Derby Stable Showdown – Week 7 – Eric DeCoster Vs. Eric Solomon

Instead of rolling out a traditional Top 10 list, we’ve decided to give it a little twist this year. Eric DeCoster and Eric Solomon are going to have a friendly competition, choosing a fantasy stable of ten prospects for the Kentucky Derby. The Derby Points will determine the scoring, so if a winning horse in a player’s stable wins a 50 point race, the player gets 50 points. Any horse not selected into a stable will be available to pick up “on waivers” after each week, leading up to the Derby. The scoring for the Kentucky Derby will be 200 points to the winning horse, 80 points to the second place finisher, 40 points for third, and 20 points for 4th. Each week, we’ll post some thoughts and rationale for managing our stable. 


Eric D’s Stable Eric S’s Stable
Mo Donegal Smile Happy
Classic Causeway Zandon
Simplification Charge It
Emmanuel Messier
Epicenter White Abarrio
We The People In Due Time
Blackadder Forbidden Kingdom
Volcanic Morello
Stolen Base Barber Road
Early Voting Taiba
Total Points: 295 Total Points: 380


Eric Solomon’s Stable: (Week 7 Update)

I wrote last week that I was really hoping just to keep pace with Eric D’s stable because going into the weekend, I felt that he had the upper hand in the Florida Derby and I ended up not having a runner in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome at Gulfstream, having the first two finishers. I hope everything is alright with Classic Causeway, because I was expecting a much better effort from him, and he folded at the ⅜ pole. Neither of us were on the right horse in the Arkansas Derby, however with Cyberknife winning, I see that result flattering the horses that prepped in Louisiana. Cyberknife was soundly defeated by Call Me Midnight and Epicenter in the Lecomte. While he’s definitely a better horse now than he was in January, I think this result proves the strength of the prep races at the Fair Grounds. 


This weekend, I feel like I have a decent chance to take home at least two of the hundred point races. I would be surprised if someone other than Forbidden Kingdom or Messier won the Santa Anita Derby. While I think Emmanuel could have a pace advantage in the Blue Grass, I feel very comfortable with Smile Happy and Zandon on my side. I think the Risen Star was a very good race and both runners should be able to move forward off that effort. In the Wood, Morello might be the morning line favorite, but I think Mo Donegal and/or Early Voting will take more money at the windows. Morello might be one of the nicer horses in recent years to winter at Aqueduct though, especially if he proves to be as effective at two turns as he has been at one turn.


The only change to my stable this weekend, is swapping out Kentucky Oaks bound Secret Oath in favor of the one start, maiden winner, Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby. For full disclosure, I did not pick him in the top three when I did the Santa Anita Derby write-up, and I think going from six furlongs to nine furlongs in his second career start, while facing two beasts, is a huge challenge. However, not many horses earn a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in their debut, so this horse definitely has the potential to be special. In terms of our game, this pick is a no-brainer to me, as it’s a very low risk, high reward situation. The horse I traded him for is not going to the Derby, and Taiba is only facing five other runners. ⅔ of the field will be earning Derby Points, so I see him as a horse that has a lot of upside, and while I suspect he’ll be overmatched, finishing third is certainly a reasonable possibility. 


Eric DeCoster’s Stable:

A rough past weekend to say the least. I was fully prepared to come out of it with anywhere between 200-300 points and a substantial lead after knocking out a couple of the preps, yet I enter this week only 20 points richer thanks to Simplification running third in the Florida Derby. As for my other runner there, Classic Causeway, I have no idea what went wrong given he was traveling well and then abruptly stopped, but hopefully he’ll come out in fine fettle and proceed to Louisville.


The other two 100 point preps went horribly, simply put. I felt great about earning points to some effect in the Jeff Ruby Steaks with Stolen Base and Blackadder, but Blackadder scratched to run this weekend in the Blue Grass and Stolen Base ran up the track. Then in the Arkansas Derby, We the People’s inexperience was on full display, as his race was essentially over after being forced behind horses early on.


Now this weekend I need to make a comeback of some kind to draw level for the Kentucky Derby itself. I fully conceded the Santa Anita Derby to Eric S. on the thought I’d have cleaned up last weekend, now that’s looking like a free 140 points to him. However, the same can be said for me in the Wood Memorial where I have the two favorites: Early Voting and Mo Donegal. Should those two run respectable enough and one of them win, it will essentially cancel that race out. The Blue Grass seems like it will be pivotal in deciding who has the edge in this contest heading into the Derby. Although Eric S. does have the two favorites for that spot in Smile Happy and Zandon, I hope playing the numbers game will give me a fighting chance here. Emmanuel actually seems like a reasonable threat to that top two and may have a tactical advantage when drawing the race up, and I’ll hope either Volcanic or Blackadder will hit the board to scrap together some more points. If none of these scenarios come together, it could write the end of my chance of winning our Derby Fantasy Stable contest.

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