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Kentucky Derby Prep Races

 horse racing
Date: 05/02/2018

What races should a horse prep in to win the Kentucky Derby? Historically you would say the Florida Derby (24 winners), the Blue Grass (23), the Champagne (23), the Hopeful (20), the Wood Memorial (20) or the Santa Anita Derby (17). However, this doesn't take into consideration changing race lengths, times, and other variables that may have changed. Instead, lets look at the Derby winners since 1980 and see where they prepped to win the roses. For instance, although the Champagne has yielded 23 Derby winners, only two came since 1980. Below are the prep races with Derby winners and their placing in the race. The statistics next to the race name are for all time, but only horses for 1980-2017 are listed so you can see how it performed in more recent years. If a race isn't listed, it is because it has not yielded a Derby winner since 1980.

     
Arkansas Derby (6 total, 3 won both)
2015     American Pharoah   1st
2010     Super Saver        2nd
2004     Smarty Jones       1st
1996     Grindstone         2nd
1992     Lil E. Tee         2nd
1983     Sunny’s Halo       1st
Arlington-Washington Futurity (2 total, 1 won both)
2007     Street Sense       3rd
1985     Spend A Buck       1st
Bay Shore (2 total, 2 won both)
1985     Spend A Buck       3rd
Blue Grass (23 total, 11 won both)
2007     Street Sense       2nd
1995     Thunder Gulch      4th
1993     Sea Hero           4th
1991     Strike the Gold    1st
1990     Unbridled          3rd
1987     Alysheba           3rd
1982     Gato Del Sol       2nd
Breeders' Cup Juvenile (6 total, 2 won both)
2016     Nyquist            1st
2009     Mine That Bird    12th
2007     Street Sense       1st
1993     Sea Hero           7th
1987     Alysheba           3rd
1985     Spend A Buck       3rd
Breeders' Futurity (8 total, 3 won both)
2007     Street Sense       3rd
1987     Alysheba           2nd
1984     Swale              1st
Champagne (23 total, 10 won both)
2010     Super Saver        4th
1993     Sea Hero           1st
Del Mar Futurity (7 total, 5 won both)
2016     Nyquist            1st
2015     American Pharoah   1st
2014     California Chrome  6th
1997     Silver Charm       1st
1982     Gato Del Sol       1st
El Camino Real Derby (1 total, 1 won both)
1999      Charismatic       2nd
Florida Derby (24 total, 15 won both)
2017     Always Dreaming    1st
2016     Nyquist            1st
2013     Orb                1st
2008     Big Brown          1st
2006     Barbaro            1st
2001     Monarchos          1st
1995     Thunder Gulch      1st
1994     Go For Gin         4th
1991     Strike the Gold    2nd
1990     Unbridled          1st
1984     Swale              1st
Fountain of Youth (13 total, 5 won both)
2013     Orb                1st
1995     Thunder Gulch      1st
1994     Go For Gin         2nd
1990     Unbridled          3rd
1984     Swale              3rd
1981     Pleasant Colony    2nd
FrontRunner (3 total, 2 won both)
2016     Nyquist            1st
2015     American Pharoah   1st
1982     Gato Del Sol       3rd
Grey Stakes (2 total, 2 won both)
2009     Mine That Bird     1st
1983     Sunny's Halo       1st
Holy Bull (2 total, 2 won both)
2006     Barbaro            1st
2003     Funny Cide         5th
1994     Go For Gin         1st
Hopeful (20 total, 9 won both)
2012     I'll Have Another  6th
1984     Swale              3rd
Hutcheson (3 total, 2 won both)
1984     Swale              1st
Illinois Derby (1 total, 1 won both)
2002     War Emblem         1st
Kentucky Jockey Club (7 total, 5 won both)
2010     Super Saver        1st
1998     Real Quiet         3rd
     
Lecomte (1 total)
2002     War Emblem         5th
Lexington (2 total, 1 won both)
1999     Charismatic        1st
1984     Swale              2nd
Los Alamitos Futurity (6 total, 1 won both)
2005     Giacomo            2nd
1998     Real Quiet         1st
1995     Thunder Gulch      2nd
1987     Alysheba           2nd
1986     Ferdinand          3rd
1982     Gato Del Sol       unp
Louisiana Derby (2 total, 2 won both)
2003     Funny Cide         2nd
1996     Grindstone         1st
Palm Beach (1 total)
1993     Sea Hero           9th
Rebel (3 total, 3 won both)
2015     American Pharoah   1st
2004     Smarty Jones       1st
1983     Sunny’s Halo       1st
Remsen (6 total, 6 won both)
1995     Thunder Gulch      1st
1994     Go for Gin         1st
1981     Pleasant Colony    1st
Risen Star (1 total)
2002     War Emblem         6th
Robert B. Lewis (3 total, 1 won both)
2012     I'll Have Another  1st
1999     Charismatic        5th
1986     Ferdinand          2nd
San Felipe (12 total, 5 won both)
2014     California Chrome  1st
2005     Giacomo            2nd
2000     Fusaichi Pegasus   1st
1998     Real Quiet         2nd
1997     Silver Charm       2nd
1989     Sunday Silence     1st
1987     Alysheba           2nd
San Vicente (10 total, 7 won both)
2016     Nyquist            1st
1997     Silver Charm       1st
Santa Anita Derby (17 total, 9 won both)
2014     California Chrome  1st
2012     I'll Have Another  1st
2005     Giacomo            4th
1999     Charismatic        4th
1998     Real Quiet         4th
1997     Silver Charm       2nd
1995     Thunder Gulch      2nd
1989     Sunday Silence     1st
1988     Winning Colors     1st
1986     Ferdinand          3rd
1982     Gato Del Sol       4th
Sham (1 total)
2005     Giacomo            3rd
Southwest (2 total, 1 won both)
2004     Smarty Jones       1st
1992     Lil E. Tee         3rd
Spiral (2 total, 2 won both)
2011     Animal Kingdom     1st
1992     Lil E. Tee         1st
Sunland Derby (1 total)
2009     Mine That Bird     4th
Tampa Bay Derby (2 total, 1 won both)
2010     Super Saver        3rd
2007     Street Sense       1st
Wood Memorial (20 total, 11 won both)
2003     Funny Cide         2nd
2001     Monarchos          2nd
2000     Fusaichi Pegasus   1st
1994     Go for Gin         2nd
1981     Pleasant Colony    1st
1980     Genuine Risk       3rd
1985     Spend A Buck       3rd

So what conclusions can we draw? Obviously the best recent prep race is the Florida Derby, but the Santa Anita Derby has been good a couple of times recently as well as historically. The Blue Grass used to be very good, but hasn't been for 20 years, and the Wood Memorial hasn't been good for 15 years. The Arkansas Derby is a race that has been coming into it's own recently too. The Tampa Bay Derby use to be considered a weak sister, but in the last 10 years has improved and may continue to gain influence.

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