fantasy stable: week 1 postmortem

Week 1 of points races for the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league is in the books.  I can’t complain about where I’m sitting at the moment.  The Holy Bull netted me four points, since Conquest Titan closed well enough to cross the wire second.  I got nothing in the Forward Gal — but neither did anyone else in the league, since none of us had any of the fillies who ran it.

Here are my thoughts on the horses I’ve got, as of this weekend’s action:

  • Conquest Titan – I was high on this horse going into the Holy Bull, and I’m still high on him coming out of it.  Even though he was a clear second best in that race (no one was catching Cairo Prince there…), he made a strong run from far back to finish second.  It’s pretty clear coming out of it that closing is his preferred style — he ran his first few as a frontrunner, but these last few races as a closer have been strong.  I’m looking forward to seeing where he points next after this race…and hoping that it just so happens to be one of the races that gains me points in the fantasy league.
  • General a Rod – Originally the word was that he was pointing at the Holy Bull, but he wasn’t entered.  He’s still on the work tab, though, and there’s plenty of scuttlebutt saying he’s pointing toward the Fountain of Youth.  I can go for that; it’s a points race a few days before the claiming deadline, so hopefully he can show his mettle there.
  • Noble Cornerstone – The latest news on him is that he may be pointing to the Risen Star, though he was also nominated to the Sam F. Davis.  He’s active on the work tab at Gulfstream.  I’m interested to see where he goes…either way, he’s pointing to race sooner rather than later.  He was my last-round draft pick, and has a good shot at being my stable’s nice little dark horse.
  • Ride On Curlin – There is no real new stuff on him.  He’s still actively working at Oaklawn, and word is that he is pointing toward the Southwest Stakes.  I see this as a pretty important race for assessing his chances, since all of his wins so far have been in sprints.  He has run some routes, and even run them relatively well (see his third place in the Champagne), but I really want to see a route win.
  • Shared Belief – I wasn’t too worried after the first missed work.  Now, however, I’m getting a little nervous.  After proclaiming that Shared Belief would work last Friday, Hollendorfer didn’t work him, and then brusquely proclaimed that there would be no news for fifteen days.  This pretty well means the Lewis isn’t going to happen.  I’m nowhere near giving up on this horse — he’s staying in my stable for the time being, barring either a complete injury disaster or some disastrous racing when he returns.  I still think he’s legit.  But, for fantasy purposes, it’s frustrating seeing him in limbo like this.
  • She’s A Tiger – There is still radio silence since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.  I have no idea what kind of crack whoever is saying she’s running the Las Virgenes is smoking, but she’s not on the nominations list posted on the Santa Anita website, and has no published works.  There’s no reliable information as to where she’s actually pointing.  Hopefully she will return to the work tab soon.
  • Stopchargingmaria – There’s very little new to update on her.  She still hasn’t raced since her Demoiselle win, but she’s on the work tab at Palm Meadows.  I still haven’t seen any announcements about where she is pointing.
  • Tamarando – I am not sure what to make of this one.  I was hoping for one of two results in the California Cup Derby: either that he would win convincingly and mark himself as a solid contender, or that he would get utterly and completely smoked and get yanked off the Derby trail a la Coup De Grace after the Holy Bull.  Of course, things aren’t that easy.  He finished second in that race, with a nice rally late, but nowhere close to California Chrome.  I’m stuck with him at least until the end of February when the claiming date rolls around, and I really hope he has another race before then, so I can get a better idea of his chances on the trail.

The Holy Bull didn’t put any new colts on my radar; all of the legitimate contenders were already somewhere on my radar.  It answered a few questions about some of them, though for fantasy purposes I’m not sure how helpful that information will be given that most of the horses are already owned by other people in the league.  Still, I’m keeping tabs on all the horses, since there’s no way to predict who is going to be waived (and available for claiming) over the next few months.

From a claiming-period perspective, the Forward Gal may be the more interesting of the two races.  Onlyforyou made a strong showing, though I am not falling in love with her quite yet because that field wasn’t necessarily the strongest.  However, I will be tracking all six of these horses from here on out, and probably keeping a particular eye on both Onlyforyou and Aurelia’s Belle.

As a side note, the fact that I’m tracking all the horses from the Forward Gal may seem kind of weird, since at this point it does not seem that several of them might not have great chances at the Oaks.  However, I would rather spend the extra time researching more horses and keeping them all on my tracking spreadsheet, just to minimize the chance of being blindsided by a horse who might have had a not-so-great run come January, but get her act together come March or April.  As I mentioned in my intro post about the league, I am maintaining a spreadsheet of three-year-olds, with notes about past performances and upcoming races.  It’s a relatively large sheet — currently 161 horses and counting.  The drawback to this method is that it requires a lot of maintenance, and may lead to information overload.  However, right now I am less worried about that than I am worried about missing out on a potentially promising horse.  I am also making an attempt to rank the horses in the spreadsheet; I’m using broad categories for blue-chip prospects, quite good though not clearly blue-chip horses, ones that may be okay, and ones who can probably be ignored barring a major change.  The last list is pretty short now, though it will probably lengthen as time goes by; currently it only contains horses whose trainers have said they are off the Derby trail, or sticking to things like sprint races or turf races.

Anyway, that’s where I stand after week 1.  Week 2’s points races are the Withers and the Busher.  Both of them have been drawn.  I have no shot for points in Week 2, since none of my stable horses are racing in either one.  However, there are a few horses in these races who I already had my eye on and remain unowned in the league, so this week will be interesting for potential future claiming purposes.

More Saturday Stakes at Gulfstream and Laurel

Yesterday, I discussed my observations on five of the ten stakes that are part of this weekend’s Danonymous Racing handicapping contest.  Tonight I spent some quality time with the forms for Gulfstream and Laurel, and came up with a few thoughts on the other five:


  • Forward Gal (GII) – It’s a weaker field than I would expect to see for a G2 along the Oaks trail.  That aside, there are three horses who look like they can hang, and three who don’t.  The favourites are likely to be Aurelia’s Belle and Onlyforyou, for good reason.  Aurelia’s Belle looks slightly better only because of the likely pace; it wouldn’t be surprising to see Onlyforyou and the one other horse who does not look to be outclassed here, Resistivity, get into a speed duel.  If that kind of trip happens, Aurelia’s Belle is likely to overtake them.  If not, then whichever one of those two who manages to get up and hold on could take it.
  • Holy Bull (GII) – Clearly the marquee race of the day, and the hardest to handicap.  About half the field looks like they have a legitimate chance; about half of the field looks a cut below.  I like Conquest Titan best among the closers; though he has done most of his races closer to the lead, I cannot imagine after last race that he would do that, between the success he has as a closer last out and the fact that Coup de Grace, Cairo Prince, and Wicked Strong (all three horses who have a legitimate chance at this) are liable to be up front.  If they get going too fast, it’s Conquest Titan’s for the taking.  If not, I could envision any of those three taking it, though I probably like Wicked Strong’s chances best among the three.  Our Caravan intrigues me; there’s very little to go on saying he will definitely do well, but nothing pointing to saying he won’t.  His last (and only) race suggests he has a chance to run with the bigger boys here.  He’s a wild card, and I’d be just as unsurprised to see him do well (at what is likely to be a fabulous price) as I would to see him not.  However, if you’re looking for a long shot, Our Caravan is your huckleberry.


  • Miracle Wood – There are only two horses in this race who look like closers: Fleet Gold Digger and Jessethemarine.  With a lot of horses who tend to want to get up to the front in the races, a closer may get a good trip, and Jessethemarine is the faster and classier of the closers.  The 20-1 ML on Fleet Gold Digger may well end up an overlay, and I’d consider him for exotics, but given the format of the context (hypothetical $2 win/place on one horse) Jessethemarine is a better choice if I’m stuck with one.  Among the speed horses, I’m looking to Master Lightning to have a good race.  It seems his connections have been entirely too optimistic, entering him in races such as the Jerome, Remsen, and Nashua that were way over his head.  This stakes sounds like a far more logical place to send him, given the sorts of races he has been able to win or be a factor in.  Germaniac, I don’t know what to make of.  He looks good on paper, and this looks like totally the right race for him.  However, he ran the best race of his life by a good margin in the Frank Whiteley last time out, and that combined with the stretch to a mile makes him less tantalizing.
  • Native Dancer – I have a certain (and, by that, I mean deep and undying) love for the Curlin babies, so I want to see Bold Curlin do well.  However, he’s just not a logical pick here — it’s a jump in class, under the heaviest impost of his career, with a good chance to bounce.  As for legitimate contenders, I like Indian Jones and Managed Account.  Indian Jones has been running all kinds of distances, but doing best in routes, with speed on par with what he would need to do well in this race.  If there’s any kind of speed duel, he’s your likely winner, as the closest thing this field has to a good closer.  Both Managed Account and Mail look to be the legitimate speed horses in this race.  Do I think Mail may be slightly better?  Maybe.  If I were boxing, I would put both of them in.  However, given the format of the contest the terrible price Mail is likely to demand makes me lean more toward Managed Account (at least as a backup; I’m still higher on Indian Jones), who is a horse with a true shot who is likely to command a far better price.
  • What a Summer – She’s Ordained looks nice.  It’s a bit of a jump in class, but she has been racing well — hasn’t failed to hit the board since graduating from straight claimers at the end of 2012.  Her speed is in line with the field, and she’s working nicely.  Her history suggests she’s not a huge bounce risk.  Winning Image, as long as she’s racing in a field that suits her, is likely to do well, though also likely to have a terrible price.  She can’t hang with graded stakes company, but this race is the right level for her, and her works are very sharp.  Red’s Round Table has shown the sort of class she would need to win this race, but it’s hard to tell whether she is going to show it, since she seems to have spent more of her career on lay than on the track.  The interesting long shot here is More Than A Cruise.  This is her second race back from a six month lay, and her first was a win against easier company.  However, she does love to hit the board at this track — she’s 12-3-7-0 career at Laurel.

Of course, these last two posts may sound really perceptive in places — or downright stupid in places — by the end of tomorrow.  Only time and the races will tell.  But, these are my thoughts prior to race day.

Good luck!