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 out.
It can look so easy after the fact, so here we helpfully tell you in advance why the winner will prevail.
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 -- including the perilous exercise of handicapping the Racing Gods.
Notes: Final Fractions reflects how fast the horse ran the last eighth-mile and last three-eighths of a mile in its 1 1/8-mile prep race. The Final Fraction Theory rules out horses who ran the last eighth slower than 13.0 and the last three-eighths in slower than 38.0. Bris and Beyer speed figures are ratings designed to compute how fast a horse ran taking into account track conditions as a means of comparing horses from different tracks and races.
4. FLAMEAWAY (30-1)
Owner: John Oxley
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Last race: 2nd Toyota Blue Grass, Keeneland
Fastest Bris speed figure: 101, Sam Davis
Fastest Beyer speed figure: 93, Blue Grass, Sam Davis
Final fractions in last race: 31.31, 38.59
Why Flameaway can win
He is almost always in the hunt and runs well on any surface: synthetic, dirt and turf. He didn't give up when he had a license to in the Blue Grass Stakes, and honesty and grit gets you a long ways in the Kentucky Derby.
Why he won't
His best races have been when he's on the lead or pressing the pace and there are too many quality, similar horses in this field. Only two Canadian-born horses have won the Derby. He's no Northern Dancer, and the last such winner was Sunny's Halo in 1983. His one terrible race came at Churchill Downs in last fall's Iroquois.Though clearly good on dirt, it's still a fair question whether his preferred surface is grass or synthetic. Gotta love him in Canada's Queen's Plate!
Owner John Oxley won the 2001 Derby with Monarchos. Mark Casse, winner of Churchill Downs' 1988 and 2016 spring training titles — a draught in part because he didn't have a Churchill string in between for most of the years — has run five horses in four prior runnings of the Derby, including finishing a troubled fourth last year with 2-year-old champion Classic Empire. Jose Lezcano has ridden in five prior Derbys, including finishing second in 2010 with Ice Box.