I’ve always resisted making Kentucky Derby “watch lists.” Mostly, because such lists are usually about as insightful as a guy I met at a bus stop outside of my local racetrack many years ago. He told me that he always lost at the races because there were magnets under the track that prevented him from winning (I didn’t ask him to elaborate).
The problem with most lists or “power rankings” is that they usually reflect the public consensus or known results, i.e. team standings. Hence, they are worthless as a predictive tool.
However, I recently spent about six hours, 12 bottles of beer and two ibuprofen coming up with what I believe is a pretty cool ranking system for Kentucky Derby contenders. It is based on my Perceived Ability Ratings, or PARs, and uses a horse’s past odds coupled with the class of competition it has faced to assign a rating.
Since 2013, among Kentucky Derby entrants with a Form Rating of 50 percent or greater (a decent last race is an absolute must for Derby hopefuls), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Nyquist (last year) all had the top pre-race PAR.
Even more noteworthy is the fact that every Triple Crown winner in the past 50 years had a PAR of 1.00 or greater prior to the Run for the Roses.
So, without further ado, here’s my current Top Derby Dozen:
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