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: