Most of my working life has been around the track. There is not one complaint in that area, but this is one of the few times of year that you have to blot out the words of wisdom that are coming from everywhere. With that in mind, here is a short compilation of Derby “to-do’s” that guide my wallet. I guess I can’t take all of the credit, or blame. These were tools gathered over twenty years by some of the best handicappers I have ever known.
1. The runner must have been first, second, or third in their last outing. No clunker this late in the game. Horses must be on their way to peak effort, and there is no time for a “toss-out” race. 1st, 2nd, or 3rd…. NO EXCEPTIONS!
2. Your runner must have won, or ran a very good race going a 1 1/8th in their last race. Don’t toss out any turf or poly efforts. All must be considered, and the distance is the only question. Distance is always a question, and there is no time for a sweet 1 1/16 effort.
3. The Derby contender MUST have had a two-year-old season. I am not going back to the “jinx” bin, but I feel it gives them a foundation to build upon. I know there have been some really close efforts as of late, but stick to your guns. I wouldn’t toss them out of my exotics. But if they win, I won’t be cashing a win ticket.
4. I am looking for no more than three races this year. They should have had their points if they are a player, and any more could be taking gas out of the tank. Do not toss any turfers, poly, or Europeans just yet.
5. I like to see a good work over the CD oval. Now, it doesn’t have to be a smoking bullet. But I do prefer to see solid action. Give extra points to any runners who worked over a good, or sealed track. They want to be prepared for anything on the big day. If you really want to follow these, the racing channels are showing how they work, and if they had company. The best one that caught my eye was how Orb worked in company, and his rider was aboard the workout partner.
6. Your mom use to tell you that you are judged by the company you keep. Play only runners who have a good G-1 event in their last effort.
7. Stick to your guns. Pay attention to the rags, the programming, and the workout tabs. They may be that deciding factor that puts you in the winner’s circle.
If you keep these, use them a like a cooking recipe. Always be sure to toss in some of your own goodness. This is where I enjoy handicapping on my own, and then grabbing up my E-Z Win Forms. It has brought to light many runners who would gone unnoticed by this handicapper. I use the two, and I now have the “deciding” vote to guide my wagers. Keep your eye on the weather this weekend for Louisville, and be sure to check in early and grab up your E-Z Win Forms.