2020 is the year of the asterisk so why should horse racing be any different? The Kentucky Derby (G1) has always been a challenge genetically for 3-year-olds on the first Saturday of May because it was early for a relatively young horse to get 1 1/4 miles. But in 2020, it will be run on the first Saturday of September which gives the starters four more months of physical and mental development.
The late running of this year’s Derby also means that all of the starters will be age 3 chronologically. What time of the year they were born three years ago would seem to matter less. Last year, the first three finishers across the line were born on May 14, May 8 and May 23. This year, only three of the horses with the most eligibility points were born in May. If a horse is a relatively late foal, it helps to have a pedigree with enough stamina in it. That is, a Dosage Index below 4.0.
Here are the last 22 winners of the Kentucky Derby listed by year, foaling date and Dosage Index:
|Year||Winner||Foal Date||Dosage I.|
|2012||I’LL HAVE ANOTHER||4/1||2.11|
|2009||MINE THAT BIRD||5/10||4.33|
As you can see, seven of the 22 winners had Dosage Indexes above 4.00 so that angle seems to be losing relevance. Two of the 22 winners were born in May, with 50-1 upsetter MINE THAT BIRD the only one having a Dosage Index greater than 4.00 (4.33). The lesson to be learned here is that if you are going to be an outlier in both categories, make sure you get a big price
This year’s field with the highest Kentucky Derby eligibility points are as follows:
|Horse||Foal Date||Dosage I.|
|TIZ THE LAW||3/19||4.33|
|HONOR A. P.||3/3||3.00|
|STORM THE COURT||5/5||3.00|
|FINNICK THE FIERCE||4/22||3.00|
Only three of this year’s expected starters have foaling dates in May. They all have Dosage Indexes below 4.0 indicating that they have the requisite stamina.
With the Derby being run on the first Saturday in September, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Expected favorite Tiz the Lawhas a relatively high DI of 4.33, but he was a March foal and has already shown he can get 1 1/4 miles against top company when he won the Travers Stakes (G1) in fast time. Plus, who knows where his first-crop sire, Constitution, will wind up after he has eight or 10 crops to race and what category he will be placed in if he continues to sire graded stakes winners.
Ny Traffic seems to be a toss based on an insanely high DI of 15.00. All of his Dosage points come from his young sire Cross Traffic. He almost won the Haskell (G1) when he rallied furiously to fall a nose short behind Authentic. But with questions about Authentic’s stamina (last three furlongs in Haskell run in a pokey 38.95 seconds), he might have just been tiring less. Which doesn’t say much about Authentic’s chances.
Honor A. P. has been sitting on a big race since winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and he has the right foal date and stamina in his pedigree. John Shirreffs has won this race before with Giacomo in 2005, and he has taken his time all summer knowing there is no rush to get ready.