Price Headley's 2020 Kentucky Derby Picks

Posted by Bigtrends on September 4, 2020 2:49 PM

Happy Derby! It's always my great pleasure to share my annual Kentucky Derby selections and commentary. First, let's start off with an updated table of past Derby winners below, with their speed ratings and final tune-up race. My analysis of past data indicates that horses with strong 100+ speed ratings in preparatory races have a better probability of winning the big race. The 2019 Derby was initially won by Maximum Security, my favorite last year, who was then disqualified for interference giving the victory to longshot Country House. I expected Maximum Security's victory because he fit my favorite profile of 2 straight 100+ ratings before the big race. The weather in Louisville on Saturday is expected to be perfectly sunny for the 1-1/4 mile classic.

Derby Winner BRIS Speed Rating Last race (# weeks before Derby)
JUSTIFY 114, 104 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
ALWAYS DREAMING 102, 84 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
NYQUIST 97, 103 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
AMERICAN PHAROAH 102, 99 Arkansas Derby (4 weeks)
CALIFORNIA CHROME 106, 102 Santa Anita Derby (5 weeks)
ORB 97, 102 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER 95, 102 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
ANIMAL KINGDOM 100, 89 Turfway Spiral (5 weeks, poly)
SUPER SAVER 92, 94 Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
MINE THAT BIRD 96, 98 Sunland Derby (5 weeks)
BIG BROWN 106, 104 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
STREET SENSE 98, 101 Bluegrass Stakes (3 weeks, poly)
BARBARO 104, 104, 97, 97 Florida Derby (5 weeks)
GIACOMO 100, 96, 98, 96 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
SMARTY JONES 105, 109, 101, 103 Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
FUNNY CIDE 111, 103, 97 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
WAR EMBLEM 109, 105, 88, 94 Illinois Derby (4 weeks)
MONARCHOS 108, 108, 106, 98 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
FUSAICHI PEGASUS 110, 103, 100, 98 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
CHARISMATIC 104, 94, 94, 94 Lexington (2 weeks)
REAL QUIET 107, 103, 73 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
SILVER CHARM 102, 98, 105 Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)
GRINDSTONE 101, 102, 93 Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)
THUNDER GULCH 98, 103, 106 Blue Grass (3 weeks)
GO FOR GIN 104, 105, 99, 100 Wood Memorial (3 weeks)
SEA HERO 96, 85, 77 Blue Grass (3 weeks)
LIL E. TEE 102, 96, 107, 100 Arkansas Derby (2 weeks)
STRIKE THE GOLD 109, 100, 99, 87 Blue Grass (3 weeks)
UNBRIDLED 108, 101, 104, 98 Blue Grass (3 weeks)

This year's race is already in the unusual position of being the second leg of the Triple Crown, with Tiz the Law winning the shortened Belmont Stakes back in June. I don't see any horse of the same caliber as Tiz The Law, who legitimately can win the Preakness as well in early October to be the latest Triple Crown winner after Justify in 2018 and American Pharaoh in 2015. Of course, traffic problems are the big issue in the Derby, with up to 20 horses entered every year. So bad racing luck is Tiz The Law's main concern. I'm going to bet that the favorite is too much to handle, and focus my energy on which horses can compete for 2nd and 3rd place in the exotic bets. I like to find value in the 5-1 to 20-1 range typically for the greatest 2 minutes in sports.

After Tiz The Law (Post Position 17, 1-1 odds) as the likely victor, with Brisnet speed ratings of 115, 106, 100 and 108 in his last 4 starts, only four other horses of of the total of now 16 entrants have consistent speed ratings to give them a chance to challenge for the top few spots.

Honor A.P. (PP 16, 8-1):  After winning the Santa Anita Derby and posting a speed rating of 108, Honor A.P. ran 2nd at Del Mar on August 1st with a speed rating of 103. While ideally I'd like to see the horse coming into the Derby on a win streak, he certainly has the credential to compete. At 5-1 morning line seemed a bit bet down and the current 8-1 is more in line with the 10-1 odds I'd expect by post time.

Max Player (PP 2, 15-1): While all the other co-favorites have to start the race breaking from the outside post positions, Max Player is in a great spot to save ground from what's now the inside post with the 1 horse just now scratched. Max Player ran 3rd in the Belmont and the Travers, but the post position may give him a bit of an edge to at least be ready for 2nd place this time.

Authentic (PP 18, 10-1): Bob Baffert trains Authentic who won the Haskell earlier in the summer, and a win would give Mr. Baffert a record-tying 6th Derby victory. Speed ratings of 107 and 105 make him a must to include in exotics.

Sole Valante (PP 12, 30-1) is a longshot closer to keep an eye on as well.

Here's my plays I plan to make for the 146th Kentucky Derby:

  • $5 Exacta box 2, 16, 17
  • $5 Exacta 17 with 2, 12, 16, 18
  • $1 Trifecta 17 with 2,16,18 with ALL

Good Luck!

Price Headley