Handicapping the Kentucky Derby- Picking the winner

31-1 longshot, Charismatic, winning the 125th Kentucky Derby on May 1, 1999

There are many strategies, techniques and angles and systems used to choose a winner  in the Kentucky Derby.  Each year brings a new crop of 3 year old horses to analyze and study.  See links and info below:

Racing form for Derby and Oaks contenders: HERE

How to use the Daily Racing Form:  HERE

2013 Daily Racing Form Kentucky Derby Top 20 (includes early odds, last race, Beyer numbers, comments and more): HERE

**Handicapping the Kentucky Derby (Information, tips and more): http://www.predictem.com/horse/kentucky-derby-betting.php

Analyzing the Top 2013 Kentucky Derby Contenders (Goldencents, Normandy Invasion and Overanalyze are picked with a point system): HERE

Derby prep race charts and videos – free from DRF HERE

Daily Barn Notes – for the Derby and Oaks HERE

Derby Horses sold at auction and the prices: HERE

Handicapping Kentucky Derby General tips article from 2004, open link for full list, shortened list below. Full article: HERE

  • Don’t pick a horse with a trainer or jockey making his first trip to the Derby. 
  • Don’t pick a horse with a new jockey. 
  • Stay away from horses with no two year old starts and/or fewer than 6 starts lifetime.
  • Your pick should have finished in the money in his last pre-Derby start. Since 1957, only Sea Hero and Thunder Gulch have broken this and they were both 4th in their final prep. A strong late move in that race is a big plus.
  • Your pick must be a stakes winner and have run in at least one 1 1/8 mile prep race.
  • He must have either 3 or 4 prep races since January 1st, no more, no less.
  • Don’t pick the post time favorite or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. 
  • Pay close attention to the horse’s Churchill Downs workouts. 5 furlong or longer works are important.
  • Horses with good tactical speed and the ability to stalk have preference over pure speed or rally from way back types. Proven ability to handle bad traffic situations is a plus.
  • Stay away from geldings. No gelding has won since 1929 except Funny Cide in 2003. Flip side of this is not many geldings are entered as horses good enough for the Derby are rarely gelded.
  • Dosage index of 4.0 or lower
  • At least one race on a Kentucky track is a plus. 
  • If a trainer enters more than one horse, beware the one they don’t hype. Thunder Gulch and Charismatic are perfect examples of this.
  • The Derby has a huge field, up to 20 horses, so traffic is a big problem. Remember that anything can happen with all the bumping that will go on.

How to Find a Key Horse That Can Lead to Boxcar Derby Payoffs
by Kenneth Strong, Professional Horse Handicapper of Predictem.com http://www.predictem.com/horse/kentucky-derby-betting.php

(Highlights from article, click above link for entire article) Finding your Key Horse in the Kentucky Derby- All we have to go on is history, but combining that with decent handicapping skills will give us a better shot than 90 percent of the crazies that will be betting house numbers, birthdays, names, colors and just about anything else you can think of on Derby Day, including horses that wink at people in the post parade.

  • Favorites and Speed Rarely Win
  • Poor Works Better Handicapping Angle than Fast Works
  • Watch Key Derby Prep Races Closely- Any horse that can get within four lengths in a key prep race for the Derby deserves a second look, especially if the horse made a bid to win the race. A decent late rally to get within four lengths in an important prep could mean the horse is perfectly suited to the longer distance of the Derby.
  • Beware of Romping Winners- Horses we like to avoid in the win spot in the Derby are those coming into the race off numerous romping wins.
  • Beyer Speed Figures- We’ll be looking for horses that have cracked the 100 Beyer mark at least once in their lives and preferably run 105 or higher. Keep in mind that the horse with the top Beyer Figure coming into the Derby often loses, possibly because a number of runners may still be improving. Horses that have run a lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure in their race prior to the Derby can and do improve enough to win the big prize.
  • Outside Posts Better Than Inside-  Many bettors think that outside posts can hurt a Derby runner but in fact an outside post is probably better than an inside post and is at least as good as a middle post.
  • Jockeys and Trainers – Experience Required- Don’t bet a Derby horse to win unless a top jockey is aboard. The same goes for trainers.
  • Dosage a Minor Factor-  As far as pedigree goes we’ll be looking for a horse with a dosage of 4.0 or less but won’t throw a horse out unless their dosage is over 6.0.
  • Kentucky Derby Betting Summary – Bring Your Wheelbarrow There are only two horse racing days a year in North America when you truly have an excellent chance of making a monster score for a modest outlay of cash – Breeders’ Cup Day and Derby Day. Watch the prep races closely prior to handicapping and betting the Kentucky Derby – look for courage under fire and apply the principles above. You’ll find your key horse. A horse you can wheel – all the way to the bank.

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