have been a lot of questions surrounding the new 2013 Kentucky Derby qualification
system. There has also been a lot of agreements and of course a few disagreements.
Until we see the finished product and which 20 horses make field I’ll be
reserved about making my overall judgment. So far, however, I have yet to see a
horse earn a position that would not have under the old system. Therefore, I can’t
disagree a great deal thus far.
The consensus is that anywhere between 35 to 50
points is going to be the amount that earns the final spot. Since that is
presumed to be accurate we have seen three contenders earn their position
with a win in one of the last three preps. Those races fall into
the first leg of the Championship Series and 50 points were awarded to the winner. So,
by all accounts these three will be racing in the main event on the first
Saturday in May.
Some race fans may believe that these recent win and you’re in races have given too much
praise, credit or points to the winners. But, even if you still don’t think that
any of these horses have done enough to earn their place in the starting gate, one stat proves that they have.
of these races ran for a total purse of $400,000. Each winner took home their
share which equals $240,000. Under the former qualification system that amount
in graded stakes earnings would be enough for them to qualify almost every time.
To provide further evidence that Orb, Vyjack and I’ve Struck a Nerve haven’t
unfairly earned a spot, I went back and looked at recent winners in each of
these stakes races.
I came up with was pretty interesting. Not
only did I validate those wins as enough to earn a position in the 2013
Kentucky Derby but I also realized that this weekend is a very big turning point
in the prep season. On deck is the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 San Felipe Stakes, two
qualification races that have become very big stepping stones in the journey
towards the claiming of the roses.
let me conclude my initial findings. Now, I am aware that other
races outside of these three preps also qualified past winners to race in the Kentucky
Derby and of course earn more graded stakes earnings along the way. But, recent
history still proves that the winners of these Kentucky Derby preps almost
always entered the field of 20. With the exception of injury, and few years in
a row at the Gotham Stakes where no winner was moving, the winner always did.
Stakes winners dating from 2012 to 2004
Star Winner||KyDerby Entry|| Finish|
|Mucho Macho Man||Yes||3rd|
|Notional||No - Injury||-|
|Scipion||No - Injury||-|
|Gradepoint||No - Injury||-|
Winner||KyDerby Entry|| Finish|
|I Want Revenge||No - Injury||-|
Winner||KyDerby Entry|| Finish|
|Eskendereya||No - Injury||-|
|Quality Road||No - Injury||-|
|Cool Coal Man||Yes||15th|
|First Samurai||No - Injury||-|
this tells me that the Fountain of Youth, the Risen Star and Gotham have almost
always been recent win and you’re in preps, I can’t argue that any of the three
winners in 2013 are getting into the Derby due to a points bias. What I can
argue is how important these preps have been over recent years.
the winners of these stakes may have earned a spot in the starting gate, the
amount of times that it became a stepping stone to winning or racing well in the Kentucky Derby
is minimal. The last time and may be the only time a winner came out of the Risen
Star was War Emblem in 2002. As for the Fountain of Youth you have to travel
back to Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Go for Gin in 1994. In the Gotham Stakes, Secretariat is still the only Kentucky Derby winner that raced in it.
reason I am pointing out recent lack of Kentucky Derby success from these preps (only 1 top 3 finish by any of their winners) is because under the
new system they have been included in the same leg of the championship series
as the races we are going to see this weekend. But, when you pull that same
data on the Tampa Bay Derby and San Felipe Stakes you will notice a world of difference.
For this reason, we may have reached the point in the Kentucky Derby prep
season where we should begin to pay more to our winners and top
in my research of past winners for the Risen Star, FOY and Gotham, I know that I
didn’t dig too far back (Only 9 years; 2004) but there is a reason for that as
well. Inaugurated in 1981 it wasn’t until 2002 that the Tampa Bay Derby officially
became a graded stakes race. Once that happened, it changed the minds of many
trainers because the Tampa Bay Derby then became another option for graded
stakes earnings. In 2004, Limehouse became the first Tampa Bay Derby winner to
use the prize money for Kentucky Derby qualification and earn a spot in the field.
Since 2004, every winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, with the exception of Odysseus in 2010 (injury), also qualified for the Kentucky Derby field.
in the last six years alone we have already seen two champions use this prep on
their way to a Kentucky Derby victory; Street Sense ’07 and Super Saver ’10 (always
bet a TB Derby horse in the KyDerby if he has two names that begin with S??). As you can see this is one reason why Verrazano is getting so much attention
and the race itself is brewing with anticipation.
The San Felipe Stakes is a race that dates back much further than the TB
Derby and has a much more successful and storied history. In fact, a total of
11 San Felipe Stakes horses have gone on to wear the roses, including our last Triple Crown winner Affirmed in 1978. Although the Tampa Bay Derby had a more recent derby winner it wasn’t by much: Giacomo 2005. Prior to that we saw three in four years: Fusaichi Pegasus ’00, Real Quiet ’98 and Silver Charm ’97. When you add this information to the equation it may make it clear why the 2013 showdown between Flashback and Goldencents has become so exciting.
I’m pretty confident that our first three Championship Series winners deserve
their place in the starting gate for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. As
you’ve also noticed I may be a little skeptical of their chances of winning.
History only tells one side of the story however. Therefore, while I may doubt
them to a certain degree based on trends, I most definitely have not reached
the point where I’ve thrown them out completely. For starters, the second leg
of the Championship Series is yet to come and they will be racing so it would
be foolish for me to jump to any conclusions.
I am also intrigued by this stage of the Kentucky Derby trail. Derby fever is rising
and it’s only going to keep getting more interesting from here.