Andy Beyer Joins TDN Writers’ Room to Handicap the Kentucky Derby

Andy Beyer, the longtime racing columnist for the Washington Post and the creator of the Beyer Speed Figures that appear in the Daily Racing Form, is never short of opinions, especially when it comes to who will win the GI Kentucky Derby. With the race right around the corner, we asked Beyer to give us his thoughts on the race and share his handicapping acumen on the TDN Writers’ Room podcast, which is presented by Keeneland. Beyer was this week’s Green Group Guest of the Week.

After some spirited and amusing debate about how to pronounce Forte’s name, Beyer said he’s no fan of that horse, saying that Forte (Violence) “won’t hit the board.”

“I don’t like him,” he said. “I don’t like him because the name issue grates on me every time I hear it. He is not historically what we look for in the Kentucky Derby, which is a horse on the upgrade coming into the Derby. He clearly doesn’t fit that profile. Yes, he is trained by Todd Pletcher. But as we know, Todd’s forte is not training horses to win the Derby. His record in this race is two for 62. So I don’t think you get any extra credit for being in the Pletcher barn in this race. I want no part of Forte. I don’t think he’ll hit the board.”

Then who does he like? It’s Derma Sotogake (Jpn) (Mind Your Biscuits).

“I am looking for a history making Japanese victory on Saturday night with Derma Sotogake,” Beyer said. “It’s not a great Derby. But what makes it really interesting to me is the Japanese presence. And I’ve been looking a lot at this and I think that Japan is really on the brink of becoming the number one power in world horse racing, eclipsing even Great Britain and the United States. It’s going to happen at the present rate eventually. And the coming out party just might be Saturday.”

Beyer said he is so bullish on the Japanese horses that he even gave a long look to longshot Continuar (Jpn) (Drefong).

“I was going to pick Continuar as my 50 to 1 bomber just because he is trained by the top Japanese trainer and was really going to be under the radar,” Beyer said. “But he evidently has not trained that well since he’s been at Churchill.”

Based on the Beyer figures, the field for the GI Kentucky Oaks is among the slowest ever. Predictably, Beyer didn’t have anything good to say about that race.

“I was so depressed looking at the figures in the Oaks that I just haven’t even focused on it yet,” he said. “The idea that nobody in that field has run a figure over 91 is just embarrassing. I’ve never seen a race this famous look so bad from the speed figure standpoint.”

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by Coolmore,  the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders1/st Racing, WinStar Farm, XBTV and West Point Thoroughbreds, podcast regulars Zoe Cadman, Randy Moss and Bill Finley ran through the entire 20-horse field, giving their opinions on each starter. Finley picked Tapit Trice (Tapit) to win, Moss selected Derma Sotogoake and Cadman gave the nod to Practical Move (Practical Joke). As was the case with Beyer, none were particularly high on Forte.

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