The Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is one of the toughest races to handicap, involving a big field of young racehorses, usually running the longest race of their career. There are many methods of deciding who to bet on, but one of the most entertaining is hunch bets. That’s right, hunch bets: based on the weather, or your grandmother’s birthday, or the name of your first childhood dog. They require very little (if any) actual handicapping, and if your horse is a longshot you can win a decent chunk of change.
Here, I take a shot at a statistical hunch bet for the 2018 Kentucky Derby, narrowing down 21 horses (including the also-eligible Blended Citizen) to just one potential winner using Derby statistics and facts. Follow my “logic” below, but be sure to take it all with a grain of salt – this method is far from scientific!
- Just one horse has won from post position 1, 2, or 3 since 1986, so horses breaking from those posts can be eliminated: Firenze Fire, Free Drop Billy, and Promises Fulfilled.
- No Canadian-bred has won the Derby in 35 years, so Ontario-born Flameaway can be removed from consideration.
- There has only been one horse win the race off of 42 or more days of rest since 1957, so the three Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby runners probably won’t win: Noble Indy, Bravazo, and Lone Sailor.
- Only two horses exiting the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes have won the race, and none since Charismatic in 1999. That means My Boy Jack can be crossed off our list.
- Just seven horses have won the Derby after finishing worse than third in their final prep race in the last 78 years, and just two since 1996. That makes it unlikely that either Instilled Regard or the also-eligible Blended Citizen will win.
- No Derby winner has prepped in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets since Funny Cide in 2003. That means Vino Rosso probably won’t win.
If you’re keeping track, the field has now been trimmed in half, with 10 contenders remaining. Continuing …
- Trainer Steve Asmussen is winless from 18 Kentucky Derby starters so we will scratch off his entrant, Combatant.
- Horses with the first initial of “E” have just a 4.1 percent win rate and are winless since 1918. That means we can remove Enticed from consideration.
- Since 1991, there has only been one sire with more than one Derby winner, so we can eliminate Magnum Moon, whose sire Malibu Moon won the Derby in 2013 with son Orb.
- Only one New York-bred has ever won the run for the roses, so Audible probably won’t.
- No Kentucky Derby winner has ever exited gate 17, so Solomini can be crossed off our list.
- The UAE Derby has never produced a winner, so we will eliminate Mendelssohn from win consideration.
- No horse has won the Derby without previously winning a graded stakes race since Giacomo in 2005, so we can remove Hofburg from the list.
- The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes has served as the final prep race for 23 Derby winners but just one since 1995, so Good Magic is eliminated.
- The last horse who won the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old is Apollo, in 1882. It’s unlikely Justify can overcome 136 years of history, so we’ll remove him from consideration.
That leaves us with the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner. Based on statistics and a few hunches, Bolt d’Oro will wear the roses on Saturday. But remember, as George Canning said, “I can prove anything by statistics, except the truth.”