This was a huge week for my stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league, in that there were five of my horses running. This was a less-than-huge week for my fantasy stable, in that no one from my stable hit the board, and one of my fearsome fivesome didn’t even start her race — though she provided us with the scariest moment of the weekend.
With that, let’s see how it all unfolded.
- General a Rod – Breaking from the 8 gate in the Kentucky Derby, he didn’t get anywhere near the early lead — not such a great thing, given his running style. He was a good eight or nine lengths off the pace early, but never looked like he found a nice place to go. He went out to the rail, he angled out down the stretch, but he never made any real improvement until late. He did have enough to pass some tiring horses late, though; he finished eleventh beaten 8 1/2 lengths. It wasn’t as good as I was hoping to see, but it was better than I was expecting him to fare given how far he was off the lead for the first time of his career. I agree wholeheartedly with Jay Privman’s observation that it was a nightmarish trip for a stalking horse. At this point, there aren’t any clear plans for what the General is doing next; I hope to see him in another big race soon, though, since he’s bound to get a better trip in a smaller field.
- Ride On Curlin – I was bummed that Calvin Borel had the mount on Ride On Curlin because Jon Court had proven himself so well in the Arkansas Derby. I was afraid about Calvin Borel having the mount on Ride On Curlin because he tended to take horses to the rail, and I’m not convinced that’s where Ride On Curlin wants to be. As the gates sprang open, Borel took him to the rail just as fast as he possibly could, and they saved ground in last for half the race. They started to make up ground, but come the far turn, there was nowhere to go. Finally, he took Ride On Curlin to the outside, and they began to make up ground down the stretch. The move was strong enough to bolster the thought that Ride On Curlin belongs off the pace, but also underscored both how risky taking a horse up the rail is (especially in a big field), as well as did nothing to dispel my thought that Ride On Curlin does his best work out off the rail. He closed well enough to finish seventh, 6 3/4 lengths behind California Chrome. Trainer Billy Gowan has announced that Ride On Curlin will ride on to the Preakness a week from Saturday. I am glad that Calvin Borel will not be riding, but I am bummed that, yet again, Jon Court will not. Instead, it will be Joel Rosario — who rode none other than General a Rod in the Derby, and will be riding Ride On Curlin for the first time here.
- Empress of Midway – Empress of Midway was slated to break from the 10 gate in the Kentucky Oaks, but she lost her balance and flipped in the gate just before the race. It looked scary, but people were able to extricate her from the gate; she walked back to the barn under her own power. She was a late scratch from the race, but she sustained nothing worse than a scratch on her hind leg. Per trainer Doug O’Neill, she is doing okay, and flew back to California with stablemate Friendswith K Mill (who had come to Churchill to run the Derby Trial) this past Monday. At this point, there are no plans for her next race.
- Sugar Shock – Sugar Shock broke from the 3 gate, and was one of the few speed horses who ran the way I expected. She bolted up to the early speed, and set the early fractions. However, she was caught by My Miss Sophia coming through the far turn, and not able to stay up and contend with her and Untapable. She faded badly once she was collared, and finished 8th beaten 22 3/4 lengths. At this point, there is no information on where Sugar Shock is headed next.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger came into the Eight Belles, on the Oaks undercard, first off the winter lay. However, despite a good number of sharp works coming into that race, it looked like she needed that race. She likes to be on or near the early speed, but got nowhere near there in the Eight Belles. She was slow out of the gate, and settled in near the back of the pack. That was still only about three lengths back, but she never really seemed comfortable. She came in wide into the stretch, and had nothing to challenge any of the contenders. She finished seventh, beaten 13 lengths. This was originally intended as a prep for the Acorn, but trainer Jeff Bonde is holding off to see how she comes out of this before he commits to that or changes her plans.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan posted his second work since the Arkansas Derby, and it was a bullet! On May 3, he worked five furlongs in 59.40 at Churchill Downs, best of thirty horses at the distance. At this point there is still no clear word on where he is headed, though the fact that he is still working suggests he may be pointing somewhere. It is still a case of wait and see.
- Stopchargingmaria – She is still on the Saratoga worktab. On May 4, she hit the tab again, going four furlongs in 48.62. There is no clear information as to whether she is headed to the Acorn or somewhere else, however. Whether she’s headed there or somewhere else, it is encouraging (given her past performances) that she is back in New York; hopefully this means she is racing back in her favourite circuit soon.
- Embellishing Bob – There is nothing new about Embellishing Bob at the moment. That’s nothing alarming, as we are only slightly a week out from his Derby Trial win. It will be interesting to see where he points next, though I doubt it will be a Triple Crown race, given that he is not nominated to the Triple Crown. The only upcoming mounts for his trainer Steve Margolis are currently at Churchill, assuming the barn is still there, though that is no clear indication as to where Embellishing Bob is pointing next. At this point, I’m holding out to see if any news comes out as to his plans before the pre-Belmont claim date. If he’s pointing toward one of the lower few points races (or, for some reason, planning to pony up the absurd amount of money to supplement to a Triple Crown race), I’d be happy to keep him around because he is a promising horse. However, it’s a matter of time.