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Revisiting the Trends From the Kentucky Derby Points System

Country House with jockey Flavien Prat after winning the 2019 Kentucky Derby (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Revisiting The Trends From The Kentucky Derby Points System

The 2019 Kentucky Derby provided plenty of talking points as Maximum Security crossed the line first, but was subsequently disqualified and placed 17th, which elevated Country House from second to become the winner of the event’s 145th running. Here is a replay of the race below for those who may have not seen it.

This article does not address whether the disqualification was correct, nor does it address the slew of concerns as result of the disqualification related to transparency and consistency from stewards. Those issues deserve a separate discussion some of which have already been rigorously debated on social media. This article is a revisit of one from three years ago that reviewed the trends in the Kentucky Derby. In summary, the article from 2016 basically noted the obvious: favorites, speed, and California based horses were dominating the Kentucky Derby.

For a bit of history, prior to the 2013 Kentucky Derby, entrants were determined by how much purse money they earned in graded stake races regardless of distance, surface, and also included juvenile race earnings. Since 2013, the Kentucky Derby entrants have been determined by how many points a horse totals in the designated races, which focus on longer distance events. The earlier events between September and February have a lower point value assigned to them while the largest point value races are held primarily in March and April. With that context, here are the winners of the last seven years, all under the current Kentucky Derby points system.

YearWinner$2 WinTrack
$132.40 Sloppy
$11.40Wet Fast

In the first six years showed a parade of favorites and the track condition did not matter. Justify was the only California horse to win the last three years, but he made quite the impression by winning the Triple Crown (Maximum Security was the second favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby).

To keep things in perspective, let’s look at the seven years prior to the introduction of the points system.

YearWinner$2 WinTrack
2012I’ll Have
2010Super Saver$18.00Sloppy
2009Mine That
2008Big Brown$6.80Fast201st
2007Street Sense$11.80Fast201st

The previous seven years before the points system show only two winning favorites with another favorite finishing as the runner up. Also, only I’ll Have Another had previously run in California and then won the Derby. It is worth noting that over the last 20 years Santa Anita (California), Oaklawn (Arkansas), and Gulfstream Park (Florida) have had the best success producing Kentucky Derby winners, which is an interesting trend in itself in terms of quality prep races.

Looking at results alone is insufficient to draw conclusions. Let’s now look at the internal fractions to see if there was indeed a shift in how fast the races were being run.

Track Winning

201922.3146.621:12.50 2:03.93 Sloppy
Mid Pack
201822.2445.771:11.01 2:04.20 Sloppy
Near Lead
201722.7046.531:11.122:03.59Wet Fast
Near Lead
201622.5845.721:10.402:01.31FastNear Lead
201523.2447.341:11.292:03.02FastNear Lead
201423.0447.371:11.802:03.66FastNear Lead

Based on the seven years of the points system, it is clear that a horse near the lead does quite well. One caveat is that the horses that won these races were the favorites and were considered better than the competition. This could be nothing more than the best horses having a similar style while also being head and shoulders above their peers. Below are the seven years before the start of the points system.

201222.3245.391:09.802:01.83FastMid Pack
201123.2448.631:13.402:02.04FastMid Pack
200823.3047.041:11.142:01.82FastNear Lead
200622.6346.071:10.882:01.36FastNear Lead

The 2006 – 2012 time frame saw fewer near the lead types winning with a fair distribution between the different running styles. Let’s average the time splits for the two periods for comparison.

Time Frame1/4 Split1/2 Split3/4 SplitFinal Time
2013 – 201922.6746.381:11.132:03.23
2006 – 201222.8746.681:11.292:02.33

In 2015, yours truly theorized that cheap speed (horses who are more adept at shorter distances) were causing the early fractions to be too quick and tiring out more horses, thus leading to more upsets. Trinniberg from the 2012 Derby is an of cited example of a speed horse who entered the Kentucky Derby with little chance of winning. However, the averages say the opposite is happening; the races under the points system are faster, on average. Hmm.

The early half of the race is quicker by about a length, yet speed horses are still winning. Maybe this is indicative of Churchill Downs getting the points system right by allowing the quality speed horses to shine? (Some will say this is true except for Maximum Security after Saturday’s controversial ending, but that is a whole different discussion). For what it’s worth, had Maximum Security not been disqualified, he would have been a gate-to-wire winner, which would have made it six straight years a horse on or near the lead won the Kentucky Derby. As stated earlier, it could be the case that the best horses were accurately made the favorite and all had similar front running styles that were most effective against the competition. Or maybe the points system is working as intended.


The Kentucky Derby is such a unique event to draw any parallels from as each running is different from any other one.
How many horses were setting the pace? Was there any pressure on the leader(s)? How was the track condition? How did the track condition affect the shape of the race? Did one of the speed horses not break well? Was there interference at some point? What about the variation in training methods over the years? Or race-day medication? Security barn regulations? Those are just a small sample of the many questions that can have different answers between time periods or year to year for how each race was run and won. The myriad of factors changing from year to year can also make it nigh impossible to establish legitimate trends though that will not stop some from trying.

It is worth tracking how speed horses fare over the next few runnings to see if this is a legitimate trend. So far, speed has been quite dominant under the points system, but that could easily be an early trend due to the novelty of the system. Perhaps Country House is the start of a mid-pack or closer streak of winners. Furthermore, quite a few trends have been broken in the last 15 years that seemed unlikely such as Justify becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without a start at two. Or Barbaro winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby after a five-week layoff, a feat that had not been achieved for the previous 50 years. Or Big Brown winning the 2008 race from post 20 becoming the first horse to do that since 1929.

The Kentucky Derby is always a spectacle for both casual and long-time observers. 2019 did not disappoint in that regard. Enjoy the rest of the Triple Crown trail (and whatever drama comes along with it)!

2016 Preakness and Black Eyed Susan Fields

Nyquist is looking to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico (Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)
Nyquist is looking to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico (Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America)

2016 Preakness and Black Eyed Susan Fields

The 2016 Preakness Stakes and Black Eyed Susan fields are now known. Nyquist, the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner, is looking to make it 9 for 9 in his career with a win in the Preakness. Meanwhile, the three year old fillies will be in action on Friday with the Black Eyed Susan.

2016 Preakness Stakes

The 2016 Preakness Stakes will have a field of 11 males going 1 3/16 miles on the main track for the Grade 1 event. The forecast in Baltimore, Maryland is calling for rain on Saturday which will make for a sloppy going. The field of 11 is running for purse of $1.5 million with the top two finishers in the Kentucky Derby returning in Nyquist and Exaggerator with that duo heavily favored over the other nine entrants.

Also entered is the highly regarded new shooter Stradivari, who won his latest race at Keeneland by nearly 15 lengths though he did only beat five horses and there are questions about the quality of that field.

Post time for the Preakness Stakes is scheduled for 6:45 PM Eastern time and is listed as the 13th race on a 14 race card. Free past performances can be found here. The full field can be found in the table below along with the jockey, trainer, and morning line odds listed.

Program NumberHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1Cherry WineCorey LanerieDale Romans20-1
2Uncle LinoFernando Hernandez PerezGary Sherlock20-1
3NyquistMario GutierrezDoug O'Neill3-5
4Awesome SpeedJevian ToledoAlan Goldberg30-1
5ExaggeratorKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux3-1
6LaniYutaka TakeMikio Matsunaga30-1
7CollectedJavier CastellanoBob Baffert10-1
8LaobanFlorent GerouxEric Guillot30-1
9Abiding StarJ.D. AcostaEdward Allard30-1
10FellowshipJose LezcanoMark Casse30-1
11StradivariJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher8-1

2016 Black Eyed Susan Stakes

The Black Eyed Susan Stakes is a full field of 14 fillies going 1 1/8 miles on the main track for a purse of $250,000 in the Grade 2 race. Unlike the Preakness, the forecast for Friday does not include rain. The Kentucky Oaks runner up, Land Over Sea, returns as does the fourth place finisher in that race Go Maggie Go. No other fillies that ran in the Kentucky Oaks are entered in this race.

The 2016 Black Eyed Susan stakes is scheduled for 4:50 PM Eastern time as the 11th race on a 14 race card. Free past performances can be found here. The full field is listed in the table below.

Program NumberHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1A P MajesticVictor CarrascoMichael Tombetta30-1
2Dothraki QueenJulien LeparouxKen McPeek15-1
3Land Over SeaMario GutierrezDoug O'Neill2-1
4Ma Can Do ItBrian Hernandez Jr.Dale Romans30-1
5Go Maggie GoLuis SaezDale Romans5-2
6She's A WarriorGary StevensPeter Eurton6-1
7DowndraftAngel CruzJames Lawrence II30-1
8Double EntendreScott SpiethPeter R. Walder30-1
9Midnight On OconeeGabriel SaezLarry Jones15-1
10Kinsley KissesJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher6-1
11In The Navy NowTrevor McCarthyMichael Trombetta30-1
12Flora DoraJunior AlvaradoMarialice Coffey30-1
13CcedFlorent GerouxSteven Asmussen15-1
14Mom's On StrikeJoseph Rocco Jr.Joe Sharp15-1

Four Year Trends Under The Kentucky Derby Points System

Mario Gutierrez rode Nyquist to the victory in the 142nd Kentucky Derby (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Four Year Trends Under The Kentucky Derby Points System

The dust has hardly settled on Nyquist’s win in the 142nd Kentucky Derby, but that does not stop us from looking back on his race as well several other Kentucky Derbies. 2016 marked the fourth year of the Kentucky Derby Points System that helps determine the entrants into the race. Below we will take a look at the last four years (2013 through 2016) under the Points System as well as the four years prior to the Points System (2009 through 2012).

Some trends have become apparent in the last few years, but keep in mind that 4 years of data is hardly enough to start planning a strategy around betting the 2017 Kentucky Derby. And anyone who has followed horse racing knows this sport can turn in a hurry. Let’s look at the first trend of the winners in the last eight years.

Favorites Dominate Kentucky Derby Under Points System

The favorites have won each of the first four runnings of the Kentucky Derby under the points system. In the four years prior to the Points System, the favorite never won and only one to hit the board was Bodemeister in 2012 with his wonderful front running effort. The tables below show each of the last 8 years.

4 Years Since Start of Kentucky Derby Points System
Year Winner $2 Win $2 Exacta Field Size Favorite Finish
2016 Nyquist $6.60 (Fav) $30.60 20 Winner
2015 American Pharoah $7.80 (Fav) $72.60 18 Winner
2014 California Chrome $7.00 (Fav) $340.00 19 Winner
2013 Orb $12.80 (Fav) $981.60 19 Winner


4 Years Prior to Start of Kentucky Derby Points System
Year Winner $2 Win $2 Exacta Field Size Favorite Finish
2012 I’ll Have Another $30.60 $306.60 20 2nd
2011 Animal Kingdom $43.80 $329.80 19 8th
2010 Super Saver $18.00 $152.40 20 6th
2009 Mine That Bird $103.20 $2,074.80 19 18th

One thing to keep is mind is that the favorites are so for a reason: they are considered to be one of the best going into the race. This is quite true for each of the last four horses. Nyquist was considered the best three year old, though there were concerns whether he could handle a mile and a quarter. American Pharoah and California Chrome were considered stand outs against their peers while Orb was a tepid favorite, but still highly regarded to get the distance and had a beloved trainer in his corner.

Even the exactas have gotten chalkier since the start of the Points System. Orb’s exacta paid just short of a grand, but is has been shorter since then including a paltry $30.60 with Nyquist and Exaggerator going 1-2 this year. It is hard to see the payout getting much smaller than that unless there are two towering choices in 2017.

California Based Horses Rise To The Top Under Points System

California horse racing is known for its speed. The horses are bred to go as fast as possible as soon as possible. That does not exactly seem like a recipe for getting a mile and a quarter, but we have seen a shift of 3 year old dominance to the West Coast.

Consider this: 4 of the last 5 horses to win the Kentucky Derby have spent significant time based in California during their two and/or three year old season.

Nyquist (2016): Ran five of his eight races in California. His three races outside of the state have been in Kentucky (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and now Derby) and Florida (Florida Derby), which happens to be the site of his three biggest career wins.

American Pharoah (2015): Ran all three of his two year old races in California before being shipped between California and Arkansas for his Derby Preps. It worked well as he went on to become the first Triple Crown Winner since Affirmed in 1978.

California Chrome (2014): He ran 10 races in California prior to the Kentucky Derby.

Orb (2013): He wintered in Florida where he won three races before winning the Kentucky Derby.

I’ll Have Another (2012): He raced twice in California as a two year old before a poor race at Saratoga to end his season. At three, he stayed in California before heading to the Kentucky Derby.

Animal Kingdom (2011) and Super Saver (2010) were nomadic in their careers prior to the Derby. Mine That Bird (2009) did have a race in California as a two year old, but it was a stopover in the Breeders’ Cup after his career started in Canada. He eventually landed at Sunland Park before his unlikely Derby win.

For whatever reasons, California has churned out the Kentucky Derby prospects and they are not just winning. They are also doing well enough to hit the board the last two years. Nyquist and Exaggerator went 1-2 this year while American Pharoah, Firing Line, and Dortmund went 1-2-3 in 2015. Again, two years of data in dominating the exacta is far from a serious trend, but is still worth noting.

Position of Winners Under Points System

Another trend that has begun to emerge from the last four years is not just favorites or Californian horses winning the Kentucky Derby. It is also how they are winning the race. Each of the last three years the winning horses have been very close to the lead with none of the them being worse than third during their race. The tables below provide some insight as to where the winners were during their race.

4 Years Since Start of Kentucky Derby Points System
Year Winner 1/4 Split 1/2 Split 3/4 Split 1 Mile Split Final Time Field Size Track Condition Winning Style
2016 Nyquist 22.58 45.72 1:10.40 1:35.61 2:01.31 20 Fast Near Front / Presser
2015 American Pharoah 23.24 47.34 1:11.29 1:36.45 2:03.02 18 Fast Near Front / Presser
2014 California Chrome 23.04 47.37 1:11.80 1:37.45 2:03.66 19 Fast Near Front / Presser
2013 Orb 22.57 45.33 1:09.80 1:36.16 2:02.89 19 Sloppy (Sealed) Deep Closer


4 Years Prior to Start of Kentucky Derby Points System
Year Winner 1/4 Split 1/2 Split 3/4 Split 1 Mile Split Final Time Field Size Track Condition Winning Style
2012 I’ll Have Another 22.32 45.39 1:09.80 1:35.19 2:01.83 20 Fast Off Leaders / Stalking
2011 Animal Kingdom 23.24 48.63 1:13.40 1:37.49 2:02.04 19 Fast Mid Pack / Closer
2010 Super Saver 22.63 46.16 1:10.58 1:37.65 2:04.45 20 Sloppy (Sealed) Off Leaders / Stalking
2009 Mine That Bird 22.98 47.23 1:12.09 1:37.49 2:02.66 19 Sloppy (Sealed) Deep Closer

In the five previous Kentucky Derbies (2009-2013), runners close to the pace were usually nowhere to be found. As previously mentioned, Bodemeister set the pace in the 2012 Kentucky Derby won by I’ll Have Another and finished second. Shackleford tried to wire the field in 2011, but finished fourth by 3 3/4 lengths. Super Saver was close to the lead in terms of position, but was more than 5 lengths off the pace until the mile marker. Pioneerof the Nile (Sire of American Pharoah) was close throughout his Kentucky Derby run (never more than 3 lengths off the lead) while finishing second to Mine That Bird.

One of the hardest conclusions to draw is from race position. Each Kentucky Derby is completely different in how it is run. How many horses were setting the pace? Was there any pressure on the leader(s)? How was the track condition? How did the track condition affect the shape of the race? Did one of the speed horses not break well? Those are just a few of the many questions that can have different answers each year in how the race was run.

Nevertheless, the trend is there that horses near the front are doing well. However, keep in mind that the last three years, the top 3 year old entering the Derby was considered above the rest of the crop. Perhaps this is nothing more than the best horse in the race having a similar style and just being better than their peers.

Speed Under the Kentucky Derby Points System

Last year I postulated that the Kentucky Derby was slowing down in terms of time. After three years of data it appeared to be correct, but then 2016 happened. This year the Kentucky Derby went in 22.58 for the quarter and 45.72 for the opening half-mile. 2015 saw the same fractions go in 23.24 and 47.34, respectively. As stated two paragraphs above, the shape of the race is contingent on many different factors. The draw, the track condition, if a bias is present on the track, the break at the start of the race, etc. all can completely change how a race is run and won, especially in a race with as many as 20 horses.


What you have read above was worth pointing out, but by no means should sculpt one’s handicapping for the 2017 Kentucky Derby. The favorites have dominated the last four years and the winner has run the same race in the last three years. Does that mean it will continue? Not at all, but the trend can also still continue in 2017.

What makes the Derby so different (and difficult) is there is no race to compare it. There are no other races for 3 year olds that are run at a mile and a quarter AND allow 20 horses. The uniqueness of it allows it to be one of, if not the, most popular races each year. That uniqueness also makes it hard to find parallels as noted above.

Horse racing is a fickle sport. The highest highs can be followed by the lowest lows. The trends laid out above could easily be blown apart when a horse completely changes tactics (see Palace Malice in the 2013 Kentucky Derby). A real, concrete pattern may not emerge for another decade or more (four years is hardly a great basis for drawing a solid conclusion). A lot of things can change in the next decade which may show this four year trend as an anomaly. 

One trend that will not probably change is my picking of the Kentucky Derby Toss. I had #9 Destin this year and he finished 6th. In addition, there will probably be an article like this one looking back at five year trends instead of four year trends. Enjoy the Triple Crown!

2016 Kentucky Derby Field Set

Nyquist FL Derby

Nyquist Won the Florida Derby and is a perfect seven for seven in his career (Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald/Adam Coglianese)

2016 Kentucky Derby Field Set

The 142nd Kentucky Derby field is now set with 20 three year olds ready to face off to wear the garland of roses. There were 22 horses entered, but the #21 and #22 are also-eligibles and will only race if there are scratches prior to Friday.

The favorite is Nyquist, the undefeated horse who has won in California, Kentucky, and Florida. Nyquist is listed at 3-1 and is breaking from post 13, the same post he had when he won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

The 2016 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 and has a post time of 6:34 PM Eastern Time. It is carded as the 12th race at Churchill Downs and the field will be going 1 1/4 miles on the main track.

The full field is in the chart below with the program number, horse, jockey, trainer, and morning line provided.

Program Number Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Trojan Nation Aaron Gryder Patrick Gallagher 50-1
2 Suddenbreakingnews Luis Quinonez Donnie Von Hemel 20-1
3 Creator Ricardo Santana Jr Steve Asmussen 10-1
4 Mo Tom Corey Lanerie Tom Amoss 20-1
5 Gun Runner Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 10-1
6 My Man Sam Irad Ortiz Jr Chad Brown 20-1
7 Oscar Nominated Julien Leparoux Mike Maker 50-1
8 Lani Yutaka Take Mikio Matsunaga 30-1
9 Destin Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher 15-1
10 Whitmore Victor Espinoza Ron Moquett 20-1
11 Exaggerator Kent Desormeaux Keith Desormeaux 8-1
12 Tom’s Ready Brian Hernandez Jr Dallas Stewart 30-1
13 Nyquist Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 3-1
14 Mohaymen Junior Alvarado Kiaran McLaughlin 10-1
15 Outwork John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 15-1
16 Shagaf Joel Rosario Chad Brown 20-1
17 Mor Spirit Gary Stevens Bob Baffert 12-1
18 Majesto Emisael Jaramillo Gustavo Delgado 30-1
19 Brody’s Cause Luis Saez Dale Romans 12-1
20 Danzing Candy Mike Smith Clifford Sise Jr 15-1
21 (AE) Laoban Cornelio Velazquez Eric Guillot 50-1
22 (AE) Cherry Wine Robby Albarado Dale Romans 30-1

The Kentucky Derby card looks fantastic with a plenty of full fields and a total of 14 races to be run on the day. First post on Saturday is at 10:30 AM Eastern Time. The overnight for the card can be found here.

The Kentucky Oaks will be run about 24 hours earlier and the entries for that race can be found here.

2016 Kentucky Oaks Field Drawn

Rachel's Valentina is the morning line favorite for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks (Photo courtesy of NYRA/Susie Rasher)

Rachel’s Valentina is the morning line favorite for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks (Photo courtesy of NYRA/Susie Rasher)

2016 Kentucky Oaks Field Drawn

A full field of fourteen fillies, along with an also-eligible, has been drawn for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. Rachel’s Valentina is the morning line favorite at 7-2, but there are several other fillies that are contenders.

The Kentucky Oaks will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the main dirt track at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 6. Post time is scheduled for 5:49 PM Eastern Time and the purse is worth $1,000,000. The also-eligible horse, Dothraki Queen, would need one of the fourteen horses currently in the race to defect in order to have a chance at running in the Oaks.

The full field is in the chart below with the program number, horse, jockey, trainer, and morning line provided.

Program Number Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Terra Promessa Ricardo Santana, Jr Steve Asmussen 10-1
2 Weep No More Corey Lanerie George Arnold II 9-2
3 Lewis Bay Irad Ortiz, Jr Chad Brown 8-1
4 Go Maggie Go Luis Saez Dale Romans 12-1
5 Dream Dance Brian Hernandez Jr Neil Howard 30-1
6 Mokat Flavien Prat Richard Baltas 20-1
7 Mo d’Amour Joel Rosario Todd Pletcher 30-1
8 Royal Obsession Florent Geroux Steve Asmussen 20-1
9 Paola Queen Emisael Jaramillo Gustavo Delgado 30-1
10 Venus Valentine Shaun Bridgmohan Tom Amoss 30-1
11 Rachel’s Valentina John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 7-2
12 Cathryn Sophia Javier Castellano John Servis 9-2
13 Land Over Sea Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 5-1
14 Taxable Mike Smith Steve Asmussen 20-1
15 (AE) Dothraki Queen Gary Stevens Ken McPeek 30-1

The Kentucky Oaks is the 11th race on Friday’s card at Churchill Downs. There are many excellent fields on tap for Oaks Day with 13 races in total. The overnight for the entire day can be found here with a first post of 10:30 AM Eastern Time.

The draw for the Kentucky Derby can be found here.

Riker Wires Grey Stakes Field

Riker Wires Grey Stakes Field

The even money favorite in Riker was able to take his competition gate-to-wire in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes. He was aided by a scratch of Ultraflame earlier in the day and that would have been his company on the lead had he entered.

Riker went straight to the lead from the start as he built an early 4 lengths lead over Kasseopia. Ruck sat third, Tizzarunner was fourth, and Van Damme was fifth about 8 1/2 lengths off the lead.

Riker lead the field through comfortable fractions of 24.18 for the first quarter and 48.92 for the opening half-mile. As they rounded the far turn, Riker was asked to pick it up slightly and Kasseopia loomed the biggest threat with Tizzarunner on the inside and the duo of Van Damme and Ruck not threatening to make an impact.

Down the stretch, Riker was able to keep Kasseopia at bay and win by 1 1/2 lengths. Tizzarunner was third by three lengths, Van Damme finished fourth, and Ruck was last in the field of five. The entire chart can be found here via Equibase.

A video replay can be found on Blood-Horse by clicking here.

Riker is by Include out of the Unreal Zeal mare Desviacion. He paid $4.00 to win and $2.30 to place in a race that did not allow show wagering. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.31, was ridden by Jesse Campbell, and trained by Nicholas Gonzalez.

For the victory, Riker also earned 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard. Kasseopia earned 4 points, Tizzarunner earned 2 points, and Van Damme earned 1 point.

The next race coming up in the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on October 31.

Gamble’s Ghost Finds Room To Win Mazarine Stakes

Gamble’s Ghost Finds Room To Win Mazarine Stakes

Heavily favored Gamble’s Ghost provided some worries for her backers, but she ultimately got the job done by winning the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine for 2 year old fillies.

Audacious Bear went straight to the lead from her rail draw and established a clear advantage over Allwehaveisnow. Swoop and Strike was all alone in third by 3 1/2 lengths, with Gamble’s Ghost, Garavogue Colleen, and Conquest Soprano the final three running close together.

On the backstretch, the field start to compact tightly. Audacious Bear continued to lead, but her margin was closing quickly with Allwehaveisnow pressuring her more as well as Swoop and Strike and Conquest Soprano drawing within two lengths. Gamble’s Ghost was fifth by 2 lengths and Garavogue Colleen was far behind as 2 1/2 lengths covered the field.

The pace began to quicken on the far turn and entering the stretch as Audacious Bear led the field. She was soon tackled by Swoop and Strike with Garavogue Colleen loom large in third. Gamble’s Ghost continued to be urged and she eventually hit her best stride between horses and was much the best despite her jockey losing the whip.

Gamble’s Ghost was able to draw clear by three-quarters of a length over Swoop and Strike in second and Garavogue Colleen, who could not close on the top duo. Audacious Bear faded to fourth, Conquest Soprano finished fifth, and Allwehaveisnow finished sixth. The full chart can be found here courtesy of Equibase.

Gamble’s Ghost paid $2.90 to win and $2.10 to place in a race that did not allow show wagering. She is by Ghostzapper out of the Secret Claim mare Gambling Girl. She was ridden by Luis Contreras and trained by Josie Carroll. She covered the 1 1/16 miles on synthetic in 1:45.62.

A replay of the Mazarine Stakes can be found here on Blood-Horse.

In addition to the winner’s share of the $150,000 purse, Gamble’s Ghost earned 10 points towards the Kentucky Oaks Points Leaderboard. Swoop and Strike earned 4 points, Garavogue Colleen earned 2 points, and Audacious Bear earned 1 point.

The next race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks will be October 31 at Keeneland with the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

2015 Grey Stakes Preview

2015 Grey Stakes Preview

The final stop in this weekend’s Road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby is at Woodbine with the Grade 3 Grey Stakes. A field of six is entered for this Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The purse for the Grey Stakes is $150,000 while there is another perk for winning this race. The top four finisher will receive points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard. First place will receive 10 points, second place will receive 4 points, third place will receive 2 points, and fourth place will receive 1 point.

Post time for the Grade 3 Grey Stakes is scheduled for 4:25 PM Eastern Time and is carded as the eighth race of a 10 race card at Woodbine. Free past performances can be found here by going to Sunday, October 4, 2015 and going to Woodbine – Race 8. Entries have also been provided in the table below.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1TizzarunnerPatrick HusbandsMark Casse3-1
2Van DammeT.D. HoughtonRobert Gorham20-1
3RuckJames McAleneyReade Baker8-1
4RikerJesse CampbellNicholas Gonzalez4-5
5UltraflameGary BoulangerJohn Ross10-1
6KasseopiaAlan GarciaCharlie Fellowes6-1

1. Tizzarunner – He debuted on July 25 going six furlongs here at Woodbine in the Colin Stakes. He stalked the pace from a few lengths behind, but could not rally in the stretch. He was third by 3 3/4 lengths behind Riker before dropping down to the maiden ranks. His second start was at 7 furlongs and he employed the same tactics. This time, he was able to rally and got up to win by a nose. His latest start was in the Swynford at 7 furlongs again. He stalked the pace yet again and once more, he could not get by Riker, who shows up here as well. The blinkers are taken off for this race and he is the main threat to the overwhelming favorite.

2. Van Damme – His first two races were at Indiana Grand (3rd place) and Thistledown (4th place) before a switch to synthetic tracks. His third start came at Presque Isle going a mile and he responded with a rally to win by a length. He was then sent to Arlington for the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. He came off the pace to grab second by 2 1/2 lengths. He exits the Swynford Stakes here at Woodbine where he stalked the pace and failed to rally in the stretch, finishing fourth by 7 1/4 lengths. He will need to step up to compete here.

3. Ruck – He debuted on August 9 going five furlongs in an open maiden special weight race. He had a poor break and was forced to settle near the rear of the field. He had some run in the stretch, but was no match for the top three with a fourth place finish by 7 1/4 lengths. His second start came at a mile and 70 yards and he had a better break that allowed him to sit closer to the pace. He had a wide trip in that race, but was still able to hold the lead on the turn. He continued on, but could not catch the winner and finished second by a length. A trip closer to the rail could be more beneficial, but he will have to be even better to threaten the top two.

4. Riker – His debut was on July 5 going five furlongs where he pressed the pace and was able to edge in front at the wire to win by a half-length. His second race was in the Colin where he had a similar race of battling for the lead and he hung on to win by a half-length once more. His latest race was a bit easier as he set a clear lead and was able to win by 2 1/2 lengths. He will be in front again and they will have to catch him if they want to beat him. The solid choice here.

5. Ultraflame – He debuted in the Clarendon Stakes, but had a slow break and was left with a lot of running. He rallied to finish fifth by 4 1/4 lengths and joined the maiden ranks in his second start. In that race, he went straight to the lead and ran the field of their feet to win by 7 1/4 lengths. He stepped back up to stakes company in his latest start where he tried to duel for the lead. It eventually cost him as he finish third by 5 3/4 lengths. If he goes to the lead, he will have to contend with Riker, who simply does not lose. Tough to like him if he wants to try and wire this field.

6. Kasseopia – He has ran in only Great Britain prior to this race. He debuted going 7 furlongs at Doncaster, but did not have any rally finishing sixth by 8 1/4 lengths. A move over to the synthetic track saw him finish second by six lengths before a crushing maiden victory by 9 lengths last time out. There are concerns about the trip across the Atlantic and the class level, but he is intriguing nonetheless.


This race will go through #4 Riker on the front end. He has yet to lose a race and it will take a big effort to do it again in this spot. #1 Tizzarunner has not been able to pass #4 Riker in two of his three starts, but could end up with a great trip if a speed duel occurs. He is the top threat to the favorite. #6 Kasseopia is the ultimate wild card worth a chance underneath.

Top selection – #4 Riker

2nd selection – #1 Tizzarunner

3rd selection – #6 Kasseopia

Check back on Sunday night for a recap of the Grade 3 Grey Stakes.

2015 Mazarine Stakes Preview

2015 Mazarine Stakes Preview

The Road to the Kentucky Oaks will continue this Sunday with one final race from Woodbine. The Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes will be run over the main synthetic track at the Toronto area race track.

The Mazarine Stakes will be run at 1 1/16 miles with a compact field of six horses entered. The purse is $150,000 and will also have points available to the top four finishers. The winner of the race will receive 10 points, second place will receive 4 points, third place will receive 2 points, and fourth place will receive one point.

The points earned will help determine the entrants for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. The Kentucky Oaks Points Leaderboard can be found here and is updated as of Saturday, October 3, 2015.

The Grade 3 Mazarine is scheduled for 3:25 PM Eastern Time and is carded as the sixth race on a 10 race program. Free past performances can be found here by going to October 4, 2015 and going to Woodbine – Race 6. Entries have also been provided in the table below.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1Audacious BearGary BoulangerMichael De Paulo12-1
2Swoop and StrikeEurico Da SilvaMalcolm Pierce3-1
3Conquest SopranoPatrick HusbandsMark Casse9-2
4Gamble's GhostLuis ContrerasJosie Carroll4-5
5AllwehaveisnowDavid GarciaRicky Griffith20-1
6Garavogue ColleenDavid MoranMichael Doyle10-1

1. Audacious Bear – She debut in a Canadian maiden special weight contest on July 12 going 5 furlongs. She sat in the middle of the field before tiring badly in the stretch. She finished last of 8 by 16 lengths that day. Six weeks later, she returned to the same class level, but was sent 7 furlongs. She had a completely different style going to the lead and holding on for a 3/4 of a length win. She steps way up in class today and she will try to take them gate-to-wire in her first start around two turns. Tough to like her from a win perspective.

2. Swoop and Strike – She was slated to start on the grass in her debut, but it was rained off the turf and put at 7 furlongs on the main track. That did not hurt her as she broke last and closed from about five lengths off the pace to score by a nice 3 length margin. That race sets her up well for this spot and she should have a better start this time around. She has a big chance to win this race.

3. Conquest Soprano – This filly is the most experience with five starts under her belt. Her debut actually came in June at Churchill Downs going 5 furlongs. She had a really good trip behind the leaders and tried to close, but finished second by 1 3/4 lengths. She then ran in the My Dear Stakes at Woodbine where she finished third by 9 lengths after an even effort. A drop back to the maiden ranks in start number 3 resulted in a second by 3/4 of a length after a battle down the stretch. She tried to to press the pace in her fourth start, but ended up losing by 8 1/4 lengths to Gamble’s Ghost. She finally broke through in her fifth start with an off the pace effort. She had to battle all the way to the wire, but held on by a neck. She appears to be a step below the best in here, particularly the horse to her outside.

4. Gamble’s Ghost – She debuted here on August 14 with an impressive run. She had a poor break and had to sit well off the pace. She quickened impressively on the far turn as she made up 5 1/2 lengths and won by 8 1/4 in the end. Next up was the Grade 2 Natalma where she tried to run the same race. She could not catch the runaway winner with a second by 5 lengths. She should enjoy the two turns and despite being the heavy favorite, she is the choice here.

5. Allwehaveisnow – She won her only race on August 26. She ran in a $50K maiden claimer where she took the lead soon after the start and did not have any trouble after that. She won by 5 lengths that day and now goes into Grade 3 company. If she tries to go to the lead, she will have to battle with the rail horse and that could knock both of them by race end.

6. Garavogue Colleen – She made her debut on September 13 in a race slated for the grass, but taken off and put on the main track at 1 1/16 miles. She sat off the pace and went by the leaders in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths. That was only a field of four horses that day, but it was at this distance of 8.5 furlongs. She is a conundrum in this spot, but worth a glance at underneath.


This is a short field and there are only two options from the win angle. #4 Gamble’s Ghost should enjoy the two turns and has ran the most impressive races of any horses in this field. #2 Swoop and Strike is the only other horse that could cause an upset from this point of view. A better break and a good spot in front of Gamble’s Ghost could give her the first run and needed distance to stave her off. For third, #6 Garavogue Colleen will be taken. She won at this distance in her debut, albeit against a tiny field of only four horses. She could improve to take the show dough.

Top selection – #4 Gamble’s Ghost

2nd selection – #2 Swoop and Strike

3rd selection – #6 Garavogue Colleen

Check back on Sunday evening for a recap of the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes.

Brody’s Cause Flies Home To Win Breeders’ Futurity

Brody’s Cause Flies Home To Win Breeders’ Futurity

Brody’s Cause flew home in the stretch to win an exciting rendition of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. He beat the favored Exaggerator by a length.

The race began with several horses wanting the lead, but it was Sheikh of Sheikhs that put his head in front with Rated R Superstar protecting his rail position in second. Gametown was in a good spot third, Sticksstatelydude was fourth, Threefiveindia sat fifth, and Exaggerator was sixth. Pinnacle Peak sat in seventh, Uncle Vinny was eighth, Wild Man was ninth, Brody’s Cause was tenth early by 9 lengths, and in last was Uncle Jerry by ten lengths.

There was not much action on the backstretch, but on the turn Sheikh of Sheiks started to pull clear, which caused the rest of the field to react. The duo of Rated R Superstar and Exaggerator both moved away from the rail and were asked for their runs.

Exaggerator made an explosive move between Sheikh of Sheikhs on his inside and Rated R Superstar on this outside. Further back was Brody’s Cause, who was starting to kick it into high gear about 5 lengths behind the leader.

Brody’s Cause was able to continue his run through the stretch and pass Exaggerator near the finish line to win by a length. Exaggerator ran very well in defeat and was ahead of Rated R Superstar in third. Sticksstatelydude ran an even race to finish fourth.

The remaining order of finish was Uncle Vinny fifth, Sheikh of Sheikhs tired to finish sixth, Threefiveindia finished seventh, Uncle Jerry was eighth, Gametown was ninth, Pinnacle Peak finished tenth, and Wild Man was last of 11. Hawkbill was scratched earlier in the day to make it a field of 11 in the race. The entire chart can be found here via Equibase.

Brody’s Cause paid an excellent $25.60 to win, $10.60 to place, and $5.40 to show. He ran the 1 1/16 miles on the muddy main track in 1:43.27. He is by Giant’s Causeway out of the Sahm mare Sweet Breanna. He was ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Dale Romans.

In addition to the win, Brody’s Cause earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland later in October. He also received 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard. Exaggerator received four points, Rated R Superstar earned 2 points for a total of 6 to this point, and Sticksstatelydude earned 1 point.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Sunday with a the Grey Stakes from Woodbine.