The rocky road to Dublin

4/28/2010 06:52:00 am / The truth was spoken by Rich /

I was just listening to some blue grass music - a song about how a man's best friend ran off with his wife and he really missed him - when an email pinged into my inbox. As coincidence would have it it was regarding this Saturday's Kentucky Derby! It was sent by one of my leading US horse racing handicappers, Johnny Texas from New Orleans...who manages to tap out quite a legible email considering he's a raccoon.

Attached to the email was a dossier he'd compiled on this year's Kentucky Derby and it made for quite interesting reading and I'd like to share it with you.

Like all classic horse races the Kentucky Derby has had some hard and fast rules and trends extrapolated from its 135 years of renewals, by punters wishing to narrow down the field and ultimately zero in on the winner.

What I'm reading from Johnny Texas though is that some of those rules over the past few years have begun to look rather unreliable, and backed up by some data compiled by Franky Boston from Minnesota - a life long gambling beaver - he explains why:

Three related trends appear to have altered considerably in recent years. Meaning sacrosanct indicators for handicappers searching for well prepared Derby winners may now be inconsequential:
Many Kentucky Derby prep races are now run on synthetic surfaces while the Derby itself stubbornly remains a dirt race. This obviously calls into question how horses who are now prepping for the big one on poly-tracks are coping with the dirt of Churchill Downs. This may be especially relevant to Saturday's race as the forecast is for storms and therefore sloppy dirt.

Schedule changes in prep races and training alterations for Kentucky Derby runners have changed the number of races contenders will have run and how much rest they will have had before the big one; In short, horses are raced less and rested more.

Barbaro for example, became the first horse in 50 years to win off a five week lay-off. Street Sense won in 2007 after only two prep races. In 2008 Big Brown became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby since 1915 with only 3 career runs. It's crazyness; dogs playing with cats, sunshine on a rainy day, mass hysteria!

Despite these changes, Eskendereya was still the favourite before pulling out of the race yet his preparations showed a more traditional pattern; six starts, raced three times since January, raced on dirt and final prep race was only four weeks before the Kentucky Derby and the vast majority of the field have followed similar preparations - but it's the few exceptions that have intrigued Johnny Texas, Franky Boston and also Vinny Montana from Cincinnati, a pigeon who can smell a derby winner like other people can smell gas.

Aye Aye!!: Franky and Johnny who were on Barbaro
and on it large at Churchill Downs in 2006

The current favourite Lookin at Lucky has raced only twice. Sidney's Candy, many punters' fancy, has never raced on dirt. Ice Box has not run for six weeks since winning the Florida Stakes. What on Earth are we to make of all this!

If these recent trends continue one of the those three will be your winner. But will history barge back in all big shoulders and geeet outta my way!? Well, if it does we'll need to search for a runner with more traditional form.

Johnny and the boys are undecided and with this in mind he recommends backing one of each as it were; so we'll be investing in Sidney's Candy (currently 6.6 on Betfair) and the bigger priced Dublin (25.0).

Good luck with all your bets.

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