Donegal Racing

A note from one of our partners...

May 15, 2022

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There are 10,000 one year old male foals every year in the US.  20 make the derby.   That is one of every 500.

I’m guessing that the 14 (13) DD crops have had total 125 colts.  The expected number of horses that would make the Derby when you have 125 is .25.  In other words, if you randomly purchased 125 of the 10,000 colts, you would have a 25% chance of one making the Derby.

Donegal has had 4.  That outperforms the expected return by 1600%.  A random selection of 125 colts over the last 13 years would result in a 25% chance to have just one horse in the Derby.  Donegal has had 4.  

There are three other compelling features about Donegal.  

First, Donegal is the best opportunity of the syndicates if the goal is to get into the Derby. The vast majority of Derby horses are purchased at one-year sales.  Derby horses rarely become available as two or three-year olds. There are several worthwhile syndicates out there, but no others  that are focused exclusively on buying one year olds.  

Second, the price point of Donegal purchases is noteworthy.  Donegal has been successful in purchasing Derby horses at price points that the syndicate can afford.  While seven figure plus purchases at the auctions make the headlines, all four of Donegal  Kentucky Derby purchases have been in the $250k range.

Finally, Donegal hasn’t just gotten into the Derby, it’s gotten in with a chance.  It’s four entrants have finished 3, 3, 5, and 7th.  This is not an accident.  An important part of the Donegal algorithm to select horses is analyzing whether horses can make the Classic distances.  Donegal horses run long, hard and are usually coming at the end.  This is a deliberate strategy.

Having said all of that, even for Donegal, it is very hard to get into the Derby.  Donegal has now made the Derby with four of its 125 colts.  Slightly more than 3% of Donegal purchases have made the Derby.  With eight to ten  horses each year in the Donegal offerings the odds of making it in any given year are slightly less than 25%.  That means that there will be years and series of years where there will be no Classic horses.  But over time, the best chance for making the classics is Donegal.


Credit: Mark Parkinson

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