Kentucky Derby picks for North American horse racing’s biggest race

While the Belmont, Preakness, and Breeder’s Cup Classic in the United States, and the Queen’s Plate, Prince of Wales, and Breeder’s Stakes in Canada may be great North American classic races, the most highly anticipated and watched is the Kentucky Derby. On the first Saturday in May, the three-year-old race is held at the historic Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

There are Derby prep races such as the Fountain of Youth and the Sunland Derby, just to name two, that help young horses earn enough to qualify for a Derby shot. They are all good races and help fans and jockeys who want to have a Derby winner to start handicaping and picking their selections. If you follow those races, you may be able to pick a winner as well, but be careful because very few horses that look their best going into the big race look their best when it’s over. The favorites have a way of failing in the big race.

That leads to how to handicap the race and how to pick a winner. Here are some tips on the Kentucky Derby. First of all, breeding is especially important and you need a horse that can run the classic distances. Heavy favorite Shackleford showed the importance of breeding when he came up a bit short in the Derby at 1 3/16 of a mile, but he came back and won the Preakness over the shortest distance he was bred for. Therefore, use dose, or the ratings given by past performances to rate horses for distance. Take the top 5 horses as your starting contenders.

Now comes the difficult part of your handicap and it is one of the great secrets of success in horse racing. You need to find out which of the distance-bred contenders is about to peak physically. Some of the three-year-olds will have had great performances in those prep races, but the problem is that they have now peaked and may even be losing some of their form. Instead of focusing on the horses that won those prep races, look for the horses that finished in the money and earned enough to get into the big one without burning out and not peaking.

Those races helped them develop character and stamina and they are maturing, but they weren’t ready to win. The fitness cycle is simply the growth rate and conditioning curve that all athletes and developing bodies go through. Besides racing luck and breeding, form cycle is the most important factor in choosing a Derby winner. Get the brood and shape together and pray for luck and you can cash in a good ticket on the first Saturday in May.

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