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The Best Damned Kentucky Derby Preview you are going to Read
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2020
by: Rich Bieglmeier
It's about that time, well sort of well past that time, but it is 2020 after all, it's time to start getting ready for the 2020 Kentucky Derby. Unbelievable, that's how it feels in this crazy #$# year that the run for the roses is happening before Labor Day instead of before Memorial Day. Normally the KD is sort of a benchmark for the start of summer rather than the end of it – UGH.
Want to hear something even crazier? It's possible the 2020 and 2021 Kentucky Derby winners will be at Churchill on September 5th. Before this year's champ is crowned, next year's Road to the Kentucky Derby gets started with the Iroquois Stakes. Truly an unbelievable year.
As always, we build the profile of a winner for all the big horse races. Of course, none is bigger than the KD. Before we really dig in, we want to share a few general race, set up observations.
With a 19-horse field expected, the winner doesn't have to be the best horse, he needs to get the best trip. There is always bumping and traffic, causing many horses to take zig-zag routes to the finish line. You heard it said a zillion, gazillion times, the fastest route to anywhere is a straight line. It may not be a straight-line for this year's winner, but likely to be one of, if not, the straightest lines.
Congestion is most likely the reason the last six winners, and we are including MAXIMUM SECURITY as he hit the tape first last year, ran in the first three in the opening quarter-mile. Prior to the run on speed, the previous quartet to wear the roses were stalker to closer types.
These six horses are the only ones in the field to be in the first three at the first call in at least two of their last three outings.
Quick note: if you have your eye on a stalker/closer as your pick, it's highly likely he'll draw an outside post as three of the four started from gate 15 and out. The lone inside horse left from the four-hole, which was the closest to the rail for any of the last 10 winners.
So, stay away from putting posts one, two or three on the top of your tickets. Sevens wild; we'd probably consider stretching that to seven and out as seven of the last 10 wore a seven or higher (a pair with the green five).
There is one characteristic the last seven horses to cross the Churchill Downs finish line first (including MAXIMUM SECURITY) shared, each accumulated at least 100 qualifying points. That's every winner since moving to the points system in 2013.
If history holds, your champion will come from the five horses to achieve the 100-point benchmark.
If not, there are some other commonalities for past winners. The last nine to make it home first won their previous race (number 10 ran second). Only TIZ THE LAW, ART COLLECTOR, AUTHENTIC and THOUSAND WORDS won their last outing: seven finished second.
Nine of the last 10 victors booked a triple-digit Equibase speed number in the run before the Kentucky Derby and seven of 10 recorded back to back readings of 100 or more. Eleven of this year's 19 entrants posted 100 or more last out and seven put together two in a row.
Two things we know, but don't know, yet, can help narrow your choices, post position, as we mentioned already, and odds. The post-time favorite cashed the winners' check in six of the last seven Kentucky Derbies. Unless something unexpected happens, TIZ THE LAW will attract the most money. Last year was the lone exception, MAXIMUM SECURITY was the second choice. Despite the chalk bias, the typical winner in the string of favs taking the tape paid $8.00, livable.
Class wins, nine of the last 10 to raise the checkered flag are coming from a Grade I Stakes race, eight of them hit the wire first. Eight of this year's crop tried their luck at the highest level in their last start with only TIZ THE LAW and AUTHENTIC emerging as winners.
You see a few names repeatedly in our profile of a winner analysis. Just remember, post position could work to the advantage or disadvantage of the "best" horses. As we mentioned up top, the best horse may not win the 146th Kentucky Derby. Instead, the horse with the best trip is the one most likely to wear the roses.
Have a question for Rich Bieglmeier? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck at the races!
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