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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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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This week, the Derby preps get even more serious. For Picks and Ponderings, I took a (figurative) road trip to sunny South Florida for the culmination of their winter and spring three-year-old preps: the Florida Derby (GI) and the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII). Both races feature some proven stakes runners, as well as a few newer faces who are trying to break out late in the season and punch their tickets to Kentucky.
Who do I think has a shot? Find out!
Let me know in the comments what you think about the races in Florida, and stay tuned. Tomorrow at Picks and Ponderings, I will be diving into another Kentucky Derby prep, as well as a few other big races, out at Meydan.
The last two weeks of fantasy stable action have brought us back to a familiar refrain: a significant lack of on-track action by my horses.
Among the horses in my stable entering that claiming period, only three of my horses were clear keepers. Keen Ice has been actively training for the Louisiana Derby, and the longer races for which he is best suited still lie ahead. Ekati’s Phaeton has punched her ticket to the Kentucky Oaks, and though distance limitations remain a possibility, her gameness and her affinity for the Gulfstream track make her a must-keep. Ami’s Flatter improved with blinkers and Lasix in the Tampa Bay Derby last out, and could threaten in another prep down the road.
The rest of my stable was on the chopping block leading into the March 9 claim.
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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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With as many Derby and Oaks preps as are on the horizon for this weekend, there is some action on the horizon. Unfortunately, there is a bit less action than I hoped there would be: with six points races on the schedule, I have a grand total of three horses drawn into a race this weekend.
Once I see what happens this weekend, big decisions await. The second claiming date is February 23. My stable has had a slow start so far, and if most or all of my runners over the weekend fail to fire, this will be a particularly critical draft. It is still early enough in the prep season that it is feasible to get in on the ground floor with a runner without blowing my entire claiming budget…though it will require some luck both in spotting such runners and in not getting outbid for them. With several horses looking questionable at best after disappointing performances, there may be some changes afoot after this week’s preps conclude.
Without further ado, let’s check in with my stable.
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After the claims, this week was a mostly quiet week for my fantasy stable. It was quiet in the sense that most of my horses did not race…and also quiet in the sense that the one horse who did run crossed the wire not with a bang, but with a whimper. Most of the horses who did not race at least returned to the worktab. This week contains a bit more watching worktabs and nomination lists than bracing for races, but with another claiming day on February 23, I remain on the lookout for the upside in my current horses…as well as potential additions to make.
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The second week of the Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League has come to an end, and the first claiming deadline has passed. It has been a busy few days.
The only points races this week were the Las Virgenes and the Martha Washington, neither of which featured any of my horses. Ami’s Flatter raced in the Sam F. Davis (GIII), which was not a points race. It was not an earth-shattering performance, but it also was not the sort of disaster that would get me to turn on him, especially given that it was only his third start.
From the perspective of who to keep versus who to release, I had to figure out who had a chance in Triple Crown or Oaks Prep races going forward, versus who would not likely score me points. Read More »
Week 1 of this year’s Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League is in the books, and there have been a few more downs than ups so far.
Five of my horses ran this week, four in points races. The week started with Lucky Player in the Smarty Jones: a race with no fantasy points at stake, but which served as the beginning of the Oaklawn series of Kentucky Derby preps. Then, four of my horses raced in points races at Gulfstream over the weekend: Frosted and Keen Ice in the Holy Bull (GII), and By the Moon and Ekati’s Phaeton in the Forward Gal.
Among those five runners, just one of them even hit the board.
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This week, the Kentucky Oaks trail goes to Gulfstream Park for the Forward Gal Stakes (GII). A seven-furlong sprint over the Gulfstream dirt, this race is the first of three Oaks points races through the winter and spring at the South Florida track. The series continues with the 1 1/16 mile Davona Dale Stakes (GII), and concludes with the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII). Given its short distance, it inevitably draws a mixture of Kentucky Oaks contenders who can stretch out, as well as sprinters whose connections believe they can carry the distance seven furlongs.
The road to the Kentucky Oaks does not typically lead through the Forward Gal, but twice the Oaks winner has hit the board here. In 1989, Open Mind kicked off her three-year-old campaign in the Forward Gal en route to winning the Kentucky Oaks, and later the Eclipse Award for Champion Three Year Old Filly. The only other Oaks winner to finish in the money in the Forward Gal was 1981 Oaks winner Heavenly Cause, who finished second behind Dame Mystereuse in the inaugural running of the Forward Gal.
Selections: By the Moon (10), Lassofthemohicans (8), Enchantress (6)
Longshot: Birdatthewire (4)
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The Derby and Oaks Trails fly south for the weekend, as the first of Gulfstream’s official prep races are run this Saturday. Kentucky Derby points are at stake in the Holy Bull Stakes (GII); the fillies vie for Oaks points in the Forward Gal (GII). Three other stakes races, all restricted to three-year-olds, appear on the card as well. Sprinting colts take the spotlight in the Hutcheson (GIII), grass fillies run the Sweetest Chant (GIII), and the turf males have a counterpart in the Kitten’s Joy to round out the card. All in all, Gulfstream’s Saturday card promises a competitive day of racing.
Picks and Ponderings is there with selections and analysis for all five of those races. I looked at the three colts’ races: the Holy Bull, the Hutcheson, and the Kitten’s Joy. Paul Mazur analysed the fillies’ races: the Forward Gal and the Sweetest Chant.
For those who follow a couple of particular spots of interest, the card holds a few points of interest. For fans of the Curlin babies, the Holy Bull features one of his most promising three-year-old sons: Keen Ice, who starts for the first time since his late-running third in the Remsen (GII). For followers of Illinois-bred runners, two-time Hawthorne stakes winner Dom the Bomb tries open stakes company for the first time this weekend. He is currently cross-entered in the Holy Bull and the Hutcheson, though the Hutcheson looks more likely at this point.
The Holy Bull and the Forward Gal are next weekend, and this can only mean one thing: the beginning of the Derbyologist Triple Crown Fantasy League! Last year I played, and wrote regular updates here; this year, the same plan is in the cards.
The draft was tonight, and overall I’m happy with how it went. Last year my stable contained a couple of superstars who either only raced at the end of the league period, or did not race during the league at all. (I’m looking at you two, Shared Belief and She’s a Tiger!) This year, I put a bit more emphasis on horses who are active early in the season, but have some possible upside stretching out to Classic distances.
Introducing: my stable!
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