2016 Fantasy Stable: week 2 postmortem

Week 2 of the Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League is in the books.

It was no banner week, though it went significantly better than week 1.  My stable had a winner, and my stable is finally off the duck.

As luck would have it, however, those two events had no relation to each other.

This week, three of my horses ran, though only two in points races.

I drafted Cosmic Evolution because I was impressed with her looks and her performance in the Debutante at Churchill last year.  Though she had been on the shelf since the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies on August 1, she was back on the worktab, and I thought she was aiming at the Martha Washington.

Cosmic Evolution did enter at Oaklawn on Martha Washington day — but in a six-furlong N1X allowance.  Off the long lay, it made sense — a slightly softer field, and a shorter distance that could get her fitter for the longer Oaks preps later.  However, I would have to wonder about Cosmic Evolution’s place on the Oaks trail if she did not make good account of herself there.

It turned out, I had nothing to worry about.  Cosmic Evolution broke well, briefly had the lead, but soon settled in behind D R C’s Pretty Sky.  That longshot pulled away a bit, opening up about a two length lead going into the turn, but Cosmic Evolution retained dead aim.  Approaching the stretch, she began to get going.  She edged closer, and then found her next gear approaching the sixteenth pole.  She kicked past D R C’s Pretty Sky, outfinished Katalust, and hit the wire a length and a quarter to the good.  It was a sharp effort for a filly who had not raced since August.  It proved she returned in good form at 3, proved she could handle Oaklawn under race conditions, and proved she belonged in my stable.  Hopefully her connections stretch her out for the Honeybee (GIII).

I also had a pair of runners in my stable race at Santa Anita: Let’s Meet in Rio and Land Over Sea.

Let’s Meet in Rio disappointed in the Robert B. Lewis.  Of course, the scratch of Laoban did not help — Let’s Meet In Rio had previously been okay from a bit closer to the pace or a bit further from it, but had shown his sharpest form as a closer.  Still, I hoped he would show something — either a good race from near the pace, or at least get an underneath share from well off.

Instead, he ran relatively close to the pace, but had nothing for the drive.  He did not press pacesetter I Will Score — Uncle Lino played that role — but was only a few lengths back through the early going.  Down the backstretch, he was urged to stay close, and inched to within about two lengths of the pace.  The real running began into the far turn; Let’s Meet in Rio had nothing left, and finished a well=beaten fifth.  It is hard to tell what to make of this.  It is not a good thing to see in a Derby prospect…but he may have some excuses.  Perhaps he is significantly better as a true closer.  Perhaps he ran his race before the race; he looked somewhat washed out on simulcast, not to mention roiled up in the gate.  After what he showed in the Sham, and his back late pace numbers, he may be worth one more shot to see if he will behave better next time and be sent as a closer.

Land Over Sea, the newest addition to my stable, did exactly what I hoped she would do when I drafted her, in any realistic sense.  Did I think she had any chance to win the Las Virgenes?  Not unless Songbird’s connections actually stuck to the “we only want to run her in Grade I races” comment they made.  Wise prep scheduling sense got the best of them.  They entered her in the Las Virgenes, and the rest of the field was left to run for another “second to Songbird” medal.

Though Songbird galloped to one of the easiest wins in recent memory, Land Over Sea made good account of herself in her first start in three months.  Near the back of the six-horse field early, she kicked into gear through the far turn.  She drew past the rest of the field in shallow stretch, and finished a clear best of the rest.  Though she was six and a half lengths beaten the stratospheric Songbird, she finished three and three quarters lengths clear of third-place She’s a Warrior.  That was as good a result as I could expect in that race, and Land Over Sea got my stable off the duck.

For claims this week I considered two horses: Conquest Babayaga, for the reasons discussed last week, as well as Let’s Meet in Rio.  Between the two, just because Let’s Meet in Rio had a bit better record on dirt, and that there was some chance we would get more information about his Lewis flop soon, I decided I would drop Conquest Babayaga if I got my claim.  Dropping her makes me a bit nervous since she could improve second off the lay, but I still have more questions about her than I do Let’s Meet in Rio.

As far as horses to try and claim, I considered a few.  None of the open probables for any of the races coming up this week (Sam F. Davis, San Vicente, El Camino Real, Southwest) really inspired me.  However, one horse who ran last week did: Terra Promessa.  After Friday’s Oaklawn allowance romp, I needed to try for her.  I still wonder whether that was the right strategy, since I already have another horse (Cosmic Evolution) who may also be on the Oaks trail at Oaklawn, but Terra Promessa looked too good to let go.  I mused for a while over whether to bet someone was going to try for her, or not…and bid $11, thinking someone else would.

No one else bid for Terra Promessa.  I made a small error in judgment, thinking someone else would bid for her, but I did not exactly break the bank.  I still have $488 of my $500 for the rest of the season, and I have one very promising new filly in my stable.

After two relatively active weeks, this coming week should be a bit quieter — and next week’s update a bit shorter.  The only one in my stable likely to run is Gordy Florida, in next Monday’s Southwest Stakes.  The last of my draft picks to see the starting gate will likely be Midnight On Oconee, who is expected to go two weekends from now in the Rachel Alexandra.

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