Kentucky Derby 2018 Daily: Justify's numbers a cut above

April 23, 2018 09:11am

Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Dailywhich will each day leading up to the May 5 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.

Publishing these days at the Daily Racing Form, award-winning sports reporter Dick Jerardi wrote this week that, “Many will be looking for reasons to beat Justify” in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, but “I won’t be among them.”

And the evidence Jerardi used is simple.

The Bob Baffert-trained Justify’s three career Beyer Speed Figures are 104, 101 and 107, with the latter the fastest of any Derby contender. And in that 107 race — the Santa Anita Derby — the son of Scat Daddy ran away from multiple Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro, who Jerardi considers “easily the most accomplished colt in this crop.”

The final margin was three lengths, with Justify doing it under a hand ride. Yes, he ran out to an easy lead. But part of that was because Bolt d’Oro let him.

So as we head into the final two weeks of Kentucky Derby season — official training starts Saturday morning at Churchill Downs — perhaps Jerardi’s column is reason to believe we’re over-thinking this one.

Numbers-wise, the only horse close to Justify is Mendelssohn, who received a 106 Beyer from the UAE Derby. Enough horses ran on the Dubai World Cup card that Andrew Beyer felt comfortable issuing it.

“We would never have published this figure if we were shaky about it,” Beyer told Jerardi.

Here are the Top 10 final Beyers, listed with one disclaimer: Speed figures are a measure of what horses can do, not necessarily what they will do in the future. And perhaps that’s the question we’ll seek to answer before May 5 with the fast-developing Justify.

1. Justify — 107

2. Mendelssohn — 106

3. Bolt d’Oro — 102

4. Audible — 99

5. Magnum Moon — 98

6. Vino Rosso — 98

7. Good Magic — 95

8. Noble Indy — 95

9. Long Sailor — 95

10. Hofburg — 94

The works

Friday morning belonged to the Todd Squad, with three of Pletcher’s four charges on the work tab. The only exception, of course, was Arkansas Derby winner Magnum Moon, who just ran last weekend.

We’ll start with what looked like the most impressive breeze of the three. Not known as a sharp work horse, Audible dominated in his five-furlong spin around Florida’s Palm Beach Downs training center, easily beating Patch, a 2017 Derby contender, to the wire. This was Audible’s second work since winning the March 31 Florida Derby.

Vino Rosso, inside of Outplay, a 4-year-old blacktype stakes winner, drilled an easy-going four furlongs in 49.65, finishing a nose ahead at the wire. This looked to be a maintenance type of drill with it the colt’s first work since winning the April 7 Wood Memorial.

Noble Indy, the Louisiana Derby winner, dominated his workmate breezing six furlongs, a distance rare for a Pletcher runner in the morning. With a shake from his rider, the colt finished up in 1:15.00, a wakeup call having last raced March 24.

At Churchill Downs, where so far five of 20 members of the current prospective Derby field are stabled, Bravazo was put in a race-like situation with multiple workmates, going six furlongs from the gate. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas ensured “he’s better than what he showed last time” when running eighth in the Louisiana Derby. Get the full report.

Coming up next

This daily report will switch to a morning edition starting Saturday. You can live stream official Kentucky Derby training from 7-8 a.m. ET each morning, with Flameaway, Promises Fulfilled and Free Drop Billy each expected to breeze under the Twin Spires.

Elsewhere, Blue Grass Stakes winner Good Magic will work at Keeneland, site of his last victory, and Justify is due to drill any day now.

In case you missed it…

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