BigTrends 2014 Kentucky Derby Picks & Analysis

Editors Note: Tomorrow afternoon, the 140th Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs.  For the last three years Price Headley and Moby Waller of has shared their Kentucky Derby picks with the CBOE Option Hub.  Price lives two furlongs from the backstretch, some think he could be a “horse-whisperer”.  The Derby sneaks up on many of us, and as we’re watching the race tomorrow we have no clue as to what horse we should root for.  Price and Moby put together a theoretical $100 portfolio to let you see what they’re really thinking. We hope you find their insight helpful, and enjoy the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Price Headley, CEO of

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 11, 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 19, 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.

Smaraat (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 18, 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 11
$6 Win on 19
$4 Win on 18
$5 Exacta box 5,11
$5 Exacta box 5,18
$5 Exacta box 5,19
$1 Trifecta 5 with 11 with ALL
$1 Trifecta 5 with 19 with ALL
$1 Trifecta 5 with 18 with 19
$1 Trifecta 5 with 18 with 6
$1 Trifecta 5 with 6 with 18
$1 Trifecta 5 with 6 with 19

Moby Waller, Portfolio Manager,

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 19, 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 13, 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, 19, 4, 13   = $24
$2 Trifecta Box:  5, 19, 4, 13  = $48

Others to put in for Exotics:
Dance With Fate (PP 11, 20-1)
Intense Holiday (PP 15, 8-1)
Candy Boy (PP 17, 15-1)

$2 Exacta Box:  5, 11, 15, 17  = $24

Alternate Scenario Exotic:

$1 Exacta Box:  1, 6, 10, 12, 18 = $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″.