By Keith Pettyjohn — When trying to bet against a low-odds favorite, it is imperative to look deep into the past performances and devise a scenario that could actually play out on the racetrack that will compromise the favorite’s chances.
As I look at the past performances for the running of the 146th Kentucky Derby, I envision three such scenarios:
First, in this field of sixteen runners, we have six horses with very good early speed: #4 Storm The Court, #7 Money Moves, #10 Thousand Words, #15 NY Traffic, #16 Honor A.P, #17 Tiz The Law and #18 Authentic.
With four of these speed horses breaking to the inside of ‘Tiz’, it’s possible that he could be hung out wide not only to the first turn but conceivably for the entire mile and one quarter trip. That’s a truly daunting task for any horse.
Second, it also is entirely possible that with such a large field, Tiz could encounter some traffic troubles, such that when he’s ready to make his move, he could be forced to wait, or check, the kind of bad racing that could seriously compromise his chances.
Finally, let’s look at one other conceivable outcome; the popular “speed of the speed” handicapping betting axiom.
The “Speed of the Speed” angle requires handicappers to find which horses have the early speed and are likely to break sharply from the gate. Of those, which ones are actually the fastest and most likely to actually get the lead.
Derby 146 includes two horses that fit that requirement: #4 Thousand Words and #18 Authentic. It’s not surprising that Bob Baffert trains them both.
In his last start, Del Mar’s Shared Belief Stakes, Thousand Words was sent straight to the front and was able to wire the field beating the likes of Honor A.P, one of his main Derby rivals.
For that effort, Thousand Words earned a 102 Class-Based Performance Rating, the best rating he’s ever earned signaling that he’s on top of his game and that this may be his preferred running style, not the stalking and pressing style he used early in his career.
Now let’s look at Authentic. In his short five-race career he’s won three graded stakes; the G3 Sham and G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita and the G1 Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in which he earned his best Class-Based Performance Rating of a 100. In all three of those victories, he led the race wire to wire.
In his only lifetime defeat, he was not on the lead. So there is an indication that his best and preferred running free up front.
Bob Baffert has often been called “the best dirt trainer in the game”. A sixth win in this year’s Roses Run would have Baffert tie Ben Jones as the winningest trainer in Derby history.
In previous years, Bob has been training the horse with the target on his back. This year, the hunted becomes the hunter as his runners go after American racing’s biggest prize, probably the least amount of Derby pressure he’s met in a very long time.
It’s not often when you can get a Bob Baffert-trained Derby runner at double-digit odds, a good possibility at post time.
I will be placing a double bet combining the Friday’s Oaks with Saturday’s Derby. We’re taking #1 Swiss Skydiver in the Oaks and will complete the pay with #10 Thousand Words, #15 Ny Traffic, #16 Honor A.P and #18 Authentic in the Derby.
If not alive in the Oaks/Derby Double, or if you wish to optimize your play, take an exacta key-box of Authentic with Thousand Words, Ny Traffic and Honor A.P.
Churchill Downs has put together great cards for both today and tomorrow and there’s a ton of value available on each card. Enjoy the Oaks, Derby and Labor Day weekend race cards.
And remember, “it only takes one.”