Time is flying in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league — we’re already eight weeks in! Between the racing action and the information coming out from the connections, it definitely wasn’t a slow week for Iron Bard Stable. The next claiming day is just a week away: March 27. I have some serious strategizing to do in advance of that, with all the big preps coming up — and the fact that one of the most promising horses in my stable looks sidelined beyond a doubt for the Triple Crown season.
Without further ado, let’s see how all my horses are doing!
- Ride On Curlin – I discussed the Rebel Stakes in detail a few days ago, in my most recent weekend stakes race review. He had been a well-beaten third after a bad trip in the Southwest, and I was hoping that he would show in the Rebel that he belonged in company with the Derby contenders. After his hard-knocking third-place finish in the Rebel — outlasting fellow speed demon Strong Mandate and finishing just a length behind the winning Hoppertunity — I am happy with what I saw. He didn’t get that closing trip I was hoping to see, but this may have been even better than that, at least in light of my hopes for his future. This was his best race yet on the lead against tough company. It sounds like he is pointing to the Arkansas Derby next, which makes a lot of sense. He hasn’t had a terrible race on the Oaklawn course, he won’t have to ship, and he has been improving. Hopefully he can secure enough points there on April 12 to lock up a spot in the Derby field.
- Tamarando – This weekend brings the Spiral Stakes, where Tamarando is the 3-1 morning line favourite. He has shown up every race, and raced best in synthetic, which bodes well here given Turfway’s Polytrack. The biggest question is the ship; this is Tamarando’s first race outside of California. However, this doesn’t stand to be an enormous worry, given that he has shipped between the northern and southern California racetracks. He faces some tough competition here, but if he gets a decent pace for a closer and runs the race he’s capable of, he could punch his ticket for the Derby. He has twelve points going into this race; first place should punch his ticket, and the 20 points for second may even get him there. This race isn’t do or die, though. It would be best if he won here, but he can always take a crack at the Blue Grass at Keeneland if he doesn’t get enough Derby points in the Spiral.
- General a Rod – The General was back on the worktab at Gulfstream this week, working five furlongs in 59.50. After an easier maintenance work last week, it was nice to see him run a speedy one this time around. At this point, he is still pointing to a rematch with his rival Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby. The field is shaping up a tough one, with horses such as Cairo Prince and Constitution in the fray as well. However, Mike Maker should have him fit and ready, and Gulfstream suits General a Rod’s speedy style well.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan still hasn’t returned to the worktab yet after the Tampa Bay Derby. As with Ride On Curlin, this isn’t all that strange, as he is not the most consistent for whatever reason about posting published works. Nothing is particularly new from Conquest Titan’s corner; the last word from Mark Casse is that he’s pointing toward the Arkansas Derby, and there has been nothing to contradict this. If that happens, though, the Arkansas Derby will be very entertaining from a fantasy stable perspective. Barring some last minute changes of plans in other races, it will be the first race so far in which more than one of the horses in my fantasy stable will compete in the same race.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger is definitely working toward something. She has been a regular on the worktab at Santa Anita for almost a month now, and fired a bullet work this past Saturday: four furlongs in a blazing 46 flat. However, there’s no clear statement from anyone that I’ve been able to find on where she’s pointing next. I’m willing to hold on for the time being, since she’s clearly a talented horse, but she is going to need some points if she’s going to race in the Oaks!
- Stopchargingmaria – She hit the worktab again on Sunday, going four furlongs in 50.60 at Palm Meadows. I heard a bit of scuttlebutt on one of the horse racing related radio shows I listen to that Pletcher may be considering her for the Gulfstream Park Oaks, although I haven’t heard anything concrete to back it up. I still think Pletcher would be nuts to race her anywhere but the Gazelle — even though Gulfstream is closer to where she is training now, she has taken down two graded stakes at Aqueduct already. She likes the track, and I would love to see her get a crack at an Oaks prep over it.
- Shared Belief – There’s not much new about Shared Belief to say right now past the update last Thursday: he is not on the Kentucky Derby trail due to the foot issue he has been fighting. Jerry Hollendorfer did make a comment this week on a weekly media teleconference (to which I’m not privy, but from which I hear dispatches in both the racing media and Twitter) that he may work within the next couple of weeks. However, I’ll believe it when I hear it; he has previously said that Shared Belief would work in that time frame, and then he didn’t. Fantasy league concerns aside, I hope Shared Belief doesn’t work until his foot is ready. I was hoping to see him this spring, but it will be best for both his health and his future racing performance if he takes as long as he needs to get healed up.
- Please Explain – This week brought no new news of Please Explain. She still hasn’t returned to the worktab since the Honeybee a week and a half ago. However, I expect to see her back on the tab over the next week; it took about two weeks to see her back on the worktab after her Suncoast Stakes win. I haven’t heard anything yet about where she is pointing, though hopefully it is another Oaks points race; third in the Honeybee got her on the board, but won’t be enough to get her into the race.
That’s about it from this week. Good luck in the Spiral, Tamarando!