We are nineteen weeks into the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league, and the day of reckoning is near. There’s just one more day of points races left, this Saturday, and then the league is over. Just in time for this final day of points races, there are a few new faces in my stable, who I introduced last week. As Murphy’s Law would suggest, however, I made what may possibly be a crucial mistake in my claiming strategy. I stand behind all three horses I claimed last week. However, I set up my drops based on the best information I had — and the best information I had included absolutely no scuttlebutt that General a Rod would be headed to the Belmont. He was fairly late in declaring that he would go to the Preakness, but at least there were people whispering about whether he would be headed out there or not. I heard no rumours, and I saw no works back since the Preakness, so I assumed he would not be Belmont-bound. Saturday? He worked a five-furlong bullet in 1:00.20 over the Churchill training track, and his connections proclaim him Belmont-bound.
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This has been another fairly slow week for my fantasy stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league. We’re making it down the home stretch, though — the final claiming day is this Thursday, and the final points races (the Belmont Stakes, the Acorn Stakes, the Woody Stephens, and the Easy Goer) all unfold on June 7th. Nominations for the three-year-old Belmont undercard races (Acorn, Woody Stephens, and Easy Goer) came out today, and most of my stable appeared in at least one of those nominations lists. With the next claim coming up this week, though, I am hoping they proceed from “nominated” to something more definite shortly. Even a definite “no” would be useful, since I still have a good amount of claiming budget in order to try for some horses who are running in the big Belmont races and not yet owned by any of my competitors.
Let’s see how my stable is doing!
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This past week was a huge one for my stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league. Three of my horses raced for points: Stopchargingmaria was in the Black-Eyed Susan, and both Ride On Curlin and General a Rod ran the Preakness. All three of them ran big, and two of the three of them brought my stable points. Alas, that only puts my stable back to about mid-pack after a dreadful mid-season stretch, but there’s still a chance I can hit the board if I have some horses run big Belmont weekend.
Without further ado, let’s see how my horses are doing!
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This past week was a relatively quiet one for my stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league. After so many of my horses raced Derby weekend, none of them hit the track this week. However, this weekend will be a big one, with not one but two of my colts headed to the Preakness Stakes, and one of my fillies resurfacing in the Black-Eyed Susan on Friday.
Without further ado, let’s see what the horses of Iron Bard are up to:
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This was a huge week for my stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league, in that there were five of my horses running. This was a less-than-huge week for my fantasy stable, in that no one from my stable hit the board, and one of my fearsome fivesome didn’t even start her race — though she provided us with the scariest moment of the weekend.
With that, let’s see how it all unfolded.
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Today is Kentucky Oaks day, and there are four races on the Churchill Downs card that are contest races for the Danonymous Racing contest this weekend. Three of them are for three-year-old fillies, with the other being the Alysheba, a short dirt route for older horses, featuring Will Take Charge.
This won’t be the only stakes preview this weekend; the Derby, and a plethora of other races Derby Day, are forthcoming. However, there’s a lot of great racing action today, so let’s jump in!
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It’s finally here: Derby week! In a sense, the entire Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league has been building up to this season. There have been tons of points races over the last few months, but the biggest ones are still to come. The horses in my stable have changed a bit since my last update, though they’re ready to hit the ground running: one of my new horses has already won a race, and two more are in the starting gate for the Kentucky Oaks this Friday.
I am still stressing out about how I ordered Please Explain, Stopchargingmaria, and Conquest Titan in my drops, which ended up meaning something because I only ended up getting three of my five claims. I kept Stopchargingmaria and Conquest Titan, since I am so leery of Please Explain after the medication violation and then the poor run in the Fantasy that I thought Stopchargingmaria and Conquest Titan were less of a risk should either point to a minor race for the league. I knew Please Explain was working at Churchill Downs. However, I misunderstood how the points system worked, and thought points were required to enter a horse in the Derby or Oaks. However, that isn’t the case: they’re preferred. If not enough horses with points enter the race, anyone can. If I had understood that, I’d have interpreted Please Explain’s Churchill works for what they ended up being: crumbs leading toward a surprise entry in the Kentucky Oaks.
For Please Explain’s sake, I’m still worried about this move. I hope whatever was hurting her, whatever led to her being medicated, has been healed. I hope she runs well, and strikes a long-shot blow for the awesomeness of Curlin babies. For my fantasy stable’s stake, I feel really dumb for not understanding the points rule correctly, and may have ranked differently had I understood the rule. That said, I feel I made the best ranking decision I could have at the time, given my assessment of the situation.
With that out of the way, let’s check in on my stable:
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We had a claiming day this Thursday, and I had to get busy, since so many of my horses were off the Derby or Oaks trails. I had Ride On Curlin and General a Rod who are in the Derby starting gate, and She’s a Tiger pointing toward the Eight Belles, but that was it as far as horses of mine who were clearly pointing toward races that could advance my standing. I had to get my hands on at least a few horses who would be in some more points races, since my current point total in the league is nothing if not middling. Fortunately, I had the most money left out of anyone: $468 out of the $500 in Monopoly money that we got at the beginning of the season for claims.
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Things were a little slow for my stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league, but it’s the calm before the storm. The big Derby and Oaks preps have wound down, and everyone is bearing down for the Derby and the Oaks in a week and a half. Still, big things are afoot, and the April claiming date is this Thursday. So, here’s one last look at how my stable stands, before a probable personnel (horsonnel?) shake-up later this week.
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We are now 12 weeks into the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league, and the pictures for the Derby and the Oaks are getting clearer and clearer. There are still a few points available in the Lexington Stakes this Saturday at Keeneland, though so far it does not sound like any of the horses on the Kentucky Derby bubble within ten points of Cairo Prince’s 24 will be running in it. Even if they did, it would not change whether any of the horses in my stable were in or out of the Derby starting gate.
That said, let’s dive in and see how my horses are doing. There is a hodgepodge of good news, bad news, and confusing news.
- Ride On Curlin – Ride On Curlin needed to finish at least fourth in the Arkansas Derby to keep his Derby dreams realistically alive, and this consistent Curlin baby did not disappoint. Jockey Jon Court kept him off the pace set by Bayern and Thundergram — exactly what I was hoping to see. He made a wide move to get around the leaders and Tapiture, the same time as Danza was coming through on the inside. He couldn’t catch Danza (who finished 4 3/4 lengths in front), but he came down the middle of the track and caught everyone else to claim second. This put him at 55 points — more than good enough to punch his ticket to Kentucky! In fact, he has already shipped to Kentucky, and will get some works over the Churchill track. However, there is one slightly less exciting bit of news to go along with this. Today, trainer Billy Gowan announced that Calvin Borel was getting the mount on Ride On Curlin. It’s logical in a sense, since Borel has ridden him in five of his nine career starts, including both career wins. However, after the nice ride Jon Court gave him in Hot Springs, it’s a disappointment that he will not maintain the mount in Louisville.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan needed at least a third place finish to advance on the road to the Kentucky Derby, but sadly, it did not happen for him. He settled in the rear early, as he normally does, and tried to make a run coming into the stretch. He improved his position approaching the stretch, passing Commissioner as well as the tiring Thundergram and Strong Mandate. He couldn’t sustain his run, though, and finished fifth beaten 10 1/4 lengths. There is no clear indication about where (if anywhere) he is heading next, but it will not be the Kentucky Derby.
- General a Rod – General a Rod did not race last weekend. General a Rod did not hit the worktab last week. However, there is still news about him, and it’s the best news possible: he is officially Derby bound! He sits at 40 points, seventeenth in the standings. Even if the horses immediately below him were to actually run in the Lexington Stakes and claim points, he is still a mathematical lock for the starting gate.
- Please Explain – The news about Conquest Titan was disappointing. The news about Please Explain was even more disappointing. Last week, Please Explain was disqualified from third place in the Honeybee, and her trainer Tom Proctor fined $1,000 for a medication positive. The medication involved was methylprednisolone, a synthesized adrenal steroid. This information posted by Robert Yates, the horse racing reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is all I know. There seems to be a dearth of information about this, which is distressing since it involves a drug violation in a significant Oaks prep. I feel awful for Please Explain, I’m disappointed in the barn, and I hope my further efforts to find information about this don’t come up empty.
- Stopchargingmaria – Stopchargingmaria ended the Oaks prep season with 22 points, after her fourth place finish in the Fantasy Stakes. This would not be enough to qualify her outright for the Oaks, but would place her in eighteenth place. Since fourteen horses get into the Oaks gate, only four ahead of her would have to scratch (or decide they were not pointing for the Oaks) for her not to get in. However, she is stricken through in the official Oaks standings list. This came as a surprise, as I had not seen any announcements or even scuttlebutt that she was being taken off the Oaks trail, officially. Hopefully, information will come out soon as to why she is off the list, and where (if anywhere) she is pointing next.
- She’s a Tiger – On April 10, She’s a Tiger fired a bullet at Santa Anita, working six furlongs in 1:13.20 in the Santa Anita dirt. There hasn’t been any news over the last week to contradict previous reports that she is pointing toward the Eight Belles Stakes (GIII), which is on the Kentucky Oaks undercard this year.
- Tamarando – On April 12, Tamarando returned to the worktab. He’s still at Santa Anita, and he worked five furlongs in 1:01.80. However, this was on dirt. His last workout, on April 6, was on turf. This leaves me a bit confused. The Derby is almost certainly out, since his twelve points put him thirty-first on the list, and I doubt Hollendorfer will be shipping him to Churchill in case of an opening like Giant Finish had last year. There’s no good word on where he is heading next, and the workout pattern is puzzling.
- Shared Belief – Last Friday, Jerry Hollendorfer said that Shared Belief will work at Golden Gate Fields on Tuesday, for the first time since January 3rd. He also stated that a comeback race in June or July was a possible time frame. However, this is not the first time that Hollendorfer has said Shared Belief would work, so I am not holding my breath until I actually see him on the worktab. I’m looking forward to his return — Shared Belief was my #1 draft pick for a reason. His two-year-old season was dazzling, and I just want to see him running again if he is sound.
At this point, there is a lot to think about between now and April 24, which is the next claiming date. I can guarantee there will be claiming attempts, though their structure will of course depend on what information I can glean between now and then about who is pointed where, and how I can get the best Derby-month bang for my buck.
Week 11 of the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league has come and gone, and it was a tough one on the distaff side for Iron Bard Stable, with two horses — and two off-the-board finishes. Despite there being six league points races this past Saturday, they were the only two horses in my stable running, and my stable’s status has plummeted as a result.
Things are looking a bit more promising at the moment on the colts’ side, with a couple of promising works leading to the Arkansas Derby. No matter what, I’m going to have a lot to think about in a couple of weeks, come the April claiming day. It’ll be the last claim before the Kentucky Oaks, the Kentucky Derby, the Black Eyed Susan, and the Preakness, so I’ll have to use my bankroll to score some late-emerging stars if I’m to have any shot at sniping my competition.
Here’s how my stable is doing as of this week:
- Please Explain – The Fantasy was not what I was hoping to see from Please Explain, simple as that. She started far back early, and she never made up much. She was eighth of eight most of it, and only managed to overtake the fading, straggling Haveyougoneaway to finish seventh. There was no clear excuse for this, especially since she hadn’t shipped out for the race or even raced all that recently. I am not sure whether she needs a new jockey or easier company. Either way, she failed to get any much-needed points, and my hopes of seeing her there come Oaks day are pretty well dashed. I haven’t given up on her, since maybe she will improve late like her sire Curlin or her sire’s currently most prominent offspring, the excellent Palace Malice, but things aren’t looking good for the spring segment of her three-year-old year.
- Stopchargingmaria – Her Fantasy was slightly better than Please Explain’s, but not particularly good. She was fairly far back early, though not quite as far as Please Explain was, and steadily made up some ground. Stopchargingmaria broke slowly, and was wide the whole way through. That said, she was not so far wide that she couldn’t (or shouldn’t have been able to) make a move. Stopchargingmaria just never fired much, though, and crossed the wire fourth. I am still a bit confused that she didn’t run the Gazelle instead, given her love for the New York tracks (including Aqueduct!), but what’s done is done, and Repole and Pletcher sent her to Oaklawn. We’ll see what she does next.
- Ride On Curlin – As expected based on Billy Gowan’s previous comments, Ride On Curlin returned to the worktab for a long one this week. On April 6, he worked 7 furlongs in 1:26.80 at Oaklawn. Other than that, there has been nothing new, which looks to be for the best. All systems are go for the Arkansas Derby. Ride On Curlin currently sits at 15 Kentucky Derby points, 23rd in the standings. First or second place will get him in the starting gate. Third will give him a good chance. Fourth place will mean a few things will have to fall his way to get him in. Off the board, and he has to hope he’s as lucky as Golden Soul and Giant Finish were last year.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan is still pointing toward the Arkansas Derby. He shipped out to Kentucky, and on April 7th worked a bullet 4 furlongs in 47.40 at his dearly beloved Churchill Downs. Today it was confirmed by Mary Rampellini of the Daily Racing Form that he has shipped down to Oaklawn for the race. He will need a big effort there, since he’s still sitting in 36th place with only nine points. First or second gets him in the Derby. Third, he hopes. Fourth, he hopes against hope. Fifth or worse? He’s out.
- Tamarando – Tamarando has shown back up on the worktab for the first time since his disappointing finish in the Spiral. He has shipped back to California, and worked five furlongs on April 6 in 1:02.40. What’s interesting about this work is that, for the first time since I’ve been following him closely (in other words, since January), the work happened over the turf. This suggests Hollendorfer may be considering Tamarando for the green stuff, and suggests he is probably not going to run in any further points races for the league.
- She’s a Tiger -April 3, She’s a Tiger returned to the worktab with an honest, long workout: 6 furlongs in 1:12.80 along the Santa Anita dirt. There was some suggestion that she may run in this Friday’s Santa Paula Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs over the Santa Anita dirt, and the official press feed from Santa Anita noted that she was nominated, but the draw came out without her in there. There has been no further word about what prep, if any, she may be running before the Eight Belles.
- General a Rod – General a Rod still hasn’t returned to the worktab yet after his third-place finish in the Florida Derby. The General hasn’t lost any ground practically speaking; Wicked Strong leapfrogged ahead of him on the points list, but Toast of New York declared himself off the Derby trail for sure, so he’s still sitting at 14th on the official list. Other than Wicked Strong, the other big-point horses from the weekend already sat ahead of him on the standings: California Chrome, Hoppertunity, and Samraat. Barring an injury or a freakish amount of new horses who leapfrog him (combined with no drops from the Derby trail), The General should be in the starting gate on Derby day.
- Shared Belief – The biggest news about Shared Belief this week is that Derbyologist will offload his future wager ticket to one lucky sap on Twitter who makes him an offer. I offered him a song for it. He still hasn’t responded. I’m pretty sure that’s the best offer he’s going to get for that slip of scratch paper, since Shared Belief still hasn’t shown up on the worktab yet.
That’s how things are going for my horses this week. So ends this week’s recap — and good luck to Ride On Curlin and Conquest Titan in the Arkansas Derby!
Somehow, it’s already ten weeks into the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league. The same eight horses remain in my stable from March, putting me into a possibly slow position at the moment. However, since I have the most claiming money left, this puts me in very good position to snipe any late-storming Triple Crown candidates coming into May.
Without further ado, let’s see how all my horses are doing!
- General a Rod – Saturday, General a Rod finished third in the Florida Derby, behind Constitution and Wildcat Red. He dueled with Wildcat Red, as has been the recurring theme this winter at Gulfstream — but Wildcat Red got the best of him, as did the stalking Constitution. This gave him twenty points toward the Derby, putting him at 40. This currently places him 14th among nominated horses on the Derby leaderboard. His connections are pointing him toward Kentucky, and 40 points should be enough to get the General in the gate, but it hardly feels like a lock yet. At this point, I am hoping he works toward the Derby, and is trained to rate a little better between now and then.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger returned to the worktab on March 27, going five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Santa Anita. For once, however, there’s more than just a work to report. The good news is, She’s a Tiger is now being pointed toward a specific race. The disappointing news is that this race is not a Kentucky Oaks prep: it’s the Eight Belles Stakes, a GIII sprint on the Derby undercard. This is a points race for the league, though at the same level as an early-period prep, not a classic race. Distance-wise, it’s a good first race of the year: seven and a half furlongs on the Churchill Downs dirt, and in plenty of time to possibly run the Acorn if all goes well.
- Please Explain – Please Explain is one of two horses in my stable who are pointing to the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn this Saturday. She has ten Oaks points from her third in the Honeybee; first or second should get her in the field in Kentucky, and third will give her a possibility to go. She posted another work there on March 30, four furlongs in 48.80. It’s her second posted work since the Honeybee, and a good sign that she has stayed at Oaklawn for her works instead of shipping back to Tampa Bay, and then back. The scuttlebutt says that apprentice Drayden Van Dyke will have the mount again. He normally rides at Santa Anita and Turf Paradise, but shipped to Oaklawn to ride her in the Honeybee as well. Hopefully after a ride on her, he’ll know how to best run her this time around. I’m hoping not to see her as far back early as she was in the Honeybee. Depending on the likely pace of the field (not yet announced), I’m not sure she needs to try a wire-to-wire like the Suncoast, but I’m not sure ten lengths back early is exactly how she wants to run.
- Stopchargingmaria – Like Please Explain, Stopchargingmaria is also pointing to the Fantasy. She just shipped to Arkansas on March 31. She is in a similar place points-wise; she currently has 12 points. First or second should secure a place in the starting gate for the Oaks, and third should keep Stopchargingmaria in the running pending how other preps go. She hasn’t posted a work in Arkansas, though she did go 4 furlongs in 49.65 at Palm Meadows on March 29. It was only about median for the horses who worked that day (34/65). However, she’s coming off a bullet on March 23, and it was probably wise not to expend too much energy in that last work before the ship. Her jockey had not been announced yet.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan returned to the worktab on March 29, going 5 furlongs in 1:oo.70 at Palm Meadows. He is still pointing toward the Arkansas Derby on April 12, and Calvin Borel has been named to the mount. He replaces Shaun Bridgmohan, who has ridden him four times, including his last three races. After the ride in Tampa, it is encouraging to see a jockey change, and encouraging to see a change to a jockey who has made some big closing moves in some big races. It will be Borel’s first time aboard Conquest Titan — though they will be racing against Ride On Curlin, who Borel has ridden in five races.
- Ride On Curlin – On March 30, Ride On Curlin put up the ever-so-rare published work. He went 5 furlongs in 1.00:60 at Oaklawn. According to trainer Billy Gowan, he’ll be back out to work 7 furlongs on the track next week. Jockey Jon Court, who has not ridden Ride On Curlin in any of his races, rode him during this workout. He also has the mount for the Arkansas Derby. I keep my fingers crossed that he will try a big late run like he did in the Champagne, though after the Rebel I am less nervous about him running a frontrunning style. It will be interesting to see the field announced in the middle of next week, and figure out how the races he is capable of fit in with the likely pace.
- Shared Belief – Shared Belief is still off the worktab, although David Grening of the Daily Racing Form mentioned March 31 that Jerry Hollendorfer said he may return to the tab next week. However, this is not the first time Hollendorfer has suggested such a thing, and I will believe he’s returning to the worktab when Horse Races Now alerts me that he has returned to the worktab, and not a moment before.
- Tamarando – The biggest news about Tamarando this week is that there is no news about him. He hasn’t returned to the worktab yet after the Spiral, which isn’t particularly surprising since it has only been just over a week since the race. However, Blood-Horse reported on a list of probables for the Blue Grass on Sunday, and Tamarando’s name was nowhere to be found. I haven’t found anything reliable to indicate where he is; not seeing him in the Blue Grass probables list, though, makes it sound like he is probably back in California. It hurts to say this, given that he’s a solid and promising horse, but it sounds like the Derby trail may be over for Tamarando.
The rubber is hitting the road: 100 point Derby preps start this weekend, which means that races which mean even more in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league start this week! It’s also a claiming week; claims are due at 5pm Central time today, so expect an update shortly about my stable’s claiming activity. Before that, though, here’s how the horses who are currently in my stable are doing:
- Tamarando – Maybe it was the ship. Maybe it was the natural cycle of performance. Who knows what it was? But, the fact remains that Tamarando didn’t fire at all in the Spiral, which blew his best chance yet for points. I haven’t seen any information as to whether he’s shipping back (or has shipped back) to California, or if he’s going to hang out in Kentucky and wait for the Blue Grass. He is nominated for the Blue Grass, and out of the remaining Derby preps, that’s clearly the best one for him to point to if he is still on the Derby trail. I hope he is: this was a bad time to fire a bad race, but especially if he doesn’t ship out of Kentucky and then back for the Blue Grass, he could very well improve.
- General a Rod – The General returned to the worktab on March 23rd, going five furlongs in 1:01.14 before taking a well-deserved roll in the sand. It wasn’t quite as fast as his last work, but this is a good thing since energy is at a premium. He is confirmed for the Florida Derby on Saturday, March 29, and will be breaking from the 6 gate. It’s a short field for a Derby prep, just eight horses, but five of his seven adversaries are serious contenders: Cairo Prince, Spot, Matador, Constitution, and his old nemesis Wildcat Red. I still want to say Wildcat Red will be less of a threat at nine furlongs, but I said that about eight and a half in the Fountain of Youth, and he fought tooth and nail to beat General a Rod in a head bob. Especially with that inside gate, Wildcat Red is big trouble. General a Rod has 20 Derby points so far — so first or second in the Florida Derby will make him a lock for the first Saturday in May. Third place may be good if there are some repeat prep winners, or more attrition. Fourth, and a lot will have to fall into place to get him in that gate.
- Please Explain – Please Explain returned to the worktab on March 24, going four furlongs in 48.60 at Oaklawn Park. There hasn’t been anything definite that I’ve seen, but the scuttlebutt seems to be that she’s pointed toward the Fantasy Stakes, April 5th at Oaklawn. She seemed to handle the track well enough in her first run there in the Honeybee, and she won’t have to ship; the Fantasy seems as good a place for her to prove herself on the Oaks trail as any.
- Conquest Titan – This week Conquest Titan returned to the worktab for his first published move since the Tampa Bay Derby; he worked five furlongs in 1:01.05 on the Palm Meadows dirt. He is still pointing to the Arkansas Derby, April 12th at Oaklawn. The Arkansas Derby is Conquest Titan’s do or die for getting into the Kentucky Derby starting gate; he only has nine points, which will certainly not be enough to get him into the gate. He needs a first or second in the Arkansas Derby, or he can more than likely kiss his Derby hopes goodbye. It will be a tough field, but I still love this horse. Hopefully he will handle the ship out to Arkansas as well as the Oaklawn dirt with aplomb. There are no guarantees, however, and he probably did lose his best chance of big-time Derby points after his fourth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby.
- Ride On Curlin – This is another one in my stable who is pointing to the Arkansas Derby. He hasn’t returned to the worktab, but he doesn’t publish a lot of works to begin with. Mary Rampellini of the Daily Racing Form reports that he had a nice gallop on March 24th out at Oaklawn, in preparation for the Arkansas Derby. This is all good news; hopefully he doesn’t regress from his hard-knocking effort in the Rebel. (The good news is, it looks like he’s been getting at least a little bit of rest!) Ride On Curlin sits at 15 Derby points, which means he’ll need a first or second to truly lock up a spot. Yet another third place finish keeps him in the picture, but leaves him heavily dependent on what other horses do.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger continues to work at Santa Anita. On March 21, she fired off a sharp five furlongs in 59.60. There is no clear statement of where she is heading next, though I would not be surprised to see her in the Santa Anita Oaks on April 5th. She wouldn’t have to ship, and she also had two very strong second place finishes along the track (a head loss to Secret Compass in the Chandelier, as well as her run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies where she finished first by a nose, but was placed second behind Ria Antonia). The Santa Anita Oaks would be a great place for her.
- Stopchargingmaria – On March 23, Stopchargingmaria posted a bullet work at Palm Meadows, four furlongs in 48 flat. She has been working regularly since her disappointing fifth-place finish in the Davona Dale on February 22. All that’s missing is a clear indication from Todd Pletcher on where she is pointing. I am still hoping to see her in the Gazelle given her previous success in New York, but it’s anyone’s guess whether she’ll stay down south or ship up north. The one thing we do know is that she is not racing in the Gulfstream Park Oaks; that race attracted a field of five, and Stopchargingmaria was not among it.
- Shared Belief – There’s nothing new about Shared Belief this week. He’s still off the Derby trail, he’s still galloping some at Golden Gate Fields, and Jerry Hollendorfer is still brusque and taciturn.
That’s what’s going on with my stable right now. There will be another update tonight or tomorrow, once I am able to pore through the claiming results; stay tuned to see if the personnel in my stable remain the same, or if there are any changes to my roster!
Time is flying in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy horse racing league — we’re already eight weeks in! Between the racing action and the information coming out from the connections, it definitely wasn’t a slow week for Iron Bard Stable. The next claiming day is just a week away: March 27. I have some serious strategizing to do in advance of that, with all the big preps coming up — and the fact that one of the most promising horses in my stable looks sidelined beyond a doubt for the Triple Crown season.
Without further ado, let’s see how all my horses are doing!
- Ride On Curlin – I discussed the Rebel Stakes in detail a few days ago, in my most recent weekend stakes race review. He had been a well-beaten third after a bad trip in the Southwest, and I was hoping that he would show in the Rebel that he belonged in company with the Derby contenders. After his hard-knocking third-place finish in the Rebel — outlasting fellow speed demon Strong Mandate and finishing just a length behind the winning Hoppertunity — I am happy with what I saw. He didn’t get that closing trip I was hoping to see, but this may have been even better than that, at least in light of my hopes for his future. This was his best race yet on the lead against tough company. It sounds like he is pointing to the Arkansas Derby next, which makes a lot of sense. He hasn’t had a terrible race on the Oaklawn course, he won’t have to ship, and he has been improving. Hopefully he can secure enough points there on April 12 to lock up a spot in the Derby field.
- Tamarando – This weekend brings the Spiral Stakes, where Tamarando is the 3-1 morning line favourite. He has shown up every race, and raced best in synthetic, which bodes well here given Turfway’s Polytrack. The biggest question is the ship; this is Tamarando’s first race outside of California. However, this doesn’t stand to be an enormous worry, given that he has shipped between the northern and southern California racetracks. He faces some tough competition here, but if he gets a decent pace for a closer and runs the race he’s capable of, he could punch his ticket for the Derby. He has twelve points going into this race; first place should punch his ticket, and the 20 points for second may even get him there. This race isn’t do or die, though. It would be best if he won here, but he can always take a crack at the Blue Grass at Keeneland if he doesn’t get enough Derby points in the Spiral.
- General a Rod – The General was back on the worktab at Gulfstream this week, working five furlongs in 59.50. After an easier maintenance work last week, it was nice to see him run a speedy one this time around. At this point, he is still pointing to a rematch with his rival Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby. The field is shaping up a tough one, with horses such as Cairo Prince and Constitution in the fray as well. However, Mike Maker should have him fit and ready, and Gulfstream suits General a Rod’s speedy style well.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan still hasn’t returned to the worktab yet after the Tampa Bay Derby. As with Ride On Curlin, this isn’t all that strange, as he is not the most consistent for whatever reason about posting published works. Nothing is particularly new from Conquest Titan’s corner; the last word from Mark Casse is that he’s pointing toward the Arkansas Derby, and there has been nothing to contradict this. If that happens, though, the Arkansas Derby will be very entertaining from a fantasy stable perspective. Barring some last minute changes of plans in other races, it will be the first race so far in which more than one of the horses in my fantasy stable will compete in the same race.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger is definitely working toward something. She has been a regular on the worktab at Santa Anita for almost a month now, and fired a bullet work this past Saturday: four furlongs in a blazing 46 flat. However, there’s no clear statement from anyone that I’ve been able to find on where she’s pointing next. I’m willing to hold on for the time being, since she’s clearly a talented horse, but she is going to need some points if she’s going to race in the Oaks!
- Stopchargingmaria – She hit the worktab again on Sunday, going four furlongs in 50.60 at Palm Meadows. I heard a bit of scuttlebutt on one of the horse racing related radio shows I listen to that Pletcher may be considering her for the Gulfstream Park Oaks, although I haven’t heard anything concrete to back it up. I still think Pletcher would be nuts to race her anywhere but the Gazelle — even though Gulfstream is closer to where she is training now, she has taken down two graded stakes at Aqueduct already. She likes the track, and I would love to see her get a crack at an Oaks prep over it.
- Shared Belief – There’s not much new about Shared Belief to say right now past the update last Thursday: he is not on the Kentucky Derby trail due to the foot issue he has been fighting. Jerry Hollendorfer did make a comment this week on a weekly media teleconference (to which I’m not privy, but from which I hear dispatches in both the racing media and Twitter) that he may work within the next couple of weeks. However, I’ll believe it when I hear it; he has previously said that Shared Belief would work in that time frame, and then he didn’t. Fantasy league concerns aside, I hope Shared Belief doesn’t work until his foot is ready. I was hoping to see him this spring, but it will be best for both his health and his future racing performance if he takes as long as he needs to get healed up.
- Please Explain – This week brought no new news of Please Explain. She still hasn’t returned to the worktab since the Honeybee a week and a half ago. However, I expect to see her back on the tab over the next week; it took about two weeks to see her back on the worktab after her Suncoast Stakes win. I haven’t heard anything yet about where she is pointing, though hopefully it is another Oaks points race; third in the Honeybee got her on the board, but won’t be enough to get her into the race.
That’s about it from this week. Good luck in the Spiral, Tamarando!
This past weekend was a big one for races, races that did not go as well as I had hoped for the members of my fantasy stable in the Derbyologist Triple Crown fantasy league. I had two horses race on Saturday, though neither did quite as well as I was hoping. I wasn’t completely blanked, with one third place out of the two horses who raced, but I still left the weekend with a bit less overall confidence than I had going in.
Enough preliminary blather. Onward to the horses!
- Please Explain – It wasn’t strange to see Please Explain away from the lead early in Saturday’s Honeybee Stakes. However, what was strange was just how far back Drayden Van Dyke took her. I was expecting her to be part of the pack, somewhere near the middle or the back. Instead, he took her back over a dozen lengths early! She did have plenty left for the stretch, and crossed the wire third beaten only one length all told. The news on Please Explain is mainly good: she acquitted herself well her first time out in a graded stakes, she shouldn’t have a problem with the 1 1/8 miles of the Oaks, and she has now hit the board in all six of her career starts. As much as I support giving deserving apprentices a shot, I’d also be happy to see a different jockey on her next time. This isn’t an apprentice thing; I’d be saying that no matter who had the mount, just for getting her back in another zip code that early in the race. She may be a fast horse, but even the mighty Curlin babies have their limits.
- Conquest Titan – Conquest Titan went off as the favourite in the Tampa Bay Derby, but ended up crossing the wire fourth: meaning no fantasy points for me, and just five Derby points for him. It was a bit of an odd race for him; he was closer than usual to the pace early, and then along the rail for much of the race. Historically, the rail has not quite his best place to blast off and make up ground into and down the stretch. However, it’s still a bit worrisome that he didn’t have enough in him to at least pick off everyone but Ring Weekend. It would be a bit less alarming if it were a new jock who didn’t know how to ride him, but Shaun Bridgmohan had the mount. Bridgmohan had the ride in his very first maiden race, as well as in the Allowance win and the Holy Bull; the latter two were after the realization that Conquest Titan runs best using a closing strategy. The best news from Conquest Titan’s corner involves his next race. The scuttlebutt right after the Tampa Bay Derby had him going to the Florida Derby, which would have had me tearing my hair out (had I had any at the time) since the notoriously early speed favouring Gulfstream does not favour his style. However, as of Monday night, the latest from trainer Mark Casse had him pointing at the Arkansas Derby instead. The good news is, it’s not at Gulfstream. The bad news is, it’s still a month away, so it’s a longer layoff than I was hoping for. Given that the Kentucky Derby is on May 3, and Conquest Titan only has nine Derby points, the Arkansas Derby will be do or die.
- Ride On Curlin – Since the last update ten days ago, there has been plenty of news from the Ride On Curlin camp. First off, on March 6, he worked seven furlongs in 1:26.80 at Oaklawn. It was his first published work since the Southwest, but his team isn’t prone to publishing too many works for him. All of the word since the Southwest has said he has been pointing toward the Rebel, and sure enough that is bearing out. The Rebel field was announced today, and Ride On Curlin is confirmed for it. He is breaking from the second gate. He also has a new jockey, Kent Desormeaux. Here is hoping that Desormeaux is able to get out of him the same kind of ride he got in the Champagne. I was surprised and disappointed not to see him run a more closing style during his third place run in the Southwest. With as many horses as there are in that field who do best on or near the early speed (Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Hoppertunity, and Jet Cat), the pace could well set up for that kind of a late run. I hope William Gowan (his trainer) and Kent Desormeaux consider it.
- Tamarando – Things are humming along just about the same as they were last week, and I’m pleased. He posted another work on March 8, 6 furlongs at Golden Gate in 1.14:00. It was a bullet, though among only four horses who worked the distance. He is still on track for the Spiral on March 22nd at Turfway. Given how well he has raced on the synthetic, combined with the fact that it leaves him the Blue Grass if all else fails, this is the perfect goal for him.
- General a Rod – General a Rod made it back on the worktab on March 8 for the first time since his second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth; he worked four furlongs in 51.26 at Gulfstream. It’s a slower and shorter work than the General normally posts. However, given that there are still two and a half weeks between now and his projected next start in the Florida Derby, there is time to post some sharper works. I’m not worried just yet.
- She’s a Tiger – She’s a Tiger has been on the worktab twice since my last fantasy discussion. On March 3, she worked three furlongs in :35 flat; on March 9, she worked four furlongs in 48.20. Both works happened at Santa Anita. She has 8 Oaks points already, but will still need a good run in a prep to have any shot of being in the gate. The regular works are promising, but I am hoping for information about a race soon. If I had to make a guess, I would say the Santa Anita Oaks on April 5. The only remaining Oaks prep races are that one and the Sunland Park Oaks on March 23; since she only returned to the worktab on February 22, the Sunland is cutting it close.
- Shared Belief – At this point, it would be bigger news for there to actually be news about Shared Belief than it is for there to be absolutely none. However, just today, there was something that at least resembles news about Shared Belief! Keeneland released the nominations for the Blue Grass today, and Shared Belief is actually on that list. Granted, it doesn’t mean a ton. A whopping 191 horses — the entire Derby trail, and then some — were nominated for the Blue Grass. However, it means there is an outside hope of Shared Belief racing this spring. If he had not shown up on the Blue Grass nominations list, it would have been tantamount to declaring his Triple Crown season done. (EDIT: Of course, there was bigger news about Shared Belief less than 24 hours after this entry.)
- Stopchargingmaria – Stopchargingmaria has still not shown back up on the worktab since the Davona Dale. Since that race was on February 22, and she was working weekly leading up to the Davona Dale, this seems odd. There is also no good information on where she is headed next. The silence is deafening.
This is where Iron Bard Stable stands after week 7 in the contest. Every week is starting to matter more and more. Early in the fantasy season, a week or two seemed like almost nothing. Now? They’re the difference between getting that Derby or Oaks prep in and being left out in the cold.
Good luck in the Rebel, Ride On Curlin!