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“He’s just immortal” is the now-famous line used by Larry Collmus to describe Justify as he crossed the finish line last Saturday in the Belmont Stakes. Justify indeed did become immortal that day, but he is not the only one. Team Welch also achieved immortality, as the win secured him the 2018 Racing Dudes Fantasy Horse Racing League title. While trainer Bob Baffert is being lauded for having his second Triple Crown winner, Jared Welch is celebrating the same feat. Let’s take a look at the final standings and give an analysis of the 2018 Fantasy League that was:
1. Jared Welch – Ladies and gentlemen, we have a champion! For the second time, Welch had a Triple Crown winner on his team, and both times, the results ended fairly similar. In 2015, American Pharoah was his first overall pick, and while the rest of his team struggled, American Pharoah did more than enough to make up for it. This year, his team looked and performed pathetic early, which allowed him to pick up Justify during the first claiming period after winning a Rap Battle with Team Kalleward. That Rap Battle will live on forever as the defining moment in the 2018 Fantasy League and “Give me Jusitfyyyyy” is a line that will live on in fantasy league history.
2. Curtis “Magic” Kalleward – After a poor beginning, this team got hot when it mattered most, and if not for Justify, he probably would have won the league by a wide margin. His original picks of Good Magic and Mendelssohn were great for this team, while Magnum Moon paid nice dividends after the first claiming period. My Boy Jack performed well in the Kentucky Derby but didn’t run back in the Belmont, while Marconi hasn’t competed since the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes. Amazingly, it likely could have been Good Magic going for the Triple Crown last Saturday if Justify hadn’t come along. It was a very well-played game for this fantasy horse racing rookie.
3. Aaron Halterman – From day one, this team lacked a star, which hurt for the entire year. What offered a chance was the fact that the team had consistent starters all year long. Instilled Regard nearly hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, which would have helped, and Bravazo’s second in the Preakness Stakes gave this team hope going into the Belmont. However, it still didn’t work out, as both Bravazo and Noble Indy were non-factors in the race. First-round draft pick Principe Guilherme ended up being a flop, which was the major reason why the team was left without star power.
4. Mike “Saratoga Slim” Spector – The downward spiral of Bolt d’Oro is probably what hurt this team the most. Going into April, he was one of the top Kentucky Derby prospects, but he went backwards in a big way after losing to Justify in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. The Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Audible gave this team a lot of hope, but he ended up not running in the Belmont, which hurt. Hofburg was a horse worth picking up in the last claiming period and provided this team with some hope around the far turn at Belmont Park before flattening out to finish third. This team was never in danger of finishing last, but this team was also never in range of winning.
5. Jon White/Ryan Stillman – For several months, this team looked to be in perfect position, but it all went wrong once McKinzie went out with an injury. Injuries to Mask and Montauk also hurt them tremendously. Flameaway and Enticed did well enough to give them some needed help, but they were just not good enough to carry the team once McKinzie off the Kentucky Derby trail.
6. Dan “The Fan Man” Waite – A poor first claiming period led to the demise of Dan The Fan Man. He had the opportunity to pick up Audible, but instead, he opted for the unheard-of Storm Runner, a horse that never materialized. Gold Town was also claimed during the first claiming period, but he was disappointing in the Group 2 UAE Derby and was taken out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby. The lone bright spot was Vino Rosso, but he could do no better than fourth in his two Triple Crown race attempts. Dan will now be at the mercy of Jared as to what he will have to wear on the Saturday of Breeders’ Cup.
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