The 1 1/16 mile Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, this year sponsored by Claiborne, will send a dozen colts to the post, led by the undefeated stakes winner CONQUEST TSUNAMI. Not only will the son of Stormy Atlantic be checked for class, but also surface and distance limitations. The Mark Casse trainee has recorded wins over Woodbine’s polytrack and turf. He’s outclassed the Canadians by more than a combined 20 lengths, blowing to the front of every race and thundering past the finish line first. Conquest Tsunami showed a chick in his armor in his latest start, an allowance turf contest at seven furlongs. He held onto the victory by a short head. So, what about the big questions of dirt and distance? Conquest Tsunami’s full brother, the stakes placed Stormy Pacific, won from six furlongs on dirt to a mile on the Polytrack. Their stakes winning dam was proficient at 1 1/16 miles over the turf. Her dam, NICKEL CLASSIC, won the Delaware Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Conquest Tsunami should handle 1 1/6 miles and might go to 1 1/8 miles. The accomplished youngster could be one of those rare horses who can win over any surface.
HASHTAG BOURBON was a troubled horse in the Iroquois Stakes. He tracked the pace on the inside, but found himself with nowhere to run through the stretch. The Kellyn Gorder trainee managed to find running room, but it was too late. He finished third, beaten only 1 ½ lengths. The son of top Freshmen Sire Super Saver is that stallion’s third most accomplished offspring, right behind Competitive Edge and I Spent It, who finished one-two in the G-1 Hopeful. Hashtag Bourbon is a half to 2002 Arkansans Derby runner-up Wild Horses and stake placed Waltzing With Blue. Their dam Waltzing With Deb is a half to the dam of multiple graded sprinter and sire SUCCESSFUL APPEAL and his half brother G-2 winner TRUE TO TRADITION. Hashtag Boubon gets a jock switch to Leparoux, who won the Alcibiades with Peace and War.
After beating maidens, BOLD CONQUEST stepped up against winners in the Iroquois Stakes. The Asmussen trainee made an eye-catching five-wide move around the turn and even had the lead briefly before his more experienced stable mate Lucky Player stuck his neck in front at the wire. This was a good learning experience for Bold Conquest. He should benefit from racing and really shine when the distances get longer. Bold Conquest’s sire Curlin has already sired a Classic winner when his son Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes. Bold Conquest’s dam One for Jim is a multiple stakes miler. His second dam by Belmont hero A. P. Indy is an unraced half sister to Cigar Mile hero JERSEY TOWN. Bold Conquest’s third dam JERSEY GIRL won the Test, Acorn and Mother Goose Stakes, all Grade 1 events. Bold Conquest has a classic pedigree and should improve with maturity and distance.
MR. Z is back at it again. This colt has raced in more graded stakes than any of his classmates, and has yet to record a victory. His closest defeat was by a neck in the Saratoga Special. The tenacious, gritty son of Malibu Moon had troubled trips in the Sanford and Saratoga Special, yet still finished second in both races. Instead of resting up for the Champagne Stakes, Mr. Z was sent to Churchill to contest the Iroquois Stakes. In his previous stakes attempts, the Lukas trainee sat off of the pace before making his run, but switched to lead the pace in the Iroquois. That didn’t end well, as the colt tired to fifth place. Mr. Z is a half brother to the UAE stakes placed Ibn Al Nafis. Their dam Stormy Bear is a half to Champion Turf Horse CHIEF BEARHEART, Hollywood Derby (G-1) winner EXPLOSIVE RED, stakes winner RUBY RANSOM and the stakes placed runners Memorized and Sundown Serenade. Mr. Z has a 4 x 4 Rasmussen Factor inbreeding to the blue hen Gold Digger, who is Mr. Z’s fourth dam. Gold Digger is also the dam of Mr. Prospector, Malibu Moon’s damsire. Mr. Z finally gets a jock switch to Jon Court.
Mr. Z’s stablemate SHARM finished a non-threatening third in the Hopeful Stakes behind Competitive Edge and I Spent It. He’s still a maiden. His trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, has conditioned the winners of six Breeders’ Futurities, the last in 2004.
The rest of the Breeders’ Futurity is comprised mostly of last out maiden winners. Of those, KEEN ICE is the only one who has traveled past sprint distances. The son of Curlin out of an Awesome Again mare, Keen Ice is bred to relish classic distances. His dam is a half to COAL PLAY, runner up in the Haskell. His second and third dams are graded stakes winners and this is the family of Grade 1 winners SOMALI LEMONADE and VERRAZANO.
TOUGH CUSTOMER lived up to his name in his debut, handing Churchill maidens a 5 ½ length defeat. This is another colt who will wake up with racing and longer distances. He’s a son of Giant’s Causeway out of a stakes placed Arch mare. Tough Customer’s dam is a half sister to multiple stakes winner and sire POMEROY and a full sister bore multiple G-1 winner CONTESTED. The Wayne Catalano trainee posted a pre-race bullet breeze at Monmouth.
FIRESPIKE is a winner at the Futurity distance of 1 1/16 miles – over the turf. So how should he handle the dirt? Neither of his two half siblings won, but one placed on dirt. Sire Flower Alley is a graded stakes winner over dirt and Firespike’s dam won on the dirt. She’s a half to Queen’s Plate hero BASQUEIAN who won over both surfaces, so FIRESPIKE could be a multi-surface winner like his distaff family. The Michael Maker trainee posted a pre-race bullet and the colt gets a jock switch to Mike Smith.
It isn’t a stakes race without a Pletcher horse. CARPE DIEM dueled through swift factions to capture a 5 ½ furlong maiden at Saratoga in 1:03 4/5. The son of Giant’s Causeway is a half to J. B.’s Thunder, who won the Breeders’ Futurity in 2010. Pletcher trained last year’s Breeders’ Futurity hero WE MISS ARTIE. The trainer is 26% with horses stretching to a route.
IKE WALKER switches to dirt after three starts on the Poly. He was three and four wide in the Arlingon-Washington Futurity and was never a factor. The son of Bellamy Road out of a Hold That Tiger mare can likely handle the distance and dirt, but class is an issue. The Michael Stidham trainee posted an average pre-race work at Keeneland. W V JETSETTER bobbled at the break and then was four wide in the Saratoga Special, which was his last start. The Texas-bred colt has been breezing well for conditioner George Weaver. DEKABRIST has raced five times and his only victories came sprinting at Gulfstream this summer.
The new Keeneland dirt surface should be dry.
CONQUEST TSUNAMI is the one to catch. A few others in here, mainly TOUGH CUSTOMER and CARPE DIEM could run with him, setting it up for one of the other pace pressers or closers. Of those, HASHTAG BOURBON and BOLD CONQUEST have the best chance, although KEEN ICE could also come running from the clouds.
#7 CONQUEST TSUNAMI
#10 HASHTAG BOURBON
#6 BOLD CONQUEST
#11 KEEN ICE – longshot pick
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