To access one of the leagues, just fill out your stable horses, jockeys, and trainers and then once you confirm your stable you’ll be asked if you wish to join an existing league. Just type in the League ID and the Activation Code for the league as noted below.
Any user can create up to 3 free stables to participate in the contest. The top overall prizes are always fairly sweet, including a trip to the Derby and a future wager.
- TBA 2010
- League ID: 3173203388
- Activation Code: 2247553444
- A Dime on the Ten
- League ID: 2071312789
- Activation Code: 1205335816
We’d certainly love to have more folks in those leagues to make things interesting, so give it a whirl and pass that information along to anyone you think may be interested.
For now, I think it’s safe to assume that volatility will be the order of the day. To be sure, just a few day ago horses such as American Lion, Tiz Chrome, Lookin at Lucky, and UpTownCharlyBrown were receiving strong inclusion consideration. I still think any of those can go on to be fine horses, but I sided against Lucky due to the synthetics question, and then passed on the Tiznows (which I KNOW will come back to haunt me) based on their most recent efforts.
Every year it seems like there’s more and more folks coming along who are first time players with some interest in getting involved in the challenge. For them, I’ve included a breakdown of who I chose and why below. Of course, it’s also for you more seasoned players, so that I can be reminded of my follies all season long. A little humility is always good – especially for horseplayers. Admittedly, I went with my heart on a few of these, but without further adieu, let’s get to the list, shall we?
- Buddy’s Saint – consensus top three Derby candidate, but questions about over who he’s faced are starting to be raised. Has won going 9 furlongs on the dirt in the Grade 2 Remsen. That counts for something.
- Vale of York - my current #1 3-year-old colt in training. Even though he’ll train overseas and may not run in any races that qualify for the challenge, I couldn’t leave him off the list. He made an impression on me in the paddock for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and when I cashed on him at better than 30/1 a few moments later, suffice to say a soft spot grew in my heart for this son of Invincible Spirit.
- Blind Luck - seems every year around this time I fall for a filly. In 2008 it was Eight Belles and Pure Clan. In 2009 it was Rachel Alexandra. In all likelihood she will continue to point for the Kentucky Oaks rather than the Derby, but based on what we’ve seen so far, I think she deserves a place at the table based on potential alone. She may be closer to Stardom Bound in terms of ceiling than Rachel Alexandra, but have we really seen any colts that would scare you away at this point?
- Ron the Greek – I have to admit, I don’t think I gave this son of Full Mandate enough credit when he first won the Lecomte (G3) over Maximus Ruler. He’d seem to need a pace in front of him for his prep and Derby chances, but so far that doesn’t seem to be something this crop is lacking. In fact, so far Ron’s one of the few that looks authoritative coming from off the pace. I would caution that Giacomo style dead closers don’t usually win the Derby, but in recent memory we do have Mine that Bird and Street Sense doing exactly that. I’ll roll the dice.
- William’s Kitten – Some folks may be deceived by the buzz surrounding this horse. He’s speed figures don’t leap off the page, but if you appreciate a slow, steady, progression of races to build a foundation – the way trainers did in the not-so-long-ago, he begins to make a lot of sense. Think on this, he’s run very well against Super Saver, Winslow Homer, Jackson Bend, and that 8th place finish in the BC Juvenile to Vale of York, Lookin at Lucky, and Noble’s Promise was better than you might think. I think he’s a serious race horse.
- Rule - probably the trendiest of my inclusions. Pletcher has himself a horse with some speed in this son of Roman Ruler, and word is he’s headed for a Grade 1 next. Considering how few opportunities one gets to score points in a Grade 1 during the contest, it’s nice to have a runner pointing for such a race.
- Tempted to Tapit – Impressive 11 length winner last out took 4 starts to break his maiden and was beaten by another under consideration for this spot, Laus Deo. Took the kind of explosive move forward last out that you want to see this time of year. Still has many questions to answer though (distance, can he avoid a bounce, etc.).
- Drosselmeyer – Another who took a significant step forward last out, and this time it was against winners for the first time, an accomplishment that suggests he’s got what it takes. The son of Distorted Humor went 9 furlongs in 1:49 and 2 at the Allowance level on January 31st at Gulfstream Park; and he did it rating off the pace. Looks like a very live contender to me.
- Jackson Bend – Took 4 consecutive ungraded stakes at Calder before finishing 2nd to Winslow Homer in the Holy Bull. Could just be a nondescript Calder horse, but there is something about him that I like, and that’s been amplified by the switch to the Nick Zito barn.
- Setsuko - I’ll be honest, this horse was nowhere on my radar until TVG’s Matt Carothers mentioned him the other day. Additionally Brad Free of the Daily Racing Form has mentioned this horse as one to keep an eye on. He basically wasn’t anything until Richard Mandella put blinkers on him, and now he’s sort of a dark horse for the CA circuit. Definitely a reach, but this was my final spot.
To fill out my stable, I selected Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher as my trainers, as each seems loaded this year with possibilities, and settled on Julien Leparoux and Garrett Gomez for my jockeys. I know Go-Go burned me a bit last year by not accruing a ton of points, but he’s too consistently good a rider to avoid in my opinion.
So who scares me? Well, it’s always dangerous to leave Lookin at Lucky off the list. Same goes for runners like Eskendereya and Super Saver. You know it pains me to leave the Tiznows off the list (American Lion and Tiz Chrome), but none of these horses has me worried that much.
The runners I’ll be losing sleep over not including are Laus Deo (nice looking Medaglia d’Oro colt), D’funnybone (who has really only turned in one bad race in the “synthetic Juvenile” last fall, and even then was a very good looking colt until about mid stretch), and any of the Afleet Alex offspring out there who look potentially promising.
The good news? The first “supplemental draft” is slated for March 15 (with another coming on 4/12), so if I’ve whiffed on a Derby runner there will be two chances to make amends.
Speaking of which – I’ll go on record as saying I still don’t think we’ve seen a Derby winning caliber performance from any of these horses. The whole thing is still wide open if someone wants to jump up and grab victory.
So what are you waiting for – download those past performances and get to handicapping! It’s time to get serious about the 2010 Kentucky Derby prep races!
We’ll be back this weekend with previews of the Hutcheson, Risen Star, and Fountain of Youth.