• Florida Derby Analysis & Fair Grounds Handicapping Reports

    POSTED Mar 28, 2014
    Great weekend of racing on tap! Below is a look at Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby, along with free handicapping reports for Fair Grounds:

    FLORIDA DERBY (GRADE I)
    3/29/14 Gulfstream Park (race 14)
    1-1/8 miles (dirt).

    1-WILDCAT RED
    Fair Odds: 9-2

    Gutsy win in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 22, a race in which he battled with General A Rod throughout and prevailed by a head bob. So, the $1 million question is: Was there an early speed bias that day (as so many racing fans and pundits assert)?

    The stats are inconclusive.

    Yes, five of the six dirt races were won by the horse leading at the first call at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 22; however, three of those winners were favored — two quite heavily (even odds and 3-5).

    Still, there’s something else that concerns me about Wildcat Red. We know he’s quick — as a son of D’Wildcat, this is hardly unique — so what’s with the three-furlong drill on March 22? Statistically speaking, this is a huge no-no, particularly in route races (as the table below, culled from one of my databases of past race results, amply demonstrates):


    And don’t be fooled by the fast time of that workout — bullet works at three furlongs produced even worse results than non-bullet works (0.83 IV, 0.74 OBIV).


    2-MATADOR
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    His only win came on the grass and yielded a -13 late speed ration (LSR), which is awful. The blinkers go on today, but it’s hard to get too excited about this guy unless there is a complete pace meltdown.

    3-CAIRO PRINCE
    Fair Odds: 5-2

    The connections are strong, the breeding is strong and this colt hints at greater talent. The only issue I have is the 63-day layoff since his last start in the Holy Bull and the fact that his effort in that race was not as good as it looks on paper.

    Sure, Cairo Prince won that Jan. 25 Grade II affair by 5 ¾ lengths, but the resulting 98 Brisnet speed (BSF) figure and -8 LSR are only so-so.

    Is so-so good enough for a horse that is likely to be favored? I don’t think so.

    4-CONSTITUTION
    Fair Odds: 8-1

    If, in fact, Gulfstream Park featured a main-track early speed bias on Feb. 22, what does that say for this horse, who posted the highest, i.e. slowest, early speed ration (-1) on dirt in wiring the sixth race of the day?

    Granted, the son of Tapit appears to have a lot of upside, but, with Todd Pletcher listed as the trainer, all thoughts of value go down the proverbial drain.

    5-EAST HALL
    Fair Odds: 20-1

    On paper, this gelded son of Graeme Hall looks hopeless, but he’s recorded some LSRs that I think (perhaps foolishly) give him a puncher’s chance if the pace is unduly fast.

    6-GENERAL A ROD
    Fair Odds: 7-2

    Trainer Mike Maker has said this colt represents the “best chance I’ve ever had” to win the Kentucky Derby. Putting aside Maker’s abysmal record in the Run for the Roses for a second, it’s easy to see why the veteran conditioner is so enthusiastic.

    This son of Roman Ruler (I know, that’s a problem) has improved in every start and is as game as they get. Plus, I think he’s better suited to carry his speed than Wildcat Red, whom he dropped a narrow decision to in the Fountain of Youth. Check out the way he galloped out after that race:

    video

    I suspect this guy will get lost in the betting — and he shouldn’t.

    7-ALLSTAR
    Fair Odds: 30-1

    Earned a 78 BSF and -16 LSR in capturing a cheap N1X allowance race at Calder last time. His presence in this race makes me think I should have held my own “pro day” in hopes of making it into the NFL… at the age of 46… with no discernable talent.

    8-SPOT
    Fair Odds: 12-1

    His running style is ideal, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about a closer that earned a -15 LSR in its latest outing. That said, any improvement puts this dude in the hunt.

    Early Speed Ration (ESR): A measurement of a horse’s early energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The lower the figure, the greater the horse’s early exertion in that event.

    -15= Demanding.
    -10= Brisk.
      -5= Moderate.
       0= Soft.

    Late Speed Ration (LSR): A measurement of a horse’s late energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The higher the figure, the greater the horse’s late exertion in that event. Because late speed is calculated at a time when a horse is being asked for his/her maximum effort, LSRs can be a great indication of form as well.

       0= Excellent.
      -5= Good.
    -10= Fair.
    -15= Poor.

    Pace Profile: A simple comparison between a horse’s LSR and the ESR of the race in which it was earned. Positive profiles are greatly desired.

    Note: ESRs and LSRs recorded on turf or all-weather surfaces tend to vary by 5-10 points from those garnered on dirt tracks.

    FREE Fair Grounds Handicapping Reports

    Fair Grounds has a fantastic card scheduled for Saturday, highlighted by the Louisiana Derby and Palace Malice’s return to the bayou in the New Orleans Handicap.

    Below are links to some FREE reports:

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