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Kentucky Derby – Negative Trends

Handicapping 3-year old horses is never easy, and handicapping a field of 20 3-year old horses is even harder. But since the Derby first ran in 1875 we have an amazing amount of history to look back upon and help us out. Let’s take a look at some of the more consistent negative trends.

*This information is adapted from Jon White’s Kentucky Derby Strike System. A system that Jon White uses to find horses that are less likely to win the Kentucky Derby.

Summary

Since 1973, 36 of 42 (85%) Kentucky Derby winners have had zero or one strike against them using this system. Five winners over the same time period have had 2 strikes. Only one horse, Mine that Bird has won with more than 2 strikes.

Zero Strikes
1 Strike
Thunder Snow Girvin
Fast And Accurate Classic Empire
Gormley
Gunnevera
Practical Joke
Tapwrit
McCraken
Royal Mo
Dating back to 1962 no horse that has finished worse than 4th in its final prep race has won the Kentucky Derby. Only three horses have won the Kentucky Derby after finishing 4th in the same time period.
 
This is a strike against:

  • Tapwrit
  • Malagacy
  • Untrapped
  • Sonneteer
Since 1882 no horse has won the Kentucky Derby without racing at age 2. Since 2000, no horse has won the derby without winning at the age of 2.
 
This is a strike against:

  • Malagacy
  • Battle of Midway
  • Patch
  • Cloud Computing

 

Forty-six of the last 48 Kentucky Derby winners were first or second with a Furlong remaining in the Kentucky Derby; the only two exceptions were Grindstone in 1996, Giacomo in 2005. In a field of 20 you have to be close to the lead come the final furlong. Eliminate any horse that wasn’t in 1st or 2nd with a furlong to go in both their last starts.
 
This is a strike against:

  • Classic Empire
  • Gormley
  • Gunnervera
  • Practical Joke
  • Royal Mo
  • Irap
  • Always Dreaming
  • J Boys Echo
  • Hence
  • Irish War Cry
  • State of Honor
  • Looking At Lee
  • Untrapped
  • Sonneteer
  • Patch
  • Cloud Computing
Only three horses have won the derby since 1973 who hadn’t won a graded stakes race prior.
 
This is a strike against:

  • Fast and Accurate
  • State of Honor
  • Battalion Runner
  • Looking At Lee
  • Local Hero
  • Battle of Midway
  • Untrapped
  • Sonneteer
  • Patch
  • Cloud Computing
Only seven horses have won the derby who have ran less than six total starts before entering the Kentucky Derby.
 
This is a strike against:

  • Girvin
  • McCraken
  • Always Dreaming
  • Irish War Cry
  • Battalion Runner
  • Local Hero
  • Malagacy
  • Battle of Midway
  • Patch
  • Cloud Computing
Only two geldings have won the Kentucky Derby since 1930.
 
This is a strike against:

  • There are no geldings in this year’s derby field.

The Positives From the Negatives

If history is to hold true, then the winner of the 2017 Kentucky Derby could come from this list of 10 horses. Since 1973, 36 of the 42 Kentucky Derby winners have had either zero strikes or one strike, while five winners had two strikes. Of the last 42 Kentucky Derby winners, the only one to have more than two strikes was Mine That Bird, who had four.

There is only one horse that remains in the field that did not receive any strikes:
 
  • Thunder Snow
While seven horses made it through while only receiving one strike:
 
  • Girvin
  • Classic Empire
  • Gormley
  • Gunnevera
  • Practical Joke
  • Tapwrit
  • McCraken
  • Royal Mo
  • Fast and Accurate

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