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Home / Articles / Jeff's Top Picks for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby

Jeff's Top Picks for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: May 4, 2016
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What is dosage index and how can I use this to handicap the Kentucky Derby

This is by far the most popular and effective way of winnowing out who can make the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles and who can't. A simple explanation is that dosage figures a given contender's distance potential based on stallions from the first 4 generations of that horse's pedigree. It's a genetically-based theory that takes into account not only how well certain ancestors of the horse did, but also how far back in the horse's line they are. Points are awarded for speed and stamina of top-notch horses that often appear in contenders' pedigrees. These super stallions are called "chefs de race." Any horse with a dosage of 4.00 or less is supposed to be able to make the derby distance. So far, since the Derby began in 1875, only five winners have had dosages higher than 4.00; however, all of those were relatively recently. They were Strike The Gold in 1991, Real Quiet in 1998, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005, and American Pharaoh in 2015. Nyquist, the likely betting favorite has a dosage of 7.00. I would be shocked if Nyquist finishes in the top 3. The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby with a dosage over 7.00 was Strike The Gold in 1991 and his dosage was 9.00. That's insanely high!

Jeff's Top Picks for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby on NBC (Saturday, 6:34 PM E)

(3 units) #17 Mor Spirit (Win + Place + Show) ML Odds: 12/1

Trainer- Bob Baffert

Jockey- Gary Stevens

Dosage Index- 1.57

Ten furlongs at Churchill Downs should by right up this son of Eskendereya’s alley. The dynamic duo of Baffert and Stevens will have him ready to fire his best shot on the biggest day in American racing, and with his ability to finish off every race, he is the most attractive betting option in the field. He's never been worse than second in 7 lifetime starts (3 wins, 4 seconds). With a dosage of 1.57, this big muscular Colt bred from Pennsylvania should offer good value. He was the runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby and all signs point to another strong finish. You will hear that no horse has won the Kentucky Derby from the 17th post. I also remember when the experts said no horse had won the Derby from the 20th post, and than Big Brown (my top and only pick) won in a romp back in 2008. I love betting horses in Grade 1 races that have finished second in back-to-back races. These horses almost always finish in the money.

(2 units) #5 Gun Runner (Win + Place + Show) ML Odds: 10/1

Trainer- Steve Asmussen

Jockey- Florent Geroux

Dosage Index- 1.25

Gun Runner broke his maiden in his first start in September at Churchill Downs, then won an allowance at Keeneland. He closed out the year with a fourth place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs behind Airoforce. He made his 2016 debut winning the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds and followed that up with a win in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He has five career starts and has won all of them. Gun Runner should be considered a major contender to finish in the money at a nice price.

Good Luck as always, Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline


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