This has been another fairly slow week for my fantasy stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league. We’re making it down the home stretch, though — the final claiming day is this Thursday, and the final points races (the Belmont Stakes, the Acorn Stakes, the Woody Stephens, and the Easy Goer) all unfold on June 7th. Nominations for the three-year-old Belmont undercard races (Acorn, Woody Stephens, and Easy Goer) came out today, and most of my stable appeared in at least one of those nominations lists. With the next claim coming up this week, though, I am hoping they proceed from “nominated” to something more definite shortly. Even a definite “no” would be useful, since I still have a good amount of claiming budget in order to try for some horses who are running in the big Belmont races and not yet owned by any of my competitors.
Let’s see how my stable is doing!
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan turned up again on the Churchill Downs worktab this week. On May 25, he worked five furlongs in 1:01.60. There is no clear information on where he is headed next, though the fact that he is working so regularly suggests that his connections are at least looking for another race. After his prep performances I would be really surprised to see him in the Belmont, although I had been thinking that the 1 1/16 mile Easy Goer would be right up his alley. However, stakes nominations for many of the big Belmont undercard stakes races came out today, and Conquest Titan is not nominated for the Easy Goer. However, he is nominated for the Woody Stephens, at seven furlongs over the Belmont dirt. His only stakes win, last year’s Swynford at Woodbine (where he broke his maiden, no less…) was at this seven-furlong distance. However, he will likely be facing some true sprinters if he runs the Woody Stephens, and I question whether he wouldn’t be better served by a bit longer distance and a slightly softer field.
- Embellishing Bob – Embellishing Bob returned to the worktab on May 21, going five furlongs in 1:01.20. There is some chance he is preparing for the Woody Stephens — I haven’t seen anything to say he is surely going, but he was nominated for that race. It will likely be a bit harder than the Derby Trial; the Woody Stephens is likely to draw a strong field of three-year-old sprinters, and Embellishing Bob has still only raced four times. Given his pedigree, I’m a bit surprised that he wasn’t at least cross-nominated to the Easy Goer as well. However, he showed in the Derby Trial that he is one tough horse; he deserves the chance to test himself against the crack sprinters of his class if his connections are interested in sending him less than a mile.
- Ride On Curlin – Ride On Curlin is still full speed ahead for the Belmont. He hasn’t published a work yet, though he has been galloping in the mornings and getting used to Big Sandy since shipping up there last week. It isn’t alarming that he hasn’t worked back from the Preakness; Billy Gowan doesn’t tend to do a lot of published works in general. However, it sounds like he galloped really nicely this morning. Just shy of two weeks from the Belmont Stakes, things look right on track.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger was back on the tab at Santa Anita this week, going five furlongs in 59.40 on May 24. Her connections have still been mum as to whether she is going to proceed to the Acorn Stakes as originally planned. The option is still on the table should they want to send her there; Acorn nominations came out today, and she was on the list. Her two works back from her disappointing seventh in the Eight Belles have been relatively sharp. I only hope there is information from her connections about whether she is actually pointing to the Acorn before the league claiming date this Thursday.
- Sugar Shock – Sugar Shock was back on the worktab again this week. On May 25, she breezed four furlongs in 49.58 over the dirt at Prairie Meadows. Sugar Shock did turn up on the nominations list for the Acorn, suggesting it was on the radar at some point. Beyond that, there has been no specific word as to whether she is pointing there or not. She is yet another horse in my “wait and see” category in these next few days approaching the claim.
- Empress of Midway – At this point, there is no news about Empress of Midway. She has still not worked back after her disappointing seventh-place finish in the Angel’s Flight Stakes at Santa Anita. Fantasy league-wise, she is nominated to the Acorn Stakes. Three weeks off such a dull performance against a much weaker field, I’m not sure if she’s actually going to go out there. We shall see if she works back soon, and if she works well. It would surprise me if she were to go; I could only imagine she’d ship from California to New York if her form was good, and it was less than good in the Angel’s Flight.
- General a Rod – There’s nothing new about General a Rod since last week. He hasn’t worked back since the Preakness, and he is generally out of the Belmont conversation. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a bit of time off after two big races in two weeks, since he has been running hard since breaking his maiden in his career debut at Keeneland last October. We will see if he turns up on the worktab, but it sounds like he will not be headed to anything on Belmont day.
- Stopchargingmaria – Stopchargingmaria still has not worked back yet from her victory in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico a week and a half ago. She was nominated to the Acorn, but there have been no definite statements from her connections as to whether she is pointing there, or to the Mother Goose instead. As will all the fillies in my fantasy stable, I want to see if any further information about her plans comes up over the next few days.