All season, I have had a problem with most of my horses actually getting into the gate for fantasy stable points races. Last week, I finally had something that qualified as a big week. Four of my eight horses saw the starter: Ami’s Flatter in the Florida Derby, Ekati’s Phaeton in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, and both Keen Ice and St. Joe Bay in the Louisiana Derby.
Out of those four, just one actually hit the board.
This week, two of my horses will be racing in points races. A third, who I had claimed because he was possible for the Wood or the Blue Grass, had been scheduled to race Friday at Keeneland: though not in a points race, and the race itself was cancelled due to inclement weather.
At this point, there is not another claiming day until April 27. I am set with who I have, and hopefully there will be a big claiming move to make before Derby day. Between now and then, though, it looks like slim pickings for my stable.
With that said, let’s visit with my horses.
- Curlin’s Fox – So far, it still looks like Curlin’s Fox was a good bet to bring back into my stable. Unlike last time I claimed her, when she scratched out of the Santa Ysabel to run in the China Doll instead, she actually looks like she is going to run in the Santa Anita Oaks. She returned to the Santa Anita worktab on March 28, going six furlongs in 1:14.20. She drew into the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) on Wednesday. The drawback is that She’s a Big Winner is scratching; so far, Curlin’s Fox looks like a closer, and that means she will have less pace into which to close. In handicapping the race I landed elsewhere, but for fantasy stable purposes, I hope she proves me wrong.
- Tiz Shea D – Tiz Shea D, as expected, entered Saturday’s Wood Memorial (GI). He took one final breeze before the race, working four furlongs in 50.25 (54/96) over the Belmont training track on March 30. There looks to be enough pace in the race that he should have a solid chance, and his breeding is better for the nine furlongs than chief rival El Kabeir. Tiz Shea D has a solid chance to punch his ticket to Kentucky on Saturday.
- Eh Cumpari – I claimed Eh Cumpari because he had been possible for the Wood or the Blue Grass. He worked four furlongs in 51.00 (24/24) at Palm Meadows on March 28 as a final maintenance, and then did enter a race at Keeneland — but it was Friday’s Transylvania Stakes (GIII) on the grass. The race was originally washed to dirt, and then cancelled due to a tornado warning. That race will be rescheduled for April 15. With that having happened, though, Eh Cumpari has missed his chance to enter the Wood or the Blue Grass. As he was not nominated to the Arkansas Derby, he seems well and truly off the Derby trail.
- Ami’s Flatter – Ami’s Flatter was the only one of my four horses who ran last weekend to hit the board. He finished a well-beaten third in the Florida Derby. He chased midpack and started to move through the far turn, but by then Materiality and Upstart were too far gone. He was moving willingly, and far clear of fourth-place Itsaknockout, but still beaten fourteen lengths. Ami’s Flatter has forty Derby points, more than enough to get him into the gate on the first Saturday in May. However, there is a chance that he may bypass the Derby altogether and target the Queen’s Plate instead.
- Ekati’s Phaeton – Ekati’s Phaeton stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the Gulfstream Park Oaks, but the stretch out did not go as well for her as hoped. There looked to be a lot of pace on paper, and that materialized in the race. She did strike the lead early, but once Eskenformoney tackled her, she could not hold on. She faded away, was eased late, and was seventh beaten 40 1/4 lengths come the wire. Whether she will continue down the Oaks trail is unknown. Her owners did move her into the Bill Mott barn this week, and hopefully he will speak to Ekati’s Phaeton’s future plans before the next claiming date.
- Keen Ice – Keen Ice was one of two horses in my fantasy stable to contest the Louisiana Derby, and finished the better of the two. However, that finish was a little disappointing. Stanford was not pressured particularly hard on the lead, and was able to run away late. International Star moved earlier, and was able to run Stanford down. Keen Ice was not staggering in by any means, and kept pace with the duelling pair late. Still, he did not make up any ground on International Star and Stanford, finishing fourth beaten 6 3/4 lengths. That gave him ten more points, taking his total to 22. Dale Romans said on At the Races this week that the Derby was still the goal. Depending on how the preps this weekend go, and how many newer runners get points, making the Derby with 22 looks likely though not a lock.
- St. Joe Bay – St. Joe Bay was one of my recent claims, a horse I took because I thought he would be near the lead in the Louisiana Derby and be able to hold on for a share. How wrong I was. St. Joe Bay tracked a few lengths off the pace, and tried to make a run. However, he never looked like he was going to catch Stanford, and faded to sixth beaten 13 lengths. St. Joe Bay’s six points will not be enough to get him to Kentucky, and even if he may run in a later Classic, he may not make the cut come the next claiming period.
- Taylor S – Taylor S still has not worked back from her win in the Any Limit S. on March 14, which worries me. There is still no clear word on where she will send, though I had held an outside hope that she would show up in something like the Beaumont, a sprint stakes at Keeneland. That looks too soon, unless she hits the worktab within the next day or two. I knew she was a wild card when I took her, though it remains questionable at best whether this risk will pay off for my stable.