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There Is No Derby Map

Posted by on 3/10/2014 9:32:40 PM

Most online sports betting site players have learned over the seasons that things change when trainers plan out the season for a promising sophomore on the way to the Kentucky Derby.

Case in point occurred just last weekend when Top Billing, who trained by last year’s Derby winner Shug McGaughey, cracked the cannon bone in his right leg and is off the Triple Crown Trail.

It could be a matter that back in the day, horses were much more durable and could stand more training while now horses like to come to the first Saturday in May at Churchill fresh and ready to run their best race ever.

There is no global positioning system yet invented that can map out the perfect road to take on the way to the Derby but there are some methods tried and true and some that just plain don’t work.

We can all learn from a little history so let’s look back to how some legends were made.

 Secretariat, arguably the best horse of all time, started his sophomore season taking the Bay Shore at 7 furlongs in a disputed win. He came back in the mile Gotham, and won under a hand ride. But a blessing in disguise occurred in his next start when he had an abscess in his mouth and lost the 9-furlong Wood Memorial.

The rest is history. He was visually impresive in the Derby and Preakness, then put in the greatest performance ever winning the Belmont by 31 lengths.

Seattle Slew kicked off his historic season winning a Hialeah allowance by 9, parlayed the Flamingo Stakes and Wood before reeling off the hat trick as the 10th Triple Crown winner and first unbeaten winner of that feat.

I had the pleasure of watching Affirmed’s quest in person at Santa Anita in 1978. He opened up the year taking an allowance by 5. He repeated in the San Felipe under Wonderkid Stevie Cauthen, who was replaced in the saddle by Laffit Pincay Jr. for the Santa Anita Derby in which he won by 8 lengths under wraps.

Affirmed’s Kentucky Derby win was a thing of beauty and he held off Alydar in the next 2 legs like a warrior who just refused to lose.

Last year Orb opened up his 3-year-old season beating $75,000 optional rivals, came from third to last cashing in the Fountain of Youth and proved it was no fluke winning the Florida Derby.

Orb worked 3 times between the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby. He went :48 flat at Payson Park, came back a week later and drilled 5 furlongs there in 1:02 and then shipped to Churchill to get a feel of the track and drilled :47 4/5 just 5 days before the big race.

He got a break when the pace was ridiculos in the Derby but he got up in time for the biggest score of his career.

In 2012 I’ll Have Another had 5 career races under his belt befor the Kentucky Derby. He kicked off his pivotal season with a 43-1 win in the Robert B. Lewis, got up by a nose in the Santa Anita Derby with a 95 Beyer and returned 29 days later to win the Kentucky Derby.

Big Brown came into the big race with even less experience. He had broken his maiden in his only start as a juvenile. Returned in March of his sophomore year and stepped on allowance rivals before breaking from the marooned post in the Florida Derby before inhaling the field by 5.

He again drew the outside post in the Kentucky Derby, but it didn’t matter as he came from 6th of 20 to get the top prize.

When handicapping this year’s Derby, focus on the proper conditioning and spacing of the races coming to the pinnacle test. Be very careful of trainers that are trying to play catch up with a horse. Coming to the Derby a horse can not miss an oat. His coat can’t be off, he can’t have a sniffle, he can’t take a bad step. It has to go just about perfectly for a win to materialize.

Lastly, don’t get caught up in the hype about who is SUPPOSED to win or who is the wise-guy horse. There is no such creature. There is no master plan about winning America’s most important race and those that own don’t always have to pony up gold bullions to get the big race. Consider that Kentucky Derby winners Funny Cide, War Emblem, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, and Seattle Slew cost collectively only $93,000.

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