Road To The Roses Kentucky Derby game strategy

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Ed DeRosa

March 27th, 2013

A streamlined version of the popular Road To The Roses Kentucky Derby game begins this weekend, and with the most points available for winning the Kentucky Derby itself, the simplest strategy would be to select the six horses you feel have the best chance of winning the race.

Unfortunately for me (and I'm guessing others) this isn't even close to optimum strategy for winning the game because multiple horses in my "top six" figure to be in the same race leading up to the Derby.

There are 1,598 points available in this contest--170 in each of the seven Derby Championship Series races, 34 in each of the two wildcard races, and 340 in the Derby itself. I view a perfect score as 940 points: six 100-point scores in the DCS leg 2 races plus all 340 points in the Derby.

Barring chaos, having multiple winners of DCS leg 2 races AND the Derby winner is far more important than only having the Derby winner, so even though I have Itsmyluckyday, Orb, and Shanghai Bobby all in my top five most likely winners of the Derby, I'll only use Itsmyluckyday for this contest because my best score with him and two other prep hopefuls is 620 whereas my best chance with all three in the Florida Derby is 480.

But wait! There is not a single horse in the U.A.E. Derby that I view as a legitimate Kentucky Derby threat at this point, and that only leaves six other 170-point races. Can I really be expected to pick the winners of all six of them? Aren't I better off taking Shanghai Bobby and Orb than a stab at who will win (or even show up) in the wide open Blue Grass Stakes and/or Arkansas Derby?

Here's who I know I have to have: Itsmyluckyday (Florida Derby), Verrazano (Wood Memorial), and Oxbow (Arkansas Derby). That leaves me three spots, and with the five-team limit I'll mix them up using the following scheme: the fourth spot will go between Flashback and Hear The Ghost in the Santa Anita Derby and the fifth and sixth spots will go among Palace Malice, Code West, Shanghai Bobby, and Orb in the Louisiana and Florida Derbys.

Yeah, I'm giving up some 100-point expectations there by A) not including the Blue Grass Stakes at all and B) doubling up in the FL Derby, but I just can't ignore how strongly I feel about Orb and Shanghai Bobby being good horses.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Part of my strategy is guided by having to compete against fewer people in the Churchill Downs Inc. employee league. If you're gunning for the top spot among ALL PLAYERS, then I absolutely would make at least one of my teams with obtaining the perfect score in mind.