Numbers. They’re only numbers. The variables are too many, the sample too idiosyncratic to be meaningful. But for the heck of it, following Uncle Mo’s breeze on Saturday afternoon, the value of which I questioned, I went back and looked at a bunch of Derby winners and examined their roads to Louisville, just to see how many times they raced and against how many horses they started.
I started with the last five years and used that as a pattern, trying to use the last five years of each decade as a sample. I ran into trouble, though, with 1959 – 1960, and 1966-70, because the Derby winners in those years weren’t champions and thus their past performances aren’t included in the book of the same name, and their past performances aren’t available through Daily Racing Form or Equibase.
So again: idiosyncratic. Numbers. Lacking in context in a variety of ways. But also interesting in their own way, so have a look. Questions? Comments? Responses? Observations?
|Year||Horse||Number of races as a 3-year-old||Total number of opponents||Average number of opponents||Record|
|1987||Alysheba||3||19||7.33||0-1-1 (DQ’d 1st to 3rd in the Blue Grass|
|1999||Charismatic||7||49||8||2-2-0 (placed 1st from 2nd via DQ in a claiming race)|
|2009||Mine That Bird||2||17||9.5||0-1-0|
Past performances from Champions (DRF Press, 2004) and courtesy of Daily Racing Form.
Kevin Martin of Colin’s Ghost also writes about the Derby prep season, looking at the preparation of the Triple Crown winners and those who came close.