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Formula That Has Predicted Each of Last 5 Kentucky Derby Winners Says Improbable Will Win in 2019

Mike Smith has won two Kentucky Derby's
Jockey Mike Smith will ride Omaha Beach in the Kentucky Derby. Photo by John Athayde (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License].
  • Looking back at the past five editions of the Kentucky Derby, winning horses seem to share certain traits
  • SBD has developed an equation which attempts to value the horses in the 2019 field which possess these traits
  • Find out which of the morning-line favorites seems to be undervalued based on the current odds, and one that we recommend fading

Always in search of an edge, the number-crunching team at SBD has done a deep dive into the characteristics of the winning (and losing) horses over the last five editions of the Kentucky Derby.

Some commonalities stood out, specifically, horses born earlier in the year seem to be winning more often; horses with posts near the middle of the gate seem to have an edge; and horses with a jockey who has won the Derby before are performing well.

2019 Favorites by SBD Score

Horse Current 2019 Kentucky Derby odds (May 1) SBD Score
Improbable +600 89.8
Game Winner +500 108.6
Omaha Beach +300 142.4
Tacitus +700 185.2
Roadster +450 317.4

We ascribed a value to each of those characteristics and developed an equation which, coupled with the morning-line odds, spits out what we are calling an SBD Score.

Looking back at the last five years, it turns out that the horse with the lowest SBD Score has won each of the last five Derbys. Notably, in 2017, it correctly predicted that morning-line favorite Classic Empire was actually at a disadvantage vis-a-vis eventual winner Always Dreaming.

Below, we have set out the SBD scores for the top-five morning-line favorites from the 2019 Kentucky Derby, along with each of the last five years.

Note: for past editions, our calculations were limited to horses that were 10/1 or better on the morning line or the top-four favorites if there were not four horses at 10/1 or shorter.

Based on SBD Score, our team sees value on Improbable at +600, while second-favorite Roadster is our top horse to fade.

2018 Favorites by SBD Score

Horse Finish SBD Score
Justify 1st 66.9
Audible 3rd 142.5
Bolt d’Oro 12th 176.6
Mendelssohn 20th 281.5
Magnum Moon 19th 318.1

2017 Favorites by SBD Score

Horse Finish SBD Score
Always Dreaming 1st 74.7
Classic Empire 4th 131.5
McCracken 8th 211.6
Irish War Cry 10th 340.0

2016 Favorites by SBD Score

Horse Finish SBD Score
Nyquist 1st 58.7
Exaggerator 2nd 61.9
Creator 13th 365.8
Gun Runner 3rd 455.9
Mohaymen 4th 501.4

2015 Favorites by SBD Score

Horse 2019 Kentucky Derby odds SBD Score
American Pharoah 1st 25.8
Dortmund 3rd 60.9
Carpe Diem 10th 160.2
Materiality 6th 488.2

2014 Favorites by SBD Score

Horse 2019 Kentucky Derby odds SBD Score
California Chrome 1st 18.8
Hoppertunity Scratched 2141.4
Wicked Strong 4th 439.7
Danza 3rd 439.7
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