Analyzing the Top 2008 Kentucky Derby Contenders

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The next four horses scored an equal number of points and are thus presented in alphabetical order.

Big Truck had a very poor final prep race, finishing 11th,12 lengths behind Monba in the Blue Grass at 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland. He does have a stakes win this year, in the Tampa Bay Derby, has the required foundation with 8 lifetime starts, 4 this year, and he uses a stalking style which can win at Churchill Downs.


On the negative side, he had a poor prep race, is not a dual qualifier, and he included a prep race at Tampa Bay. So far only 2007 winner Street Sense has won the Derby after racing at Tampa in his 3-year-old season, making this a very powerful knock angle.

Monba comes to Louisville off a win in the Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 mile where he defeated stablemate Cowboy Cal. Although the Blue Grass is historically the best prep race for the Derby, the Todd Pletcher trainee only has 5 lifetime starts and just 2 so far this year, both short of the requirements in those categories, and he is not a dual qualifier. His Blue Grass earned just a career-best Beyer of 92 which is well below par, and in his three wins he was always close to the pace, which is not preferred here.

Smooth Air was the "best of the rest" in the 9 furlong Florida Derby finishing 2nd, 5 lengths behind Big Brown, which counts as a "sharp" effort. The Bennie Stutts trainee has raced at 2, has 7 lifetime starts 3 of which are this year.

However, his best Beyer of 98 at Gulfstream is short of triple digits, he is coming into the Derby off a 5 week layoff, and he usually races close to the pace with the exception of his last start where he couldn't keep up with the favorite. As well, like Big Truck he has the dreaded Tampa Bay start, 3rd in the Sam F. Davis.

Z Humor also has the Tampa Bay jinx to overcome, 5th in the Sam F. Davis, he lacks a stakes win this year, is not a dual qualifier, he races with the pace, and his best Beyer is a 97. On the positive side, the Bill Mott trainee did have a sharp prep race, third in the Illinois Derby, did race at 2 (including a win in the Delta Jackpot), has 3 starts this year and 8 total, and he has the required start at 9 furlongs at Hawthorne.

Behindatthebar scored the least amount of points in this analysis which means he will have to overcome huge hurdles in order to wear the Roses on Saturday. Of the horses we've looked at, he is the only one to lack a start as a juvenile; not even eventual Horse of the Year Curlin could overcome this jinx last year. He comes to the Derby off a win in the Lexington, which at 2 weeks is considered too short a layoff (the last Lexington participant to win was Charismatic in 1999). He is not a dual qualifier, has only 5 lifetime starts, and more importantly, he has never raced at the 1 1/8 mile distance, the Lexington being contested at 1 1/16 miles. He does have the required stakes win at 3, enough starts this year (5), and rallies from off the pace, closing from 15 lengths back to win at Keeneland, earning him a respectable but still short Beyer fig of 99. UPDATE: Trainer Todd Pletcher announced on April 28 that Behindatthebar will skip the Derby and instead go to the Preakness next.

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