2015 Lazy Bettor Kentucky Derby Preview (revisited)

[Editor’s Note: The 2015 Kentucky Derby results were as follows: American Pharoah first, Firing Line second and Dortmund third.]

American Pharoah and Firing Line get little respect [from speed-figure publishers] for popping the springs on the timer. They’re rated inferior to the top two finishers in the Wood Memorial, to the top two in the Florida Derby and to Dortmund….

In short, Beyer and BRIS speed figs rate the slow-moving Florida Derby and Wood Memorial as the strongest prep races. They both downplay the significance of the fast final times of the Arkansas and Sunland derbies.

And, for the record, here’s the ranking if you use raw times with the adjustments I outlined for historical differences in track surfaces:

American Pharoah (Ark. Derby)

Firing Line (Sunland Derby)

Dortmund (SA Derby)

Carpe Diem (Blue Grass Stk.)

International Star (La. Derby)

Frosted (Wood Mem.)

Tencendur (Wood Mem.)

Materiality (Fla. Derby)

Upstart (Fla. Derby)

Raw final times with a simple track adjustment turned the speed-figure rankings upside down.

Here are my race profiles of this year’s top contenders:

American Pharoah………92/92

Firing Line…………………95/88

Dortmund………………….89/89

Materiality…………………85/95 (in his allowance win)

Carpe Diem………………..85/94

Far Right……………………84/93

Frosted………………………76/99

History tends to repeat, so let it be your guide. American Pharoah (92/92) and Dortmund (89/89) are the only two pure fast/fast horses.

In my book I make an exception to the “89 late” standard if a horse ran “superfast” early. Firing Line fits that model with a superfast pace figure of 95. For him, you should accept an 88 late, which is a strong finish when you consider how much energy he burned early. His race profile of 95/88 matches that of the previous “superfast” qualifier Silver Charm, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1997….

American Pharoah’s overall figures are clearly the best. The 92/92 profile places his Arkansas Derby win among the top 5 prep-race performances on dirt since 2000. And he achieved that without ever being hustled or shown the whip. And while being eased up shortly after passing the sixteenth pole….

And if all your exotics combos are dead when the Derby rolls around this year, bet the heck out of American Pharoah, and toss a few dollars on the qualifier with the longest odds (probably Firing Line). History will be on your side.