This past weekend was the last set of points races in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league until Oaks/Derby weekend.
It was…not the most successful week of the season.
The weekend featured three points races: the Arkansas Derby, the Lexington, and the Beaumont.
I was briefly kicking myself for having dropped American Doll, since she drew into the Beaumont — a race with only five entrants, only three of whom would get fantasy points. Looking at the PPs allayed that sick feeling a bit: I figured she was the only one without much of a shot, since she would need to be near the lead, and would not likely be as fast early as R Girls a Charmer, Kinsley Kisses, or Nickname. In this case, I kept the egg off my face: American Doll never contended in the Beaumont. I still think she will be good in the allowance and minor stakes ranks on a synthetic, but the Beaumont (like the Bourbonette) proved a bridge too far.
As for horses still in my stable, I had three see the starter in the Arkansas Derby. Dazzling Gem was a legitimate contender; Gray Sky and Cutacorner were both the fantasy horse racing equivalents of tossing spaghetti at the wall.
Despite having three of my eight horses in the Arkansas Derby, I left the weekend with no more points than I started it with.
As expected, it was Dazzling Gem who made the best showing. Tracking midpack much of the race, he made up ground through the far turn and coming into the stretch. However, he could not hold off Creator, Suddenbreakingnews, and Whitmore. The bad news is, fourth place meant no fantasy points. The good news, however, is that it was good enough for ten Kentucky Derby points. That is not enough to have him in the Derby field yet, but with the defection of Cupid earlier today, he is now 24th on the list. That’s already good enough for a spot on the AE list, and he has three weeks to get enough defections to get him into the field proper. His 30 points have historically been sufficient for a spot in the starting gate, so hope exists.
Gray Sky and Cutacorner both ran…okay for being north of 70/1? Gray Sky stalked in range of early pacesetter Gettysburg, tried to mount a run, but could not sustain it. He faded out to eighth. Cutacorner, midpack through the earlier stages, could never find enough not to be in midpack. He crossed the wire seventh, a neck ahead of Cutacorner. They were both flyers…but, unfortunately for my fantasy stable, neither freaked.
However, both Gray Sky and Cutacorner are nominated for a pair of points races at Churchill, the Pat Day Mile (GIII) and the American Turf (GIII). Thus, I am hanging onto them for the moment.
Two others in my stable, however, did not show up on points race nominations. Midnight On Oconee is back on the worktab at Delaware, but did not show up on the list for the Eight Belles. It looks like she is going to be part of Larry Jones’s mid-Atlantic string. Cosmic Evolution…with her win in the Debutante last year, I would have bet money that she would be pointed for the Eight Belles. Alas, she did not turn up on that nominees’ list.
Those were the two I put up for possible drop.
From there, I considered a few for the Derby Weekend points races. I mined the nominations lists, and wondered who made sense.
Outsider Art (Five Star Day – Pepita, by Vicar) was a sensible stab. She had just finished third behind Catch a Glimpse (already taken in the league) in the Appalachian, despite the start going poorly for her. That was her first race off a winter lay. She had shown class at two, as well: a debut winner at Saratoga, an allowance winner at Kentucky Downs, and third in the Jessamine. She was nominated for the Edgewood, and had upside second off the lay.
Cced (Curlin – Chantel D, by Holy Bull) is a familiar face to regular readers of Blinkers Off. This daughter of Curlin broke her maiden in sensational fashion at Fair Grounds back in February, and though she disappointed in a March allowance at Oaklawn, she got things right back on track last Thursday at Oaklawn by posting an allowance win. I do not know for sure where she is headed next, but she was nominated for the Eight Belles. We will see if she actually goes — particularly since she is owned by the same people as Nickname, who would also be a good fit for the race — but I’ve already had some luck claiming a Curlin baby off an Oaklawn allowance win, right?
I put in $1 of my claiming budget for each of these.
No one else bid for either. So, Midnight On Oconee and Cosmic Evolution (two of my original draft picks) become free agents, and Outsider Art and Cced join my roster.
Things will be slow for the league for the next few weeks, since there will be no more points races until Derby weekend. There may be some activity at the claim box, since plans for points races may change, and claims remain open every Monday. It will be a few more weeks of observation, research, and small ball.