Kentucky Derby Wagering Advice and Betting Help: the Pace Scenario a Major Factor
by Trevor Whenham - 5/3/2016
There is nothing more important when it comes to handicapping the Kentucky Derby than understanding the pace - where horses want to be during the race, how likely they are going to be able to be there, and what it means for the race. Unfortunately, because of the size of the race, the distance which is new to every horse, and the general craziness of the Derby, there are also few things tougher than handicapping the pace in the Derby. All you can do, really, is chart where you expect horses to be, try to figure out what it all means, and then hope for the best.
Here, then, is how I break down the expected field of 20 horses into four loose pace groups:
These are the horses that are expected to try to get to the lead early and will be looking to set reasonably fast early pace. This is important to them because it gives them the best chance of winning. It's also important to the closers in the field because they won't have a late run set up for them without early pace - if the horses close to the lead aren't tired they aren't likely to get passed. There has been less early speed in general in the Derby since the new points structure made it tougher for sprinter-types to get into the field. Two horses should set the pace, though. Danzig Candy burned himself out at the front of the Santa Anita Derby, but that track was muddy, so a faster track could change things here. Outwork should be looking to lead, too. I don't expect suicidal fractions early on, but the Derby always seems to be fairly brisk as the excitement and chaos ups the adrenaline for all runners.
In an ideal race these horses would look to settle just off the early speed, staying close enough to keep in contact but letting others do the real work and saving something for later. Likely Derby favorite Nyquist is likely to be in this group, though if the pace isn't swift early he has shown that he can move up. Mohaymen, looking for redemption after a disastrous Florida Derby last time out, will be here, too. They'll be joined in all likelihood by Gun Runner, Shagaf, and Destin. This is a classy group of horses here, and it would not at all be surprising to see a stalker win the race.
Between the stalkers and the deep closers sit the mid-pack horses. These are the guys who are opportunists. They don't have an interest in messing with the early pace, but they want to stay close enough to take advantage of opportunities. Unlike the speed or the closers, they aren't willing to bet their race on just one tactic. The best of this group is Mor Spirit, who should look to settle near the front of this group. With Gary Stevens aboard he should avoid trouble. From there the quality of this group falls off a cliff - long shots Majesto, Trojan Nation, Oscar Nominated, Tom's Ready and Lani all fit here, and I don't give any of them much of a chance. And then we have a grey area with Whitmore. I struggled to decide whether he belonged here or in the deep closers. Either way, he'll be off the pace, looking to move late, and he's dangerous.
These are the horses that will be so far back early on that it will seem like they are doomed. They'll flick a switch, though, and if things go their way they will pass a lot of horses during a mad rush and find themselves up front at the end. Closers are in a tough spot in this field. They need a brisk early pace, which they will likely get, but they also need to be able to find room to move. With 20 horses fanning out in the stretch, that isn't always easy here. You need to make sure you get a nice price on these horses because they have a lot to overcome. I quite like all six horses here, though, so perhaps some of them will be worth a play - at least in the exotics. The ones that will be lounging early should include Brody's Cause, Creator, Suddenbreakingnews, My Man Sam, Mo Tom and Exaggerator. Exaggerator is the least certain of that group. He has had success from way back the last two times out but had been closer to the pace earlier on. If the race shapes up poorly for him then he could look to adjust on the fly.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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