Derby Workouts: What Do You Look For?

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A horse’s past performances are only one aspect of assessing his chances of winning the Kentucky Derby. It’s also important to see how the contenders perform in morning workouts and gallops leading up to the big race. But how can you tell a horse is coming into the race the right way? What signifies a good work versus a bad one? As the Paulick Report team continues its coverage from Louisville, Ray chats with Michael Vesce, a clocker for National Turf, about what he’s looking for and which contenders have impressed him leading up to Derby 139.

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  • FourCats

    Heavy analysis of workouts going into the Derby is basically “much ado about nothing”.
    While workouts are important for the fitness and training of the horses, I rarely pay much attention to any of them when trying to handicap the Derby. All of the horses have a record and all of them are fast. In most cases, they have the same trainer that they have always had. Every horse in the race is capable of showing a fast work.
    So, if one horse works easily in 59 for 5 furlongs and another seems uncomfortable going 1:01, what do you learn? Basically nothing. It’s much more important to try to determine which horse is the fastest at the distance and if any of them figure to improve off of their recent race efforts.

    • Tinky

      You really don’t have a clue.

      Not only do some horses adapt better to the CD track than others, which can often be discerned by observing workouts, but there is no way to “determine which horse is the fastest at the distance” when none have ever raced at a mile and quarter.

      • FourCats

        Why did you bother to reply to my post? I have been handicapping successfully for over 50 years. If that is your view of “not having a clue”, then have at it.

    • http://deafequinefanatic.blogspot.com/ Heidi Carpenter

      One work alone doesn’t tell you very much, but if you look at the
      horse’s entire body of ‘work’ (so to say), then you can see a trend with
      workouts. Is the horse improving, is the horse slower over so and so
      track, does the horse have relatively faster works at 6f than 4f, etc.

      It also helps to see how a horse performed in a race following certain workouts. If a horse is consistently in the money if he/she races 5 days after posting 3f bullets, and this same horse posts a 3f bullet 5 days out from a race you are analyzing, then that is some key information.

  • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

    Will the track be anything close to what it has been (two weeks prior to derby) on derby day unless it turns to slop???…Have herd some trainers say in the past there was a big change on derby day…Figure that out???…

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