The Derby Horse

On Saturday the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass, and Santa Anita Derby will be run. Kentucky Derby points will be had, and there will be a more focused picture of who the favorite will be on the first Saturday in May. We will still have the Arkansas Derby and Lexington to go, but we should have a good idea where most of the contenders are at.

Many have already zoned in on a horse or two they like in the Run for the Roses. Some may have even made an advance wager or two. While I do have three horses on my radar, Tacitus, Code of Honor, and Bourbon War, I have many more on my pretender list.

I have some things I like to see, and that I look for when scouting a Derby horse.

First I like a horse that has shown raw ability. I like to have seen a quality race around two turns, and I am not all that concerned with the competition. These three year olds fluctuate this time of year, so I look more at the race than the field depth.

I will almost always make note of a horse that showed some agility like zigging in and out and between horses. That’s a big positive for me, and Animal Kingdom became my top choice when he won because of that at Turfway Park on a synthetic track. I look at the individual race and horse.

Courage is also high on my list. Very high. I like a horse that is not afraid or hesitant to go through a hole or charge up the rail a la Tacitus in the Tampa Bay Derby.

Horses who ran decent or better against a bias is a good indicator for me. Code of Honor and Bourbon War both made up ground against a lone speed in Maximum Security who was able to set a very slow pace. He figured to draw off after a half in 48 plus; the other two had better set ups for the big dance in my opinion.

Horses I tend to downgrade are horses coming off races like Maximum Security ran. He got a lot of hype and attention, but as aforementioned he set a slow pace. He had a maiden chasing him. The race looks better than it was and will decrease his value come Derby Day. I’ll downgrade any horse who rode a true bias or pace advantage to victory.

I don’t like hiccups leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Missed races or workouts are a negative for me. I’d have to really be impressed with one to overlook that.

Steady and gradual improvement means more to me than big jumps in figures. I look for a horse who will peak, not who has peaked.

Rules were made to be broken. I pay little attention to dosage, Beyers, or Apollo curses. If the horse I land on comes from Dubai where you can’t win from so be it. I am not phased on any given Saturday, especially if the price is right. Hey, I bet Thunder Snow in the Derby knowing he had a big race in him. Wrong race but he had it in him for sure.

This is a fun time of year in the Sport of Kings. We have a lot of homework to do. The best opinion is your own. Go with it. Listen to some sharp ones but let yours be the sharpest.

Share This Story!

Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

Related Posts

The Grade 2 Penine Ridge

California Cup Oaks – Race 5 at Santa Anita – Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern Top win contender: Grand Slam Smile Other contenders: Asada Fries,

Read More »

The 149th Preakness

On Saturday they will run the second jewel of the triple crown, the 149th Preakness at Pimlico Racetrack. Although likely favorite Muth was scratched after

Read More »

The Week Between

It is the week between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Make sure and check out Past the Wire TV, we brought you the best

Read More »