Derby Handicap Tool Shows New Names, Same Top Horses

The theory of final fractions which has proven beneficial in identifying kentucky derby contenders for three decades got more busted this year with the addition of two horses that took a freak turn to Churchill Downs.

Port Tawny and the possible competitor In Due Time has not most recently run in an 1 1/8 mile race. Instead they finished first and third respectively in the 1 1/16 mile Lexington (G3) at Keeneland. No Derby winner has done this since Charismatic in 1999.

Brisnet’s free past performances for the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

By running less than nine furlongs in their last race, Tawny Port and In Due Time skewed the Final Fractions Theory, which extrapolates closing times to see if a horse can compete successfully on the Kentucky Derby’s 10th furlong.

The theory, which was developed by Louisville turf writer-turned-publicist Jennie Rees, asks whether a horse ran the last mile of its last prep in 13 seconds or less — or the last three hurdles in 38 or less. Horses for which the answer was yes to either question have won 27 of the Derby’s last 31 spring renewals.

This formula worked well for 1 1/8 mile races, but it’s a cautionary tale at 1 1/16. It’s one thing to extrapolate an educated guess for the Derby’s extra 220 yards. Trying to do that for the 330 yards that need to be added to the Lexington is dubious guesswork at best.

For what it’s worth, Tawny Port ran the Lexington’s final 110 yards in 6.35 seconds. Assuming he would have run at exactly the same pace for another 110 yards, that would give him a final groove of 12.7. Although it’s under the 13-second threshold for final fraction theory, it’s a flimsy projection. His final 550 yards went 32.34, which would extrapolate to the final three yards of 38.8, missing that mark by 0.8 seconds.

In Due Time, the last projected furlong of 12.9 also falls within the theoretical 13.0, but its last three extrapolated 39.2 make a bigger miss. An even bigger issue for him is that, unlike Tawny Port, he never ran 1 1/8 miles.

Coach Brian Lynch’s decision to bring Classic Causeway back in the Kentucky Derby came despite weak final splits in the 1 1/8 mile (G1) Florida Derby. A last place yielded closing fractions of 15.8 and 43.6, disheartening numbers compared to the historical application of the theory.

When examining the current top 22, Tawny Port, In Due Time and 10 other horses fill the bill for Final Fractions Theory. New to the list among them is Pioneer of Medina, who are 21st in qualifying and need a horse from the current top 20 to retire in order to enter the starting grid. Extrapolated or not, these were the final times of one and three eighths for the Derby contenders.

Final fraction theory Last 1f Last 3f
Mo Donegal 11.9 35.5
Epicenter** 12.1 36.3
Pioneer of Medina** 12.2 37.3
Zandon 12.3 36.6
Zozos** 12.3 37.0
Early voting 12.4 36.3
Taiba 12.4 37.8
Tiz the bomb*** 12.7 37.0
Port Tawny* 12.7 38.8
On time* 12.9 39.2
barber’s road 12.9 39.2
smile of happiness 13.0 37.8
Messier 13.1 37.8
Cyberknife 13.2 39.2
Merry Jack 13.3 38.8
An Ojo 13.4 39.4
charge it 13.9 39.7
white shelter 14.1 39.7
Simplification 14.5 40.4
Crown Pride** 14.5 41.0
Summer is tomorrow** 15.0 41.8
Classic pavement 15.8 43.6
*Last preparation 1 1/16 mi.
**Last preparation 1 3/16 mi.
***Synthetic track.

The Louisiana Derby (G2) and UAE Derby (G2) complicated the traditional application of the theory as they were 1 3/16 miles each, requiring further mathematical adjustments. The Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) got asterisks because of the synthetic track, which was a 2011 proving ground for Animal Kingdom. The race was also the last exception to the theory of final fractions before first place Medina Spirit and promoted winner Mandaloun challenged it last year.

Three more criteria have been added to the Final Fractions Theory to further winnow the list of potential Derby contenders.

Over the past eight years, according to Brisnet, only horses with Quirin Speed ​​Points designations of E (early) or E/P (early presser)—that is, on or near the first lead— finished first in the Derby. Thirteen of the current top 22 Derbys have passed the bill, but Epicenter, Zozos, Early Voting, Taiba, In Due Time and Messier were the only ones to also pass the final fraction theory hurdle.

A previous best Beyer speed figure of at least 95, according to Daily race form, match the profile of 27 of the last 30 Derby winners declared on race day. The same could be said for a Brisnet Speed ​​rating of at least 100, which applied to 18 of the last 22 cashable Derby winners.

After weighing all the criteria, only Mo Donegal, Epicenter, and Zandon remained, as shown in this chart which includes Ending Fractions Theory tick marks, Quirin Speed ​​Points, Beyer Speed ​​Top Numbers, and Brisnet speed.

Final fraction theory TFF QSP Beyer Breakage
Epicenter 1f/3f E/P 7 102 101
Taiba 1f/3f E/P 6 102 111
Messier 3f E/P 8 103 108
Zozo 1f/3f E/P 6 98 98
Early voting 1f/3f E 8 87 111
Mo Donegal 1f/3f S2 90 111
Zandon 1f/3f S3 93 103
Tiz the bomb 1f/3f P2 94 101
smile of happiness 1f/3f P4 94 101
Pioneer of Medina 1f/3f E/P 8 93 96
On time 1f E/P 6 92 94
barber’s road 1f S2 88 93
Port Tawny 1f P2 90 99
Simplification E/P 4 96 103
white shelter E/P 6 97 97
Classic pavement E 8 90 99
charge it E/P 6 93 98
Cyberknife E/P 4 92 94
An Ojo E/P 3 84 92
Merry Jack S2 83 96
pride of the crown NA 0
summer is tomorrow NA 0

That should hold – unless and until someone outside the current top 22 enters the Derby.

Comments are closed.