Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Road to the Roses Begins

One way to shake the winter doldrums off is to play a game that will lead you to the first Saturday in May. It's also a great way to keep track of all the action leading up to the 135 Kentucky Derby.

I urge you to check out Churchill Downs' Road to the Roses online fantasy game (and if you're a horse racing fan it's worth a few minutes of your time - The game is as follows:

You pick 10 Thoroughbreds from the 400 that have been nominated to the Triple Crown, two jockeys and two trainers. Then you amass points if your horses, jockeys and trainers win in the stakes races leading up to the Kentucky Derby - the bigger the race (stakes races are graded three, two and one - one being the best) the more points for horse, jockey, trainer and ultimately you. 

The Road to the Roses follows all the Derby prep races from February 14 to the big race itself. Grand prize is a VIP trip for two to next year's Derby. First prize is a $1,000 win wager on the this year's Derby. I say give it a play. Heck, the game is even free.

My plan for playing this year will include some version of the Derby Baker's Dozen you see on your left. I'll probably leave off Stardom Bound because now her trainer is backing off racing her against the boys in the Santa Anita Derby. I'll also check early entries for three big races this weekend: Grade III Sam Davis and Southwest and the Grade II Sam Vincent. I'll probably take one horse from each race, since I know they will start (having been entered) and are likely to race again.

For trainers I've narrowed it down to five: Steve Asmussen (he runs everywhere), Bob Baffert (a few threats with Pioneerof the Nile his biggest), Larry Jones (Friesan Fire and Old Fashioned), Rick Dutrow Jr. (remember Big Brown?) and dark horse, Kenneth McPeek (he always seems to have a few good three-year-olds in Florida this time of year).

In the jockey category, I think I'm going with Ramon Dominguez (he rides Old Fashioned and last week's winner, Haynesfield) and then one of these three: Robby Albarado, Garret Gomez or Kent Desormeaux. They're all big names that get big rides. I'll make my decision after I see this weekend's entries. 

All the rules for the game are at - take a look and build a stable. If you're like me it's the only way you'll ever afford it. And good luck!

This weekend... a stakes preview and strategies for playing the Kentucky Derby Future Pool #1.


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