Weekend Winners Club

May 23 2017

2017 Top Preakness and Derby Finishers: Recap

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Tuesday, May 23
Pimlico, MD
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Get the Belmont Stakes 2017 Grid Now
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Let’s do a recap of the Preakness by the numbers, and review the updated charts that we provided last week showing how Kentucky Derby horses did in the Preakness and vice versa. In the first chart, we showed the modern history of the top 4 Derby finishers in the Preakness.
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2017 Kentucky Derby top 4 and how they fared in the Preakness

2017 Kentucky Derby top 4 and how they fared in the Preakness


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It’s no surprise that 2 of the top 4 finished in the top 4 of the Preakness. When they do run in the Preakness, they normally run well. 3 of them ran this year and 1 of them was out of the money. In only 2 cases in the previous 20 years where 3 of them ran, did all of them finish in the top 4. In all other cases, 1 of them finished out of the money. So that part is completely normal.
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OK we’ll address the elephant. Derby champion Always Dreaming tied Super Saver for the worst Preakness finish in the past 21 years. We’re not counting Barbaro, who broke down and didn’t finish the race. I classify Barbaro as a non-starter because he shouldn’t have been allowed to run after breaking thru the gate, but that’s a discussion we can have separately.
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The failure of Always Dreaming to finish anywhere near the top was definitely an abnormality. Of those Derby champions that actually ran and finished the Preakness, only 3 of the past 20 finished out of the top 4. Even super long shots Mine that Bird and Giacamo, who were supposed to bounce badly back to reality, finished in the top 3 at Preakness. Long shot Charismatic won both.
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The norm is definitely NOT for the Derby champs to do that poorly, so DON’T use that as the blueprint next year. It most likely will NOT happen again for a while. The other 2 that finished in the top 4 in the Derby, finished in the top 4 at the Preakness. This IS NORMAL and to be expected every year.
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Moving on to the 2nd chart, which shows the Preakness top 4 and how they had done in the Derby, we see another big anomaly. It’s only the 4th time in 21 years that the Preakness champ didn’t run in the Derby, and we know that 1 of those cases was at least partially due to Barbaro’s breakdown.
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2017 Preakness top 4 and how they had fared in the Kentucky Derby

2017 Preakness top 4 and how they had fared in the Kentucky Derby


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The rest of the superfecta is as expected: 2 of the top Derby horses and another outsider. Statistics show that the Preakness top 4 normally consists of 2-3 Derby horses and 1-2 outsiders. In fact, 60% of Preakness 2nd-4th placers come from the Kentucky Derby.
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So what did we learn? Most of it was normal, but it was an unusual Preakness in 2 respects: 1. the Derby champion performed so poorly and 2. the Preakness champion was not a Derby horses. If you are going to bet that it will play out the same way next year, you have about a 93% chance of losing all your money.
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Most likely next year, the Derby champion and 1-2 other top 6 Kentucky Derby horses will occupy the top 4 of the Preakness, and 1-2 non-Derby horses will finish in the top 4 at Preakness. Only once in the past 21 years did the top 4 consist of 3 non Derby horses, and only 4 of 21 times did the Derby champion not get into the money.
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The best lesson you can learn from this is to not bet it the same way next year, because you will be sorely mistaken. What can we learn for the Belmont Stakes? Starting in 1979, in the past 37 Triple Crown series, only 6 horses have won both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This is a topic we’ll cover in more detail next week.
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Most of those 6 are considered some of the best classic horses of their time: Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, Afleet Alex, Point Given, Tabasco Cat, Hansel, and Risen Star. So, if you think a horse that skipped the Kentucky Derby belongs in that category, good luck to you (because all in that short list ran in all 3 Triple Crown races.)

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