Much of how the big stakes races went today did so with my predicted winner finishing in hand. The only real surprise I had was seeing an upset in the Fantasy Stakes. Yes, I did predict such, but not the particular horses I had in mind. But most of the favorites I factored did win out or were close.
So with the hoopla of two Trails now largely behind us, I’ve done much of the work that will set up the mythical Derby and Oaks fields, what a year’s planning has culminated in. The ideal Derby…a mix of different geographics and tracks, large and small. it was only until just last night that I discovered that more horses (mostly fillies) I had ranked were not being pointed to the Oaks or Derby. To resolve everything, I first kept the top 3 or 4 in each division (top 2-3 for fillies, 4 for colts), regardless of current status. Then, I removed each duplicate winner and those off the trail with those with the most points across divisions collectively, counting only those horses that were outside of the top 2,3 or 4. If the actual Trail kept a horse from continuing, I would ignore that matter.
I think this worked out well For example here’s what took place in the Oaks side:
Minors: 2 spots open. Maybellene is the clear winner with 550 points (won the Sunland Park Oaks). Then it gets tricky. There was a tie to break between By The Moon, SUM Racer and Sharla Rae. By The Moon, you’ll see, qualified in another division and would have made the show through this division as well. I decided to pool hopefuls from this division. SUM Racer won the ungraded Arizona Oaks. Sharla Rae won the ungraded California Oaks to get onto the radar, then was 3rd in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks. On the real Trail she wasn’t listed with points, so it seems that she didn’t remain on. I kept her on because the horses below at 250 had no Graded placement (they each ran 2nd in ungraded events, and SUM Racer was not in a Graded event either). I made the executive decision to give her the 2nd spot because of that Graded presence this late in the prep season. I’d rather keep a horse that tried and failed to get points, instead of a horse who was removed from the trail. Plus, there were more fillies in this division with more points than in the East Coast division where By The Moon already qualified, and with less points at that.
South (3 spots): Quality Rocks was injured and removed from the actual Trail. The other fillies with 1000 points are in the show: I’m A Chatterbox (Fair Grounds Oaks), and Birdatthewire (Gulfstream Park Oaks). Include Betty was included as she had 1000 points overall (Fantasy Stakes), among the best totals of those who normally wouldn’t qualify. We’ll get back to this division in a bit.
Heartland: Don’t Leave Me, Bourbonette Oaks winner, was off the trail after not gathering enough actual Trail points. I kept her on my list because she has that Graded victory and 1000 points. Lovely Maria is in the show (Ashland Stakes) with 1000 points. Angela Reese gets 3rd place with 500 (2nd in the G1 Ashland). Angela outranks Sweet Success, also with 500 because of the higher Graded placement.
East Coast: Condo Commando finishes with 1275, most of everybody on my Oaks trail, thanks to wins in the Spinaway and the Gazelle. Puca, 2nd in the Gazelle, is in with 500 points. By The Moon I mentioned, and could represent 2 divisions but I chose for her to rep this one as it would lower the quality of those with less points in her division who’d possibly qualify. By The Moon’s 350 points here gets her in (won the Frizette, was 2nd in the Spinaway)
Cali: Stellar Wind and Luminence, 1-2 in the Santa Anita Oaks, take the top 2 positions in this division. Take Charge Brandi was injured and therefore removed from my Trail.
All told there were 2 horses removed through injury, and 1 duplicate qualifier. So I had to replace with 3 horses that had the most points overall that were outside those qualifiers. Include Betty, as mentioned, was the first to join with her 1000. I had to get down to the 500 point level again to find another qualifier. In that list were SUM Racer, Oceanwave, Consumer Credit, Shook Up, Eskenformoney, Sweet Success. Shook Up was the pick as she placed in a Grade 2 race and scored with more purse money at stake than Eskenformoney (Fair Grounds Oaks 400k over the Gulfstream Park Oaks 250k). I resolved the By The Moon duplication by adding Sharla Rae, as mentioned above.
Minors: Bridget’s Big Luvy (Private Terms), Why Two (Turf Paradise Derby) and A Day In Paradise (TX Heritage) make my Derby Field with 500 points each.Bodhisattva, 2nd in the Private Terms, got the edge for 4th with 250 points, reason being that the Private Terms is a longer distance (9 furlongs) than the races the others with 250 points were in.
South: The once division still to be determined. If it ended yesterday, Firing Line, Carpe Diem, Matieriality and International Star all would qualify at 1000 points each. Based on info from www.horseracingnation.com
no horses currently with EDT points are probable for the Arkansas Derby, last Trail race of the season. For a new horse to come in and qualify, that horse would have to win outright. That same horse would be in a flat tie with Materiality who won the Florida Derby, a race which is also Grade 1, is also 9 furlongs, and offers the same purse money of 1 million. So what to do? It’s a great question. Maybe I’d keep both horses and just subtract from the best of the rest. Hold that thought a bit.
Heartland: With Dubai Sky’s sudden injury announcement, Carpe Diem is your leader, and overall leader at that with 2100 (Blue Grass, Tampa Bay Derby). 3rd and 4th in the division with 500 are Danzig Moon (2nd in the Blue Grass, 4th in Tampa Bay), and Conquest Typhoon (won the Summer Stakes, 2nd in the Spiral, 3rd in the El Camino Real)
One spot left to fill from the best of the rest. We’ll come back to this.
East Coast: The Wood Memorial proved to be key. Top 4 horses in this race are the top 4 in this division as well! Frosted is in with 1000, Tencendur with 500. El Kabeir adds 250 to his total (won the Kentucky Jockey Club, 4th in the Champagne)
Cali: Dortmund leads with 1250 (Los Alamitos Futurity, Santa Anita Derby). Metaboss is in with 1000 (El Camino Real). Cross The Line (2nd in the El Camino Real) and One Lucky Dane (2nd in the Santa Anita Derby) share 3rd-4th.
To resolve the space left open by Dubai Sky I went to the next best in overall points. No ties to break here; Ami’s Flatter out of the South would be the first choice. He has 750 points (2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby, 3rd in the Florida Derby).
If a new shooter besides those with points in the South win the Arkansas Derby, and we get that tie scenario with Materiality, I’m thinking I’ll keep both horses and simply eliminate Ami’s Flatter. But that would mean that Carpe Diem, already qualified through the East Coast, would have to come out and we’d have to select a 2nd horse to cover. Should that even happen (again, assuming a lot), then Upstart, with 600 points (2nd in the Florida Derby and Champagne) would be the next pick.
The attached spreadsheet reveals the full results
So, how right did I get it? Should I care? My version of the Enlightened Trail is much more altrustic than the real thing. But let’s see how ‘good’ I actually did with my selections..These horses match my list of 14:
I’m A Chatterbox
On the Derby side with 2 races to go, tho my Trail has 1 race left:
One Lucky Dane
I’ll update once the entries are in place for the final race of the Trails, the Arkansas Derby..