Another week, more tough cookies.
Two of my horses raced last weekend. One of them looked, at least from my handicapping perspective, like he would bring some points. One I did not like given the field, but I sat back and hoped for the best.
Neither hit the board.
However, a once-familiar face did. Frosted, who I drafted first overall. Frosted, who went from “sure winner of the Fountain of Youth” to “surely off the Derby trail” in the matter of a moment. Frosted, who Kieran McLaughlin figured out how to get right and get to the winner’s circle in the Wood. The Derby remains a question, since his best efforts have come from the Big A so far. No matter what, his dominance of the Wood made me look a little silly, and my decision seem a bit questionable. I stand by it, since horse racing is a game of opinions; I disliked his Fountain of Youth enough that I decided he had to go. It may have been rash, but I can do nothing about it now.
Here is hoping none of my other decisions end up being as questionable as that one. To be fair, there is very little in the way of decision making that can happen in the short term; the next claiming day is just before the Derby. At this point, I wait to see which horses are pointing toward points races, be they Classics or others.
With that known, let’s check in with my stable.
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All season, I have had a problem with most of my horses actually getting into the gate for fantasy stable points races. Last week, I finally had something that qualified as a big week. Four of my eight horses saw the starter: Ami’s Flatter in the Florida Derby, Ekati’s Phaeton in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, and both Keen Ice and St. Joe Bay in the Louisiana Derby.
Out of those four, just one actually hit the board.
This week, two of my horses will be racing in points races. A third, who I had claimed because he was possible for the Wood or the Blue Grass, had been scheduled to race Friday at Keeneland: though not in a points race, and the race itself was cancelled due to inclement weather.
At this point, there is not another claiming day until April 27. I am set with who I have, and hopefully there will be a big claiming move to make before Derby day. Between now and then, though, it looks like slim pickings for my stable.
With that said, let’s visit with my horses.
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My preview of the Fantasy Stakes (GIII) at Oaklawn is just the beginning of this weekend’s stakes analysis at Picks and Ponderings.
I also took a detailed look at the pair of prep races at Santa Anita Park, the Santa Anita Derby (GI) and the Santa Anita Oaks (GI). The Oaks is one of the most competitive races of the prep season so far. In the Santa Anita Derby, beating Dortmund has been an impossible assignment for every horse who has tried so far, but I think one looks up to the task.
My Picks and Ponderings colleague Paul Mazur has looked at the other three-year-old preps this weekend. He heads to Keeneland to dive into the Blue Grass (GI) and the Ashland (GI), and also to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial (GI) and the Gazelle (GII).
From coast to coast, Picks and Ponderings has you covered for the big three-year-old races!
Last week was yet another claiming week in the Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League. Again, I had some thinking to do.
Instant Replay was quite an easy toss; as much as I liked his Oaklawn allowance win, his spotty presence on the worktab and his failure to turn up in either the Southwest or the Rebel meant I needed to move on and find someone else to take the spot he had occupied since the first claiming period.
Other decisions required a bit more thought. I had spent the biggest chunk of my claiming budget to date (a whole $37!) on Kentuckian, and he was back to burning up the worktab at Golden Gate, but his connections had made it quite clear that he was heading to an allowance next. That left precious little time for him to point to a stakes race during the term of the league; asking him to win an allowance race and then ship east for a points race seemed like more than The Dorf was likely to do with him between now and June. The 7.4% of my season’s budget I spent on Kentuckian was a sunk cost, and I was not going to gain anything by keeping him there instead of looking for a horse more likely to be in a points race. Where’s the Moon also found himself on the chopping block, albeit for different reasons. I claimed him specifically because he had won the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland, and had a shot to hit the board in the Sunland Derby (GIII). He did as much as I could expect him to do; he won the race for second behind Firing Line. He is a solid Sunland horse, but his class is questionable to take him any further down the Derby trail. With some more class-proven horses still available, I had to do the same thing with Where’s the Moon as I had to with Kentuckian: turn an eye toward the future.
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At all rungs of the class ladder, there has been no shortage of highlights among the Curlin babies over the last week.
Many eyes were on the five stakes races at Santa Anita on March 7, but a sprint allowance on the Santa Anita undercard drew the attention of anyone who followed Curlin’s progeny. Five-year-old Pulling G’s (Torrid Affair, by Alydeed) had missed the board on February 7 for the first time in five starts, and he returned for the first time since then. He came back at a similar level, an N1X allowance, and cut back from seven furlongs to six and a half. It would be time for Pulling G’s to show if last race was just a one-off, or if something might need to change soon.
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Last week was a quiet one for my stable. Curlin’s Fox had been entered in the Santa Ysabel (GIII), but she scratched. Instead, she is staying on the grass, and appearing this coming Saturday in the China Doll. That race is a strong spot for her, since she should love the added distance, but a suboptimal placement as far as the fantasy league is concerned.
This week is full of Derby and Oaks preps, with a total of four points races slated for Saturday. Unfortunately, out of all of those races, my stable has a grand total of one horse drawn into any of those. With that, this weekend should end up being more about watching and identifying promising runners to draft this coming Monday than it likely will be about making much headway on the leaderboard. Fortunately, I have $497 of my $500 claiming budget remaining, but I will likely have to make some more aggressive moves soon if I want to improve the prognosis for my stable.
Without further ado, let’s check in with my stable. Very little happened this week, so this update will be a short one.
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This weekend featured some exciting races, some disappointment, and a bumper crop of draft anxiety.
Three of my horses raced over the course of the weekend. One of them, Ekati’s Phaeton, sprung a wire-to-wire surprise that netted my stable a healthy injection of points. Another, Keen Ice, bolstered the cause. A third, Frosted, looked like an easy eight points turning for home in the Fountain of Youth…but sputtered and finished fourth.
Going into the last claim, I was left with some tough decisions.
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This week at Picks and Ponderings, I put on my handicapper hat to preview the Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII). Head on over there for my analysis of the race, and for the two horses who I think tower over the rest of the field.
Here, however, I can pay proper attention to a little fact about that race that is less relevant there, and far more relevant here:
There are three Curlin babies in the Santa Ysabel. THREE!
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