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The claiming period has come and gone, and so has a pivotal race on the Kentucky Derby trail: the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. The result was not to the liking of Team Magic or Team Dan “The Fan Man” Waite; each had disappointing horses in that race; but there’s still a long way to go! This week, we have THREE Kentucky Derby prep races to look forward to, and several teams will have horses in action. The standings have been updated and the Power Rankings are back, so let’s take a look:
1. Ryan Stillman/Jon White – They may be tied for fourth in the standings, but that’s about to change in a major way: Jon and Ryan’s entire team will be running this weekend! Stable star McKinzie has his sights set on the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita and could not be training any better for trainer Bob Baffert. Free Drop Billy scratched out of the Fountain of Youth in order to run in this week’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, where his fantasy stablemate Enticed will join him. Down in Florida, Flameaway and Untamed Domain will both run in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. All five horses will be strong win candidates in their respective races, as well, which could lead to a huge weekend.
2. Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector – This may have been the claiming period winner. Despite having the fourth pick, he was able to pick up the Todd Pletcher-trained Audible; this colt adds major talent to Slim’s roster. Bolt d’Oro and Restoring Hope both look to be pointing towards the San Felipe this weekend, as they will try to take down Jon and Ryan’s McKinzie. Avery Island is training well while pointing towards the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, and Navistar seems to be working well for a potential start in a Kentucky Derby prep race next time out.
3. Aaron Halterman – This team has a 71-point lead at the moment, yet still lacks a star horse. Picking up Bravazo in the claiming period was a major positive, but he’s not a horse that could be described as a star. Instilled Regard is a solid prospect, but his Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes performance didn’t go as planned, where fellow fantasy stablemate Noble Indy was decent, but not great, as well. Combatant continues to run well in all of his starts, yet he also continues to lose. Finally, Principe Guilherme was a terrible disappointment in the Risen Star and will need to rebound in a big way.
4. Jared Welch – He’s had to be patient through this whole year, as he always seems to be in a wait-and-see pattern, and that will continue for another week before things get interesting. His newest horses, Justify and New York Central, will be pointing towards the Grade 3 Sunland Derby on March 25. Solomini and Sporting Chance will take a crack at the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on March 17, which gives him strong 1-2 punches in each of those races. The next two weeks will be pivotal to his chances because his fifth horse, Greyvitos, is still several weeks away from a race.
5. Curtis “Magic” Kalleward – Oh, what a sad day Saturday must have been for this team, as stable star Good Magic finished a well-beaten third in the Fountain of Youth. Perhaps the horse will rebound off of this effort, but it still had to be a disappointment. Also, Marconi was a non-factor in that race as well, which makes things worse. There is help on the way, though. New team member Magnum Moon will be pointing to the Rebel, where up-and-comer Curlin’s Honor is also scheduled to run. His 1-2 punch vs. Jared’s 1-2 punch will make for a pivotal league matchup. Mendelssohn is also ready to run, but a bad-luck storm forced him to miss a Derby points start last week. He’s a wild card, but he could still help out his team with some luck.
6. Dan “The Fan Man” Waite – This team made a BOLD move to pick up Storm Runner with his first claim ahead of Audible, but that didn’t work out, as he was well-beaten in the Fountain of Youth. However, it’s not all bad news for this team, and with some luck this week, he can still get back into this thing. Nero will be pointed towards the Gotham, while Vino Rosso will run in the Tampa Bay Derby. A win by either of those horses would be a step in the right direction. Dan also picked up Gold Town during the claiming period, and he might be the favorite in the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby later this month. That leaves Catholic Boy. Right now, he’s in limbo as to where to run next, but he could still be the stable’s best horse if he bounces back from a so-so effort in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes.
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