With a 20-horse field every year, the Kentucky Derby consistently produces some of the biggest payouts of the year, and the 2018 Kentucky Derby fits that mold as well. The Kentucky Derby Superfecta is the biggest prize, and with at least seven top contenders that could win this year, selecting the Top 4 finishers should prove elusive as ever. The reward? A high probability of huge payoffs. In eight of the past 12 years, the $2 Superfecta has returned near the $50,000 mark or higher. The average Superfecta payoff from 2001 to 2017 is $166,728, although boosted by the massive payoffs with Mine That Bird in 2009 and Giacomo in 2005. But even the $2 Trifecta averages $17,432 over that time.
Because handicapping a race with 20 horses is so difficult, we need a proven strategy in order to attack the Superfecta.
The Kentucky Derby Super Screener combines pace analysis and 20 other key criteria in determining Superfecta tickets for the first Saturday in May each year.
Takeaways from the chart above
• Of the 40 possible finish opportunities, closers/deep closers accounted for 25 of the slots or 62.5%.
• Third and fourth place accounted for the vast majority of closer finishes with nearly 70% of the 20 available slots taken up by a closer.
• For the first time in many, many years, in 2015 the Derby Trifecta was made up of no closers.
• At least 2 closer/deep closers hit the Superfecta in 9 of the past 10 editions (90%) of the Kentucky Derby. Five of 10 races (50%) featured three or more closer types hitting the top four positions.
• 30% of the second place finishers were comprised of tiring pace/presser types.
• In 2016, Nyquist was the first pace type to win the Kentucky Derby in the past 14 years, and Always Dreaming repeated this pattern in 2017.
• In every year except 2015 and 2016, at least one 20-1+ long shot has hit the Superfecta (Danzig Moon did finish fifth at 22-1 in the 2015 Derby and Suddenbreakingnews finished fifth at 24-1 in 2016)
• 75% of the 20-1+ board hitters were closers/deep closers, so if you're looking for a big longshot, you want to focus on that type of runner.
• The fourth-place slot yielded seven 20-1+ bombers in the past 14 years. Speed is Improving
Highly regarded pace types have burned a lot of money over the history of the Kentucky Derby. Recent examples include Dortmund (4-1, third) in 2015, in addition to Verrazano (8-1, 14th) and Goldencents (7-1, 17th) in 2013. Bodemeister went off as the 4-1 favorite and looked much the winner in mid-stretch but finished second in 2012. Lion Heart and Peace Rules were also highly regarded “wire” types that managed to hit the board but missed the win.
Complete flops of recent favored pace types include: Sidney's Candy (9-1, 17th, 2010), Brother Derek (7-1, fourth, 2006) and Bellamy Road (5-2, seventh, 2005). Prior to War Emblem’s wire victory in 2002, the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby from gate to wire was the filly Winning Colors in 1988.
But the last four years, favored pace/presser types have captured the Derby four years in a row. Could this be a result of the track changing, or perhaps the different makeup of the field with the Kentucky Derby points system?
2018 pace projections
For the 2018 Kentucky Derby, the Super Screener has projected the pace (and will confirm that projection once the final field is locked in). With only one pace horse in Promises Fulfilled and as many as six presser types, will the 2018 outcome look like last year’s, or will one or two of the many 20-1+ longshot closers manage to hit the board?
In 2017, the Super Screener added to the greatest Derby hits by listing 33-1 Lookin At Lee as the top longshot. Super Screener also had 37-1 Commanding Curve as a top longshot in 2014 and 34-1 Golden Soul in 2013.
The 2017 Super Screener readers did very well and sent in many testimonials of their big wins.