With the horses I consult, I can often tell when they are ready to run in the money, or finish up the track, based on the data I collect. Unfortunately, I have no such numbers on this year's Derby contenders.
But I have learned some things that help me handicap.
First of all, a complete warmup helps, but likely none this year will break from the pony during the post parade and gallop out a strong sub :30 second quarter - so cancel out that factor in 2009.
Secondly, horses going over synthetics have it much easier than on dirt, as much as 50% easier. Therefore synthetic races and works don't compare apples to apples with those on dirt. Ideally there would be a mix of both, as in the case with Friesan Fire, who is my first choice.
Thirdly, I love the pre-race blowout for many reasons enumerated elsewhere. As of this moment, only one Papa Clem trained by Gary Stute, has done so correctly in my opinion. He is my second choice.
We all use Beyers and other factors to handicap. Talent often wins out over the stuff above. For this reason I like I Want Revenge in my third slot. Unfortunately, I don't think our boy Mr. Mullins will be able to sneak in the pre-race Air Power bronchiole-dilating treatment on such a large stage.
Of the others:
I liked WestSide Bernie, but he hasn't looked his best this week on the backside. I liked Chocolate Candy going a mile at CD this week, but everything else is Synthetic City. The Godolphin entries are tough to gauge, as nothing is really public knowledge over in the desert. If they have been gettting synthetic breezes I would certainly consider. Pioneer of the Nile is also unproven on the surface. Count me among all those who like the backstory of General Quarters. Dunkirk is possibly the most talented, but so lightly trained.
Good luck to all, and any trainers out there give me a shout to see if I can help get you to the big dance in 2010. email@example.com
To summarize: 1. Friesan Fire 2. Papa Clem 3. I Want Revenge
After late scratch, revise 3rd pick to Dunkirk, lots of breezes shorter than I would like, but all on dirt, and seems to be peaking at right time.