Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Belle of the Ball in the Debutante

clip_image002A trio of Grade 3 stakes races for juveniles is scheduled for the next two weeks. The Debutante and Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park will have implications in future events leading up to the Breeders’ Cup and possibly beyond.
This Saturday, seven fillies are scheduled to run in the six furlong Debutante. The victor of this year’s edition will join a number of champion fillies who include the Debutante on their list of accomplishments. Previous winners include the champions Hollywood Wildcat, Golden Attraction, Silverbulletday and Chilukki. Last year, Rachel Alexandra finished second in the Debutante in her third start.

Trainer John Hancock has nominated two contenders; both have faced the starter more than twice. The stronger entry, Internet Cafe (Freeforinternet – Starlet Note, by Notebook) a Florida-bred, is the most accomplished member of the field. The precocious bay miss was third in her debut, but came back two weeks later to trounce a field of maidens by six lengths wire to wire. On May 31, a week after her maiden score, Internet Cafe came from off of the pace to win by a desperate nose in a five furlong allowance contest. Internet Cafe’s dam is a half sister to the good Florida stakes winning mare Nancy’s Glitter and her half brother was a stakes placed sprinter. Additionally, Internet Cafe has Rasmussen Factor inbreeding (inbred to a superior female within five generations) to Missy Baba, whose daughters have produced A.P. Indy, Tabasco Cat (sire of Freeforinternet), Raja Baba (grand sire of Notebook), Lemon Drop Kid and other graded stakes winners.
Although this will be the first attempt by the juvenile fillies to travel six furlongs, Salty Strike (Smart Strike – Lake Huron, by Salt Lake) has run the fastest five furlongs of the field. She won her debut by a brilliant 4 ¼ lengths in :57 3/5 over the Churchill dirt. Although her sire’s progeny perform better as they mature, Smart Strike does have a lifetime average of 14% juvenile winners, which is above average. Salty Strike is a half sister to a stakes winner and stakes placed runner. Her stakes placed dam is a half sister to two stakes winners and stakes placed runner. Additionally, Salty Strike’s fourth dam is the blue hen Cosmah, whose sons and daughters have shaped the modern racing world. Salty Strike’s trainer Ken McPeek has a strong 20% win rate with juveniles and the filly has come back to breeze well after her debut.
Bach Hamilton (Cherokee Run – Chilling Effect, by Gold Fever) is the most experienced filly in the field with four races under her girth. It took her four attempts to win her maiden and she was beaten by Internet Cafe in the process. Her breakthrough came when she stretched to five furlongs and dipped a hoof in the maiden claiming ranks, where she beat up on maidens winning by three lengths in: 58 1/5. Her stakes placed dam did her best work over the lawn, as did her dam’s stakes placed half sibling.
Tristanme (Bwana Charlie – Forever Full, by Full Out) makes her debut over the dirt for trainer Steve Asmussen. After two attempts in April over the Keeneland Polytrack, the bay filly journeyed to Woodbine and recorded a one length win at 4 ½ furlongs in: 52 4/5. Her subsequent work at Churchill was slightly faster than previous breezes over the Woodbine course. Second crop sire Bwana Charlie has a good lifetime average of 15% juvenile winners. Tristanme is a half sister to two stakes winners and a stakes placed runner. Her dam is a half sister to grade 3 stakes winner Alcovy and two stakes placed runners.
clip_image002[7]Three fillies enter the Debutante after winning at first asking. Just Louise (Five Star Day – Kings Lynn, by Mt. Livermore) hopped at the start of her five furlong race, but came on between horses to win by 3 ¼ lengths. This chestnut filly has speed and class top and bottom in her pedigree. Her sire gets 14% lifetime winners and her damsire is also a producer of win-early speedsters. Just Louise is a half sister to graded stakes winner Sara Louise, who placed second in the Golden Rod (G-2) and won the Pocahontas Stakes (G-3) as a juvenile. Their dam was Grade 3 placed at three and her half sister Scoop was a Grade 3 winner. Just Louise has a recent strong five furlong work, indicating that she may move forward off of her debut.
Tater Taunter (Consolidator – Special Brush, by Broad Brush) won her debut three weeks ago. After sitting behind the pace, she made her move in the stretch to win the five furlong race by 1 ¼ lengths in :58 3/5. Consolidator, a second crop sire, has only 8% lifetime juvenile winners. Tater Taunter’s half sister Jet Set Broad won one of two starts as a juvenile and was stakes placed at three. Tater Taunter’s dam Special Brush was stakes placed at age four and is a half sister to Twilight Time, who won the Cowdin (G-2) at two. Special Brush is also a half sister to one other stakes winner and a stakes placed runner. The Crupper barn is 25% with juveniles but 0% with the maiden to stakes angle.
Big Sweets (American Champ – Many Many Sweets, by Atticus) invades from Pimlico, where she overwhelmed maidens by 5 ¼ lengths in :52 flat for four furlongs. Her sire American Champ was a six furlong specialist and grandson of Halo. Big Sweets’ distaff family is modest but durable. Her dam only won once in nine tries, but four of five of that one’s siblings raced, some making upwards of 20 starts. Trainer Robertson has good success with the maiden to stakes angle, winning with 25%.
Race analysis and selections:
Speed generally rules in dirt sprints at Churchill. This week 12 races were held at the Debutante distance of six furlongs. Of those, 33% of the winners wired the field while 75% were early pace setters/pressers. As is often the case with sprinting juveniles, most of the fillies have won on or pressing the lead. Salty Strike, Big Sweets and Tristanme all wired the field last time out. The trio may vie for the early lead. Salty Strike appears to have the most speed, and while young horses breaking from the rail can have difficulties, she attracts Calvin Borel, who is quickly becoming a Churchill legend. Internet Cafe can sit just behind the leaders and has an excellent chance to extend her winning streak to three. She owns valuable experience as the race’s only two-time winner. From a pedigree perspective, Just Louise is the class of the field and hails from a high percentage barn.
Internet Cafe
Salty Strike
Just Louise
Bach Hamilton - longshot

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 Freshmen Sires Get Catty

The most precocious progeny of the 2010 Freshmen sires are off and running with Blue Grass Cat leading the herd in terms of money won ($85,284). The chestnut sire has four starters, two winners and claims a stakes placed runner. His son, the appropriately named Speed Demon, already has three starts under his girth and he finished second in the Par Four Stakes at Delaware Park.

Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat - She's a Winner, by A.P. Indy) was pretty precocious as a youngster, winning three of four startBluegrasscats including the Nashua (G-3) at a mile and the Remsen (G-2) at 1 1/8 miles. As a three year old, Bluegrass Cat won the Sam F. Davis and Haskell Invitational. He placed second in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, and Travers Stakes. He has a very classy distaff side, as his dam is a full sister to graded stakes winners Accelerator, Daydreaming and Girolamo. Additionally, she is a full sister to Supercharger, the dam of this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver. Bluegrass Cat can trace his female family back to LaTroinne, one of the most important mares in thoroughbred breeding history.

With the versatile Storm Cat as his sire and the bloodlines of A.P. Indy, Mr. Prospector and Norther Dancer, as well as a very strong distaff line, Bluegrass Cat should be a solid, versatile sire, getting winners over all surfaces. He should be an especially strong mud sire. Distance wise, Bluegrass Cat won between a mile and 1 1/8 miles, and placed at longer distances. While his juveniles shouldn't have any issues with distance, time and individual breeding will be the judge as his runners mature. Bluegrass Cat stands at WinStar Farm and has produced 118 two year olds, so there should be Bluegrass Cat babies cropping up at many tracks this summer.

primalstorm Bluegrass Cat isn't the only first-crop sire with a couple of winners and stakes placed runners. Primal Storm (Storm Boot - Primistal, by Stalwart) also has two winners from four starters, and his daughter Lady Primal is undefeated, including a minor four furlong stakes win. Primal Storm checks second in terms of progeny earnings ($52,470). Primal Storm was a speedy sprinter during his brief racing career. He won the Flash Stakes (G-3) at five furlongs and placed in the Tremont and Dancing Count Stakes at three. Primal Storm was bred to be a win-early speedy sort. His sire Storm Boot is known for getting precocious offspring and has a 19% win rate from two year olds. Primal Storm's dam sire Stalwart, a son of Hoist the Flag, was active as a juvenile also, as he won the Hollywood Futurity and Norfolk Stakes. Primal Storm's second sire is Private Account, a son of Damascus. Expect Primal Storm's offspring to be mostly win early dirt sprinters and they will mainly run at Southwest regional tracks although a few might show up in California. He stands at Asmussen Horse Center in Texas.
Many are surprised to see Giacomo, the shocking winner of the 2005 Kentucky Derby, in the early top ten standings. Giacogiacomo_largemo has four starters,  two winners, both repeat winners one stakes winner and one stakes winner. His daughter Blushing Sis was second behind Lady Primal in the Manor Downs Thoroughbred Futurity and his other daughter Lady Giacomo is undefeated, including a win in the TTA Sales Futurity. Taking a closer look at Giacomo's race record and pedigree shows that he was indeed precocious as a juvenile and has the breeding to produce early winners. Giacomo (Holy Bull - Set Them Free, by Stop the Music) was in the money in three of four starts at age two, including a second place finish in the Hollywood Futurity.

Breeders will see Giacomo as an excellent outsource since he has no inbreeding within five generations. Descending from the sire line of Rough and Tumble, Giacomo is free of the dominating bloodlines of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, and claims only one strain of Bold Ruler. The most prevalent son of Holy Bull at stud is Macho Uno the Champion Colt of 2000 and Holy Bull himself was a Grade One stakes winning juvenile. Giacomo stands at Adena Springs Kentucky and has 77 two year olds and is third in the money-earned standings ($47,580). Most of his offspring should make their presence known later in the year and do well at all distances. Giacomo has some turf breeding throughout his pedigree so don't be afraid to take a chance if his babies show up on the lawn, especially if there are turf bloodlines on the dam's side.
With Distinction With Distinction was a $1.8 million dollar private sale weanling purchased by Bob and Beverly Lewis. He is a son of Storm Cat, one of the world’s best sires out of a mare by Alydar. The cross of Strom Cat with other Alydar broodmares has produced Breeders' Cup winner and sire Cat Thief and Lion Hearted, who is one of the leading sires in Maryland.

Although he didn’t run as a two year old, the well-conformed dark brown stallion was all speed on the track, winning from 5.5 furlongs to a mile. He is a proven stakes winner over dirt and Polytrack. He has a strong dirt pedigree and his offspring will likely be at their best over that surface. With his success over a synthetic track, one should keep an eye out for his starters over synthetic tracks, especially if the damsire is known producer of synthetic track runners or the female family has a record over the surface.

With Distinction stands at Hartley/DeRenzo Thoroughbreds in Florida and he has 115 foals in his first crop. His At the February OBS Two Year Olds in Training Sale, a With Distinction filly worked 10.2 over the SafeTrack surface and sold for $50,000 and he currently has two winners from four starters. With Distinction’s babies will be more precocious than their sire and while With Distinction only won at distances up to a mile, his offspring may do well going two turns if the distaff family is stamina oriented. His offspring should be early season runners and do well throughout their two year old season.