Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breeders' Cup Juvenile

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile always stirs thoughts and hopes for the next Kentucky Derby. Now that Street Sense has broken the jinx, we hope that we will see the next Derby winner in the Juvenile. The two-year-old championship race evokes thoughts of what the talented colts can become, stirring up much excitement and hope for future champions. Last year, we saw the incredible Uncle Mo dominate the Juvenile. The 2011 edition has attracted a deeper field, from all parts of the country and even from other nations.
Here are my top four picks for the Juvenile:
1. Union Rags: This son of Dixie Union has plenty of star potential. Coming off of two dominant wins in New York graded stakes company, Union Rags looks to be the favorite for the Juvenile after his impressive first three starts, all of which were wins.
The trainer of the striking colt is Michael Matz, who is best known in the racing world for being the trainer of the late 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro. Matz placed the colt in a five furlong maiden special weight at Delaware Park on July 12. Sent off at nearly 8-1, Union Rags won by nearly two lengths in a final time of 58.25
In his next star, Union Rags made his graded stakes debut in the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special Stakes (GII) at Saratoga. Over very sloppy going, Union Rags destroyed the field by over seven lengths. He returned on October 8 in the Champagne Stakes (GI) at Belmont. Facing a tougher field than he did in the Special, Union Rags still dominated, winning by 5 ¼ lengths in a good final time of 1:35.55 for a mile.
The colt’s most recent work came over the dirt at Fair Hill, when he worked five furlongs in 1:00.80. This colt is extremely talented and I believe he is a superstar in the making.
2. Creative Cause: This beautiful gray colt proved the best in the west this year, winning two graded stakes in southern California. Most recently, he dominantly won the Norfolk Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita. Creative Cause has won three of four starts. His only loss came in the Del Mar Futurity (GI), in which he was involved in a bumping incident in late stretch.
Creative Cause has only raced on the dirt once, but it was a very successful race. That race was his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, the Norfolk. After sitting second most of the race, Creative Cause went on to win by 3 ¼ lengths in a hand ride. Despite easy handling in late stretch, Creative Cause came home in 6.27 seconds for the final sixteenth.
With his last four works either being bullets or near-bullets, Creative Cause is training up to the Breeders’ Cup very well. The gorgeous gray leaves long-time trainer Mike Harrington breathless. Knowing that he can do that, I believe Creative Cause not only seems to have a bright future at the Breeders’ Cup, but also for races beyond November 5.
3. Hansen: As if we didn’t have enough star power in the top two, this underrated light gray colt packs plenty of it as well. The pasty gray son of Tapit has raced just twice. Both races have been wins and the combined winning margin of those victories is an incredible 25 ½ lengths.
Hansen has only raced at Turfway, where he dominantly won the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes last out after his crushing maiden victory. Though he has only raced on the Polytrack, trainer Mike Maker has been working the colt over dirt. Hansen’s most current workout was a 1:00.60 five furlong breeze, which garnered him a bullet work. He has not been tested yet and no one knows how good he truly is, but in my notes for this colt, the first thing that came to mind to write down about him was “a freak.”
4. Drill: He is still very green and needs to get his act together, but this son of the late Lawyer Ron has plenty of raw talent. After finishing eighth in a disappointing debut, Drill has not been out of the money. The Bob Baffert trainee is coming into his own.
After a maiden victory that proved he was green, Drill defeated the top California colts in the roughly run Del Mar Futurity. Creative Cause got the better of him next time out, defeating him soundly. Drill is training very well for Baffert, but will have to try his hardest in the Juvenile.

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Breeders' Cup Turf

It’s not new news that European horses are often much better on the turf than American horses. An American hasn’t won the Breeders’ Cup Turf since English Channel dominated the race in 2007. With an army of extremely talented Europeans coming to Churchill Downs, it seems very likely that a European will win yet again this year.
Here are my top four picks for the Breeders’ Cup Turf:
1. Sea Moon: The son of Arlington Million winner Beat Hollow has only raced five times. He has never finished out of the money and is best known for absolutely dominating the Great Voltigeur (GII) by eight lengths. His final prep for the Breeders’ Cup came in the St Leger Stakes (GI), in which he got caught up in very heavy traffic and didn’t get clear until the final yards of the race. Once he found an opening, the beautiful colt with his distinctive blaze exploded to finish third. Sea Moon has much talent and will be a very dangerous horse in the Turf.
2. Sarafina: After three straight victories, Sarafina finished seventh in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI). Don’t let that finish scare you away from her. The French-bred filly had to travel extremely wide in the Arc and was among a tight group of horses crossing the finish line. Her form before the prestigious race was great, as she won three straight group races, including a group one, after finishing second in a group one. I expect her to run to that form.
3. Midday: (Most of the information on her was originally written in my blog post about the Filly & Mare Sprint before it was announced she would run in the Turf)
Her performance in her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, the Champion Stakes (GI), in which she finished fourth, was quite flat. Of course, she had to travel wide and cover a lot of ground, but it was not the Midday we’re used to seeing. Before the Champion Stakes, she hadn’t finished worse than third since November of 2008, when she ran in her first stakes as a two-year-old.
However, Midday is always dangerous. She has an impressive record in the Breeders’ Cup, as she won the Filly & Mare Turf in 2009 and finished a close second in that race last year. She’s already defeated Await the Dawn and has just as much class as the rest of these.
4. Await the Dawn: This talented colt brings to America a story that will make you want to cheer for him. Recently, the Kentucky-bred European became so ill due to stress of traveling with an unruly horse that he almost didn’t survive. However, the colt has recovered and is cross-entered in the Turf and Classic, though his first preference is the Classic. Prior to finishing third to Midday in the Juddmonte International (GI), Await the Dawn wheeled off four straight victories, three of which were group races. If he can regain his top form, he will be a big threat.

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Diary of Dexter: A Beautiful Fall Day

 Diary of Dexter is a series within Past the Grandstand about my retired racehorse, Wet Paint (AKA Dexter). Periodically, the blog will feature updates on the grandson of Storm Cat. You will really grow to love this wonderful horse.
Photo by Mary Cage

The sun shone down on the late October day and my horses ran around the pasture or their pens, enjoying the cooler air. It wasn’t cold, but the breeze kept it much cooler than normal. It was a beautiful fall day.

I took many pictures of my horses on my phone, as I didn’t want to run inside the house and get my camera, risking missing their playtime. My mare Pebbles, who is Dexter’s best friend (Diary of Dexter: Best Friends), rolled immediately before getting up and playing. The horses in the pasture took off, running across the soft dirt friskily. Meanwhile, Dexter just watched them with his ears pricked, prancing every now and then. He didn’t find in necessary to play so much.

I tried taking pictures of him, but he kept hiding behind the fence. Spontaneously, I decided I wanted to go for a ride. I led him up to the barn and groomed him meticulously before tacking him up in an English saddle. After a successful session on the longe line, I climbed aboard Dexter.
At first, I rode him in the round pen. He behaved beautifully, doing everything he was asked and performing like a champion. His trotting was excellent and his canter was even better. I brought him to a stop, leaning forward to rub his neck affectionately.

Photo by Mary Cage

I rode him into the pasture and after walking around for a while, we trotted some figure eights. Then it was time to canter. Dexter was delighted to move into the three-beat gait and he cantered around the pasture with me aboard. He ate up the ground with his long legs and I couldn’t help but beam. By the time we were done cantering, I had a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Cantering him was like a dream.
In fact, I was so caught up in the moment that I even began to do a race call, pretending to be the race caller and the jockey at the same time.
“And Wet Paint crosses the wire in a tremendous performance!”
I knew it was extremely cheesy, but I was filled with absolute bliss while cantering him. All Dexter wanted to do was please me and have a good time. And that’s exactly what he did.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

In previous years, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hasn’t been regarded as a race that attracts some of the highest quality horses. However, this year is different. Throughout the latter part of the year, the Dirt Mile has garnered some of the top horses in the nation. In 2011, the Dirt Mile will have one of the toughest fields in the entire Breeders’ Cup.
Here are my top four picks for the Dirt Mile:
1. Jackson Bend: As a three-year-old, Jackson Bend went winless in eight starts, though he won $351, 130. This year, the colt has already won two starts, one of which was a grade one. He seems to have found his niche at one-turn races. Jackson Bend’s first win in twenty-one starts came in the James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga, in which the little chestnut exploded in the stretch to win by a going-away 2 ½ lengths. His next start was the Forego Stakes (GI), in which he won even more impressively than the James Marvin to win by 3 ¼ lengths in a final time of 1:22.08 for seven furlongs. In his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, Jackson Bend finished a good second to superstar Uncle Mo in the one mile Kelso Handicap (GII).

Many would rather see Jackson Bend in the Sprint, but I believe Nick Zito is making a good decision by placing him in the Dirt Mile. The colt, though he has an amazing turn of foot, needs a little bit of extra ground to get there. He will have no problem with the mile distance, as he was drawing away at seven furlongs, has won at a mile and one-sixteenth, and finished a close third in the mile and three-sixteenths 2010 Preakness Stakes (GI).
Check out the post I wrote about Jackson Bend after he won the Forego at:
2. Wilburn: Every year, there are a few three-year-olds that emerge later in the year, after the Triple Crown is over. This son of Bernardini is one of those colts. Out of graded stakes-winning Moonlight Sonata and a half to graded stakes-winning Beethoven, Wilburn is coming off a dominant win over Shackleford in the Indiana Derby (GII).
This is Wilburn’s first year of racing. He broke his maiden impressively at Santa Anita in March, finishing in a final time that was just .84 seconds off the track record. The colt already has a win over the Churchill surface, having won an allowance optional claiming at a mile and one-sixteenth on May 15. In September, Wilburn recorded his first stakes win in winning the Smarty Jones Stakes by nearly two lengths. Then came his breakthrough victory in the Indiana Derby.
The bay three-year-old is training extremely well for trainer Steve Asmussen. Though Asmussen does not often work his horses quickly, Wilburn’s most recent work was a 1:00.80 five furlong work at Churchill Downs on October 24. This is a quickly improving colt and he will be one to watch on November 5.
3. Trappe Shot: Many people thought this Tapit colt would become the top sprinter in the nation after his dominant win in the True North Handicap (GII) on Belmont Stakes day, but it seems as if it is not to be. After his True North victory, he finished a close second in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (GI) prior to crossing the wire in a disappointing fourth in the Vosburgh Invitational Stakes (GI).
With that record in his last three starts, Trappe Shot is obviously talented in one-turn races. Though his last four starts have been at the distance of three-quarters of a mile, Trappe Shot finished second in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (GI) last year after winning the mile and one-sixteenth Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park. The powerfully built chestnut is training well under the care of Kiaran McLaughlin, having worked 49.83 for a half-mile in his latest work, which came on Saturday. He will have to find his top form again, but when he’s at his best, he is very tough to beat.
4. Shackleford: Obviously, the stocky chestnut with a wide white blaze is known for being the winner of this year’s Preakness. He has not been victorious since that prestigious triumph, but he has put in good performances. “Shack Attack” is also returning to his home track, Churchill Downs, for the Breeders’ Cup, which could give him an edge.
After finishing fifth in the grueling Belmont Stakes, which was clearly much too long of a race for Shackleford, the son of Forestry returned in the Haskell. He finished a good second to Coil, but completely bombed in the Travers Stakes (GI). After over a month off, the feisty colt finished a decent second to Wilburn in the Indiana Derby.
Shackleford, who I’ve followed since his maiden victory at Churchill Downs last November, will be tough at his home track. He completed a bullet work for five furlongs at the Louisville track on Saturday, appearing relaxed in his new blinkers. He knows this track better than any other horse in this race and we all know how important home field advantage is.
Honorable Mentions:
The Factor: The Factor was also supposed to be one of the top sprinters in the nation, especially after he won the Pat O'Brien Stakes (GI) at Del Mar. However, it was not meant to be. He needs the lead and is more likely to get it here, so he’ll probably end up in the Dirt Mile rather than the Sprint. He’s training very well and is definitely hard to pass in the stretch.

Caleb’s Posse: He’s probably known as the colt that beat Uncle Mo in the popular Mike Repole-owned colt’s return in August. However, there’s more to Caleb’s Posse than that. The colt is very talented and though he is coming off a flat performance in the Indiana Derby, he may be quite underrated.

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Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint

One of the newer additions to the Breeders’ Cup, the Turf Sprint features quick-footed turf horses that will run this race in likely less than a minute. Over the lush green grass that Kentucky Derby winners walk across to reach the winner’s circle, turf sprinters will exhibit their brilliance. Who will be crowned the champion?
Here are my top four picks for the Turf Sprint:
1. Caracortado: Yes, Caracortado is entered in the Turf Sprint. The hard-knocking California-bred gelding, who has not raced at a distance shorter than a mile since his third-place finish in the Malibu Stakes (GI) in December, will run in the five furlong grass race. “Scarface” seems to be the class of the field, having earned nearly half a million dollars this year.
Caracortado, who has been one of my personal favorites since December of his two-year-old year, is coming off a nose victory over a talented three-year-old named Mr. Commons in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (GI). The son of Cat Dreams has had his best performances on the turf, as he has won two stakes (one of which was graded) on the turf course, placed second in two turf grade ones, and finished third in one turf grade one. He has only finished out of the money once on the turf.
Caracortado is four for five at distances of seven furlongs or shorter and has never finished out of the money at such distances. The five-furlong distance of the Turf Sprint should not be a problem for Caracortado. The chestnut four-year-old broke his maiden at four and one-half furlongs and is two-for-two at the distance of six furlongs. Look for him to come roaring down the stretch on November 5.
2. Havelock: Keeneland’s beautiful fall meet provided Havelock with his first graded victory. In his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, the son of Great Notion drew clear to win the Woodford Stakes (GIII) at five and one-half furlongs on the turf. He traveled the final sixteenth in an impressive 6.17 seconds. He clearly can handle the conditions of the Turf Sprint, but he will have to give it his all against Caracortado.

3. Regally Ready: I’m not quite as confident in this four-year-old gelding as I am in my top two, but except for one extremely disappointing performance this year, Regally Ready has not finished off the board. He’s coming off a win over a yielding Woodbine turf course in the Neartic Stakes (GI), in which he battled to hang on. I worry that the race took too much out of him, but the son of More Than Ready is training well for Steve Asmussen. The chestnut is already at Churchill Downs, but he doesn’t need to worry about adjusting. He is undefeated over the Churchill turf course, having race there twice. Both races were at the distance of five furlongs. The fact that he’s already had two races under the same conditions as the Turf Sprint gives him an edge.
4. Broken Dreams: This mare has never faced colts, but she has faced the best female turf sprinters in California and done battle with them. In her last start, Broken Dreams finished first in the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (GIII), defeating a field that was made up of Givine, Tanda, Unzip Me, Separate Forest, and Waveline. Broken Dreams, a five-year-old Florida-bred, will come into the race with much confidence, as she has finished off the board just three times this year and has given a tremendous effort in nearly every 2011 start. Plus, she has a slight edge over many of the others. She has already raced five furlongs over the Churchill turf course, when she finished a good second in an allowance race last spring in just her second start. Broken Dreams is improving and though she will face males for the first time, she’ll likely give it her all.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Breeders' Cup Sprint

The Breeders’ Cup Sprint could be described as a clash of titans that are faster than any other Thoroughbreds on the planet at short distances. The 2011 edition will feature some of my personal favorites, including a horse that has become a blazing bullet. Expect legs working like pistons, the thunder of hooves over the dirt surface, the battling of Thoroughbred champions, and a quick final time. It’s time for the elite sprinters to take center stage; it’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint time.

Here are my top four picks for the Sprint:
1. Euroears: I know him as the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen. I fell in love with Euroears in the spring of 2010, when I saw him in person twice. I knew who he was: a hero in the South, especially in Louisiana. For several years, the son of Langfuhr was trained by Bret Calhoun, who has made quite the name for himself, especially in the South.
Euroears won his first six starts, three of which were stakes races. Euroears formed a string of three disappointing losses when he visited Churchill Downs, Penn National, and Philadelphia Park. Then came two consecutive victories, one of which he garnered another stakes victory in Louisiana. After two losses in stakes races at the Fair Grounds, trainer Bret Calhoun brought the horse, six years old at the time, to Lone Star Park for the horse’s first try at graded stakes company.
Photo: Terri Cage

That’s when I first saw Euroears in person. As soon as the gleaming chestnut came into my view, I noted his impeccable conformation. He was as stout as a quarter horse, exhibiting quality muscling, and carried himself like a champion, arching his neck and traveling with class. He finished second by a neck in the Texas Mile Stakes (GIII) before finishing third in the Lone Star Park Handicap (GIII) at a mile and one-sixteenth. In his final start for Bret Calhoun, Euroears finished a disappointing thirteenth in the Firecracker Handicap (GII) over the Churchill Downs turf course.
Then he was transferred to Bob Baffert’s barn in southern California. He recorded breathtaking workouts before winning the Palos Verdes Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita by 2 ¼ lengths in a brisk final time of 1:07.23 for six furlongs.
Bob Baffert was so confident in the seven-year-old that he shipped him to Dubai for just his second start under his care. Euroears finished a very strong second behind Rocket Man in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) before returning to California.
Euroears did not run again until the very last day of July, when he won the Bing Crosby Stakes (GI) in track record time. He’d proved he was the best sprinter in southern California. Baffert, who is extremely high on the incredibly quick horse, ran Euroears in the Vosburgh Invitational Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park next out.
Unfortunately, Rajiv Maragh came over on Calibrachoa not long after the start and impeded Euroears, causing him to bump into Apriority, which removed any chance the son of Langfuhr had. The careless riding was very similar to the incident Maragh caused in the Belmont Stakes (GI) earlier in the year. Euroear’s performance in the Vosburgh should have a line drawn through it, as he had no chance after the incident.
In his most recent work, Euroears worked five furlongs at Santa Anita, completing the workout in an incredible final time of 56.60, which is faster than the track record. Don’t be worried about how fast he went, though. He was not being asked and it is completely normal for Euroears to go blazingly fast in the mornings. What makes him dangerous is he is just as blazingly fast, if not faster, in the afternoons as he is in the mornings.

Big Drama winning the 2010
Breeders' Cup Sprint
Photo: Terri Cage
2. Big Drama: He’s the defending champ of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Two months after winning the championship race, the son of Montbrook set a track record at Gulfstream Park in winning the Mr. Prospector Stakes (GIII). However, he did not race again for nearly eight months, as his connections decided to give him some time off.

On September 4, the 2010 Male Sprinter of the Year returned with a 2 ¼-length win in the Whippleton Stakes, a $75,000 stakes at his home track of Calder. He was expected to make his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup in the Vosburgh, but a fever kept him out of it.
The five-year-old worked between races at Calder on October 15, going six furlongs in 1:13.80. His most recent work was a bullet work in company with Apriority at Calder, in which he traveled 1:00.40 for five furlongs. The reigning champion is training very well, but I worry that he is not on top of his game. He’s only raced twice this year and has not been tested. Big Drama is still a very good horse, but I worry that he may not be as good as he once was.
3. Amazombie: A hard-knocking California-bred, Amazombie has not finished out of the money this year, which has been his only year to ever compete in stakes races. In fact, every single one of his races this year has been a stakes race. Of his eight starts in 2011, five of Amazombie’s races have been graded stakes. By Northern Afleet, the five-year-old is coming off a win in the Ancient Title Stakes (GI).
Amazombie has finished first three times this year, all at sprinting distances. He is extremely consistent and one of the classiest sprinters around. The William Spawr trainee is training very well at Santa Anita. His last work came on October 22, when he worked a half-mile in 46.60. He has failed to keep up with Euroears, but Amazombie will surely give it his all on Breeders’ Cup weekend.
4. Giant Ryan: To string together six consecutive victories is not an easy feat, but Giant Ryan has done it. Raced primarily in New York and Florida, the son of Freud has made his last two victories graded stakes, including the Vosburgh.
The five-year-old does not get the respect he deserves. This is likely because he has not competed much at the highest level, but how can you disrespect a horse that has defeated some of the top sprinters in the nation in his last two starts? Of course, people believe his win in the Vosburgh was on a speed-biased track, but the New York-bred has done nothing but win since March. He faces a tall task in the Breeders’ Cup, but he is definitely a horse that knows how to win.
Honorable Mention:
Trappe Shot:
I’ve followed him for nearly two years and he has become extremely impressive at sprinting distances. He finished a disappointing fourth in the Vosburgh last out, but he looms dangerous. Dirt Mile is his first preference.
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Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

In its fifth running, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf will be a grade one race for the first time. We haven’t seen a superstar come out of the race yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one emerges this year. The race is full of talented colts this year, including horses that could have a future either on dirt or turf.
Here are my top four picks for the Juvenile Turf:
1. Finale: After finishing third and fourth in two maiden special weights on the dirt, the Todd Pletcher two-year-old switched to the turf. The son of grade one winner Scat Daddy relished the grass in his turf debut, romping by 5 ¾ lengths. Running just off the pace, Finale took the lead with about a furlong to go, finishing the final furlong in 11:55 seconds for a final time of 1:08.70 for six furlongs.
The bay colt made his stakes debut in his next start, dominantly winning the Continental Mile Stakes over the Monmouth Park turf course by 10 ½ lengths. In his third start over the turf, which was also his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, Finale broke slowly and battled down the stretch to prevail by three-quarters of a length in the Summer Stakes (GIII) at Woodbine. Todd Pletcher has been working the colt at a half-mile distance over a dirt track at Belmont Park. The colt, who obviously loves the turf, arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday with the rest of Todd Pletcher’s string. Though overshadowed by stablemates such as Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty, Finale has a good chance to make a name for himself.

2. State of Play: Last year, Team Valor International-owned Pluck won this race. Now, their colt State of Play is looking to make it a repeat for them. The colt by War Front has only raced twice, but both of those starts have been wins.
A fever kept him from running in what was supposed to be his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, but the flashy bay colt has been training well for Graham Motion. His most recent work was a five furlong breeze over Keeneland’s synthetic track, in which he turned in a time of 1:01.60. The colt is undoubtedly bred for the turf, as his sire War Front has sired successful turf horses such as Soldat and Summer Soiree. He has not raced since the beginning of September, but I believe he has plenty of raw talent to be competitive. Check out the Juvenile Spotlight I wrote about him at:
3. Dullahan: The half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Mine That Bird has this race as first preference over the Juvenile. The son of Even the Score is coming into the Breeders’ Cup off a win in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) over Majestic City at Keeneland. The race was on the synthetic, which is quite similar to turf.
The chestnut broke his maiden in that race, as the best he had finished prior to the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity was second. In his final start before his grade one victory, Dullahan finished third to State of Play in the With Anticipation Stakes (GII) at Saratoga. I don’t think he can match the top two, but the colt is improving and will be a factor on race day.
4. Majestic City: The chestnut colt, who made a name for himself in southern California over the summer by winning three straight races, including the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (GIII), has lost his last two starts. However, they both have been very good performances.
At the beginning of September, Majestic City crossed the wire in second to Drill in the Del Mar Futurity (GI), but was disqualified to third for bumping with Creative Cause. He made his final start before the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, finishing second to Dullahan.
With two wins at Hollywood Park and a good second place finish at Keeneland, Majestic City has a very good record on synthetic surfaces, which as mentioned, are often similar to turf. On October 22, Majestic City worked over the Santa Anita turf, turning in a half-mile work in the time of 47.60 to record a bullet work. His connections decided to enter him in the Juvenile Turf.
The colt’s sire, City Zip, is a tremendous turf sire, having sired talented turf horses such as Get Serious and Unzip Me. All signs suggest that Majestic City will have no problem with running on the turf. Don’t forget about this colt on race day; he has a lot to offer, including one of the most important qualities: heart.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Breeders' Cup Marathon

The 2011 edition will only be the fourth running of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, which is much longer than most of the races run on American soil. The race, which will be the first Breeders’ Cup race run on Saturday, November 5, is run at a distance of a mile and three-quarters. It attracts many iron horses each year and it is not different this year.

Here are my top four picks for the Marathon:
1. Birdrun: If you’re a huge Smarty Jones fan like me, you would wince if you read the name of Birdrun’s sire. Birdstone, whose name is synonymous to Blame for me, spoiled Smarty Jones’ bid for the Triple Crown back in 2004 when he won the Belmont Stakes (GI). Since then, the son of Grindstone has sired a Kentucky Derby (GI) winner in Mine That Bird and a three-time grade one winner in 2009 Champion Three-Year-Old Male Summer Bird. Oddly enough, as much as the name “Birdstone” makes me grimace, I am a big fan of Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, and Birdrun.
After two disappointing finishes in stakes races in the South at the beginning of the year, the chestnut five-year-old returned to New York. He finished second by a neck to 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer in the One Count Stakes at Belmont on May 15. He got revenge on Drosselmeyer next out in the Brooklyn Handicap (GII), defeating him by nearly four lengths at the mile and one-half distance. He then finished second to A.U. Miner in the Greenwood Cup Stakes, though he was moved up to first when A.U. Miner was disqualified for drug misuse. In his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, however, Birdrun finished sixth of seven in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (GI) at a distance of a mile and one-quarter over a muddy track.
Nonetheless, the horse is training well for Bill Mott while getting accustomed to the Churchill Downs surface. His last two works have been at the Lousiville track: a 48.40 work for a half-mile and a 1:01.20 work for five furlongs. The beautiful chestnut horse is very talented at long distances and will fight for the win.
2. Meeznah: As a European distance runner, this filly is well-prepared for the distance of the Marathon.  In fact, she’s run longer before. She has already won at the distance of a mile and quarter, when she won the Park Hill Stakes (GII) two starts back at Doncaster. She didn’t run the best race last out in the British Champions Fillies and Mares (GII), but she seemed to resurge slightly at the end and finished fifth.
The main worry with this filly is that she’s never run on dirt. However, her sire, Dynaformer, has produced talented dirt horses, including Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Still, it will be an unknown surface to the filly. Despite that fact, the filly has faced some extremely talented horses and is quite successful at long distances, which will make her competitive in the Marathon.
3. Pleasant Prince: Like Birdrun, Pleasant Prince is a Florida-bred radiant chestnut with a striking face marking. Unlike Birdrun, Pleasant Prince has never run longer than a mile and one-quarter. The Marathon will be a huge stamina test for him, but the four-year-old is a grandson of a Belmont Stakes winner in A.P. Indy and of a Jockey Club Gold Cup winner in Pleasant Tap.
Pleasant Prince has only run four times this year. Two of his starts have been wins while the others were dismal performances. He is coming into the Breeders’ Cup off a romp in the Pot O’ Luck Stakes over Rail Trip and Colizeo. However, that was only at a mile and sixteenth.
Trainer Wesley Ward has been working the son of Indy King at distances of five and six furlongs at Keeneland. These works may help him build up stamina, but he will face a grueling test in the Breeders’ Cup.
4. Giant Oak: A stocky, dark chestnut with a wide blaze, Giant Oak catches the eyes of many. The son of Giant’s Causeway is known for turning in mediocre performances and not quite getting there. In the fall of 2010 and the beginning of this year, he looked as if he’d become one of the top handicap horses the nation.
It was not to be. After consecutive grade one wins, he went downhill and has formed a string of third and fifth place finishes. However, the Chris Block trainee seems to have to an affinity for Churchill Downs. He has turned in some of his best performances under the Twin Spires. In seven starts there, he has recorded one win, one second, three fourths, and two fifths. This five-year-old will have to bring his “A” game on November 5.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic

With super-mare Havre de Grace attempting to follow in the footsteps of Zenyatta by  running in the Classic rather than the Ladies’ Classic and Blind Luck likely retired, the appeal of the Ladies’ Classic turns to the three-year-old fillies. The sophomore fillies have battled it out, either defeating each other by narrow margins or dominating each other. The Ladies’ Classic will likely decide the filly that will be awarded the Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly.

1. Plum Pretty: The Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner is returning to the place of her greatest victory. Just like the Oaks, the Ladies’ Classic will be run over a mile and one-eighth on the Churchill Downs main track. The filly, who worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 on October 24, will likely be the favorite for the Ladies’ Classic.

The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro kicked off her career on October 27, 2010 in a maiden race at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park, winning by a head. At the beginning of her three-year-old year, Plum Pretty finished third in both the Santa Ynez Stakes (GII) and Las Virgenes Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita. Then came an absolute monster performance. In her final prep for the Kentucky Oaks, the bay filly won the Sunland Park Oaks by an incredible 25 lengths.
Sent off as the fourth choice in the Kentucky Oaks, Plum Pretty lasted in the final yards to win by a neck despite a rough start. Next time out, Plum Pretty finished second to Zazu, who I believe is the best three-year-old filly in the country, in the Hollywood Oaks (GII).
Her trainer, Bob Baffert, then brought her out to the East Coast. Plum Pretty finished a game second to It’s Tricky, who would become her rival, in the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) before her start in the mile and one-quarter Alabama Stakes (GI), in which she tired to finish fourth.
Then came a resurgence. In the Cotillion Stakes (GII) at Parx Racing, Plum Pretty defeated her rival It’s Tricky by 7 ½ lengths. It could be described as a monster performance. We all know what Plum Pretty did last time after a monster performance: she won the Kentucky Oaks.
2. It’s Tricky: Not all horses fit their name, but It’s Tricky does. The daughter of Mineshaft is known for her tricky behavior. She bites, she kicks, and she even throws her jockey off before being led into the winner’s circle. However, she is extremely talented on the track.
Out of graded stakes-winning Catboat, It’s Tricky wheeled off three wins at Aqueduct at the beginning of her career, including the Busher Stakes. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin then shipped her to Gulfstream Park in Florida to run in the Gulfstream Oaks (GII). It’s Tricky didn’t have it that day and finished fourth.
She returned to New York, making her first start in two months in the TVG Acorn Stakes (GI) on Belmont day. She impressed many that day, defeating Turbulent Descent on a muddy track by nearly four lengths. In the CCA Oaks, she made it two wins in a row, defeating Plum Pretty by three-quarters of a length.
After those two wins came two second place finishes. McLaughlin has been working the filly at the half-mile distance. In her most recent breeze, It’s Tricky turned in an official time of 49.43 at Belmont Park. The filly will face a tough task in the Breeders’ Cup, but she is always one to watch out for.
3. Royal Delta: The three-year-old daughter of grade three-winner Delta Princess is coming into the Breeders’ Cup after a crushing defeat in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (GI). However, she won’t be a long shot. The horse that beat her by 8 ¼ lengths last out was Havre de Grace. Royal Delta still ran her race and finished second, crossing the wire nearly six lengths ahead of the third place-finisher.
Royal Delta broke her maiden on October 30, 2010 as a two-year-old, winning by 12 lengths. She began 2011 at Tampa Bay Downs in March in the Suncoast Stakes, running a very disappointing ninth. She rebounded a month later in an allowance at Keeneland, drawing away by three lengths for the victory. Then the filly by Empire Maker made herself known. The day before the Preakness, she won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) by 2 ½ lengths despite drifting towards the rail.
After missing the Mother Goose Stakes (GI) due to a foot bruise, Royal Delta returned in the CCA Oaks. She was no match for It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty that day and finished third. Trainer Bill Mott believed that she’d run too far off the pace.
It all changed in the Alabama a month later. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Royal Delta exploded in the stretch to win by 5 ½ lengths despite lugging in sharply in reaction to the whip. Her second place finish in the Beldame followed that dominating win.
However, I worry that Royal Delta’s win in the Alabama was exaggerated. The distance of a mile and one-quarter was farther than any of the fillies had traveled. The final quarter of a mile in that race was 26.08, a very slow time. Royal Delta, by a Belmont Stakes winner and out of a mare that won route races on the turf, was likely more prepared than the other fillies to run the distance, mostly because of her breeding and because she was fresher than the others. She will need to give it everything she has come Breeders’ Cup weekend, but she seems to be capable of doing so.
4. Ultra Blend: This five-year-old California-bred mare has not finished off the board this year. However, her start in the Breeders’ Cup will be her only start outside of California. That is definitely something to worry about, but this mare seems to have plenty of talent.
Ultra Blend’s first start of the year was a third in the Sunshine Millions Distaff Stakes, in which she finished behind Evening Jewel and Amazing. She reeled off three consecutive wins after that: the first two in state-bred stakes and the third in the Milady Handicap (GII) , in which Ultra Blend got moved into first after St. Trinians was disqualified.
Her performance in the Milady began her journey in graded stakes races. Ultra Blend missed out on a win in the A Gleam Handicap (GII) when she rallied to miss by a nose to Irish Gypsy. Three weeks later, Ultra Blend showed everyone what she was made of by defeating a strong group of fillies and mares, including Zazu, in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (GI). Zazu got the best of her next time out in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (GI), but the John Sadler trainee is out of the Breeders’ Cup with shoulder inflammation.
Not only does Ultra Blend have talent, but she is an underdog. The five-year-old started off her career in claiming races before quickly climbing the ranks. It’s not often that a winner of state-bred stakes races goes on to win a grade one, let alone run in the Breeders’ Cup.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Last year, we saw a huge upset in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf when Shared Account won at 46-1. It’s a turf race at the Breeders’ Cup, so it will surely provide the classic international turf battle. Will we see another long shot win or will it be one of these four? Will the Americans be able to stand up for themselves?
Here are my top four picks for the Filly & Mare Turf:
1. Stacelita: Stacelita’ s first start in the United States was a tall task, as she faced the males in a grade one race. She finished third to Teaks North and Chinchon in the United Nations Stakes (GI). Then it was her time to shine on American turf. She won the prestigious Beverly D. Stakes (GI) at Arlington Park on Arlington Million Day, defeating the most talented American turf females impressively. On a yielding turf course at Belmont Park on October 1, the daughter of four-time leading German sire Monsun easily won the Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (GI).
The Chad Brown trainee has been training over the Belmont inner turf course and though many of her works haven’t been very flashy on paper, I’ve noticed a pattern in several of her last works: slow work, fast work, slow work, fast work, slow work. I’m not worried at all about her training regimen, as Chad Brown definitely knows what he’s doing.
Since Midday will likely be Stacelita’s top rival in the Breeders’ Cup, it should be pointed out that Stacelita finished second to Midday last year in the Nassau Stakes (GI) at Goodwood. Yes, she lost to Midday, but that was last year and this is this year. It helps that Stacelita is coming into the BC with 2 consecutive victories. Midday, on the other hand, is coming into the BC with 2 consecutive losses. Stacelita may have started out as a European, but she is an American now and she is America’s best shot at winning the Filly & Mare Turf.

2. Midday: Her performance in her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, the Champion Stakes (GI), in which she finished fourth, was quite flat. Of course, she had to travel wide and cover a lot of ground, but it was not the Midday we’re used to seeing. Before the Champion Stakes, she hadn’t finished worse than third since November of 2008, when she ran in her first stakes as a two-year-old.
However, Midday is always dangerous. She has an impressive record in this race, as she won it in 2009 and finished a close second last year. If she wins this year, she will become just the second horse to win the race twice (the first was Ouija Board). I believe it will be a tougher task for her this year with a stronger American line-up and tough Europeans, but as mentioned, Midday is always dangerous.
3. Dubawi Heights: This filly, bred in Great Britain, also has plenty of European ties. She made her first six starts on that continent, but has since raced primarily in southern California for the Simon Callaghan barn. She has not finished worse than second this year. In fact, her only loss came to Stacelita, in which she finished second in the Beverly D.
After two consecutive graded stakes wins at Hollywood Park, including the Gamely Stakes (GI), Dubawi Heights finished behind Stacelita in the Beverly D. She returned to southern California, winning the Yellow Ribbon Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita while holding off Cozi Rosie.
Her two works after her Yellow Ribbon victory have been impressive. Traveling a half-mile on October 15 over the Santa Anita dirt surface, Dubawi Heights worked in 47.60. A week later, she turned in 59.80 for five furlongs. She is definitely talented and training well, but I’m not sure if she can catch the top two.
4. Cozi Rosie: Maybe she’s just a sentimental favorite and that’s why she’s landed in fourth, but I think this filly has a huge amount of potential on the turf course, especially if it comes up firm. She has not finished off the board this year and has turned in a good performance each time. As a closer, she’ll likely enjoy the extra ground. Her recent works hint that she is building up stamina, as her last five works have been at either five furlongs, six furlongs, seven furlongs, or a mile. The Breeders’ Cup will certainly provide her with the toughest competition she’s ever faced, but she always tries hard.
Honorable Mentions:
: She’s undefeated in four starts and coming off a group one win. I think that speaks for itself.
Announce: She finished second to Nahrain by a nose and was closing fast. This filly is classy and consistent: a deadly combination.

*Update (10/26): Midday is now likely going in the Turf against the males rather than the Filly & Mare Turf.

*Update (10/29): Cozi Rosie is out.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

It’s the classic rivalry of East vs. West. It’s the trend of girl power and underdogs. It’s the race full of stories that will tug at your heart. It’s horse racing at its best. It’s the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and it's going to be one of the best Breeders’ Cup races of the weekend.
Here are my top four picks for the Juvenile Fillies:
1. Weemissfrankie: Maybe I’m partial because I’ve followed her since her maiden and she greatly resembles my horse’s looks and personality, but this filly has impressed me tremendously. In the post parade for her maiden race, I noticed how impeccable her conformation was. She had a beautiful neck that was long, thin and tied in perfectly at her shoulder. Her chestnut legs were strong, possessing short cannon bones and pasterns that were angled correctly. Though her back was hidden by the saddle, I have seen photographs of her without it on and have noticed that it is strong and short, just as it should be. Her hip is powerful and muscled just like the rest of her. This all adds up to her beautiful, fluent stride that covers much ground.
After her maiden win, Weemissfrankie was victorious in the Del Mar Debutante (GI), crossing the wire over a length in front of Self Preservation. In her final start before the Breeders’ Cup, the Oak Leaf Stakes (GI), she was still third at the sixteenth pole in her first try over a dirt surface. Suddenly, she hit another gear and flew past Candrea. Once she was even with the Bob Baffert trainee, Rafeal Bejarano hand-rode her to the wire. Her speed figures may be lower than other top fillies, but in her three starts, she has come home very quickly. Her final eighth of a mile in her first two starts was 12 1/5 seconds and her final sixteenth of her third start was 6 2/5 seconds. In fact, she broke the Del Mar track record for five furlongs in her debut.
On Saturday, the daughter of Sunriver turned in her latest work. Traveling five furlongs over the Santa Anita dirt track, she effortlessly worked 59.40. It was very similar to her work on October 15, in which she readily worked a half-mile in 46.60. According to an HRTV Diary, those around her are very happy with how she’s doing.
Weemissfrankie has a story that will pull on your heart strings. Her name may seem silly, but if you divide it into three words, leaving out a letter, you will see that it has a very special message: We miss Frankie. The stunning chestnut filly, owned by a partnership, is named after Frank Alesia, who had been part of the group of owners with his wife, Sharon. In addition to the touching factor of her namesake, Weemissfrankie is part of just two crops of her late sire, Sunriver, who died in August of 2009 at the tender age of six. It doesn’t end there, as she provided her trainer, Peter Eurton, with his first graded stakes win when Weemissfrankie won the Debutante and is now taking him to the Breeders’ Cup. Just imagine how many hearts it would touch if this filly won the Juvenile Fillies. I believe she has a good chance to do so.
2. My Miss Aurelia: I’ve followed this filly since her maiden as well and she has quickly become the most highly regarded two-year-old filly in the nation. A daughter of stakes-winning My Miss Storm Cat, the bay daughter of Smart Strike is a half-sister to stakes-placed Albergatti. The filly is a homebred for Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC.
Prior to her maiden, I noticed that My Miss Aurelia had the build of a racehorse. She had quality muscling that was very distinct. Her heart girth was deep, indicating that she had a large set of lungs that would allow her to breathe well. In addition, she had a perfect neck that shined like rich mahogany.
In her maiden, My Miss Aurelia gamely won by a length at Saratoga. She made her next start in the Adirondack Stakes (GII), also at Saratoga. She battled with Millonreasonswhy down the stretch, prevailing by a neck. The two finished nearly fifteen lengths ahead of the third place-finisher, Bellacourt, who won the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes at Belmont on Saturday.
In her final prep race for the Breeders’ Cup, My Miss Aurelia easily won the Frizette Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park by 5 ½ lengths in an impressive final time of 1:35.22 for a mile. She can obviously come home well, but she will also provide a good pace for Weemissfrankie to run at in the Juvenile Fillies.
My Miss Aurelia also comes with a touching story. She’s owned by Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton. We all know that Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables passed away in April, which automatically makes one want to see any Stonestreet horse do well. It gets even more emotional from there. Jess Jackson named the filly after George Bolton’s mother not long before his death. It would be wonderful for the filly’s connections to be triumphant at the Breeders’ Cup, in which she will likely be the top betting choice. If she can last up front, she will be dangerous to catch in the stretch.
3. Grace Hall: My top three fillies are all undefeated in three starts. Grace Hall has won all of her races by a total of 10 ½ lengths. After a three-length maiden victory at Delaware Park, Grace Hall impressively won the Spinaway Stakes (GI) at Saratoga. She then returned to Delaware Park for the Blue Hen Stakes, which she won without any effort at all, crossing the wire in front by 5 ¾ lengths.
She is training up to the Breeders’ Cup very well, having worked a half-mile in 48 seconds flat at Delaware Park on Saturday. A week earlier, she recorded a bullet half-mile in 47.20. The daughter of stakes-winning Season’s Greetings must have her connections feeling pretty confident in their filly that is built like a tank. I don't know that she quite has the class of my top two, but I don't think we've seen the best of her yet.

4. Awesome Belle: How can you forget Awesome Feather’s stirring win in the Juvenile Fillies last year? From Awesome Feather’s beginnings comes Awesome Belle. Awesome of Course is the sire of both fillies, who were both bred by Jacks or Better Farm Inc. Awesome Feather came into the Breeders’ Cup owned by Jacks or Better Farm and trained by Stanley Gold, as will Awesome Belle. Awesome Feather entered the Juvenile Fillies with a romp in the Florida Stallion My Dear Girl Stakes, as will Awesome Belle.

However, “Belle” is not coming into the Breeders’ Cup with an undefeated record like “Feather” did. Awesome Belle didn’t win her debut, but rather broke her maiden in her second start. She then finished second to stablemate Redbud Road in the J J’sdream Stakes, which Awesome Feather had won in 2010 prior to sweeping the Florida Stallion Stakes series. After her encouraging second in that race, Awesome Belle finished a disappointing fifth to Redbud Road in the Florida Stallion Desert Vixen Stakes. In her next start, she had a rough trip and finished third behind Queen Drama and Redbud Road.
Then came her defining moment. Leading the entire way, Awesome Belle dominated the My Dear Girl Stakes, winning by 7 ½ lengths. It is not expected by many that she will put in a performance like Awesome Feather did in the Juvenile Fillies, but it is quite remarkable that her connections have a chance to win back-to-back runnings of the race with a similar filly.

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Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

By the end of this year, there will be five winners of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint: from Maryfield at Monmouth, to Ventura and Informed Decision at Santa Anita, to Dubai Majesty and a new champion at Churchill. Will one of these fillies or mares be that new champion? Here are my top four picks for the Filly & Mare Sprint:
1. Turbulent Descent: This Mike Puype trainee is an extremely talented filly. By Congrats, Turbulent Descent is undefeated at the Filly & Mare Sprint’s distance of seven furlongs. In her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, she easily won the Test Stakes (GI) at Saratoga by nearly four lengths. The bay three-year-old, who has never finished worse than second in five starts, is coming into the race extremely well. Her last five works have all been bullet works at Hollywood Park. It would be great to see Blinkers On Racing Stable, a partnership, in the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle and it seems like there is a very good chance for that to happen.

The field turning for home in the
2010 BC Filly & Mare Sprint
Photo: Terri Cage
2. Pomeroys Pistol: Coming off a four-length victory in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (GII), Pomeroys Pistol recently worked 1:02.40 for five furlongs at Monmouth Park. The filly, by Pomeroy, finished second in two grade ones prior to winning the Gallant Bloom. She has only been off the board once this year, when she finished sixth in Eight Belles Stakes (GIII). This is slightly worrisome in relation to her hopes for the Breeders’ Cup, as the Eight Belles was a seven-furlong race at Churchill Downs, just like the Filly & Mare Sprint. However, the half-sister to stakes-placed D’cat’s Meow has not finished worse than second since. A win in the Filly & Mare Sprint would cap off a very successful year for Pomeroys Pistol.

3. Switch: Switch has become one of John Sadler’s only Breeders’ Cup hopes, as Zazu is out for the year with shoulder inflammation and Twirling Candy has been retired. After finishing second in the Filly & Mare Sprint last year, Switch impressed us with two spectacular wins in grade one sprints for fillies and mares. She then returned to route races and though she never finished worse than third, she never made it to the winner’s circle either. She returned to sprinting in her last start, the TCA Stakes (GII) at Keeneland. Having to travel very wide, the bay filly finished a disappointing but close third. Though a win in the race would have been appreciated, the filly is training well. On October 18, she turned in a 47.40 half-mile work at Keeneland. It would be wonderful to see the esteemed Calumet Farm, which unfortunately has been considered a has-been by many, earn a Breeders’ Cup win with this filly that they bred.

4. Tamarind Hall:  Everyone loves rags to riches stories and this filly is a great example of one. Of her twenty lifetime starts, she has run for a claiming price in half of them. The Florida-bred is based at Finger Lakes, which is not highly regarded on the national scene. After dominantly winning an allowance race at Finger Lakes, she was entered in the Bed o’ Roses Handicap (GIII) at Belmont Park. Dismissed at 15-1, Tamarind Hall won the grade three race by 5 ¼ lengths. She followed up that victory with a third in the Ballerina Stakes (GI) and a second in the Gallant Bloom to Pomeroys Pistol. Her most recent work came on October 18, when she worked a half-mile in 48.60 at Finger Lakes. If you love underdogs, she’s the one to cheer for.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Juvenile Spotlight: Agave Kiss

One of my favorite things to do is find young horses that have the potential to be superstars. It is very entertaining and rewarding to "discover" two-year-olds before they go on to record prestigious victories. Juvenile Spotlights highlight some of the two-year-olds I have "discovered." Some Juvenile Spotlights feature horses right after they have broken their maiden or after they record their first major victory. Either way, I have followed these horses since before they hit the headlines. I don't do a Juvenile Spotlight on every two-year-old I "discover", but I try to feature as many as I can.
The dark chestnut filly in Flying Zee Stable’s light-colored silks broke from the gate, rushing to the lead under nineteen-year-old Ryan Curatolo.  She easily led the field down the Belmont Park backstretch, running the first quarter mile in 22.59.
“And it’s Agave Kiss in control. I mean in control.” announcer Tom Durkin said.
Durkin knew, just as Curatolo did, that the filly had plenty left. At the quarter pole, Curatolo was a statue in the saddle, despite the fact that fourteen other two-year-old fillies were behind him and Agave Kiss. The young jockey asked her for just a little bit of run all the way down to the wire, just to remind the filly to keep running. After all, it was just her first race.
The flashy filly glided to the finish line, her smooth legs effortlessly floating over the dirt. She crossed the finish line, leaving the others over six lengths behind. The final time was 1:09.79 for six furlongs.
Just like every race on the Belmont card on Saturday, Agave Kiss’ maiden race was for New York-breds. However, her impressive victory should not be knocked for that fact. New York has already produced a talented two-year-old filly this year in Pure Gossip. Not to mention that Commentator, Funny Cide, and Ruthless were all New York-bred.
The dam of Agave Kiss is Salty Romance, who won the Delta Princess Stakes as a two-year-old. She later finished second in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita. Salty Romance has also produced Luxury Appeal, who finished second in two New York-bred stakes.
Lion Heart, who won the Hollywood Futurity (GI) and Haskell Invitational Handicap (GI) and finished second to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby (GI), is Agave Kiss’ sire. The son of Tale of the Cat has sired sixteen stakes winners, including the winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI), Dangerous Midge. Other top horses he has sired include Line of David, Soul Warrior, Heart Ashley, and Gran Lioness.
In addition to putting on a spectacular performance, Agave Kiss has all the makings of a talented racehorse. She has a promising pedigree, a long, smooth stride, and the build of the racehorse. She has long, smooth legs that support her stunning frame. The refined features of her head include a big, intelligent eye and large nostrils that will allow her to breathe better. She has a beautiful neck that ties in well at the shoulder, which is broad and muscled like the rest of her body. With all these characteristics and what she’s shown, Agave Kiss has plenty of potential to become something special.

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