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2014 Kentucky Derby Picks & Analysis From BigTrends.com

Price Headley, CEO of BigTrends.com:

It's time for our annual KY Derby selections and commentary. First, we'll start off with an updated table of past Derby winners, their speed ratings and final tune-up race. Our analysis of past data indicates that horses with strong 100+ speed ratings in prep races have a better probability of winning the big race.

Derby Winner

BRIS Speed Rating

Last race (# weeks before Derby)

ORB

97, 102

Florida Derby (5 weeks)

I'LL HAVE ANOTHER

95, 102

Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)

ANIMAL KINGDOM

100, 89

Turfway Spiral (5 weeks, poly)

SUPER SAVER

92, 94

Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)

MINE THAT BIRD

96, 98

Sunland Derby (5 weeks)

BIG BROWN

106, 104

Florida Derby (5 weeks)

STREET SENSE

98, 101

Bluegrass Stakes (3 weeks, poly)

BARBARO

104, 104, 97, 97

Florida Derby (5 weeks)

GIACOMO

100, 96, 98, 96

Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)

SMARTY JONES

105, 109, 101, 103

Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)

FUNNY CIDE

111, 103, 97

Wood Memorial (3 weeks)

WAR EMBLEM

109, 105, 88, 94

Illinois Derby (4 weeks)

MONARCHOS

108, 108, 106, 98

Wood Memorial (3 weeks)

FUSAICHI PEGASUS

110, 103, 100, 98

Wood Memorial (3 weeks)

CHARISMATIC

104, 94, 94, 94

Lexington (2 weeks)

REAL QUIET

107, 103, 73

Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)

SILVER CHARM

102, 98, 105

Santa Anita Derby (4 weeks)

GRINDSTONE

101, 102, 93

Arkansas Derby (3 weeks)

THUNDER GULCH

98, 103, 106

Blue Grass (3 weeks)

GO FOR GIN

104, 105, 99, 100

Wood Memorial (3 weeks)

SEA HERO

96, 85, 77

Blue Grass (3 weeks)

LIL E. TEE

102, 96, 107, 100

Arkansas Derby (2 weeks)

STRIKE THE GOLD

109, 100, 99, 87

Blue Grass (3 weeks)

UNBRIDLED

108, 101, 104, 98

Blue Grass (3 weeks)

My favorite in this year's race is California Chrome (Post Position 5, 5-2 odds). This is not a bold pick but he's by far the class in the field, having won his last 4 races by a combined 25+ lengths. He truly looks like the best chance at a Triple Crown winner in many years (remember we haven't had a horse win all three jewels of the Crown since Affirmed held off Alydar to win it all back in 1978).

I would not be surprised to see the favorite go off closer to 2-1, which is very short odds in a 19-horse field. The Derby usually favors closers and horses that want the extra ground. Typically this doesn't show up on paper yet for these colts, as they've only gone 1-1/8 miles or less, and the Derby is 1-1/4 miles. That last 1/8 of a mile (also known as a "furlong" in the racing biz) is what separates the champions from the also-rans.

We should have a beautiful sunny day with no rain at Churchill Downs for this year's Derby as well.

With those thoughts in mind, here are my top challengers to California Chrome:

Dance with Fate (PP 12, 20-1): Looking for value here among the horse that won their last prep race. Dance with Fate won the Blue Grass at Keeneland impressive, though his speed rating in that race was only 99. Keeneland has been one of those hard to judge preps because of the Polytrack surface, which makes this pick a high risk, high reward play. But given that Street Sense won the Derby off a similarly slow Blue Grass win, I like the value here for win bets.

Wicked Strong (PP 20, 6-1): Awesome closing kick in the Wood Memorial win, now he's on everyone's radar as a logical second choice. The outside post position (the 20 horse just scratched) is not a huge issue for a closer, as he will settle in towards the back early and get a rail trip to save distance. Just not a super value here, but must consider in exotic bets.

Samraat (PP 6, 15-1): Gets my vote for Mr. Consistency, ran a game second in the Wood but seems to lack the closing kick to actually win it. Like him to get on the board though in 2nd or more likely 3rd.

Ride on Curlin (PP 19, 15-1): Closed strong in the Arkansas Derby behind longshot winner Danza. Gets the wily jock Calvin Borel (they call him "Bo-Rail" at the Derby for his savvy wins on longshot Mine that Bird and Street Sense). Something tells me Cal will be close at the finish. Call it a hunch play.

So my theoretical bets on a sample $100 model portfolio look like this:

$10 Win on 12
$6 Win on 20
$4 Win on 19
$5 Exacta box 5,12
$5 Exacta box 5,19
$5 Exacta box 5,20
$1 Trifecta 5 with 12 with ALL
$1 Trifecta 5 with 20 with ALL
$1 Trifecta 5 with 19 with 20
$1 Trifecta 5 with 19 with 6
$1 Trifecta 5 with 6 with 19
$1 Trifecta 5 with 6 with 20

Moby Waller, Portfolio Manager, BigTrends.com:

We've had a lot of rain recently in Kentucky (and it's been cold here, like in most of the country), but the forecast for Louisville on Saturday looks fairly dry and warm - should be a fast track.

Looks like there are a lot of front-running speed type horses in this year's Derby. A horse who can stalk a bit off the pace and/or close strongly is likely to win in my view.

California Chrome (PP 5, 5-2) is the obvious favorite here, with 4 very strong wins in a row. I have to put the favorite on top in this case, as much as I would like not to. Jockey/horse would do better to stalk the pace rather than try to lead from early on.

Wicked Strong (PP 20, 6-1) looks ready to run a big race and can handle the distance, but the far out post position could hinder.

Danza (PP 4, 8-1) finished the last race very well and looks to like the track here.

Medal Count (PP 14, 20-1) can close and is bred for long distance, hasn't done much on dirt but seems to like the track.

Suggested theoretical wagers (all exotics, based on having a favorite in there):

$2 Exacta Box: 5, 20, 4, 14 = $24
$2 Trifecta Box: 5, 20, 4, 14 = $48

Others to put in for Exotics:
Dance With Fate (PP 12, 20-1)
Intense Holiday (PP 16, 8-1)
Candy Boy (PP 18, 15-1)

$2 Exacta Box: 5, 12, 16, 18 = $24

Alternate Scenario Exotic:

$1 Exacta Box: 1, 6, 10, 13, 19 = $20

Total 4 Bets = $116

From Forbes: "The Derby exacta payouts over the last five years have been (at the $2 increment): $981.60, $306.60, $329.80, $152.40 and $2074.80".