The Brock Talk

Monday, April 27, 2009

Do Derby Trends Make West Side Bernie A Contender?

Like one would expect from a sporting event that has been around for more than a century, the Kentucky Derby has defined certain trends among its winners. Obviously, not every winner meets every criteria, and the horse that meets the most criteria each year is not necessarily the winner. It’s just another helpful tool.
Let’s take a look at some of the more accepted trends. Here they are in no particular order. Remember all Derby starters are 3-year-olds.
1.) Did the horse win a race at a mile or further as a 2-year-old? (Last Year)
2.) Did the horse win any race as a 2-year-old?
3.) Did the horse have only 4 or 5 prep races this year as a 3-year-old.
4.) Did the horse race in a 1-1/8 mile prep race.
5.) Did the horse win at 1-1/8 miles before the Derby.
6.) Did the horse NOT win his final race before the Derby.
When looking at the horses preparing to run in the Derby this year, we find only twp horses that meets all of these criteria – West Side Bernie and Hold Me Back. But Hold Me Back is bucking another big trend - he is trying to become only the fifth horse since 1933 to win the Derby with less than six career starts. Big Brown bucked that trend last year and won the Derby, but I don't see that happening in consecutive years.
West Side Bernie is an intriguing entry for this and a few other reasons. In his last race, he was second behind Derby favorite I Want Revenge in the gr. 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Race Track near New York City. While West Side Bernie’s race was not nearly as troublesome as I Want Revenge’s nightmare trip, he did race 4-wide in the final turn and made a nice move to get up for second. His Beyer Speed figure in the Wood was a good 101, but he seemed out matched and out classed by I Want Revenge. But West Side Bernie has 30-1 odds. I Want Revenge is the favorite.
In a bit of irony on the West Side Bernie team, trainer Kelly Breen will be saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter Saturday. Five years ago, West Side Bernie's jockey, Stuart Elliott, became the first jockey in 25 years to win his inaugural Kentucky Derby on Smarty Jones.

I recommend, everyone take the time to watch the replay of the Wood Memorial at or on Youtube. You’ll see why I Want Revenge is the favorite and you’ll get a chance to watch West Side Bernie too. One of the most valuable tools of any handicapper is watching the previous races of the contenders. The internet is allowing us to do this for the first time with relative ease.

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