LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - No race is tougher to ferret out than the Kentucky Derby, which at times can seem as perplexing 30 minutes before post time as it is 30 days before the run for the roses.
It can look so easy after the fact, so here we helpfully tell you in advance why the winner prevails.
Of course we do it for every horse in the field -- as well as explaining why you can't possibly cash a ticket betting that horse.
So let us do the detective work as we case out the Kentucky Derby.
GUN RUNNER (Post position 5; Odds 10-1)
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Sire-dam: Candy Ride-Quiet Giant
Fastest Bris speed figure: 100
Fastest Beyer speed figure: 91
Last race: Won Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds
The case for Gun Runner
He has improved every race, his only defeat in five starts being fourth in third career start in the Kentucky Jockey Club, a race that produced four Kentucky Derby entrants. Gun Runner is well-bred for the distance, and his up-close running style is perfect, being quick enough to avoid trouble but willing to relax behind other horses. Horses who gallop out a mile in 1:39 after a workout are touting us to a monster performance. After being unjustly accused of abusing his horses two years ago, the racing gods owe Asmussen one. Newly elected Hall of Fame members, as Asmussen is, have a knack for winning the Derby the same year. His 104 Bris in the Louisiana Derby was the highest last-out fig in the field, and that's been a good betting angle for the Kentucky Derby. We know how much stroke the gun lobby has.
The case against Gun Runner
Bris just recalculated the Louisiana Derby figs, and Gun Runner's high now is 100, so the highest last-out fig angle now goes to Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator's 102. And if you adhere to the Beyer figs, he's simply not fast enough. The last Louisiana Derby winner to wear the roses was Grindstone in 1996 - and before that Black Gold in 1924. Only two horses have won the Derby off a spacing of 42 days since 1929. First-time Derby riders such as Florent Geroux rarely win the Derby. @DerbyContenders points out that Stewart Elliott on Smarty Jones in 2004 and Mario Gutierrez on I'll Have Another in 2012 are the only ones in 45 years. The racing gods are on vacation after delivering a Triple Crown last year. We know how much stroke the anti-gun lobby has.
Post 5 ranks among the most productive, its nine Derby winners matching post 10 for the most since the advent of the starting gate in 1930. Most recently, California Chrome (who has a similar running style) won the 2014 Derby out of post 5. Trainer Steve Asmussen's best finish with 13 prior Derby starters was second-place Nehro in 2011.