Another week has gone by in the Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League, and this week was a difficult one on several fronts.
Two of my eight horses raced this week — and, in the same race. Both Stageplay and Midnight On Oconee saw the starter in the Rachel Alexandra (GIII). Most people, myself included, figured Stageplay would outclass that bunch. I hoped Midnight On Oconee would get a share.
Well, one of my runners scored my stable some points.
That runner was Midnight on Oconee. The Larry Jones charge tracked in range of an early duel between Lovable Lyss and Finley’sluckycharm, took the lead, and found herself passed only by rail-rallying longshot Venus Valentine near the wire. It was another honest second for her, complete with twenty more Oaks points. Should previous years be any indication, her 24 points should get her into the starting gate on Oaks day. Barring injury or any other clear declaration that she is off the Oaks trail, Midnight On Oconee has cemented her place in my fantasy stable for the long haul.
Stageplay disappointed. Sent off at odds on, she looked like she was going to make a run, and then flattened out. Perhaps her outside spot doomed her, as inside placings were best all day. However, I thought she was so good compared to the rest of the field that a track bias would not be enough to doom her. But, she stalled out badly in the stretch, fading to a well-beaten fifth. She was four and a half lengths behind her fourth-place stablemate Royal Obsession.
I still don’t know what to make of her, but I liked her previous work enough to make her somewhere between difficult and impossible to drop, even after that unexpectedly poor effort. It put her in a very similar place as another member of my stable, Let’s Meet in Rio. Both had shown some real suggestion that they could be something, but both really flopped in their most recent races.
One of them had to go on the chopping block, at least potentially, given how well Off the Tracks ran yesterday. I was not willing to try drafting or claiming Off the Tracks until she was back on the track. But, after her commanding victory in the Margate Handicap yesterday, I had to take a stab at her.
I strained over how much to risk on her. I still was not willing to risk a large portion of my claim budget on her, but wanted to be able to outbid the same type of “buck or two” activity that had been bandied about by me and other. I thought $6 fit the bill — it would beat the token efforts, but if someone was willing to lay down Big Bucks, I was willing to let her go. It was a question of odds, of risk and reward. I had not completely given up on either Let’s Meet in Rio or Stageplay, but I had to risk one of them to take a small stab if no one was willing to back up the trucks on Off the Tracks. I decided to put Let’s Meet in Rio at risk, since he had not yet worked back after the Lewis.
It turned out, someone was willing to risk the big bucks for Off the Tracks. Another stable bid $69 for Off the Tracks — well into the range I was not willing to put forth for a horse this early in the league. So be it. I tried, and knew there was a risk exactly this would happen.
As it stands, my stable roster remains the same going into next week. There are three points races next week: the Busher, the Davona Dale, and the Holy Bull. At this point, I have no runners pointing for any of them, so any changes in my stable will depend on either injury reports or any attempts I decide to make to draft an under-the-radar runner.
My next expected on-track activity comes two weekends from now. Conquest Big E may be headed for cooler climes in the Gotham, and it would be no surprise to see Land Over Sea turn up in the Santa Ysabel.