Looking at the next six weeks as we warm up for the TC chase i thought i might take a look at some of the qualifying races and how the winners of those races fared in the KYD. It made interesting reading and certainly brought into perspective the importance of the early races through February and early March. I decided to look at the last 6 years to avoid the changes made to development and to keep the information as relevant as possible.
Out of the following 10 qualifiers, they being: The Lecompte, The Smarty Jones, The Withers, The Holy Bull, The Lewis Stakes, The Davis Stakes, The Risen Star, The El Camino, The Southwest and the Fountain Of Youth, a total of 60 race winners. Only two have gone on to success in the KYD. 21 of the 60 have not run in the KYD at all and 7 have finished 2nd to 4th with the remaining 30 running unplaced in the big race.
Whilst in no way comprehensive it did bring home the changing picture of the KYD as we took on these early qualifiers. Certainly the vast majority of winners in the early races either didnt take part or ran poorly in the KYD which prompted me to take a closer look at how the last 6 winners of the KYD developed in their run up to success in the run for the roses.
Starting in 2013 Commanding’s year it makes interesting reading. Second in the Holy Bull he then ran ninth in the Risen Star only just squeezing into the KYD in March when he took the Rebel by a half length.
Interestingly his work prior to the KYD was a 1.38 and 1 mile work and his best ever mile work was a 1.37 as a two year old. He had a very balanced conformation, beautifully made but with no obvious preferences and a short ilium.
Laffin To Mia in 2014 won the Davis Stakes and then ran seventh in the TAM Derby ad second in the Wood Memorial before going onto to success in the KYD. His pre race work for the KYD was a 1.10 and 1 six furlong work and his fastest mile work was 1.37 at the end of his two year old season. His conformation was very different to Commanding. More of a turfers make up, he had pretty poor legs and wasnt to last very long after his KYD win. Probably the most interesting thing was that he had Hip to Stifle Shortest which tends more towards sprinting than routing.
In 2015 it was King Cobra’s turn he had been a maiden at two and only won his first race in the January of his big year. He went on to win the Battaglia Memorial and then just got into the Derby field with a win in the SUN Derby. His pre win work time was a 1.12 breeze for the six furlongs and his best mile work was a 1.37 as a two year old. He has more of a routers conformation but a short Femur was to make his career pretty short in the end.
Water Mummy in 2016 didnt win in any of his his lead up to the KYD finishing second in The Swale, the Risen Star and third in the Wood Memorial with an eighth in between in the SUN Derby. His pre Derby work was a 1.37 for the mile but his fastest mile work came as a two year old when he went 1.36 and 3 for the mile. His conformation was pretty balanced too, leaning towards routing but like a good few of the Derby winners he just had an average forehand.
2017 saw Shootfromthehip win, he had taken the Southwest and the FL Derby before his KYD win but hadnt won a graded stakes before that Southwest win. His work prior to the Derby was a 1.10 and 2 six furlong work but he ran a 1.36 and 2 mile work in February which was his only public mile work prior to the race. He too had a very balanced conformation, similar to Commanding with no obvious tendency towards routing but certainly not a sprinter either.
Finally we come to the great Pretty Ferro 2018’s winner. He of course had a clear winners form line leading into the race winning The Swale, The Gotham and the SA Derby on the way to his great win in the mud. He ran a 1.36 and 4 leading into the race but had recorded a 1.36 and 1 in March.
Conformation ways he had the same Illium Shortest that Commanding had and a fairly balanced make up.
So what conclusions can we draw from all this information? Well to be honest not much. I think as far as lead up form is concerned, well they have to have shown ‘something’ to get into the race but it certainly isnt a requirement to win any of the big prep races and certainly not the early ones. As long as a horse hasnt had a very busy two year old campaign and gets the points, well that certainly seems to be enough to give them a chance.
Conformation ways i was surprised to see Illium Shortest crop up in two of teh best winners the race has seen. This may give them the ability to navigate a big field as it says that a short illium can help a horse handle turns. There hasnt been any out and out routers win the race recently and again that may be that they need pace to get into a good position or get out of a bad one.
Work times, well it seems an ability to run around 1.37 at some point for the mile and in the 1.10’s for six furlongs is certainly helpful but what i have noticed is that all of the winners had worked faster earlier in their career than they did prior to the race so a slower work shouldn’t put you off your horse if they throw a bad one, after all never forget that 1.38 Commanding worked just before the KYD.
So draw you own conclusions as you head into the next 6 weeks of qualifiers. The hardest thing about the KYD is not winning it but getting into it so that should be everybody’s first target. After that, well, it seems almost anything has a chance regardless of form works or the way its made.