DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A group of 22 Iowa investors that has had two third-place Kentucky Derby finishers and has a horse in the field for this weekend's race said Thursday its success can be attributed to buying only horses that fit a genetic formula developed by the group's president.
Donegal Racing not only has a horse running in Saturday's race, but also is fielding competitors in two other major races at Churchill Downs this week — only the second time in the 140-year history of the race in Louisville, Kentucky, that one stable has three entries in major Derby-week races, according to Donegal Racing President Jerry Crawford.
Donegal's colt Keen Ice will start in the 14th position for Saturday's Kentucky Derby, and Crawford acknowledges he's a longshot. Betting odds had Keen Ice at 50-1 on Thursday.
The stable's Puca will run in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on Friday and Finnegan's Wake will go in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Saturday.
"There are about 35,000 thoroughbred race horses born each year and 20 of them make it to the Kentucky Derby, so there's your mathematical calculation," said Crawford, a Des Moines attorney who's been involved in horse racing for more than 30 years.
The stable's previous Kentucky Derby entries were Dullahan, which finished third in 2012, and Paddy O'Prado, which finished third in 2010.
Crawford said he began studying horse genetics a dozen years ago and determined that about two-thirds of the racing field can be eliminated because they're not bred to run the full distance of the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby.
"It's the first time their careers they've run that far and there's no opportunity to see how they've done previously but you can in genetic study figure out who can't in all likelihood run that far that fast," he said.
Crawford and the Donegal partnership, which consists mostly of Des Moines-area investors, developed a formula they continue to refine every year in determining which horses to buy, he said.
According to the group's website, Crawford in 2008 spent less than $500,000 on eight yearlings for the partnership. Half of them ended up running in high-level Graded Stakes races. The partnership said that crop of horses grossed nearly $5 million.
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