7 Derby-Capping Rules

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.




7 Responses to “7 Derby-Capping Rules”

  1. Keith Lawson says:

    Why has there not been an UAE Derby winner to win the Kentucky Derby? That race is the RICHEST prep leading up to the derby?

  2. Ed says:


    The trip back from Dubai has been tough. But, with that being said. I think they have one this year that may fit into the exotics.

    I love the Dubai carnival, and the HUGE purses blinds my handicapping at times. I guess we just have to adjust to the fact that Meydan is going to have purse levels that will stretch around the moon and back.

    Best of luck, and maybe this could be their year !

  3. Mark says:

    Ed –
    Thanks for those tips.Do you have data that shows how those rules have done over the past 5-10 years?

    Also, the workouts are a little bit of a mystery to me. I hear experts say one horse looked great when he put in for 1.02.00 5F, and then say another one did not look well when he puts in a 59.00 work.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Ed says:


    Sorry to say that I don’t have the R.O.I for the sampling. Some of these players had been schooled and were using them as long as past performances were printed.

    I have had the pleasure of working in the industry, and the best part was getting to know the players. Some were big athletes we read about, a H.O.F trainer who was born in my neck of the woods, and others who never went to an office or job site. Over the years, I use to sit and chat with them. I was doing on-air handicapping, and some were my biggest fans, and toughest critics. They had some very good ideas, and I was an open book when I sat at the “players” table.

    The works are more than just time. I have always used the times this week as a yardstick and paid close attention how they galloped out after the work and if they worked in company. You can find a bevy of info this week with the racing channels, or you can check in with Mike Welsch from the DRF. he may be one of the best set of eyes to measure a solid effort.

  5. Dave says:

    Check out Anonymous Horse Player. They have a similar grid related to a bunch of the factors you mention. It shows stats per criteria and which horse meets it.

  6. pomdeterre says:

    the uae derby, imho, should NOT count toward the ky derby. especially at the expense of good graded races in north america. i am guessing tabor sits onn the board that allowed this race as a qualifier. he has been trying to buy a ky derby win for longer than i can remember. the horse arrived here wednesday, after a 12 hour flight, with no dirt experience or works, and they expect him to tun 3 days later/ that isnot only insanel poor horsemanship, it’s animal cruelty. and as far as aidan o’brien is concerned, george washington broke down right in front of me in 2007 bcc- another tabor/magnier RETIRED TURF horse who was brought back to run in a monsoon simply for his owners’ walletts- as he lacked the little swimmers to be a stud. i hold all 3 of them- o’brien, tabor, magnier responsible for the murder of this champion who had no business on that dirt track if it was 89 degrees, dry, fast and sunny. this new horse beibg here is pure folly. i hope he has a safe tripl i hope the uk jockey club finds drugs in o’brien’s barn.

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