by Jeremy Plonk
May 10, 2021
Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities.
Not as many Kentucky Derby horses are willing to race in the Preakness as there once was.
You've heard chatter in recent years about how the Derby, Preakness and Belmont need to be spaced out on the calendar, perhaps as much as a month apart, to better fit the modern training pattern of barns who demand 4-5 weeks between starts.
I dialed up the Betmix database to look at how many horses have come out of the Derby to run back in the Preakness over the past 8 years. I also consulted some official racecharts of Preakness races from yesterday to see how it “once was.”
2013: 6 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2014: 3 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2015: 5 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2016: 3 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2017: 5 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2018: 4 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2019: 4 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2020: 4 Derby horses came back to run in the Preakness.
2000s: 3-5 Derby returnees were the norm except when 50-1 Giacomo won in 2005 and 10 Derby horses took a shot at Old Hilltop, and 8 re-matched in 2009 after 50-1 Derby winner Mine That Bird.
1990s: While 10 showed up in Charismatic’s 1999 repeat victory, 5-8 were the consistent norm for the 10-year run.
1980s: 5-8 Derby returnees were the consistent norm throughout the decade.
1970s: Secretariat ran against 2 Derby rivals, the same for Seattle Slew and Affirmed. In other years, 5-8 total Derby holdovers were the norm.
The number of Derby to Preakness starters in recent years has held consistent over the past 7 years. The decade of the 2000s began the downturn in number of returnees in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown after the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were pretty similar in Derby alumni.
Superstar horses over the decades have caused fewer to re-match at Pimlico on occasion, which makes sense. But it’s absolutely true in the numbers that the modern Preakness is drawing consistently fewer Derby returnees than past decades. But that number has been leveled off for two decades and does not appear to be making any continued down-trend.
You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, you can measure the records of Derby holdovers to new faces in the Preakness.