2012 Kentucky Derby Trail 1 – Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the nuggets I learned this year about the Kentucky Derby is that the neither of the two pre-eminent stallions in North America can count a Kentucky Derby winner among their descendants. Neither Storm Cat nor A.P. Indy have a Derby winner of their own, nor do any of their sons or grandsons. I find this astounding. For Storm Cat, not a single winner from Tale of the Cat or Forestry or Johannesburg or Forest Wildcat or Giant’s Causeway. For A.P. Indy, nothing from Mineshaft or Pulpit or Malibu Moon or Tapit or Bernardini (though he’s only in his 2nd crop).

I look back over the last few years of my favorites going into the Derby – Pyro, Friesan Fire, Eskendereya, I Want Revenge – I wasn’t giving myself a chance! The truth is, these sire lines have been massively successful in two-year-old stakes, 3-yr-old KY Derby preps, with 3-yr-old fillies (including Oaks winners), and other Triple Crown Races. Mineshaft colts have run 2nd the last two years – it’s got to be a matter of time, right?

I finally broke my pedigree curse when I favored three colts in the 2012 Derby – Archarcharch, Soldat, and Animal Kingdom, all of whom were higher odds than 3 A.P. Indy grandsons – Nehro, Dialed In and Pants on Fire. What I’m saying is this: the general success of Storm Cat and A.P. Indy-line horses overvalues their specific performance in the Kentucky Derby. Consequently, value can be found by playing horses from other successful pedigrees. Moreover, that value can be found now in Derby Futures wagering.

Let’s look at the pedigrees of the Top 10 KY Derby Contenders (as based on odds found here – I believe the Wynn Sportsbook is the original source):

Odds CONTENDER  SIRE  GRANDSIRE
10 Union Rags Dixie Union Dixieland Band
12 Algorithms Bernardini A.P. Indy
12 Liaison Indian Charlie In Excess
15 Alpha Bernardini A.P. Indy
15 Hansen Tapit Pulpit
20 Out Of Bounds Discreet Cat Forestry
20 Rousing Sermon Lucky Pulpit Pulpit
25 Creative Cause Giant’s Causeway Storm Cat
25 Discreet Dancer Discreet Cat Forestry
25 Ever So Lucky Indian Charlie In Excess

Anything stand out to you? 7 of the Top 10 are SC/API-line horses. Not a ton of value here 4 months out. (Interesting to note that Union Rags is out of Dixie Union (Dixieland Band), a different branch of the Northern Dancer sire line.) For you Indian Charlie fans, remember the ‘Mo.

Now let’s look at some value horses whose sires and grandsires whose progeny have won the Derby.  Some notes on this chart:

  • KF Odds = KY Future Odds currently available at Wynn
  • KDG = Generation in Pedigree Locating a Sire with Derby-winning Descendant; 1 = Sire has KD winner in Sire Line, 2 = Grandsire has KD winner in Sire Line
  • KDWs = Number of KD winners in the winning Sire’s Line
  • In KDG 2, only 200+ odds horses are considered (my threshold for a future wager before 1st round of preps)
Odds CONTENDER SIRE GRANDSIRE KDG KDWs
250 Power World Distorted Humor Forty Niner 1 1
125 B Shanny Street Cry Machiavellian 1 1
100 Our Entourage Street Cry Machiavellian 1 1
350 Friscan Two Punch Mr. Prospector 2 9
350 Spring To The Sky Langfuhr Danzig 2 2
300 Points Offthebench Benchmark Alydar 2 2
275 Seeker Hard Spun Danzig 2 2
200 Summer Front War Front Danzig 2 2
200 Wharton War Front Danzig 2 2

In my data set, just 3 major contenders have sires who have sired a Derby Winner so far (I definitely need to get more horses in here though) I’d only bet Power World at this point, given the odds. What’s really interesting to me is the second group beginning with Friscan, whose grandsire is Mr. Prospector, who counts 9 descendants as Derby Winners, the most recent being Mine that Bird and Street Sense.

The Danzig group is most interesting though. Big Brown is the most recent Danzig-line (Norther Dancer) KY Derby winner. Good reports on Summer Front say he is very much like Big Brown, and I know some folks (hi Ed!) who are very high on Wharton at this time.

200-1 is worth a small bet now, because it sure would be fun to say “I had that back in January”. Moreover, it’s been interesting to point out where the value isn’t, and get started on where it might be come Derby day. Anyone want to make a bet for me?

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Resolutions for 2012

Since tracking my play was a weakness in 2011, I’m going to take a different tack and run all of my action from my online account. So, if I need cash for the track, I’ll pull it from online. The balance I’ll put back. What this will do, without a doubt, is limit my play. Which is the point.  Having a true bankroll for the first time should give me proper perspective when it comes to action betting, that it should be geared to minimize losses. In other words, I’m not going to get huge returns on short handicapping.

I probably won’t get to the track much year – we’re adding a new colt to the stable in a couple of weeks, so that will keep me in Nashville for the most part. I do expect to get to Oaklawn at least once this spring; Lone Star is looking like a go this summer, and with the BC in California, I’ll swap 2011’s Churchill BC trip with a visit to Keeneland this fall.

Most importantly, though, I want to get this site up and running. Hopefully, I can post once or twice a week and add my voice to the racing chorus. Here’s to 2012 being a good one. And we’re off!

2011 Retrospective

2011 was, probably, a bad year for me betting. I say probably because I’m uncertain exactly how much I won or lost since I didn’t keep proper records of my on-track betting. So, looking back, I’ll group my action into four different categories and rate it on a scale of very bad to very good.

On-Track or Simulcast, Pre-Breeder’s Cup – Good. Highlights include:

  • Big win on Arkansas Derby with ArchArchArch at 25-1
  • Hitting early Pick-4s on Belmont Friday and Saturday

Online thru ADWs (primarily TwinSpires) including Kentucky Derby – Bad. I learned:

  • That I need to pick my spots – ADWs support action bets like no other and I made dozens of poorly handicapped bets, just to play a race I was watching.
  • Trust your judgment. Hedge a little, not a lot. – this was big on Derby Day, as a syndicate I was involved in was well covered to win in the Derby. I played a lot of horses that I didn’t like, just in case they hit. Of course, one of my 3 favs – Animal Kingdom (along with ArchArchArch and Soldat) won at a nice price. Trusting myself and/or my syndicate’s handicapping would have really improved my Derby day ROI, but I hedged on the big race too much.
  • My ROI on TS this year was -40% or so – this is unsustainable to say the least.

Betting with syndicates – Good. I learned:

  • Syndicates are great on carryovers and hi-overlay days. Syndicates I was involved in did best on the Rainbow 6 carryover day and the Derby. Preakness was not good – few overlays, and Belmont was a push. I’ll make these plays a higher % of my action this year, where I can find them.
  • I prefer syndicates that can hedge larger P6 bets with smaller P4 bets and exactas when they’re still alive to a bigger score. The Players Pool at TwinSpires is often all or nothing, and may be better for chasing carryovers when that’s a positive expectation.
  • Derby Day is huge for overlays in multiple pools. Hedging often means playing underlays.

Breeders Cup 2011 – Very Bad. I learned:

  • I’m not a very good handicapper when there are few standout horses, as the 2011 BC was certainly lacking them. I had no great As to key Pick X tickets and tried too often to beat the few short prices out there (see: Royal Delta)
  • Too many exotic plays, not enough WPS bets – I had in my mind that I had to hit a huge score in order to make the weekend break-even with hotel and all and I chased too much instead of identifying good overlay opportunities race by race. Caleb’s Posse is an opportunity missed because of poor payroll management.

So, I figure I was break-even for the year before Breeder’s Cup and that knocked me back on my heels. But I learned a lot and it’s really encouraged me to take on 2012 at the races with a plan.