First look at the Enlightened Derby and Oaks Trails for 2018-2019

What I’ve linked in this post is my first attempt at the next season’s Trails.  The races listed are the ones for 2YOs that represent the best race for each track that would normally fit on the actual Trails.  I’ve yet to figure out the 3YO portion, as most of the tracks with such high profile races have not published their 2019 calendar yet.

Here’s the Derby version.

And here’s the Oaks version.

My source for this is the stakes calendar at


Enlightened Trails update (Oaklawn Park)

I’ve just become aware of the entries in the Fantasy Stakes and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. These races conclude the 2017-2018 Enlightened Trails series.
We’ll start with the Friday race, the $400k Fantasy Stakes, an 8.5 furlong race. Top 3 choices here are Wonder Gadot, Sassy Sienna and longshot overlay Tahoe Dream.
Sassy Sienna, for the real Trail, she does need the points. In the EOT, she has 0 points. Aside from her maiden debut, she won an optional claiming race of 62.5k on 1/15 to start her 3YO campaign, posting 85 Brisnet. Then a small new top of 88, nearly wiring the Martha Washington field here on 2/10, sloppy track and all. It’s the best off-track performance of today’s field. There are thunderstorms forecast for Friday. 3rd in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at today’s distance last time out. 3 works here, each very fast.
Tahoe Dream also needs points. Won her 4th maiden races vs fillies, then won a 75k claimer here on 3/29, 84 Brisnet, just shy of her lifetime best. Mid 80s scores in last 3 races, all at OP. Only filly stretching out in distance here, as the others have already run 8.5 furlongs.
EOT impact: This race concludes the Trails proper. For the Heartland division, I can concluded that the 2nd place finisher of this race would lose the tiebreaker vs Eskimo Kisses. That theory does hold water. So, only the winner of the Fantasy Stakes gets into my mythical Oaks. Monomoy Girl and Eskimo Kisses are now in, and Patrona Margarita is out.
Odds impact: No change from the ML rankings. If anything, Wonder Gadot is projected to take a ton of money. Princess Warrior will actually take less money than expected. I don’t like her enough to be a contender, but I have to respect the fact that she’s the lone deep closer of the field.

I decided to cover the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes also, which impacts the real Trail, but not mine. This race is for 3YOs, $200k purse, 8.5 furlongs. Top 3 here are overlay Greyvitos, then favored My Boy Jack, then longshot overlay Arched Feather.
Greyvitos broke maiden by winning his 3rd start, which happened to be the Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del Mar, scoring a huge 98 Brisnet score. Then won the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on 12/17 with a 93. No racing since then, but he’s worked consistently in California. Was 2nd of 39 in such a work on 4/7 at Santa Anita, 1:00:1 from the gate. Only horse here who has won stretching out in distance while currently doing so. I think he could be the favorite; 6-1 is high.
Arched Feather won his 3rd maiden race running a lifetime best 79 Brisnet. Duplicated that speed running 5th in the Smarty Jones. Dropped to 71 last time out in the Battaglia Memorial, first time on the all-weather surface. Best AWD numbers (Arch/Featherbed, out of Smart Strike). 74 speed here at Keeneland is best of this field.
Odds impact: Watch for Pony Up to get bet down from 6/1 to possibly 2nd favorite. Coming out of a 2nd place finish in the JR Steaks and a 99 Brisnet score, plus fully circling back to his best work since last fall’s layoff, he must be considered. Two others that should take more $, tho not enough for an overlay are Battle at Sea and Honor Up. Battle at Sea achieved new tops last 2 races in his maiden winner and the Central City Derby, both at Fair Grounds and his debut route races. Outside of his maiden debut, this Louisiana-bred has run mainly vs statebred horses. Honor Up ships in from the NY tracks. He has only run vs statebred maidens, winning in his most recent race with an 87. Peak was 89, acheived the race before. Lowest speed figure was his debut, an 81. Off since early December, he’s worked frequently, with a bullet on 3/27.

Finally we reach the Arkansas Derby, the final race of the Enlightened Derby Trail. 2 horses already have points in the division: Dream Baby Dream with 500, and Combatant with 100. Quip is in this race too, with 1000 from the South division. I don’t allow horses to represent 2 divisions at once. If he wins, I will likely let him represent from the Heartland, and bring in the first-out horse, Flameaway. Flameaway lost for the last spot in the South to Hofburg because Hofburg was in a Grade 1 race. Flameaway has only gotten to Grade 2. The other scenario would be to let Quip represent the South, and have the 2nd place finisher be in the EDT as well. Flameaway will not represent the Heartland with just 500 points. The big issue is the class. This race is Grade 1, $1 million. Winner gets into the EDT. My top 4 would all have 1000 points. Dream Baby Dream would be out if he finishes 2nd. I’d rather see the winner of a lower class race advance rather than a 2nd place horse.
For my Future Wager bets, I am rooting for Solomini as I have him at 19-1 and 25-1
With that typed, here’s how I see this race: Top 3 are Solomini, Quip and Dream Baby Dream. No overlays in this race.
Dream Baby Dream is dangerous as a longshot. Never mind that he has 3 3rd place finishes here with scores in the 80s. He did acheive a small new top last out, finishing 2nd to Runaway Ghost in the 9 furlong Sunland Derby. That score is best of this field. I very much like his recent form via pace.
Odds movers: Dream Baby Dream and Magnum Moon to take more $ than usual. Tenfold and Combatant, in the middle rank of the morning line, are going to take less $.

Enlightened Trails update through 4/7/18

Just fascinating, this weekend was, to see how the Trails would play out. A lot of great results, no true surprises. The only proper drama I felt was the Sporting Chance/Free Drop Billy matter, which saw the latter winning the battle for 3rd but maybe losing out in my Trails. Does he have enough for the official Trails? That remains to be resolved.

Here are the current Enlightened Derby Trail results

And here is the Oaks Trail:


Let’s go region by region, Derby side first. To remind you, here are the tiebreak rules:
Better class win
Better purse
Overall points
Longer distance
If I have to split horses further, I judge head to head based on when they actually competed in races in the same field.

All wrapped up, as the winners of the 3YO races in this region all punch their tickets: Reride, Primo Touch, Paved and VIP Code (who won the biggest stakes of these 4)

NORTHEAST: Vino Rosso and Enticed finish 1-2 in the Wood Memorial, earning them enough points to lock their place in my mythical Derby. Firenze Fire was 4th, but had enough points thanks to his Champagne win at Belmont to earn a spot for me. Sporting Chance’s win at Saratoga in the Hopeful last year and its Grade 1 status is the reason I break the tie with him. Restoring Hope was 3rd in the Wood Memorial (Grade 2) and Untamed Domain’s Grade 2 win at Woodbine in the Summer also falls short.

SOUTH: Quip will actually run in the Arkansas Derby coming up, but already has qualified in my Enlightened Derby. His 1000 points from winning the Tampa Bay Derby is proof enough. Likewise, Noble Indy winning the Louisiana Derby and Audible in the Florida Derby all punch their tickets. This division is all set.

CALI: What proved to be the classiest and most influential race of my Trails, the Santa Anita Derby, sees the upstart Justify leading this division ahead of Bolt d’Oro. Core Beliefs and instilled Regard finished 3rd and 4th and also are in my mythical Derby.

HEARTLAND is the one division that can still change, with the Arkansas Derby coming up in a week. The Blue Grass Stakes proved the worthiness of Good Magic and Flameaway. Free Drop Billy did get points but just not enough for this division to find his way in. Sporting Chance already had a tiebreak win in the Northeast. Blended Citizen is in thanks to his Grade 3 1000 point win in the Jet Ruby Stakes. Runaway Ghost qualifies via his own Grade 3 1000 point win in the Sunland Derby. Flameaway already had an extra 500 points via the South division, finishing 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby. His 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass, a Grade 2 win, is better class than the Jet Ruby and Sunland Derbies, so he gets in (for now!).
Looking at the nominations for the Arkansas Derby, we have to see what horses with class get the advantage, as well as those with points. If none of my current top 4 in this division were entered, it would require only the winning horse in the Arkansas Derby to make the show, and it would knock out Flameaway, who has 500 points, making him a hard-luck loser (noting his other tiebreak loss in the South).
77 were nominated to the race, with about 9 horses that could be entered in this race that already have Heartland division points.
Blended Citizen 1000
Dream Baby Dream, Pony Up 500
Arawak, Greyvitos 250
Seven Trumpets 125
Combatant 100 (of course, he just ran Saturday, so this is unlikely)
Promises Fulfilled 50
High North 25
And then there are those with points outside the division:
Audible 1000
Quip 1000
Reride 500
Snapper Sinclair 100
Solomini 150

A Blended Citizen win or 2nd place finish makes it easy for the 3 horses at 500 points to get in also. Dream Baby Dream and Pony Up would need the win for any other result. But a tiebreak would be advantageous, as this is a Grade 1 race. We know that Quip is being pointed to this race. Should Quip or Audible find his way into the top 4 it would likely knock out Flameaway, as I must have separate horses in separate divisions. I would have to open up a spot and tiebreak within the South (and maybe Heartland divisions for that juicy scenario). Should Reride score here, it might open up a spot in my Minors division for someone else.
And that’s just for starters! Of course, the reality principle takes hold: Who needs points on the actual Trail?

Putting this question aside, let’s see the Oaks Trails:

Locked up, as Woodbine track announcer Robert Geller would say. Go Noni Go won the 100k Bourbonette Oaks. Blamed won the 200k Sunland Park Oaks. Go Noni Go also has points from her 3rd place finish in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies.

My Miss Lilly and Sara Street finish 1st and 2nd in the Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct, giving them enough to get into the mythical Oaks. Separationofpowers’ 300 points is enough to get in as well. She had won the Frizette at Belmont, and was 3rd in the Spinaway at Saratoga.

1st and 2nd also made the difference for Midnight Bisou and Spectator in the Santa Anita Oaks. Thirteen Squared was 3rd and fell into a tiebreak for points with Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Caledonia Road, and Del Mar Debutante winner Moonshine Memories. Each won at the Grade 1 level, but it’s the Breeders Cup that had a higher purse, $2 million at stake, that sets her apart. Aside, she had finished 2nd in the Frizette.

SOUTH: 3 races, 3 winners. No room for 2nd place finishes here. Andina Del Sur (Florida Oaks), Chocolate Martini (Fair Grounds Oaks), Coach Rocks (Gulfstream Park Oaks) deserve representation here. This division is closed.

HEARTLAND division wraps up the Trail on Friday with the running of the Fantasy Stakes. Meanwhile…Monomoy Girl’s win in the Ashland Stakes should be enough. She also has 100 from her 2nd place finish in the Golden Rod. Eskimo Kisses was 2nd. She was also 2nd in the Fair Ground Oaks. Patrona Margarita, 3rd in the Ashland is currently in place to advance. She also scored 25 points via a 3rd place finish in the Texas Futurity. She wins in the current tiebreak over Ultima D (winner of the listed Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies stakes), and Road To Victory (winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod). Ashland Stakes ranks ahead of the Golden Rod for purse. Andina Del Sur was 4th in the Ashland, tho her 125 points are actually insurance points, thanks to her win in the Florida Oaks.
27 were nominated to the Fantasy Stakes, with 6 horses with prior EOT points that may make an impact.
From within the division:
Dessert Honeys 50
Outside the division:
Wonder Gadot 300
Princess Warrior 250
Cosmic Burst 100
Stronger Than Ever 25
Sydney Freeman 10
If 4 new shooters in terms of points sweep the 4 places, who advances to my mythical Oaks?
Patrona Margarita is undoubtedly out with her 250. Monomoy Girl is in with her 1000. Eskimo Kisses with her 500 would have to survive a tiebreak. And she should, considering that she has 2 Grade 2 placings, making her more valuable than whoever is 2nd in the Fantasy, which is Grade 3.

Overnight I have to plan my strategy and figure who now gets my $ in Pool 4 of the Derby Future Wager.


Enlightened Trails update (Santa Anita, Aqueduct, Keeneland)

4/7/18 ties some of the big stories in the
Enlightened Trails as well as the actual Derby
and Oaks trails. \


The Grade 1 Ashland Stakes is for leading 3YO
fillies, running 8.5 furlongs, for a $500k purse.
My top 3 here are favored Monomoy Girl,
overlay CS Incharge, and other favorite Eskimo
CS Incharge elevated from maiden status in her
5th race, blazing to a wire to wire victory at
Gulfstream Park, sloppy track, 92 Brisnet. Then
in the Suncoast at Tampa Bay she won with an
82. One win first off layoff. Switches back to
Luis Saez, who got her that win.
Odds movers: CS Incharge will be the forgotten
horse, taking less $ than anticipated.
Monomoy Girl, already the favorite, will be
even more so. I can see using the 2 favorites
over CS Incharge, the latter horse also to use
for win.

The Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes is for leading
3YOs, going 9 furlongs for a $1 million purse.
My top 3 here are favored Good Magic, overlay
Gotta Go, and Flameaway. Arawak and the
also-eligible Determinant are also overlays.
Quip’s scratch, announced Thursday, has no
effect on my handicapping.
Gotta Go won the 80k Street Sense with an 89
Brisnet, bettered in February with a 93,
finishing 2nd in the Grade 3 Swale, Followed it
up with a 6th place finish in the Fountain Of
Youth, 93 score. Pace pattern suggests an
uptick from 93. Waiting 4 weeks to stretch out.
4 works in prep, 1 a bullet.
Flameaway has won 5 of 8 lifetime. 2nd last
out in the Tampa Bay Derby with a 97 Brisnet
score. Prior to that was his fastest win, 101, in
the SF Davis. Track bias in his favor;
backstretch runners do very well at the 9
furlong distance, winning 4 of 7 at the meet,
and 2 of 7 from the 8th post and outward.
Arawak won a 50k allowance race in December,
matching a lifetime best of 84 Brisnet. Then
was 3rd in the Battaglia Memorial with an 88,
then blazed to a 98 in the Grade 3 JR Steaks,
first attempt at 9 furlongs, running 3 wide in
the stretch.
Determinant is in the show following the
scratch of Quip today. Maiden winner after 3
tries, winning at the 55k level and 9 furlongs,
84 Brisnet a increase over prior. This late
closer of a horse gained 2.5 lengths on his
rivals by the 2nd call en route to a 1.75 length
Odds movers: Public is likely to bet these
horses down: Marconi, Blended Citizen, Gotta
Go, Free Drop Billy (to favorite status) and
Determinant. Good Magic, despite being ML
favorite, actually might open higher and take
far less money than figured. Remember that he
peaked at 105 back in November, and he did
seem to do well comparatively at 2nd call last
time out before fading to third. That may have
had to do with the average to slow pace. But he
was favored in that one as well. I feel the
smart money will bet him down, but there are
so many others that deserve a nod, I cannot
believe he’ll remain around 2/1. Of course I’m
willing to be wrong, and wager along with my
contenders and overlays.

The Gazelle Stakes is for top 3YO fillies,
running 9 furlongs at Aqueduct, 300k purse. I
don’t have confidence to pick 3, but I can give
you two: My Miss Lilly and Sara Street. My
Miss Lilly might be the slightest of overlays
here. After winning her maiden debut on a
sloppy fast-paced 6 furlong race here, she
finished 3rd in the Grade 3 Forward Gal at GP,
then 3rd in the Busher back here. Speed
ratings were 86, 87, 86. I like her pedigree
here: Tapit/Wicked Deed, out of Harlan’s
Holiday). 3 works at Belmont since, 1 very fast.
Gained 1.5 lengths on leader by 2nd call last
time out.
Odds movers: Public very possibly will bet
further down the 2 ML favorites in Midnight
Disguise and Smokinpaddylassie. Sara Street
might be lost in the shuffle from 3rd choice to
2nd last. Overall, not a good race to wager
on outside of the overlay.

Then there’s the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, with
3YO colts going 9 furlongs, for a $750k purse.
Top 3 are Old Time Revival, Vino Rosso, and
Evaluator. 2 horses, possibly as many as 5,
may be considered overlays.
Old Time Revival won his 3rd maiden race, with
a 90 Brisnet. Surpassed this with a 94 in the
Miracle Wood at Laurel Park on 2/17, nearly
wiring that field in his route debut.
Considering it was on a ‘good’ surface, and
there’s precip forecast for Saturday, he could
be a sneaky pick. 2nd in the Gotham last time
out with a 101 Brisnet score, a bit of trouble at
the start. I’m a bit worried about a bounce
from that score.
Evaluator won his maiden debut at Saratoga,
an 8.5 furlong race. 7th in 2 Grade 3 events,
the With Anticipation and the Pilgrim. Nosed
out a win in the 250k Sleepy Hollow at Belmont
last October, first try at the mile distance and
on dirt, with a 93 score. Nosed out of a win in
the Damon Runyon here, scoring a 91. He can
certainly score off the layoff. Waiting since
1/15 to stretch from the mile distance.
Blinkers on him for the first time.
Two I like as possible overlays really depend
on whether they get forgotten about in the
wagering, say, 30-1 or worse.
won in his 5th maiden start last time,
competitive through the 8 furlong race under
sloppy conditions. Has to be considered for
off-track. King Zachary broke maiden in his
3rd try last time out with a nice 94 score, first
time at a route, winning by 7.75 lengths. I like
the nice progression of speed figures for his
career: 80 at 2YO, then 88 and 94 at 3.
Odds movers: Firenze Fire, Old Time Revival,
Enticed, Restoring Hope all should be taking a
fair amount of money between them. Vino
Rosso might take a bit less and actually be
some hidden value compared to these.
Evaluator definitely will be overlooked.

Now to Santa Anita and the SA Oaks, Grade 1
event for 3YO fillies, $400k purse. My top 3 in
this are overlay/longshot Exuberance, favored
Midnight Bisou, and Finess Bere. Exuberance
broke maiden in his 3rd race here, and his first
as a route, on 10/13. 4th in the Grade 1 Starlet,
matching his lifetime best. Switching jockeys
to Nakatani from Baze, she set a small new top
of 87, running 2nd in the Grade 2 Las
Virgiennes, here on 2/4, first off layoff, and off
slow at the start. Waiting the longest to stretch
out of these, she put in 6 works here, 4 of
them very fast. Gained 2.5 lengths last out at
2nd call.
Finess Bere comes from French stock on the
dam side (Pedro The Great/Miss Fine, out of
Kaldoun), and indeed began her career with one
race at Vichy, winning the Prix du Parc
Napoleon. She’s run faster races in the US ever
since, coming out of 2 small new tops for both
of her 3YO races. 4th in 3 straight, all 75k
stakes events. Gained 3 lengths by 2nd call
last time.
Odds movers: Ultimately the favorites will
remain so. Exuberance I feel will be the one
who gets somewhat overlooked here.

Finally we get to the Santa Anita Derby, $1
million at stake in this Grade 1 event, 9
furlongs in length. My chosen top 3 are
longshot overlay Orbit Rain, followed by the
highly favored Bolt d’Oro and upstart Justify.
Orbit Rain hasn’t won in 3, tho he has taken to
route racing well, finishing his last race on
12/26, debut on turf and at today’s distance,
with an 83, small new top. 6 works in prep, all
here, 1 a bullet. This late closer gained a
length at 2nd call in last start. I’m banking on
the long layoff to be helpful to his cause, even
if he’s still a maiden.
Odds movers: I see Pepe Tono taking some
interest here among the longshots. Comes out
of a big pace spike to 95 on a muddy SA track,
a 75k optional claimer race

Enlightened Derby/Oaks Trails (Gulfstream Park)

Gulfstream Park Oaks is set for 13 fillies today, 8.5 furlongs, Grade 2, $300k purse. My top 3 here are Eight Thirtyone, Princess Warrior, and Daisy. Overlays are Eight Thirtyone, Mihrab and Alter Moon.
Odds impact: Coach Rocks, a horse I gave full attention to in the Oaks Future Wager, should be bet down somewhat, possibly to 3rd favorite. I also foresee Take Charge Paula, the ML favorite, to be bet down even further. Among those being ignored: Eight Thirtyone, CS Incharge, and Princess Warrior.

Eight Thirtyone has just 2 starts, both wins, at MVR. His debut was vs 22k maiden fillies, then an allowance race vs 23.5k allowance fillies, non winners of 2. Speed figures were 85 and 76. Great tactical speed for this pure sprinter. Track bias is kind to sprinters at the 8.5 furlong distance: 35% of sprinters have won. 21% have won via the rail post. Mihrab won her 2nd try at maiden at the 40k level, and debut on dirt and sprint. 4th in the Gin Talking, 3rd in the Suncoast, switching from Laurel to Tampa Bay. Gained 3 lengths on the leader at the 2nd call point in the Suncoast.
Alter Moon won her 2nd maiden race at 50k, then was 6th in the Grade 2 Davona Dale. Races have been between 6 and 8 furlongs, with speed figures of 87 to 91. Love the consistency.


The Florida Derby pits some of the best 3YOs, going 9 furlongs, for a $1.1 million purse. Top 3 here are favored Catholic Boy and Strike Power, then overlay Hofburg. I also like Millionaire Runner and Tip Sheet as overlays.
Hofburg dazzled in his 2nd maiden race and first in a route. Switching from Saratoga to Gulfstream, he went from a 79 to a 96, improving on both first and 2nd call following a 6 month layoff.
Millionaire Runner has had a busier career. Switching from route to sprint and turf to dirt, he set a small new lifetime best of 86 last time out in a 75k optional claiming race here a month ago. In a small sample of 5 races, sprinters have won 4 of the 5 at this distance, not to mention 13% at posts 1-3.
Tip Sheet I mainly like being that he’s the lone deep closer of the field.
Odds impact will be minimal. Audible will be even more of a favorite choice.  Mississippi, the wise guy selection at 12-1, should get bet down to single digits, but not as a major contender.  Tip Sheet may well be ignored by the public.

Final 2016-2017 Enlightened Oaks Trail results

With the conclusion of the Fantasy Stakes, the Enlightened Oaks Trail for 2016-2017 can finally be resolved.  Before I examined this race, I went ahead to strike through the names of other fillies that had fallen off the actual Trail.  A few surprises were in these names. I suppose that if my trail were in place, the connections of some horses would not have abandoned the trail so soon.
Here’s the updated list of fillies who are in the Oaks:
Minors: McKenzie Honey, Tap It All. This was resolved once the Sunland Park Oaks concluded last month.
Northeast: Miss Sky Warrior, Lockdown, Victory To Victory.
Fun, Libby’s Tail, Yellow Agate and Nonna Mela were confirmed off the trail.
Cali: Paradise Woods, Abel Tasman, Union Strike.
Off the trail: Valadorna, Champagne Room.
South: Farrell, Fifty Five,  Wicked Lick.
Off the trail: Darla’s Angel, Salty.
Heartland: Ever So Clever (top overall in points), Sailor’s Valentine, Daddy’s Lil Darling.
Off the trail: Purely A Dream, Awesome Boss.
Biggest snubs: Ghalia, Jenda’s Agenda, La Coronel, Tequilita, Chanel’s Legacy, all out with 500 points.
Worst of those who is in: Victory To Victory, 250 points.
The 4 horses who will make up the Oaks Future Wager ‘field’ selections: Ever So Clever, Sailor’s Valentine, Paradise Woods,  Tequilita, . I already have Daddys Lil Darling, Abel Tasman, and Farrell over and under these fillies in exactas.  Best remaining payout: Daddys Lil Darling over Abel Tasman: $1372.80 for a $2 exacta. I played it at $1.   Cheapest exacta: Farrell/field, $198 for $2 wagered.
Compared to the actual trail, I match up with these: Lockdown, Daddys Lil Darling, Abel Tasman, Salty, Paradise Woods, Sailor’s Valentine, Ever So Clever, Miss Sky Warrior, Farrell. That’s 9 of the 14. I disagreed with these: It Tiz Well, Chanel’s Legacy, Tequilita, Yorkiepoo Princess, Ghalia.
Here’s the updated EOT spreadsheet: