The 2017 Kentucky Derby “Dual Qualifiers”

The 2017 Kentucky Derby “Dual Qualifiers”

Mastery cruises to victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) – © Benoit Photo

When it comes to handicapping the Kentucky Derby, horseplayers are willing to analyze statistics and trends that might not be noticed with races of lesser magnitude. During the 1980s, one such trend was to identify the Kentucky Derby’s “Dual Qualifiers,” which are horses that have a Dosage Index (an analysis of pedigree that attempts to measure speed and stamina) of 4.00 or less and were also ranked within 10 pounds of the leader on the year’s Experimental Free Handicap, which ranks the leading two-year-olds of the previous year and gives each a weight assignment.

The Dual Qualifiers had a strong run of success, although in recent years the formula has seen less success as the average Dosage Index of Derby winners continues to rise (a trend predicted many years ago.) However, with the 2016 Experimental Free Handicap having been released last week, I thought it would be fun to analyze the list and see which potential Kentucky Derby starters would count as Dual Qualifiers.

Excluding colts that are retired (Not This Time) or not known to be targeting the Kentucky Derby (Oscar Performance, Good Samaritan, etc.), here are the remaining Dual Qualifiers that are eyeing the Derby:

Horse Weight
Speed Figure
Practical Joke 122 3.00 98
Mastery 121 2.11 99
Gormley 120 2.25 102
McCraken 119 2.43 94
Gunnevera 117 2.00 97
Hemsworth 116 3.33 89


Of the six colts, three (Practical Joke, Mastery, and McCraken) have not yet made their three-year-old debuts, but Gormley, Gunnevera, and Hemsworth have all run this year with varying degrees of success. Gormley won the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita with a career-best 102 BRIS speed figure, while Gunnevera also earned a career-best figure (97) when finishing second in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. However, Nashua Stakes (gr. II) winner Hemsworth took a step back in his 2017 debut, being eased in Gulfstream’s Mucho Macho Man Stakes after failing to show his expected early speed.

Only time will tell if any of these colts even make it to the Kentucky Derby, but with three months to go, they are the lonely half-dozen attempting to score a win for the “Dual Qualifiers.”

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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