Kentucky Derby Analysis (05/01/15)

By Paul Bessire
In-depth analysis of the 2015 Kentucky Derby including Pace Figures and Form Cycle Pattern of each starter. Please refer to the Legend or Pattern Guide for back-up definitions and patterns.

The 141st Kentucky Derby is run on Saturday May 2nd at Churchill Downs for a purse of $2,000,000. Contested at a distance of 9 furlongs from legendary Churchill Downs, the Derby is carded as the eleventh of thirteen races. The NBC Sports will televise the race live at 6:43pm ET with a full series of undercard races to be seen on NBCSN throughout the day on Saturday. Click here to get the full broadcast schedule for Derby Weekend.

Unless otherwise noted, jockey, trainer and post position is considered unremarkable.

Here are the Pace Figures and Past Performances for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

California Chrome won the 2014 Kentucky Derby with a 79.1 Final Pace Figure. As a point of comparison, here are the Pace Figures for all runners going into the 2014 Derby and the final and four furlong and Pace Figures for each of the 2014 Derby runners.

Here is our analysis on the betting favorite, American Phaoah. For free access to the rest of our Kentucky Derby Analysis, please register at for free!

#18 American Pharoah (5/2)
Victor Espinoza/Bob Baffert

Here's what we had to say about American Pharoah prior to his Arkansas Derby victory.

The favorite in Vegas Derby futures as well as the Kentucky Derby Future Pool #4 at 5/1, American Pharoah has received more than his fair share of Derby fanfare. A winner of his last three in graded stakes competition by a combined 13 lengths, trainer Bob Baffert has done a tremendous job managing this lightly raced runner's career.

His 77.8 Reversal Pattern (REV) in late September of his two year-old season is a monster figure, so it was not surprising to see his regression back to a 72.1 (on an off track) in his first race as a three year-old. Bob Baffert could want to put more of a “bottom” in him and take him up to his near Derby performance this race, which means we should expect an open margin victory.

As projected, Pharoah won the Arkansas Derby by eight lengths, in what looked like a public workout. And, speaking of workouts (think practice), his last workout was by all accounts in the press, phenomenal, so much so that he has been compared to the best horses in the past 35 years.

From a breeding perspective, his sire Pioneerof the Nile ran second in the 2009 Derby while his dam, Littleprincessemma did little on the track. And while on paper and on the track he is already being called a Triple Crown contender, Pharoah is one of only two horses that has never run in a field of greater than nine horses, an important note as he takes on 19 others Saturday. The 18 post should suit his running style perfectly as it gives jockey, Victor Espinoza a clear view of his competitors inside.

From a Pace Figure perspective his Arkansas Derby effort was an 80.2/78.9 (final/4furlong) Double Top (DTOP) Form Cycle Pattern. Defined as a race in which the horse has run its best 4F and final Pace Figures by a notable margin, it is considered a negative designation and a sign of potential regression.

The Play: Regressor – He could run through his last final figure as great horses can follow lifetime best after a lifetime best. The pre-race hype and morning-line favorite of odds of 5/2 make for a difficult decision on how to play the race unless you could bet him to win the Triple Crown.

For free access to the rest of our Kentucky Derby Analysis, please register at for free!