October 27, 2020

Kentucky Derby Report: Analysis and picks

Honor A. P.
Honor A. P. wins the Santa Anita Derby (c) Benoit Photo

An 18-horse field is set for Saturday’s 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, and Tiz the Law has been established as the 3-5 favorite on the morning line. The sublime colt enters with a 4-for-4 record this year, including decisive wins in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) in the last two.

Tiz the Law sustained his lone setback at Churchill Downs last November, finishing a close third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) over a sloppy track, but he’s come a long way since the fall. After earning 93 and 89 Brisnet Speed ratings in his first two stakes appearances as a 2-year-old, the New York-bred son of Constitution has posted big numbers (108-100-106-115) at age 3.

The Barclay Tagg trainee shows a pair of fast 5-furlong works in preparation, his tactical speed certainly is formidable, and he drew well on the outside. However, Tiz the Law is eligible to take at least a small step back after such a huge performance last time. Whether that will be enough for any horse to beat him remains to be seen, but I do think it’s a two-horse race.

Honor A. P. is my top pick. The son of Honor Code seemed to be longing for more distance when finishing powerfully in a brilliant Santa Anita Derby (G1) win at 1 1/8 miles two starts back, registering a 108 Speed rating for his second outing of 2020. He was poised to take a step back after receiving a Speed rating 14 points better than his seasonal debut, and the 1 1/16-mile distance and pace scenario worked against him in the final prep, the Aug. 1 Shared Belief S. at Del Mar.

The imposing dark bay still earned a respectable 103 Speed figure after rallying belatedly to miss by less than a length in second. Trained by 2005 Kentucky Derby winner John Shirreffs, Honor A. P. has cranked up his training in recent weeks, including in a pair of fast 5-furlong drills with strong gallop-outs, and most recently delivered a visually impressive 7-furlong drill. I thought the outside draw (post 16) benefited him since he’s such a large individual and risked getting shuffled back farther than preferred from an inside or middle post.

With Brisnet E1 Pace ratings of 90 or more in all four route starts, Honor A. P. possesses tactical speed. I expect him to hustle from the starting gate with Mike Smith, establishing position in perhaps fifth or sixth behind the early leaders, and he will look to make a move into contention on the far turn. Built to thrive at the 1 1/4-mile trip, Honor A. P. can finish fastest of all to win the Kentucky Derby.

Minor Awards

I won’t use any runners besides Honor A. P. and Tiz the Law on top in horizontal (multi-race) or vertical (in-race) wagers.

Horse who will figure prominently underneath in my trifecta and superfecta bets include Shared Belief victor Thousand Words, a graded winner at 2 who disappointed earlier in the year but is coming on at the right time for five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert; Haskell (G1) runner-up Ny Traffic, who always puts himself in a prominent position turning for home and is eligible to hold for a placing through the Derby stretch; Grade 3 runner-up Major Fed, who is training forwardly in preparation and can keep moving forward if he breaks better; and late-running stakes winner Enforceable, who also seems to be peaking in preparation.

Top 4 Kentucky Derby Picks

1 – Honor A. P.
2 – Tiz the Law
3 – Thousand Words
4 – Ny Traffic

Good luck in the Kentucky Derby!

2 Comments on Kentucky Derby Report: Analysis and picks

  1. Mr. Scully thank you for your insight Sir! Have a great 2020 Derby day James!
    (Take a peek at Tommy Humphries entry…) Your friend, John

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