Possibly the most popular North American horse racing competition on the internet. If you haven't signed up yet just visit this link and get started. Just about everyone looks forward to this competition and there is a lot of chatter going around about who is running where and who you should pick in your stable.
I have played this game for many years and I've come up with a few strategic tips that they don't necessarily cover in the Playing Tips section of the RTTR website.
#1. Have patience - So many people have already signed up their stables despite the fact that the first scoring races aren't until Saturday and you can wait right up to 11:59 eastern on Saturday to pick your stable. I see no reason to lock in a stable now when you could wait for this weekend's entries. This applies to the supplemental stages as well. You don't get bonus points for switching things around before they're due. Also give consideration to the strategy of not signing up yet. You may miss out on a few points this weekend but strategically it could help you to win a weekly prize or even a stage prize if you hold off for a bit. Consider this coming weekend as an example. Almost everyone will take Pyro, however if he happens to perform badly or God forbid gets injured you'd be ahead of the curve by holding off and not taking him.
#2 Keep good records of horses intended schedules - I do this with the aid of a spreadsheet. Every morning as I read the news I just keep it handy so I can jot down any news blip on the contenders. Things still change of course but it gives you a good picture of who is likely. Here is a sample of my spreadsheet to date. More names will get filled in as things become clearer.
#3 Try to get horses on every circuit - There are so many different paths horses can take, between SA, TB, NY, GP, OP and TP you've got a ton of bases to cover. All of those tracks offer multiple preps and you'll usually find horses just following the sequence. Since you can only have 5 runners active at one time try to make sure you've diversified so you'll have a horse in nearly every race and on different weekends.
#4 Try to stay with horses who are going to run in the first stage - In your original 10 there is very little reason to take horses who will not be running in a stakes race until March 15th or later. The only one I can think of is if there are more than 3 horses who fit that description who you just have to take. Otherwise there is no reason to jump on board so quickly. As far as I'm aware War Pass, El Gato Malo, Cowboy Cal and Majestic Warrior are not running in eligible stakes races until at least stage 2 of this competition. Why bear the burden of risk for that long when you can simply add them at the supplemental stage.
#5 Ignore Sprinters - For the first year ever the RTTR game has revised the eligible race schedule and has eliminated all but one sprint race, the San Vincente, which is the current target for Into Mischief. In past years it was a good play to take a horse that might run in the Swale, Bay Shore and Lafayette but that angle is gone.
#6 Don't limit your focus to just the Grand Prize - There are some very nice prizes available for winning the individual stages and even a nice weekly prize. It wouldn't be a terrible idea to try and target one of those. By stacking your stable for a certain week you could do very well. If you are entered in the pay to play option you may want to consider only aiming one stable at the grand prize and staggering the other two stables to target stage and weekly prizes. Entering late on weeks where there are very few races is a good way to try and win a weekly prize.
#7 Identify trainers and jockeys that will WIN races - Remember you only get trainer and jockey points if they win the race so although Zito and Mott have loaded stables they may not necessarily be the best trainers to take. Sometimes the big fish in a small pond angle is the a real point machine. If a certain trainer has a hotshot who he plans to campaign exclusively in Northern California or maybe Oaklawn Park it might be worth taking them. If that horse can run the table your trainer could make a bundle.
#8 Forget winning the Derby, focus on winning the preps - Although this game is about the Derby you need to dominate the prep races in order to be in contention once the Derby comes around. You'll have plenty of time to add the horses you think will win the Derby at the last supplemental stage. In the meantime go for the horses that you see winning preps right now. Horses like High Fly, Scat Daddy and Balto Star were viewed with a skeptical eye in regards to the Derby but they were RTTR studs. Even Cowtown Cat was a very solid play last year. He outperformed Any Given Saturday, Dominican and Tiago as well many others.
#9 Don't be afraid to take a shot - There are upsets every single year on the Triple Crown trail and some of them are huge upsets. It happens because horses are improving and we don't know how good they'll eventually be but also some are more prepared for certain spots than others might be. For a small time trainer the Rebel and Louisiana Derby are the main targets of the year. For War Pass and Court Vision races like that are just preps and connections are sometimes less concerned with winning them. Just be sure that the shot you're taking is on a horse who is definitely destined for stakes company.