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Will this “rule” help you win your Kentucky Derby bets?

May 3, 2024

By Ivan Bigg


So will my horseplaying rules give you, not only the winner of the Kentucky Derby, but also the triactor and superfecta just as my rules gave you the $2,020 superfecta in last year’s Prince of Wales Stakes, the $200 triactor in the Queen’s Plate in 2022 and the $150 pick-5 winning ticket in the Breeders’ Cup last fall that cost a paltry $2.40?


Those wins—which I wrote about in various columns–should show you there must be something to rules I’ve developed over decades of playing. I’d be lying if I weren’t just a bit giddy last year when a toonie and a few dimes produced the $150 Breeders’ Cup pick-5 on one of the toughest days in racing—and when a 20-cent five-horse superfecta box costing you $24 won you $404 in the Prince of Wales Stakes.


So something must be working.


Right off the bat, let me say that I love a 30-1 horse in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby although rules also do say that favourites Fierceness and Sierra Leone should be strong contenders.  My Derby picks follow the same rule I used when I was the only public handicapper to predict the exact order of the top three finishers in the 2022 Queen’s Plate that included 16-1 and 17-1 horses finishing second and third behind favoured Moira.


So, you might ask, why am I even mentioning the Queen’s Plate (now the King’s Plate)? Because the distance of that race and the Kentucky Derby is the same 1 ¼-miles. So the same rule applies to both of these big races. And here’s the deal: A study has shown you can find the main contenders in a 1 ¼-mile race by computing closing fractions for horses in their 1 1/8-mile races–even though we’re talking about a dirt race. A closing fraction consists of the time is takes for a horse to negotiate the distance between the 6-furlong point in a race to the end of the race. You add or subtract one-fifth second for each length a horse slows down or speeds up as it closes ground.


Computing closing fractions is something that normally isn’t done in dirt racing; it’s normally used only in turf route races. For example, the standard for good closing fractions in a turf mile race is 24 seconds, at 1 1/16-mile it’s 30 seconds and at 1 1/8-mile it’s 36 seconds. Because this works so well and because most players seem not to have wrapped their minds around that math calculation (resulting in decent payoffs), my betting group and I at Assiniboia Downs have made turf route races prime plays.


So I love the fact that closing fractions for 1 1/8-mile races on the dirt can help predict performances in 1 ¼-mile races on the dirt.


So what horses in the Kentucky Derby have the quickest closing fractions in their 1 1/8 mile races?

  • #14 Endlessly (30-1) except his 36 3/5-second closing fraction was achieved on the synthetic track at Turfway Park. He has no dirt track race experience.
  • #15 Domestic Product (30-1) with a similar fraction. At least that was on a dirt track but was achieved last year.
  • #2 Sierra Leone (3-1) with 37-seconds
  • #17 Fierceness (the 5-2 morning line favourite) also at 37-seconds


The big question is: Can Endlessly transfer his synthetic success to the dirt track at Churchill? One thing he has going for him is that the bombs-away winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike, came from the same Turfway race as he did (the Jeff Ruby Steaks) and as did Two Phil’s who was runner-up in last year’s Derby.


And we have this: DRF clocker Mike Welsch singled out Endlessly for comment during his online clocker report this past Monday. “He did catch my eye,” he said. “I just liked the way he was doing (over the dirt surface).”  Also, Endlessly’s workouts on Churchill dirt have gotten better and better. Four workouts ago, his workout ranked 78th of 111 horses but his most recent work was 19th of 68.


And Sierra Leone must be considered not only because of a quick closing fraction but because of a comment from a friend who is a race  replay specialist and said he was far and away most impressed with Sierra Leone’s previous races. “He moves in a way that catches the eye,” he enthused.  And Sierra Leone happens to be Marcus Hersh’s top pick to win the Derby. Hersh is the main DRF Pro Pick handicapper.


So what superfecta play emerges from the closing-fraction rule and replays?:





1,4,8,11 (Japanese horse),12,14,15,17


Cost: $30 for a $1 wheel. I also suggest moving #2 into the second position with the same horses.


Of course, a field of 20 horses often results in less-than-favourable trips for some horses. That’s what happened to a few of my “rule” horses in last year’s King’s Plate but they returned to run their predictable races in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie, resulting in the superfecta that paid $2,020.


Of course, you can play around with triactors and exactors as well. I’d personally love to see #14 Endlessly take to the dirt and soar by this field at juicy odds—or at least work his way into an “underneath” position. Good luck in your plays!



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