Churchill Downs opened its Road to the Roses Fantasy Challenge yesterday. I am playing for the 10th time! Yikes! Since 2000, I’ve had some great seasons where I’ve just been 15 or 20 points off the leader (which is really not too bad) and then there have been the years (like 2006) that I was 200+ points off. In any case, since they started the “league play” feature, I am consistently in the top of the league standings. I am confident that this is my year to break the overall top 10. And because I am so nice, here are some tips, hard-earned advice I’ve learned over all these years of play, to help you fellow infielders get points and shoot to the top of your own leagues. Remember, the object of RTTR is NOT to pick the Derby Winner in FEBRUARY…it is to EARN THE MOST POINTS!
PICK HORSES FROM BOTH COASTS: You have 10 initial picks, split ’em evenly between Cali & Florida, and then a horse or two from NY or Arkansas.
PICK HORSES LIKELY TO RUN: Sure, Vineyard Haven & Midshipman and Stardom Bound are all TC Nominated, but putting them in your initial stable is not too smart. The earliest scoring race in Dubai is AFTER the 1st stage of the contest and there are NO scoring filly races. Don’t add these horses until they have a chance to score for you.
DON’T IGNORE SPRINTERS: Many a time I have sacrificed easy points for potential points. The early season sprints are usually won by horses not likely to go the Derby distance. Remember, the object of RTTR is Not to pick the Derby Winner, but to score the Most Points.
PICK THE TOP JOCK/TRAINER: The top Jockey usually gets the best mounts, or can make an average horse win where it probably would not. I got points last year from the jockey in races where didn’t have a horse hit the board. The Top Trainer is the one with the most nominees, not necessarily the best trainer, though in the past it has been true. More nominees mean more chances to score.
Pick a Good Stable Name: It has nothing to do with how many points you score, but just in case you are successful with my advice, name your stable something you’d be proud to see listed up there in the Top 10 with me this year!