January 27, 2023

Regional depth key to Scully’s WinStar Fantasy Derby roster

To play StableMates WinStar Fantasy Derby, visit http://stablemates2.winstarfarm.com/welcome-to-the-2016-winstar-stablemates-fantasy-derby-challenge/

The team at Brisnet is participating in the 2017 WinStar Fantasy Derby contest and my line-up is entered. Get your roster in before the 12 p.m. (ET) deadline on Saturday, February 4 to participate.

Contestants choose three horses from four groups to start (12 total), with an add-on period for three extra horses from March 21-25. The contest runs through April 15.

The groups are designated by four new WinStar stallions for 2017 — Exaggerator, Outwork, Speightster and Tourist – and I tried to maximize depth by region. There were at last a few difficult choices to be made.

In the Exaggerator region, I selected El Areeb, Irish War Cry and Mo Town.

El Areeb, the likely odds-on favorite in Saturday’s Withers at Aqueduct, provides a key participant for upcoming prep races in New York along with Mo Town, who is expected to utilize the Gotham-Wood Memorial route after concluding his juvenile season with a Remsen victory. Irish War Cry, who is based in Florida with Graham Motion, makes his first appearance in a Kentucky Derby qualifying race in Saturday’s Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream.

Battalion Runner was a difficult omission from the Exaggerator after winning an allowance at Gulfstream Friday.

I went with Classic Empire, Gormley and McCraken in the Outwork region.

Classic Empire, the early Kentucky Derby favorite, is using the Holy Bull-Fountain of Youth before connections decide between the Blue Grass and Florida Derby for his final prep. McCraken is taking the Tampa route, with the Sam F. Davis and Tampa Bay Derby, before potentially utilizing the Blue Grass. Gormley, who opened 2017 with a game win in the Sham, has the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby on his agenda.

Dabster and Lookin at Lee were a pair I considered before opting elsewhere in the Outwork.

The Speightster lacked the big-name representatives of the other regions and I landed upon Gunnevera, Takeoff and Uncontested.

Gunnevera, a late-running multiple graded stakes winner at age 2, is also in the Holy Bull and may wind up facing Classic Empire multiple times this year, but he’s eligible to at least grab a minor award in those South Florida races. Takeoff wound up being my Louisiana representative and is eligible to improve upon a third in his stakes debut, the January 21 Lecomte. Uncontested is confirmed for upcoming Oaklawn engagements following a convincing wire-to-wire tally in the January 16 Smarty Jones.

In the Tourist region, I tabbed American Anthem and Mastery from the stable of four-time Kentucky Derby victor Bob Baffert and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third-placer Practical Joke, who is trained by 2016 Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Chad Brown.

Baffert figures to split up American Anthem and Mastery between Arkansas and California. Practical Joke looks capable of making a major impact in whatever two preps Brown chooses.

I considered runaway Gulfstream maiden winner Faja, Lecomte runner-up Untrapped and Remsen runner-up No Dozing but couldn’t make room for the intriguing prospects.

To research horses, Brisnet.com has FREE Ultimate PPs for all Triple Crown nominees. Good luck to all playing the WinStar Fantasy Derby contest!