GDP Inc.’s Bound Bay captured the GR-2 $1,000.000 Louisiana Derby on Saturday under an ideal ride by jockey KJ Desormeaux. The victory in the 1-3/16th race labels him as one of the top contenders for the KY Derby on the first Saturday in May.
The victory by Bound Bay was impressive however looking at the race in a more forensic manner reveals a few things. Now as you all know I’m a speed handicapper and I do use the speed figures to help evaluate horses however as I’ve always said you have to see how a figure is obtained. How do you best evaluate a certain figure? You just can’t blindly rely on a speed figure alone. The best way and one I always use is watching the race, trip handicapping. From many years ago when I use to watch the live races at the Fair Grounds from the Louisiana State Racing Commission box (they never showed up, well one time they did and they asked me if they could sit there, what could I say?) in the Fair Grounds old grandstand. The box was located on the far left of the old grandstand next to the window where you could see a clear shot of the entire stretch. Everyday I would go to the races I would watch the races with my binoculars and make notes. You could see horses blocked, or checked or boxed in on the rail, wide trips etc. Then when you made the variant you noted the speed figure. Now when the horse came back from that race if his figure was within a couple of points of the top horses in the race then you knew he had a good chance to win based on his last race trip. That is why you use the figures to help evaluate. In many cases the troubled horse didn’t have the top speed figure but was bet to win or used in exotics based on previous race trip and speed figure comparable within competitive range to the top figure in the race.
Looking at the HRP Louisiana Derby as impressive as Bound Bay was what about Tudor One? He came within a nose of the winner with both horses earning a 95 SRF rating. How good was his race as compared to the winner? Let’s take a look at the race.
Bound Bay broke well from the one hole while Tudor One broke very alertly from the eight hole. Tudor one would move up to the lead as he angled in towards the rail.
As the horses approached the finish line for the first time Tudor One was clearly in front with the #9 Better Back Off moving up to second from the outside and the #14 horse rushing up very wide and Bound Bay third content on sitting on the rail.
As the horses entered the clubhouse turn #9 Better Back Off moved to the lead while #8 Tudor One on the inside settled in for second and the #1 Bound Bay dropped to sixth while hugging the rail and the 14 King Que Niagra eight wide while rushing up to the leader..
Entering the backstretch #14 King Que Niagra had gained the lead after his wide trip on the first turn. The #9 horse had dropped back to second while Tudor One in the two path had dropped back to fifth and the #1 Bound Bay was in 7th position while maintaining his hug on the rail.
Not much change in position as they continued down the backstretch. But as the approached the far turn The #14 still maintaining the lead and Tudor One began to make a move moving into fourth position while Bound Bay on the inside moved up into fifth position.
Approaching the top of the stretch King Que Niagra continue to cling onto the lead with the #4 horse Stark moving up on the outside. Tudor One moved out to the three or four path moving closer to the leaders while Bound Bay also moved closer to the leaders as well while maintaining his inside position.
Into the top of the stretch now Stark on the outside takes the lead, King Que Niagra and Better Back Off begin tire and fade. Tudor One now finds his stride while again moving out a little further out into the five or sixth path. Bound Bay begins to move strongly on the inside.
As the horses hit mid-stretch Tudor One has moved out towards the center of the racetrack while taking the lead. Stark begins to fade as Bound Bay moves up on the inside rail.
In deep stretch Tudor One has a head in front while well out from the rail now, Bound Bay digs in on the inside.
Approaching the finish line, just about 40yds out, Bound Bay takes the lead.
At the finish Bound Bay prevails by a nose to capture the Louisiana Derby.
In looking at the race two things emerge, Bound Bay was given a perfect ride by Desormeaux. It was a very Calvin Borel (Borail) riding style of ride, hugging the rail, the shortest way home. He got the trip and took complete advantage of it. On the other hand Tudor One had things a little different a little more difficult as far as the trip goes. He lead early, then settled back to bide his time. However when time came he had to move through some traffic and eventually had to go wide to be clear, from that point on he drifted even further out. He finished with a gallant effort having only lost by a nose despite the trip.
Both horses earned a 95 SRF speed figure for their performance however both earned them in a quite different manner. One can say that the one wouldn’t have won if not for a perfect inside trip. However I don’t think that is fair to the one horse Bound Bay. He took the lead in deep stretch and was even headed just before the finish line only to dig down and recapture the lead and win the race. From a handicappers perspective though the argument can be made that Tudor One ran a stronger race and more than likely lost some lengths along the way and that also is a fair assessment. I’ll let each of you make your own assessment. I just wanted to point out how figures can be obtained in different manners and the importance of watching the races.
The Louisiana Derby was a very exciting race. It was the first year they ran it at the new distance of 1-3/16ths and could be a very good indicator that these two will be the ones to beat at the 1-1/4 Derby distance.