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Homeracing

Can Far From Over defy the Reilly jinx in Brisnet's Triple Crown fantasy draft?

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

February 13th, 2015

Team Brisnet conducted its annual Triple Crown Fantasy Draft on Thursday. As usual, I spent long hours of intense study, including lots of time in the film room, hoping that the homework would reap a Malcolm Butler-level payoff.

Although I did manage to win this in-house contest one year, more often than not I tend to overthink things, and skip logical horses while chasing untapped (not to say permanently unfulfilled) potential. My draft success stories, such as they are, tend to be those who peak long after the final points are tallied -- e.g., First Dude, Declaration of War and Toast of New York.

So keeping that warning label in mind, here are the prospects I drafted as the 11th pick of 17:

1. Far From Over somehow slid long enough for me to take him as my top pick. That's a dubious distinction, considering that nearly all of my previous number one draft picks were busts, either through injury or poor performance.

Although Far From Over's pedigree suggests improvement with distance and maturity, the son of Blame has already shown considerable talent, especially for a late foal (born May 9). His debut win at Aqueduct was more compelling than it looks on paper. The Todd Pletcher pupil subdued one pace rival before meeting another challenge, and fended that one off in a "no-way-I'm-letting-you-by" manner. The effort smacked of running the gauntlet, a tough task for any first-time starter.

Precisely because Far From Over had broken his maiden on the front end, his pratfall coming out of the gate in the Withers (G3) appeared to scupper his chances. The fact that he was able to execute Plan B, and rally from 10 lengths back in just his second start, bodes very well for the future. If I haven't jinxed him by taking him first, Far From Over can go far.

2. Madefromlucky is well-bred, and improving, but with the all-important class question yet to be answered -- in other words, just the type of Triple Crown hopeful I get lured into picking too early (see warning label).

By Lookin at Lucky and out of a full sister to leading sire Tapit, Madefromlucky has progressed ever since stretching out to two turns. I loved his strong, sustained run, and his ground-devouring stride, when he closed for second off a dawdling pace at Monmouth last August. After he broke his maiden by 4 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream next time, Cheyenne Stables bought a majority interest in the colt and transferred him to Pletcher. Madefromlucky captured a 1 1/8-mile allowance in his debut for the barn, again shaping up as a relentless galloper who just keeps on coming. He could well be outpaced by the speedier types in the preps, but the classic distances should bring out the best in him.

3. Bluff is the latest hot prospect for Fox Hill Farms and Larry Jones, who are bound to have a Triple Crown breakthrough at some point. Although he's not yet nominated, the well-bred Tapit colt could buy his $6,000 late nomination fee with a good performance in the February 21 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.

In his first two starts, Bluff was just bluffing, but he suddenly turned serious third time out at the historic New Orleans track. He blew his foes away with a powerful move on the far turn, and if he can duplicate that kind of slingshot in stiffer company, he'll become a top-tier contender. Bluff likely gets an added dose of stamina from his dam, a full sister to 2005 Pacific Classic (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Borrego.

4. Cross the Line is just one of several intriguing types in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby (G3), but the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is on an upward curve at his home track. And looking down the road, the Line of David colt could be the sort to keep scoring points, with his tactical speed and likely surface versatility.

A half-brother to Canadian champion Ria Antonia (who was awarded the 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies [G1]), Cross the Line rallied to place in a pair of sprints before drawing off in his first try at a mile. I especially liked how he ignored his early pace rival, content to lob along as his rider pleased without getting eager in company. Once given the cue, he opened up and coasted under a hand ride. Cross the Line successfully employed stalk-and-pounce tactics in the California Derby, getting the jump on the closers, and he promises to carve out another solid trip for himself in the El Camino Real.

5. Ghost Bay, an under-the-radar type based at Laurel, looked like he was going places with his 4 1/2-length conquest of the Maryland Juvenile Futurity. The Lawrence Murray pupil showed a telling series of gears as he maneuvered through traffic -- dare I say like a sports car zooming between lanes? He burst through a seam to break his maiden in that seven-furlong event, having finished a barnstorming third in his two prior outings at six furlongs.

By Ghostzapper and out of a Smart Strike mare, Ghost Bay appreciated the added ground, and he could be crying out for two turns. He's also firing bullets in advance of his sophomore debut, which I hoped would come in Monday's Miracle Wood. Alas, he's not entered, prompting my first worry within 24 hours of the draft.

6. Tough Customer pummeled his rivals by 5 1/2 lengths in his unveiling at Churchill Downs last fall, and the blueblood son of Giant's Causeway looked strongest of all in the seventh and final furlong. Trainer Wayne Catalano wheeled him back a week later for the Breeders' Futurity (G1). That dramatic class jump, and stretch-out, on short rest proved a bridge too far, and he faded to a distant fourth behind Carpe Diem.

Put away for the season, Tough Customer just resumed working at Fair Grounds Thursday. He's getting a late start, but thankfully our contest runs through the Belmont S. (G1).

7. City of Vengeance was drafted as my turf prospect. This City Zip gelding routed a five-furlong maiden at Gulfstream by 5 1/2 lengths, running off the screen in a turf sprint in a final time of :55 1/5. Trainer Wesley Ward said that City of Vengeance would probably have been part of his Royal Ascot squad last summer if he hadn't come up with a few issues. Off that eye-popping debut, he could be anything. And I think he's got enough substance through the female line to carry him for a mile or so. His second dam is the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Tomisue's Indy, and his third dam is Chimes of Freedom.

8. Money Multiplier, a Lookin at Lucky half-brother to ill-fated Intense Holiday, really should have broken his maiden last time at Aqueduct. The Chad Brown charge rolled to the front in the stretch, only to idle through inexperience and get mugged on the line by Dontbetwithbruno. Money Multiplier was the best horse that day. Considering how well the late runner has fared in both of his tries over an unfavorable inner track, he has some talent.

9. Royal Saint would have gone sooner, if we all hadn't been concerned by his recent absence from the worktab. But the late rounds of the draft are all about taking stabs, and this son of Candy Ride, from the family of Louis Quatorze (and Nashua!), is worth it. In his only career start, the Steve Asmussen pupil romped at Ellis Park last August, lowering Ride on Curlin's 5 1/2-furlong track record. The clock confirmed the favorable visual impression he made. Despite being a bit green, Royal Saint lengthened stride and delivered a terrific burst down the lane to leave his foes toiling. Unraced since, he had been working regularly at Fair Grounds this winter, but his last recorded move was on January 26. Fingers crossed that Royal Saint will be back soon.

10. Tempus Temporis is a much bigger reach, since the Godolphin colt is in England with John Gosden, and his likely port of call is the April 3 All-Weather Championships at Lingfield. But he has been nominated to the Triple Crown, so I took a flyer. Unplaced in his first three starts, Tempus Temporis has won two in a row, by 11 lengths combined, since adding blinkers. Sterner class tests await than the all-weather at Kempton and Chelmsford City for this rapidly progressive son of Dynaformer.

Far From Over photo credit: NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Joe Labozzetta.

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