So for starters, here’s what earned me the win in the contest run by www.theracingbiz.com
I correctly surmised that Balto More was the benefit of track bias: From 210 races run at Laurel during the meet, 32% were won by a pure sprinter, with decreasing percentages for all other types. Also, posts 4 through 7 were winning at a rate of 15%. Balto More was the only horse matching either trend. This 7YO was the only horse of the 12 running with a pace pattern that normally suggested a bounce, going from 62 to 74 Brisnet in his last effort, a race similar to this one. I wasn’t sure what to attribute the gain to outside of the fact he was splitting time between Laurel and Charles Town races. But he wasn’t getting any love from the public based on the odds. And here he was Saturday at 30-1. I somehow miscalculated in thinking he was the only sprinter..and I actually gave him more weight than I should have. But it worked out, amazingly enough. The spoils? Some swag and merch from the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, and from Laurel Park. My 2nd ever contest win. It feels darn good, I’ll say that much.
Now to the Enlightened Trails. With 5 races this prior weekend, a lot has changed. For the Derby Trail, top 4 in each division becomes part of my mythical Derby starting field. Ties are broken first by seeing who won a higher Graded stakes race, then I go with longer distance run, then purse money. When there are defections or injuries to the horses from the Trail, along with those who are scoring in the top 4 in multiple divisions, I use a wild-card method and take the top horse in overall points involved in the tie, crossing all divisions. For the Oaks Trail, it’s top 3 in each division, top 2 from the Minor tracks, to reach a field of 14.
The Minor track division concluded with the running of the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park. Bridget’s Big Luvy and Bodhisattva take the top 2 spots here and also make it to the top 4 of the division. Joining them are Why Two and A Day In Paradise, winners of the Turf Paradise Derby and Texas Heritage Stakes. Those 4 horses are locked into my Derby field. 3 others just miss out tho they may have an edge in tiebreakers should others leave the Trail: Ride Hard Kowboy (2nd in the TP Derby), and Academy Bay (2nd in the Texas Heritage).
The Southern division picture is a bit clearer now, as Firing Line won the Sunland Park Derby, with Where’s the Moon 2nd, Pain & Misery 3rd. Still 3 more races to go, Saturday’s Louisiana and Florida Derbies, and the Arkansas Derby on 4/11. To make my Derby field, 500 points would be the benchmark, which means a win or 2nd place could be enough.
In the Heartland division, upon the running of the Spiral Stakes, 3 of the top 4 slots come from the top 3 finishers in that race with El Kabeir still hanging on. Top 4 have at least 250. Recount I imagine is off the Trail. Last race of the division is the Blue Grass Stakes on 4/4. Looking at the nominations, El Kabeir, Firespike, Task Force Glory, Private Prospect, Imperia, and International Star are on the list. These horses each have some points in the division.
East Coast: This division has been dormant since October. The reason for that is there are so many actual races done there with points toward the actual Trail, and I can’t count any of them because I select just the top race that would logically fit. It’s why I created the system in the first place. So we hold our breath until 4/4, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Among those with points in the division, Upstart, Daredevil and El Kabeir are on the list.
California: Last race here is the Santa Anita Derby on 4/4. From 118 nominations, here are those with division points: Texas Red, Dortmund, American Pharaoh, Conquest Typhoon, Harmonic, Firing Line, Calculator, and Bench Warrant.
Turning to the EOT: 6 races remain across 4 divisions. In the Minor division, 2 fillies are locked into the mythical Oaks field: Maybellene and Sharla Rae. Maybellene’s 550 points leads all. She scored via a DQ in the Sunland Park Oaks. By The Moon, SUM Racer and Sharla Rae all tied for 2nd with 500. By The Moon already has the lead in the East Coast division. Sharla Rae gets in because of her longer distance win (8.5 furlongs in the California Oaks).
South: This division heats up with 2 races this weekend, the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park Oaks, along with the Fantasy Stakes on 4/4 to close it out. With all this action ahead, it’s hard to figure who will be the 3 fillies who will advance. Nevertheless we’ll try based on available info.
GP Oaks has just one filly from this division nominated who has points, Danessa Deluxe.
In the FG Oaks, no such horses with EOT points are in the nominations…so it will come down to who finishes In the top 2. 250, realistically 500, will be enough for the Oaks field.
The Bourbonette Oaks cleared up the picture more, as Don’t Leave Me (my top pick) and Sweet Success go 1-2 in that race and in this division. West Coast Belle’s win in the Golden Rod holds up here. The big race is the Ashland at Keeneland on 4/4, a Grade 1 race that should lock It up for the top 2 finishers there. Nominations include Sweet Success, West Coast Belle, and Sarah Sis.
East Coast: Next and last race is the Gazelle at Aqueduct on 4/4. Nominations including horses with points in this division: Wonder Gal, Condo Commando, Feathered, Angela Renee.
Cali: Santa Anita Oaks on 4/4 wraps up the EOT. From the nominations, only Maybellene has points coming in. Of course, she already is locked into the Oaks field, so there may be room for another filly to step up.
Outside of the horses I mentioned, anyone can just up and snag a spot in either mythical field with a win or 2nd in the upcoming races.
A lot to look forward to: 4 races total in either trail on 3/28, 7 on 4/4, and 1 on 4/11. Lest we forget there is the huge Dubai World Cup Card, and the final Derby Future Wager, both this weekend.
As a bit of a postscript, I compared my current 20 (italicized in the accompanying spreadsheet
) to the actual 20 leading the actual Derby Trail. About half of the top 24 (20 plus top 4 not nominated) are also on my list.