Kentucky Derby turnoffs

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Derek Simon

April 26th, 2014

I have often discussed how important it is that a horse show the ability to gain ground on the turn in Kentucky Derby preps, à la Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Spiral.
(Click on image to enlarge)
In that Grade III event, the son of Leroidesanimaux passed three horses and gained two lengths en route to a 2 ¾-length score.
Six weeks later, he was having his picture taken in the Churchill Downs’ winner’s circle.
Just as important as positive moves, however, are negative ones.
What’s the difference, you ask? Well, a positive move is any gain of running position and lengths (the latter stipulation helps to ensure that the move was due to the horse accelerating rather than just picking up stragglers) on the far turn, while a negative move is just the opposite — a loss of both position and lengths on the far turn.
For the sake of simplicity, I consider the far turn to be the span between the first and second call in routes and the span between the second call and the stretch call in sprints. (Obviously, prepping for the Kentucky Derby in a sprint race raises other issues… but it has happened.)
Take a peek at horses that showed a negative move on the turn in their last race prior to the Derby:
(Click on image to enlarge)
Simply put, these horses just don’t perform in Louisville. Not only are they 0-for-29 since 1992, only two — Menifee (in 1999) and Pioneerof the Nile (2009) — have so much as hit the board.
So, without further ado, here are the potential “turnoffs” in Kentucky Derby 140:
Horses that lost position and lengths from the first call to the second call in their final prep
* Dance with Fate
* Vinceremos
* Coastline
* In Trouble
* Casiguapo