With the Derby trail on hiatus until next weekend’s Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, we’ll change gears to look at the newest fantasy horse racing site that’s popped up.
Intrigued after listening to one of Steve Byk’s At the Races national radio show guests on Sirius/XM on Wednesday, a quick visit to the Stable Battles website to see what it was all about.
Sponsored by Gulfstream Park Racing Association, the new contest is free to participate and starts this weekend and runs through Apr. 28.
Two things make this contest extremely interesting.
First is the grand prize. The winner of the contest, which is cumulative for the each Saturday leading up to the week before the Kentucky Derby is 10% ownership of Tropical Jones, a 2-year-old by Power Broker (a son of Pulpit) out of the dam Jane Says. The dam’s dam is a half-sister to the future Hall of Famer, Beholder.
According to the rules of the contest, the winner will not be subject to any out of pocket expenses or negative financial obligation to the colt or the owner of the colt (Tropical Racing LLC). The winner will technically receive bills as part of the horse ownership, but the bills will be paid by purse money and/or the sale of the horse. Thus the winner will receive monies in relation to ownership if there is a profit due to purse earnings and/or sale of the horse. Entrants from certain states are also not eligible.
Secondly, the contest will be determined by the most purse money won by the handicapper in selecting winners, instead of the traditional $2 win-place pari-mutuels of the selected contest horse. This completely throws out the odds of each horse having an impact on the results and throws in a whole new type of strategy to succeeding.
Every Saturday contestants will select a potential winner in the last eight (8) races at Gulfstream Park during the contest period. You will also be able to select two alternates as the contest closes every Saturday before the first race of that day’s contest. No changes are allowed to your selections subsequent to the first race going off.
The contest format makes it very interesting and puts much more weight on the more lucrative races due to the importance of purse winnings. The site will also provide free Equibase past performances for the contest races and access to Gulfstream’s race replays and Equibase charts.
The site is very well designed and easy to navigate. If found by newcomers to the game, there is some interactive directions showing the user how to access information, how to play the contest and easy to follow instructions.
Weekly prizes of $500 will be distributed to the first three weekly finishers.
It’s quite the alternative to the NHC-type format or the Derby Wars games, which more resemble your DFS type of fantasy contest. It will be interesting to see if they have some success with the initial launch of this fantasy format, if they’ll move forward to the world of DFS and enter the competition for the horseplayer fantasy dollars.
Speaking of fantasy, I just finished Daniel Barbarisi’s Dueling with Kings novel on the daily fantasy sports world and the trials and tribulations of DFS from its start through the court battles to the present. It was a fascinating read of how a major league baseball beat writer left his job to go full-time into the DFS underbelly of the professional daily fantasy gambling world.
A few mentions in the book touching the horse racing world, including the now-famous New York Times DFS article by horse racing writer Joe Drape, played prominently when DFS started to gain some mainstream attention.
The Queen’s Plate Winterbook was released on Thursday and trainer Mark Casse holds the top four spots. The hypothetical Winterbook was compiled by Ron Gierkink and Alex Campbell of the Daily Racing Form, and Keith McCalmont of Woodbine’s communications department. The Winterbook offers early odds on all 108 three-year-olds, made up of 95 colts and geldings, as well as 13 fillies who were nominated to the 2018 Canadian Triple Crown.
The favorite, Telekinesis, is currently stabled at the Fair Grounds, where he broke his maiden impressively, earning a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. The second choice is the Sam F. Davis winner and currently on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Here’s a look at the hypothetical Winterbook top ten:
- Telekinesis (4-1)
- Flameaway (5-1)
- Wonder Gadot (6-1)
- Neepawa (8-1)
- Dixie Moon (10-1)
- Aheadbyacentury (12-1)
- Silent Sting (14-1)
- Be Vewy Vewy Quiet (16-1)
- Strike Me Down (18-1)
- Kitten’s Boy (20-1)
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.