The Kentucky Derby takes place every year on the first Saturday in May and it is a race that many horse racing novices like to follow. Along with the Breeders’ Cup and the other ‘Triple Crown’ races, the Derby attracts the most mainstream attention. Understanding the intricacies of horse racing is a very involved study. Moreover, QQ Online and other popular platforms allow players to place bets in these horse races which makes these games far more engaging.
While understanding and predicting horse races is a very complex discipline, here are some basics that can help the amateur understand the Kentucky Derby. Back during the seventies, it was a race dominated by the favorite including three great Triple Crown winners” Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed” and a great horse that came close, Spectacular Bid. Since Spectacular Bid won the Derby in 1979, however, you can count the favorites who’ve won the race on one hand with fingers left over. If I was a serious horseplayer, I might not advise you to do this but since I’m just worried about predicting the outcome of this one race I’m going to suggest that you forget about the favorite altogether. Not only will you not be flying in the face of recent history, but also it allows you to concentrate on the horses offering greater value.
In all fairness, it should be noted that the favorite has been a historically strong proposition. In the 135 Kentucky Derby races, the post-time favorite has placed in the money at a 69% clip over the history of the race. So why have the favorites been on such a money-losing run in the past two decades? My personal theory is that it is a function of the growing hype surrounding the race”in other words, you get a lot of amateur horse racing fans that distort the notion of the favorite being the most likely to win the race. The most hyped horse becomes the favorite, but this is not always the best horse. In any case, though it could be argued that the anti-favorite bias could be due for a turnaround, for the purpose of understanding this particular race I’m going to forget about the post-time favorite.
Post position is also something that the horse racing neophyte should pay attention to. Obviously post position number 1 is an advantage relative to the outer ones, but it hasn’t been a strong edge over the other inside positions. Twelve Derby winners have had the #1 position going into the race (the most of any position) but positions #4 and #5 have had ten winners each. In terms of percentages, positions #1 through #5 have yielded 49 winners (or just under 40%). On the other hand, the outermost positions (#11 through #20) have had just 16 winners (or just under 13%). It is important to note that there are not always that many horses in the race, which would obviously result in few higher posts winning. Still, concentrating on horses with favorable post positions is another way to pare down a field that you know little about.
Another factor worthy of consideration is the horse’s lineage and breeding. Start at the beginning” where the horse was born. Most, but not all, serious racehorses are born in Kentucky. If you see a horse in the race that wasn’t, forget them. This is not any sort of home-field advantage but a result of the concentration of the Thoroughbred horse industry in the state. Over 80% of Kentucky Derby winners have been born in Kentucky. Next, consider the horses gender, or more specifically don’t consider any entry with a gender other than male. Only eleven horses other than intact males have ever won the race (eight geldings and three fillies). A gelding did win as recently as 2003 when Funny Cide took the roses but again for the newcomer this is an easy way to cut down the horses under consideration. This isn’t a gender bias or anything, but for our purposes, we can forget about non-male horses.
Don’t forget to consider dosage index numbers. These are a complex mathematical formula that measures a horse’s breeding lineage plus his past performance. You want to look for horses with a dosage index of 4.00 or less–over half of Derby winners have met these criteria since dosage numbers came into common usage in the mid-1980s.
If you want to learn about horse racing in more depth, there are countless books available to introduce you to the subject. For a recreational fan who just wants to have a better understanding of the Kentucky Derby, these rules can help.