horse's ability to get the distance.

    I'm sure you've read everything I've read and a whole lot more.

    This is by no means scientific but from what I've gleaned, I would summarize the contenders' classic distance ability according to a compilation of the various pedigree analysts' opinions as follows:

    Nehro-yes, definitely
    Archarcharch-yes, definitely
    Pants On Fire-yes
    Brilliant Speed-yes
    Master Of Hounds-yes
    Stay Thirsty-yes
    Animal Kingdom-yes
    Watch Me Go-yes

    Midnight Interlude-borderline
    Dialed In-borderline
    Uncle Mo-borderline
    Toby's Corner-borderline
    Mucho Macho Man-borderline

    Twice The Appeal-possibly


    Comma To The Top-no

    Decisive Moment- ? can't find anything declarative on this guy

    All that reading so I could confidently throw out CTTT.

    For what it's worth, come Wednesday, we may consider having another look at some of the other "yes" and "borderline" entries, particularly Stay Thirsty, Santiva and Shackleford because their chances of hitting the board may increase if the someone on the top ten list draws a bad post and becomes a toss. Just a thought.

    That said, I've got a whole lot more confidence in your list than the opinions of the "experts".
    We'll see how the posts draw go.

    I'm posting here because I didn't want to clutter up your new page with a bunch of esoteric stuff that you're probably already well aware of.

    You've done a great job.

  69. Thanks, Howy! I am by no means an expert on this stuff either, but I do know a lot about handicapping and I'm ok on pedigrees as well. So, take what you will from my analyses. I'm just trying to break it down the best way that I know how. I, obviously, don't get them all right, but no one really does. So if something looks amiss or you disagree completely, let me know. I'm a humble guy and have no problem saying I'm wrong about something. Btw, your "distance" list looks right on.

  70. Extended forecast for Louisville:
    Friday, May 6=few showers
    Saturday, May 7=isolated thunderstorms