The Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League has been devoid of points races since Arkansas Derby weekend.
However, the claim box has still been open for business, and I have been working to get a stable full of horses who will be running in the points races going forward — the three Classics, the three fillies’ complements (the Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan, and the Acorn), and the assorted other points races those weekends.
When last we checked in with my fantasy stable, Cosmic Evolution and Midnight On Oconee were out, and Outsider Art and Cced were in. Outsider Art looks pointed to the Edgewood; she proved a smart pick-up. Cced, admittedly the more speculative of the bunch, was nominated for the Eight Belles, but there is no suggestion that she is pointed that way.
That put her in a similar boat, as of last week, with Gray Sky and Cutacorner. Both were nominated to both the Pat Day and the American Turf, but neither turned up on the lists of probables or possibles.
So, last week, all three of my horses who did not look all that likely for points r.ces went back up to be dropped.
When claiming Cced, there was one other horse on the Eight Belles nominations list who I was considering: Blip n’ Th Bye (Tale of Ekati – Zero Interest, by Kafwain), a recent stakes winner at Evangeline who had also shown some form at Keeneland, Churchill, and Tampa. She turned up on the list of probables two weeks ago, and I put in a $6 stab for her. I also put in a $6 bid for J R’s Holiday (Harlan’s Holiday – Diza, by Empire Maker): winner of the Kitten’s Joy, second in the Transylvania, and pointing to the American Turf. My “big bet” was for Durango, an Eight Belles probable with a pile of Churchill form last year, and who had just finished second behind Cash Back in the Instant Racing Stakes at Oaklawn. Of course, “big” was only by my miserly standards; I put up just $11 of my claiming budget for Durango.
I got outbid for Durango — another stable put up $15. But, no one else tossed in for either Blip n’ Th Bye or J R’s Holiday, so both were mine. As both were published probables with solid recent form, I was surprised no one even tried for either, but I was glad to get them. Gray Sky and Cutacorner were out; Cced remained in my stable.
This week, there was still no suggestion that Cced would be pointing to a points race, so I decided to try again at the claim box. Torrontes (Macho Uno – Airizon, by Boston Harbor) is a runner I have found interesting since his maiden win at Fair Grounds. That allowance win he posted opening weekend at Keeneland suggested he had taken another step forward. Even though he was not on Churchill’s list of probables, he was nominated to the Pat Day, and I saw something on YouTube (of all places…) that suggested he was at least considering it. Flimsy as that may be, there was no one else who really inspired me and was not claimed to a stable yet, so why not? I put Cced up, and bid my classic $1 for Torrontes.
No one else bit, so Cced was out, and Torrontes is in.
Going into Derby weekend, I’ve only got one Derby runner: longshot maiden Trojan Nation. However, I have a pair of Oaks heavy hitters: Terra Promessa and Land Over Sea.
Most of my stable consists of undercard types, well distributed. J R’s Holiday looks to the American Turf. Blip n’ Th Bye points to the Eight Belles. Outsider Art aims for the Edgewood. And, hopefully, Torrontes pulls the handle on the Pat Day Mile. Then, I have Dazzling Gem — far off the Derby cutoff, but considering either the Peter Pan or the Preakness.
Now, we cross our fingers, and hope the weekend goes well.