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Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby at The Downey Profile®

How Downey and Johnson Each Picked the Kentucky Derby Winner

5/8/2017

On The Downey Profile Subscription Page, both Dick Downey and Greg "The Commish" Johnson selected Always Dreaming to win the 2017 Kentucky Derby.

Both guys wrote in detail about every horse in the race, and Downey spent time analyzing the early pace fractions in the prep races. Below we lay out how each of the handicappers analyzed Always Dreaming in particular.

By the way, Downey and Johnson never discuss their Derby selections before the race in order to avoid making picks "by committee".

Finally, in the preceding three years the Derby winner came out of The Downey Profile Top 4. This year, one with much turbulence on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming was the number 1 horse in Downey's unique "Profile Buster Profile" that sometimes produces a horse that beats the Top 4 horses in The Downey Profile rankings.

Downey

"The Florida Derby winner, whose margin of victory in the race was impressive, is the 2017 Profile Buster horse and ranks seventh overall in The Downey Profile rankings. In my opinion, this son of Bodemeister put in the most impressive workout at Churchill Downs of the entire group. While he was fairly straightforward during that tremendous workout, the problem is that he exhibited rankness during his gallops before and after the work. This son of Bodemeister was feeling well, that's for sure, but was he feeling too well for his own good? The situation came to a head on Monday when trainer Pletcher changed exercise riders and applied draw reins designed to keep Always Dreaming from throwing his head around so much when he gallops. On Monday, the colt tested his new exercise rider by bucking, but then he began to behave better. On the second day with that equipment, he was much better, and his exercise rider was very happy afterward. On Wednesday and Thursday, he did well and still had a lot of energy. The consensus in the clocking stand came to be that the rubber will hit the road when draw reins are removed from Always Dreaming.

"Very early Friday morning, Caton Bredar‏ saw Always Dreaming on the track and observed that he did not appear to have draw reins. He was accompanied by a pony, and she said he 'minded his manners when he went by me, seemed calmer.'

"Aside from this issue, I was concerned that after running so fast in the Florida Derby (1:47.47), Always Dreaming might be expended. However, he has exhibited considerable energy since arriving at Churchill Downs, and I believe he is a major, major contender.

"I think Always Dreaming's post position will work well for him, and I expect him to be on the lead or close to it during the early going. In the Florida Derby, he ran very reasonable early splits of 23.48 (second) and 47.38 (second) before going six furlongs in 1:10.95 (second) after breaking from post 4 of 10."

In a section of his analysis about Hence, Downey wrote, "You might ask, why would you like Always Dreaming more than Hence if they are both running a little hot now? And my response would be that Always Dreaming had one of the most awesome pre-Derby workouts I have ever seen."

And in his Summary at the conclusion of his analysis, Downey wrote, "I like the Profile Buster horse most of all this year, and that is Always Dreaming. One of trainer Pletcher's owners said privately yesterday that the trainer loves this horse. Pletcher has said publicly that Always Dreaming is a powder keg. I believe this is not an exaggeration. His win of the Florida Derby was really powerful. Instead of coming out of that race looking topped out, he feels like a million dollars and looks ready to rumble."

The Commish

Greg "The Commish" Johnson wrote, Always Dreaming first caught my attention just before the Florida Derby. Stablemate Battalion Runner was slated for that race two months earlier. He waited and waited….and waited, then poof, he skips town at the eleventh hour. Why? Oh, wait, hindsight being what it is, maybe we now know why. Trainer Todd Pletcher is well known for keeping em’ separated, and he did just that.

"After his ultra-impressive Florida Derby, Pletcher said, 'we always knew he was this good.' A quick look back at his past performances before the Florida Derby now has me saying 'wow'. Johnny V. sticks with him, and he had other opportunities to say the least.

"A careful watch at Churchill Downs this week at this feisty, sometimes over-aggressive pony has seen him settle in quite nicely, and that 59.60 five-furlong bullet on the 28th together with an ultra-impressive gallop-out had a plethora of onlookers looking for an open window.

"One more side note on this guy: It is well known that Mr. Downey and I do not discuss our picks, or even the race in general, leading up to the Derby.

"In all the years I’ve been reading his brilliant profiles and analyses of this magnificent race, I do not recall ever reading more stuff he has put out there, and attention given to his readers, on a Profile Buster than Always Dreaming. It is my opinion that I think he might be tipping his hand.

"As am I.

"The Pick."

Postscript

This is the fourth straight year Downey has picked the Kentucky Derby winner right on top. The Commish has done the same thing in three of the past four years -- he picked Nyquist second in 2016. They didn't talk to each other about their picks before any of the four races.

 

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