We are now 12 weeks into the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league, and the pictures for the Derby and the Oaks are getting clearer and clearer. There are still a few points available in the Lexington Stakes this Saturday at Keeneland, though so far it does not sound like any of the horses on the Kentucky Derby bubble within ten points of Cairo Prince’s 24 will be running in it. Even if they did, it would not change whether any of the horses in my stable were in or out of the Derby starting gate.
That said, let’s dive in and see how my horses are doing. There is a hodgepodge of good news, bad news, and confusing news.
- Ride On Curlin – Ride On Curlin needed to finish at least fourth in the Arkansas Derby to keep his Derby dreams realistically alive, and this consistent Curlin baby did not disappoint. Jockey Jon Court kept him off the pace set by Bayern and Thundergram — exactly what I was hoping to see. He made a wide move to get around the leaders and Tapiture, the same time as Danza was coming through on the inside. He couldn’t catch Danza (who finished 4 3/4 lengths in front), but he came down the middle of the track and caught everyone else to claim second. This put him at 55 points — more than good enough to punch his ticket to Kentucky! In fact, he has already shipped to Kentucky, and will get some works over the Churchill track. However, there is one slightly less exciting bit of news to go along with this. Today, trainer Billy Gowan announced that Calvin Borel was getting the mount on Ride On Curlin. It’s logical in a sense, since Borel has ridden him in five of his nine career starts, including both career wins. However, after the nice ride Jon Court gave him in Hot Springs, it’s a disappointment that he will not maintain the mount in Louisville.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan needed at least a third place finish to advance on the road to the Kentucky Derby, but sadly, it did not happen for him. He settled in the rear early, as he normally does, and tried to make a run coming into the stretch. He improved his position approaching the stretch, passing Commissioner as well as the tiring Thundergram and Strong Mandate. He couldn’t sustain his run, though, and finished fifth beaten 10 1/4 lengths. There is no clear indication about where (if anywhere) he is heading next, but it will not be the Kentucky Derby.
- General a Rod – General a Rod did not race last weekend. General a Rod did not hit the worktab last week. However, there is still news about him, and it’s the best news possible: he is officially Derby bound! He sits at 40 points, seventeenth in the standings. Even if the horses immediately below him were to actually run in the Lexington Stakes and claim points, he is still a mathematical lock for the starting gate.
- Please Explain – The news about Conquest Titan was disappointing. The news about Please Explain was even more disappointing. Last week, Please Explain was disqualified from third place in the Honeybee, and her trainer Tom Proctor fined $1,000 for a medication positive. The medication involved was methylprednisolone, a synthesized adrenal steroid. This information posted by Robert Yates, the horse racing reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is all I know. There seems to be a dearth of information about this, which is distressing since it involves a drug violation in a significant Oaks prep. I feel awful for Please Explain, I’m disappointed in the barn, and I hope my further efforts to find information about this don’t come up empty.
- Stopchargingmaria – Stopchargingmaria ended the Oaks prep season with 22 points, after her fourth place finish in the Fantasy Stakes. This would not be enough to qualify her outright for the Oaks, but would place her in eighteenth place. Since fourteen horses get into the Oaks gate, only four ahead of her would have to scratch (or decide they were not pointing for the Oaks) for her not to get in. However, she is stricken through in the official Oaks standings list. This came as a surprise, as I had not seen any announcements or even scuttlebutt that she was being taken off the Oaks trail, officially. Hopefully, information will come out soon as to why she is off the list, and where (if anywhere) she is pointing next.
- She’s a Tiger – On April 10, She’s a Tiger fired a bullet at Santa Anita, working six furlongs in 1:13.20 in the Santa Anita dirt. There hasn’t been any news over the last week to contradict previous reports that she is pointing toward the Eight Belles Stakes (GIII), which is on the Kentucky Oaks undercard this year.
- Tamarando – On April 12, Tamarando returned to the worktab. He’s still at Santa Anita, and he worked five furlongs in 1:01.80. However, this was on dirt. His last workout, on April 6, was on turf. This leaves me a bit confused. The Derby is almost certainly out, since his twelve points put him thirty-first on the list, and I doubt Hollendorfer will be shipping him to Churchill in case of an opening like Giant Finish had last year. There’s no good word on where he is heading next, and the workout pattern is puzzling.
- Shared Belief – Last Friday, Jerry Hollendorfer said that Shared Belief will work at Golden Gate Fields on Tuesday, for the first time since January 3rd. He also stated that a comeback race in June or July was a possible time frame. However, this is not the first time that Hollendorfer has said Shared Belief would work, so I am not holding my breath until I actually see him on the worktab. I’m looking forward to his return — Shared Belief was my #1 draft pick for a reason. His two-year-old season was dazzling, and I just want to see him running again if he is sound.
At this point, there is a lot to think about between now and April 24, which is the next claiming date. I can guarantee there will be claiming attempts, though their structure will of course depend on what information I can glean between now and then about who is pointed where, and how I can get the best Derby-month bang for my buck.