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Betting on the Kentucky Derby: A Handicapping Guide
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Handicapping the 2013 Kentucky Derby

It’s fair to say that nearly everyone involved in the thoroughbred horse racing industry dreams about winning the Kentucky Derby, handicappers included. There are few better feelings than watching the horse you touted and wagered on roar down the Churchill Downs stretch to win the America’s most famous equine event. Use these Kentucky Derby handicapping tips to help you pick a winner.

Derby Handicapping
Using logic to pick the winner of the Kentucky Derby from large field of still developing three year-olds has never been an easy task. As the thoroughbred racing game evolves and changes, criteria that have guided bettors in the past can no longer be counted on. Looking at the profiles of recent Derby winners, while keeping current changes in the racing landscape in mind, bettors can stay ahead of the curve. After all, the most successful players of the pari-mutuel game are always one step ahead of the crowd.

With a full field of 20 horses trying to win the Derby, the best way to handicap the race is to start throwing out horses that do not belong. By doing this you can get the field down to a more manageable number. The following guidelines will help you determine if the horse is coming into the race with the necessary speed, class, stamina and conditioning to win the Kentucky Derby. These guidelines, as well as over 30 other factors, can easily be viewed here for free: Handicap The Kentucky Derby. Using the Betmix system you can turn factors on and off to see how horses rank against each other, or turn several factors on and give weight to the more important factors to pick a Derby winner.


10 STEP KENTUCKY DERBY BETTING SYSTEM

1. Does the horse have two-turn speed?
A derby winner will have shown that he can carry his speed around two-turns. You do not want to bet on a horse with one-turn sprinter speed in the Derby. Look at the contenders in the race and get an average Beyer number for two turn races, and compare to this horse. His must be equal or above the average for the field. An excellent tool for getting an overall feeling for the speed of the field in a horse race is the Free Kentucky Derby Handicapping page at Betmix. You can look at several sepped factors there, as well as pace and breeding.

2. First or second at the 1/8th pole in recent races.
A potential Derby winner needs to demonstrate that he can hold his position in the stretch and finish strong. Look at the horse's PP's to determine if they were in 1st or 2nd during either of their last two prep races at the 1/8 th pole. (Found in the running lines)


3. Fast closing speed.
If you are going to win the Kentucky Derby you better be able to finish like a freight train. You will have to pass several tiring horses and you will need the speed to carry you home. Again, looking at the PP's for EACH ENTRANT, you need to determine what the average time was for the final 1/4 mile in each prep race at 1 1/8 miles or longer. In order to qualify this horse must have run the final 1/4 in a time that is equal to or faster than the average of the group. This is a key factor and you need to get accurate figures when computing. This information is used by the Donerail Project, if you are having trouble computing on your own. Horses are usually condsiderd to be Early Speed (front runners), Pressers (sits behind early speed, not too far back) or closers (back early, running late).

4. In the money in recent prep races.
This is an easy one. If the horse did not run 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in their most recent prep race, they probably will not win the Derby. You have to be in good form and peaking at the right time to wear the Roses, and horses that are out of the money in recent starts have historically done very poor in the Derby. If the horse ran worse than 3rd but experienced trouble in the race, you don't want to penalize them too harshly.


5. Improving Speed
Look at the last 3 speed figures for the horse. Again, we want an improving horse. If his last speed figure was not higher or equal to the figures he ran 2 or 3 races back, it may be an indication of declining form and should be viewed with caution.

6. Graded Stakes wins
To gain entry into the Derby you must be in the top 20 of graded stakes earnings. Horses can run 2nd and 3rd in several graded stakes and make the list, but if they have not actually won a graded stake then chances are they are not going to do it on Derby Day. We want a horse that has shown that he is a winner, not just one that hits the board.

7. Win against Big Fields
The horse should have won a race with 10 or more starters in it. Looking at the PP's determine if the horse has faced large fields before and if so has he won? The Derby will probably be the only time in his life that he will run against 19 other horses, and if this horse hasn't shown he can win against a big field he will be in serious trouble in the Kentucky Derby. You must have the heart and bravery to run into and through traffic to win this race and beating small fields of 5,6 or 7 horses does not provide the experience that you will need on the first Saturday in May.


8. Genetics
Look at the pedigree of the horse and determine if he comes from stamina producing bloodlines. A quality miler can stretch his speed to win at 1 1/8 miles, but winning a 1 1/4 mile race is another story. The Dosage system is a quick and easy way to determine if the horse has classic distance bloodlines. Look for a horse with a Dosage index of less than 4. Horses with a dosage of greater than 4 have won the Derby in the past, and using the Dosage to throw out a horse can be a tough call. It is best used if you are not familiar enough with thoroughbred pedigrees or do not have the resources to investigate the bloodlines of each entrant. You may also look at the average winning distance of the sire and broodmare sire of the contender and determine if it is higher than 8 furlongs.

9. Surface suitability
The kentucky Derby is run on dirt. There are several graded stakes run on polytrack or turf for three year olds, and earnings from those races are equal
to earnings won in dirt races. Horses that have shown a preference for turf or synthetic surfaces may not fare well on the Churchill Downs dirt track. Having a race over the surface is a bonus, and if the horse has a win under his belt at Churchill Downs give him an edge. Pay special attention to the works turned in by the horse over the CD track prior to the race. There will be numerous reports from clockers and the media to let you know who looks good and who seems to be handling the surface the best.

10. Connections
Derby week is like no other in the racing world. Having a trainer and jockey who have been there before and have shown the ability to win is a plus. Trainers must make sure that the circus like atmosphere of the backside during Derby week does not impact their horse. The jockey must have ridden in previous Derbies to truly know what to expect and how to handle the pressure of racing in a giant field. First time trainers have obviously won the race in the past, but always give an edge to experience in this type of race. Some things can only be learned through practice.

Horses that meet all of the above or 9 out of 10, should be considered contenders. Those that only meet 7 or 8 are on the bubble and can be used in trifectas and superfectas. Horses that meet 6 or fewer should be tossed.