Busting the myths of the 2015 Kentucky Derby
by Laura Pugh
With Kentucky Derby 2015 rapidly approaching, fans and handicappers alike will be searching for the latest trends to help them finalize their betting strategies. Seeing as how there are so many superstitions out there, I figured I’d like to play a little Kentucky Derby myth buster.
First and foremost, we will always have the people who will argue that less, in today’s world, is more. By that I mean that two Kentucky Derby preps and not three is the way to go. That is not always the case. Yes, from Kentucky Derby 2007 to Kentucky Derby 2012, the winners only had two preps, however in 2013-14 the trend has returned to three Kentucky Derby preps, lending the argument that a solid foundation gives the best Derby chances more credence.
Also keep in mind that of the horses that won the Kentucky Derby off of only two preps, only one managed to do so by skipping the middle round of the prep races. That horse was I’ll Have Another. Outside of him the other Derby winners made their seasonal bows in the last week of February, or later, before continuing on to the final round of prep races.
Another trend lots of people will take note of is the lack of success that has been seen from the Wood Memorial since 2003. Based on this many will tell you to toss any horses coming from the race, that the horses that win that are far from the best of the crop. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, the Wood Memorial hasn’t put forth many winners lately; however, it hasn’t had a fair shake at the Derby in recent years either.
In 2004, Tapit was the Wood Memorial winner, and when he made the Derby it marked his third start that year, the first of which he came out of with a lung infection, meaning he was hardly ready to deliver his best effort Derby Day. Then, for three years straight, the Wood Memorial winner didn’t even make it to the Kentucky Derby. From 2009-2011, the Wood Memorial didn’t even have a winning representative in the gates, and what is most interesting is that it likely would have produced the Kentucky Derby favorite during the years of 2009 and 2010.
With three years out the window that leaves eight years to judge the Wood Memorial by. Still, no wins. However, Tale of Ekati and Wicked Strong both finished good fourths in their Kentucky Derbies. That isn’t the most encouraging, but it certainly isn’t damning either. Knowing this, I sure wouldn’t let racing in the Wood Memorial dissuade me from a possible pick.
Speaking of curses, one that gets brought up every single year is the "Apollo" curse. He was the first and only horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby without starting a single time as a juvenile, and that was back in 1882. People can argue all they want that the curse means less and less due to the lack of racing seen in all Thoroughbred racehorses in today’s era, but if that is true then tell me why the likes of Dunkirk, Verrazano, Bodemiester, and even Curlin failed to win the Kentucky Derby. All were very talented horses. Curlin won the Preakness, while Bodemiester ran second in the Preakness and Dunkirk second in the Belmont, proving how talented they were. So tell me, what went wrong Derby Day?
I’m not one to believe in trends or curses, but this is one curse that is going on 133 years. Not even the best debater in the world can get around that.
Going into this year’s Kentucky Derby, I hope you all take one thing with you, from this article. This is the Kentucky Derby. There is no race like it. There are no boxes, no trends, and no labels that will help you without fail. This is the Kentucky Derby, and its sole purpose is breaking the rules. Well, all except one. With that being said, I’m going to take a line from one of my favorite movies: "Everyone, may the odds be ever in your favor."