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The more recent change, which is the points system, probably has a lot to do with what we're talking about here. Consider, under the old system a horse that won the BC Juvenile or the Delta Jackpot or the Hollywood/CashCall (now the Los Alamitos) Futurity, is pretty much a "win and you're in" for the Derby because of all that graded stakes money. Throw in horses that piled up earnings winning juvenile races at Saratoga and now you have a lot of 6-8.5F winners that might not be good enough at 10F (or didn't develop well into 3 year olds) but can make the field.
Fast forward to now. You want in the Derby you need to be winning 9F races in the spring to collect enough points. So this means the field won't have as much "cheap speed" to close into anymore, like Bob Black Jack (remember him?). You should have fields consisting of proven 9F runners. And some of them (Chrome, Pharoah, Justify) run on or close to the pace, but won't be spitting the bit at the 1/4 pole.
What might change things back is this year's rule where Lasix is prohibited. Will this hurt speedsters and benefit closers/sustained types? I would have thought Lasix worked better at shorter distances, as the effects of dehydration would tire horses out worse the longer the race goes. OTOH dehydration = less weight to carry = easier to cover the distance.
All good questions! I agree with both Rob and Tex here......breeding and certainly, perhaps even more so, the change to the qualifications. Those previous Derby's with speed folding and closers finishing to win included several who just couldn't qualify today. As Tex noted, the new no-Lasix rule may change things, let's see.....and with 20 horse fields, it's very hard for a great closer to avoid all the backing up horses, as well as to win while running a much longer race.
This year should be interesting though, as which Baffert horse goes to the front? All 3 of his top colts have won a prep from the front, but neither Medina Spirit, nor Concert Tour ran at the same speed as Life Is Good. I have no doubt that his stable, though each owned separately, will have the advantage of pre-race instructions, and I can't help but think that Life will be let alone on the front end. The only challenges at this point would come from Prevalence and Collaborate, assuming that each will qualify.....
We still have Greatest Honour, and Risk Taking, both of whom came from behind, but they may be too far back from a loose Life Is Good running the 3/4 in 10:20 or so. Still a few more preps to see if another colt emerges, crossing fingers on a few utr's!
I can't help but think that Life will be let alone on the front end
2 days after you posted that he was taken out of the race. So he'll definitely be let alone. :)
TUrns out the chip surgery went very well, he might even make it to the Haskell this year.
Growing up I was a "whys" guy of epic proportions. My parents and teachers often pulled their hair out. I have this need to understand why certain things occur. Along those lines, I'm trying to understand why frontrunners have been doing particularly well in the 10f Kentucky Derby in recent years. Starting with California Chrome in 2014, no horse that crossed the line first in the Derby, was worse than 3rd at any point in the race. Before that, you have to go back to Smarty Jones in 2004.
Is it simply the Baffert effect, as most have come from his barn? Is it the breeding industry which has been incentivized by all that money for horses that can win the shorter races? Could it possibly something inadvertent that resulted from the changes in training methods? Horses are starting later and later, running fewer and fewer times. Closers do most of their running in the latter part of the race, so could the lighter racing affect the development of their foundation, relative to their frontrunning opponents that do a bit more heavy lifting throughout the course of a race, causing closers to have a diminished kick late? Remember when it became a thing that frontrunners began stealing Belmonts? Is this just a natural progression of the same trend?
I had no useful thoughts on this formulated, other than what others have already said, but just wanted to give you PROPS for posing such a truly interesting and thoughtful contemplation of these issues.
I think it is the kind of post that deserves it's own topic, actually. Because I can see it having longevity, esp. as we enter the no lasix era and post covid racing era.
That wasn’t the correct answer?
Every year the derby field is 3/4 E and E/P types. Those are simply the types that do well enough in the qualifying races to get in. That begs the question of why don’t more closer types win those preps. I think it’s a combination of factors but to me the biggest factor is simply that it’s hard for them to get past the front runners in the shorter races so we never actually even see them in the derby. I think also trainers will often take colts that maybe should be running a different style and turn them into stalkers in an effort to get in the starting gate. The really good ones will get bred to fast mares and so it continues.
Hey bet. Hope all is well. Been a while. Yes I believe it was the correct answer. My picks have been horrible this prep season but I usually look for an upset. We are about due for another Giacamo or MTB year. Lets hope one of us gets it. Our local otb in Green Bay shut down which sucks big time but has saved me some cash :) Heading to the UP for the derby though. They just started horse racing bets and it is about an hour and a half from my home.
Hey North! An hour and a half doesn’t sound too bad. Might make it feel more like an event. Believe it or not, it’s a pain to try to bet on the derby if you live in Louisville. They turned the off track facility into some sort of casino and try to force everyone to go to CD to bet now. I have a buddy that’s always going on Oaks Day though and he’s nice enough to place some bets for me if I can’t make it, which is almost always anymore.
I’m having that feeling too that we might be due for a big upset this year. I was just looking at some charts (looking for closers lol) and it’s been 7 years (Orb) since the winner wasn’t within a head of the lead by the quarter pole, if they weren’t already in first.
Giacomo won Derby and was named after rock star singer Sting's son.
What Travers winner was named after a beer ad slogan?