Week 11 of the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league has drawn to a close, and my stable had its ups and downs.
For as many prep races as there were last week — four Oaks preps and three Derby preps — I only had three horses running, two of whom were going to post in the same race.
My stable had the most at stake in the Fantasy Stakes (GIII). Terra Promessa and Cosmic Evolution, the 1-3 finishers in the Honeybee Stakes (GIII) earlier in the meet, were among six to see the starter in Oaklawn’s final Kentucky Oaks prep.
It was not pretty, but Terra Promessa found her way to the wire first, and punched her ticket to the Kentucky Oaks.
Cosmic Evolution, however, did not have her best day. Battling on the front early with Ready to Confess and Florida Bird, she finished an uninspiring fourth. Perhaps she has class limitations? Perhaps distance limitations? Her twenty points may or may not get her into the Kentucky Oaks, and even so, perhaps she is a better candidate for something at one turn.
I also had Smokey Image get one more shot in classier company. I took a small bet that he would return to his form against California-breds in the Santa Anita Derby (GI). I knew that was a risk, but I had to take that swing just in case his previous fantasy owner gave up on him too soon. Unfortunately, that gamble did not pay off. He tracked the pace early, but faded to a well-beaten seventh. He had a bright future on the Cal-bred circuit, but he is no second coming of Chrome.
As for who to drop? Don’t Be So Salty and American Doll remained on the chopping block for the same reasons as last week. Smokey Image was an obvious drop, too; the class just wasn’t there. I thought a bit about Cosmic Evolution, but particularly with a win at Churchill last year? She would be a fantastic Eight Belles candidate, and she has shown enough to make me want to see where she goes next.
This week, I decided to make some bigger moves than my typical $1 shots. There was no one I loved enough to put up a large amount of my claiming budget, but it seemed I would have to put up more than just token stabs in order to get some new horses. I figured, with only one Derby prep coming up, that horses in the Arkansas Derby and horses who had punched their tickets to Kentucky would be well in demand.
My bigger move, a $21 bid, went for a horse who has already punched his ticket to Kentucky: Trojan Nation (Street Cry – Storm Song, by Summer Squall). Though he is still a maiden, and his connections are suggesting that he will take his 40 points and try for the roses. West coast form has been holding; there is no shame in chasing around the likes of Cupid. Trojan Nation will be a long shot come Derby Day, but he looks like one figuring it out and getting good at the right time. He rallied from absolutely nowhere in the Wood (GI), and his ability to squeeze through in that tight spot between the rail and Outwork bodes well for his ability to carve out a trip in a field of 20 horses come Derby Day.
I also took $6 swings for a couple of Arkansas Derby longshots, Cutacorner (Even the Score – Pathologist, by Gone West) and Gray Sky (Tapit – Trickski, by Peteski). Cutacorner has not done particularly well in either the Southwest (GIII) or the Rebel (GII), but he does have an allowance win at Oaklawn earlier in the meet, and he is probable for the Arkansas Derby. He would likely be a one-week-and-done, but with the Derby undercard fields still looking a bit fuzzy, he will at least be a horse in the Arkansas Derby starting gate. Gray Sky was off the board in both the Smarty Jones and the Rebel, but finished second in the Dazzling Gem allowance, suggesting at lesat some ability to run at Oaklawn. I tried for him for the same reason I tried for Cutacorner: I’d rather have a probable for the Arkansas Derby right now than a horse who may or may not run on the undercard in a month.
I went for the right horses, but I had the bidding all wrong. I was uncontested for all three of the horses I claimed. So…the good news is, I now get to try my luck with Trojan Nation, Cutacorner, and Gray Sky. The bad news is, I paid $33 instead of $3.
I’m a miser, I know.
Still, it means I have a large stake in the Arkansas Derby coming up. In addition to my new greys, Cutacorner and Gray Sky, I also have Dazzling Gem probable for it.
The odds are quite good that I will go 0-for-3 in Oaklawn’s final prep, but at least I have a few in the gate. Maybe someone will surprise me.