Grading the Kentucky Derby Preps so far
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Ideally, I would like to start this GIC Digest by having you listen to the theme song from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the background as I tell you about grading Kentucky Derby prep races. Sadly I haven’t mastered all of the technology of the day so you will have to supply your own music as you survey today’s offering.
One of the most hyped segments of horse racing is the buildup via prep races leading to the Kentucky Derby, aka the ‘Derby Trail’. Notice I didn’t say “overhyped” as the interest level for horse racing in general rises dramatically during this four month stretch prior to the first Saturday in May. Our good friend Tom is the sole anti-Derby Trail person around and I think he might be just lashing out because of his lingering anger over the Oaklawn Park simulcast room/sports bar controversy. So at the risk of pushing poor Tom over the edge, today we are grading by relevance, all the Kentucky Derby preps that have been held so far.
These are the parameters that we are using to create our grades
We are evaluating each prep’s potential impact on the big race taking place on May 6th at Churchill Downs.
We are using an A-B-C-D system and unlike clockers reports, they won’t all be B’s.
A will be considered an influential race with multiple major potential contenders. B will be a semi-influential race with at least one major and a mid-level contender. C will be of questionable influence with only a single mid-level contender and D will be a non-factor race
We will not be grading any foreign preps outside of the UAE Derby which obviously hasn’t been held yet.
Updates will be done semi-weekly and a Final Grade assigned after the last round of 100 point preps are completed with changes made retroactively as new information is collected.
The Going in Circles 2023 Derby Prep grades through February
Notes: Remember these are grading the races relative strength and impact on the 2023 Kentucky Derby, not individual horses chances of winning. For example Hit Show would likely be ranked higher than many other contenders exiting higher graded races than the Withers but he appears at the present time to be the only realistic contender that competed in that race. As horses drop off the trail, the grades of the races they competed in shall be downgraded, as will they be upgraded when contenders improve their resumes with good performances in subsequent preps. For example if Blazing Sevens bombs in his season debut Saturday in the Fountain of Youth, the Champagne would be downgraded as Verifying is only a mid-level contender at this time. However if he runs away with the race, the Champagne and BC Juvy will be upgraded.
Close Calls: I might have overgraded the Iroquois and perhaps the Holy Bull should be a C- as it seems to be devoid of actual contenders outside the winner but he was very wide so he gets to be considered a mid level contender at this point. Litigate’s win was so slow in the Sam Davis we have him ranked barely mid level so that race gets the C- but it may wind up as a D after he runs back. The Risen Star and Rebel were close to A’s but let’s see how the dust settles and not let recency bias kick in.
The Going in Circles Top 10 ranking of 2023 Kentucky Derby preps
Lecomte - Until we see Forte as a 3 year old, this race is tops
Breeders Futurity - A big effort from Forte will move this one up but…
Breeders Cup Juvenile - A big effort from Forte and/or Blazing Sevens might vault this prep to the top of the list
Southwest - in the immediate aftermath this race probably was on better footing but the question marks around Arabian Knight makes it a bit murky
Rebel - A solid race with four realistic contenders coming out of it that boosted both our number 1 & 4 ranked races
Risen Star - a half a notch below the Rebel with some rapidly improving contenders emerging from the result
Kentucky Jockey Club - Instant Coffee isn’t flashy but he is consistent and has beaten a lot of the current contenders + Red Route One’s continued good form helps holds up the grade
Champagne - Blazing Sevens performance on Saturday will steer this one up or down
Sham - not much separates these final few. National Treasure can boost this race with a big effort in the San Felipe on Saturday
Withers - It’s a one horse show (Hit Show) but a pretty good horse that should handle 10 furlongs which gives it this race the nod over several others
As we close in on the unveiling of real life two year olds that will begin racing in April, Game of Silks is also expanding into metaverse land ownership with its Land Fall offering which allows you to build your own barn to house your horses and/or allow others to rent space from you. Check out www.silks.io for more details including frequent updates and racing general interest articles from veteran racing writer Nick Fortuna (Click here). You can now fund your Game of Silks gameplay with a regular credit card 💳 making it far less complicated to get involved!