The rubber is hitting the road: 100 point Derby preps start this weekend, which means that races which mean even more in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league start this week! It’s also a claiming week; claims are due at 5pm Central time today, so expect an update shortly about my stable’s claiming activity. Before that, though, here’s how the horses who are currently in my stable are doing:
- Tamarando – Maybe it was the ship. Maybe it was the natural cycle of performance. Who knows what it was? But, the fact remains that Tamarando didn’t fire at all in the Spiral, which blew his best chance yet for points. I haven’t seen any information as to whether he’s shipping back (or has shipped back) to California, or if he’s going to hang out in Kentucky and wait for the Blue Grass. He is nominated for the Blue Grass, and out of the remaining Derby preps, that’s clearly the best one for him to point to if he is still on the Derby trail. I hope he is: this was a bad time to fire a bad race, but especially if he doesn’t ship out of Kentucky and then back for the Blue Grass, he could very well improve.
- General a Rod – The General returned to the worktab on March 23rd, going five furlongs in 1:01.14 before taking a well-deserved roll in the sand. It wasn’t quite as fast as his last work, but this is a good thing since energy is at a premium. He is confirmed for the Florida Derby on Saturday, March 29, and will be breaking from the 6 gate. It’s a short field for a Derby prep, just eight horses, but five of his seven adversaries are serious contenders: Cairo Prince, Spot, Matador, Constitution, and his old nemesis Wildcat Red. I still want to say Wildcat Red will be less of a threat at nine furlongs, but I said that about eight and a half in the Fountain of Youth, and he fought tooth and nail to beat General a Rod in a head bob. Especially with that inside gate, Wildcat Red is big trouble. General a Rod has 20 Derby points so far — so first or second in the Florida Derby will make him a lock for the first Saturday in May. Third place may be good if there are some repeat prep winners, or more attrition. Fourth, and a lot will have to fall into place to get him in that gate.
- Please Explain – Please Explain returned to the worktab on March 24, going four furlongs in 48.60 at Oaklawn Park. There hasn’t been anything definite that I’ve seen, but the scuttlebutt seems to be that she’s pointed toward the Fantasy Stakes, April 5th at Oaklawn. She seemed to handle the track well enough in her first run there in the Honeybee, and she won’t have to ship; the Fantasy seems as good a place for her to prove herself on the Oaks trail as any.
- Conquest Titan – This week Conquest Titan returned to the worktab for his first published move since the Tampa Bay Derby; he worked five furlongs in 1:01.05 on the Palm Meadows dirt. He is still pointing to the Arkansas Derby, April 12th at Oaklawn. The Arkansas Derby is Conquest Titan’s do or die for getting into the Kentucky Derby starting gate; he only has nine points, which will certainly not be enough to get him into the gate. He needs a first or second in the Arkansas Derby, or he can more than likely kiss his Derby hopes goodbye. It will be a tough field, but I still love this horse. Hopefully he will handle the ship out to Arkansas as well as the Oaklawn dirt with aplomb. There are no guarantees, however, and he probably did lose his best chance of big-time Derby points after his fourth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby.
- Ride On Curlin – This is another one in my stable who is pointing to the Arkansas Derby. He hasn’t returned to the worktab, but he doesn’t publish a lot of works to begin with. Mary Rampellini of the Daily Racing Form reports that he had a nice gallop on March 24th out at Oaklawn, in preparation for the Arkansas Derby. This is all good news; hopefully he doesn’t regress from his hard-knocking effort in the Rebel. (The good news is, it looks like he’s been getting at least a little bit of rest!) Ride On Curlin sits at 15 Derby points, which means he’ll need a first or second to truly lock up a spot. Yet another third place finish keeps him in the picture, but leaves him heavily dependent on what other horses do.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger continues to work at Santa Anita. On March 21, she fired off a sharp five furlongs in 59.60. There is no clear statement of where she is heading next, though I would not be surprised to see her in the Santa Anita Oaks on April 5th. She wouldn’t have to ship, and she also had two very strong second place finishes along the track (a head loss to Secret Compass in the Chandelier, as well as her run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies where she finished first by a nose, but was placed second behind Ria Antonia). The Santa Anita Oaks would be a great place for her.
- Stopchargingmaria – On March 23, Stopchargingmaria posted a bullet work at Palm Meadows, four furlongs in 48 flat. She has been working regularly since her disappointing fifth-place finish in the Davona Dale on February 22. All that’s missing is a clear indication from Todd Pletcher on where she is pointing. I am still hoping to see her in the Gazelle given her previous success in New York, but it’s anyone’s guess whether she’ll stay down south or ship up north. The one thing we do know is that she is not racing in the Gulfstream Park Oaks; that race attracted a field of five, and Stopchargingmaria was not among it.
- Shared Belief – There’s nothing new about Shared Belief this week. He’s still off the Derby trail, he’s still galloping some at Golden Gate Fields, and Jerry Hollendorfer is still brusque and taciturn.
That’s what’s going on with my stable right now. There will be another update tonight or tomorrow, once I am able to pore through the claiming results; stay tuned to see if the personnel in my stable remain the same, or if there are any changes to my roster!