90% of Kentucky Derby winners hit this speed figure standard

90% of Kentucky Derby winners hit this speed figure standard
Photo: Parker Waters/Eclipse Sportswire

Countless trends come into focus this time of year on the Kentucky Derby trail, but not all are created equal. Establishing those that have proven to be relevant in recent years can ease the complexity of handicapping a 20-horse field and assist in finding a live long shot or tossing a vulnerable favorite.

Here is a closer look at the best Beyer Speed Figures and BRIS Speed Ratings among this year's contenders.

 HorseBeyerBRIS
Rock Your World100102
Hot Rod Charlie99100
Medina Spirit  99  98 
Mandaloun98100
Essential Quality97102
Highly Motivated97102
Midnight Bourbon9698
Dream Shake9695
O Besos9694
King Fury9595
Known Agenda94101
Super Stock9297
Caddo River9296
Soup and Sandwich9098
Dynamic One8995
Bourbonic8994
Like The King8694
Helium8493
Get Her Number8494
Sainthood8493
Hidden Stash8393

Looking at these figures is one thing, but interpreting them is another. Since 1992, 26 of 29 (89.6 percent) Kentucky Derby winners have entered the race with a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of at least 95. This number would be 27 out of 29 if Maximum Security had not been disqualified in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, gifting Country House with a victory.

Since 2000, 18 of 21 (85.7 percent) Kentucky Derby winners had a BRIS Speed Rating of at least 100 prior to the race. This number would have been 19 of 21 if Maximum Security had not been taken down.

Ten of the 21 horses currently being considered for the Kentucky Derby have posted a Beyer of at least 95. In order from highest to lowest they are: Rock Your World, Hot Rod Charlie, Medina Spirit, Mandaloun, Essential Quality, Highly Motivated, Midnight Bourbon, Dream Shake, O Besos and King Fury.

Six contenders have recorded a best BRIS of at least 100: Rock Your World, Essential Quality, Highly Motivated, Known Agenda, Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun.

This leaves Rock Your World, Essential Quality, Highly Motivated, Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun as the only horses who fall into both categories.

If this dominant trend holds true, then the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby will come from this group of five.

There is more to handicapping the Derby than speed figures, but one could do far worse than trusting a statistic that holds true percent of the time to narrow down win contenders.

Beyer speed figures and TimeformUS figures are courtesy of Daily Racing Form.  
Brisnet speed ratings are courtesy of Brisnet

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