‘Key’ Derby Preps

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Derek Simon

March 23rd, 2013

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CAUTION:Keep in mind that we are looking for strong — or weak — races at a specified class level. The Key Race Rating is nota measurement of overall talent. Just because a Grade I affair earned, say, a 2.3 KRR does not mean it was inferior to $10,000 claiming affair that earned a 9.0 KRR.

This new method of assessing Key Races has proven to be especially helpful in evaluating Kentucky Derby prep events. Since 1997 (as far back as I could get reliable charts), no winner of the Run for the Roses has exited a prep with a Key Race Rating of less than 3.0.

In 2008 this group of preps included the Illinois Derby (2.3 KRR), Spiral Stakes (2.8) and Wood Memorial (2.3) — a trio of stakes that produced seven (35 percent) of the 20 Derby starters that year.

Yet among Denis of Cork (Illinois Derby), Tale of Ekati (Wood), Recapturetheglory (Illinois Derby), Adriano (Spiral), Z Humor (Illinois Derby), Anak Nakal (Wood) and Court Vision (Wood) only the former, who finished third, managed to hit the board in Louisville.

So far in 2013, there have been two weak preps (less than 3.0 KRR) and a couple of very strong ones, as the following chart attests to:

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