It’s time for our first claiming period of the season!
The claiming period will be conducted LIVE on this week’s podcast, and every team needs to drop at least one horse for a new runner. There are several top quality horses available as we head into this first claiming period. Last week didn’t feature any Derby prep races, so rather than give the same power rankings, let’s take a look at the current standings and preview my personal top 10 horses still available to claim as we head into March. Keep in mind that claiming a horse comes with a cost of 20 points.
|Ranking||Team||Score||Current Team Members|
|1||Ryan Stillman/Jon White||96||McKinzie, Flameaway, Untamed Domain, Enticed, Free Drop Billy|
|2||Aaron Halterman||81||Principe Guilherme, Instilled Regard, Noble Indy, Bravazo, Combatant|
|3||Curtis "Magic" Kalleward||75||Good Magic, Mendelssohn, Marconi, Curlin’s Honor, Magnum Moon|
|4||Mike "Saratoga Slim" Spector||50||Bolt d’Oro, Audible, Avery Island, Restoring Hope, Navistar|
|5||Jared Welch||(-5)||Solomini, Greyvitos, Justify, Sporting Chance, New York Central|
|6||Dan "The Fan Man" Waite||(-14)||Catholic Boy, Nero, Storm Runner, Vino Rosso, Gold Town|
Top 10 Available Horses
1. Justify – This is the best horse out there right now, but he also comes with some serious risk. His debut race was out of this world, but he is behind the eight ball when it comes to making the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Bob Baffert says that he has a plan, and that plan seems to include a start in the Sunland Derby next. If he shows up with another solid effort there, then you’d think that would mean a very easy 50 points that would punch his ticket to the first Saturday in May. The sky truly could be the limit, but is he too far behind?
2. Magnum Moon – He looks like the Always Dreaming of 2018. Magnum Moon picked up two nice victories in a row, including an allowance race at Tampa Bay where he basically schooled behind horses before winning for fun down the stretch. After passing that test with flying colors, he’s now being pointed towards a Derby prep race. However, like Justify, he’s also racing against the clock, as he has just two starts, none of which came as a 2-year-old.
3. Audible – The Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes winner is available! Audible was fantastic in an absolute romp and is now pointing towards the Florida Derby. That could actually be a downside to picking him up, though, as it means he’ll only race once before the Kentucky Derby. He won’t have multiple chances to rack up points in prep races, but he’s definitely a horse on the rise.
4. Free Drop Billy – After returning with a solid second in the Holy Bull, he looks to be the best 3-year-old in trainer Dale Romans’ barn. He’s likely to improve in his next race, as it will be his second off of the layoff, and whoever drafts him will likely immediately get points, as he’s pointed towards the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes this weekend.
5. Bravazo – The good news is that he’s now a lock to make the Kentucky Derby after his win in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. However, did he run his big race already? Has he already topped out? Additionally, he’s pointing towards the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby next, which likely means that he’ll run only once more before the Kentucky Derby. He’s still worth a claim, though, as trainer D. Wayne Lukas is likely to enter him in all three Triple Crown races.
6. Firenze Fire – He looks like a hard-trying horse that should make it to the Kentucky Derby gate. There are no illusions that he might actually win the race, but he at least should get you there while also earning you points in whichever prep race he runs next. He’s not a flashy horse, but you have to love the consistency that he’s shown.
7. Snapper Sinclair – Showed that he was tough as nails in a gritty second place effort in the Risen Star Stakes. His early speed is going to make him dangerous anywhere he enters, and he just seems to be getting better with each start. Right now he is a major sleeper, but I have a feeling someone will take a flyer on him during this first claiming period.
8. Flameaway – This upset winner of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes is likely to return in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby for his next start. He loved the Tampa Bay Downs surface, and it’s important to note that the race was his first win over a dry dirt track. I’m sure that he’ll attract some interest after that win.
9. Tiz Mischief – He’s likely to bounce back with a better effort in his next start after finishing a distant third in the Holy Bull last time out. Romans-trained horses usually get stronger in the second start off of the layoff, and you can be confident that he’ll enter Tiz Mischief as much as possible. He’s not flashy, but he could give you some points as the distances get longer.
10. Kanthaka – I’m not sure if this horse can route, but he’s certainly talented. He showed us what he could do with a nice victory in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita over a solid field. He’s now being pointed to the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on March 10 at Aqueduct, which is a great spot for him. Picking him up could get back the points it cost to claim him very quickly.