By Keith Pettyjohn — Since the Kentucky Derby has gone to the points system no horse has won the Derby without posting a Class-Based Performance Figure of at least triple digits.
In this year’s edition of the race, we have six such horses that have displayed the speed and class to accomplish such a feat. Now that all of the prep races have been run and the points tallied, let us now take a look at the top contenders:
Tiz The Law is the leading point-getter with 372 points and sure to be a very short-priced favorite; probably one of the shortest favorites that we have seen in a long time.
His best Performance Rating was earned in his most recent start, the Travers’ Stakes. His ‘Midsummer Derby’ earned a 104. This is the best figure that any horse in the field has earned.
Some have said that he looks like a man amongst boys. While I admit that he has truly been impressive, the numbers say that this might not be such a runaway as some think. This will be his greatest test to date, by far.
The second highest GSR in the race goes to Art Collector. He is the third leading point-getter with 150 points. He earned a Graded Stakes Performance Rating of 103 while easily dispatching of the field in the Ellis Park Derby.
Previously, he earned a 101 winning the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in July. He’s shown that he is a very solid horse and will not go down without a fight.
If ever there was a horse that seems to be really coming into himself, it’s Art Collector. He just seems to get better with each start, looking more and more professional while doing so.
Thousand Words seems to be one of the field’s biggest head- scratchers. He is the sixth leading point-getter with 83. He showed so much promise winning his first three lifetime starts; breaking maiden, winning the Los Al Futurity and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
The problem was his next three starts. He didn’t run to his ability. But then he came back to form in his most recent race, the Shared Belief. He absolutely puts it all together and ran the best race of his life.
Even though it was a Listed Stakes, not a Graded Stakes Race, his performance earned a rating equivalent to a GSR of 102.
On the first Saturday in September, if Thousand Words has his mind on running and takes to the classic distance of a mile and a quarter, look for him to have a say in the Derby outcome.
Next up is Honor A.P. He actually is the fourth highest point accumulator with 140 and boasts two Performance Ratings of 101, one for his win in the Santa Anita Derby, the other in the subsequent start Shared Belief when second to Thousand Words.
Even though he might not have been fully cranked for a maximum effort on that day, he showed some fight by closing late in the race and galloping-out with renewed interest.
Rest assured that John Shirreffs will have him fully prepared for this outing and expect him to make a move forward off his previous efforts.
Authentic’s efforts in the Haskell Stakes pushed him into second in the points race with 200. He earned a Graded Stakes Performance Rating of 100 at the Shore Track.
Many have questioned his breeding and whether the Into Mischief colt really wants to go a mile and a quarter, especially after barely hanging on to defeat NY Traffic by the slimmest of margins in a thrilling event.
Runnerup NY Traffic also got a Performance Rating of 100 for the narrow defeat.
It has been projected that we might get a field of about 15 in this year’s Derby. And with just 17 days left until Thoroughbred Racing’s biggest dance, we will continue to look at multiple angles and data points to see if we can find value in “The Greatest Two Minutes In Sports.”
If nothing else in 2020, we have learned that anything can happen. Next week we’ll take a closer look at the very contentious Kentucky Oaks where the brightest three year old fillies are ready to square off.
Good Gambling, and remember when playing this game that “It Only Takes One.”