Friday, August 27, 2010

Breeders’ Cup Watch List of Promising Juveniles

No matter how quickly today’s two year old runners become stars, they can quickly disappear from view by tomorrow. That’s simply the nature of juvenile racing. It’s wise to start a watch list from mid-summer through the end of the year to become familiar with the up and comers.

Last week, the racing world was buzzing with the dominating performances by Position Limit in the Adirondack Stakes and Kantharos in the Saratoga Special. But does anyone remember the dominating performances of last year’s winners? How about their names?

For the record, last year Worstcasescenario cruised home by 4 ½ lengths in the Adirondack and wasn’t heard from again until her three year old season when she placed in two turf races. D’Funnybone was a runaway winner of last year’s Saratoga Special and he fared a bit better, carving out a niche as a nice sprinter this year as a three year old.

The following list could have Breeders’ Cup implications and become the basis for next year’s Triple Crown hopefuls. The watch list articles will be on-going throughout the year. Below are a few talented youngsters that may compete in up-coming stakes races.

While Position Limit was dazzling, keep an eye on Alienation(Rock Hard Ten – Alienated, by Gone West). She put up a fight to win her five furlong debut over Hollywood’s turf course, and then traveled east to take on winners over the dirt. Alienation pressed swift opening fractions of :21 3/5 and :45, and still gave a brief challenge to Position Limit when the other pace pressers backed up. Alienation’s sire won over dirt, but as we predicted in last year’s Sire Guide, he’s starting to make a name for himself as a producer of turf and synthetic track runners that need time to mature. Alienation’s dam won over dirt and placed on the turf and some very good runners have descended from this distaff family including 2006 Champion European Two Year Old Teofilo. If she can rate, Alienation will be one to watch as she matures and adds distance. Time will tell whether dirt or turf is her best surface, or if she’ll become one of the good fillies that can run over anything.

Bob Baffert continues to open the stable doors and unleash his herd of pricey babies. Smash(Smart Strike – Dixie Holiday, by Dixieland Band) could be one to watch. A $400K purchase at 2010 OBSC March Select Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, Smash is a half brother to Holiday Runner, winner of two stakes races as a juvenile. The dam is a half sibling two stakes placed runners. Smash won his five furlong debut on July 18 over the Hollywood Cushion Track by 2 ½ lengths in :57 4/5 without being asked. The bay colt sat off the pace three wide, cruised past the front running leader without being asked and won professionally.

Awesome Feather - Photo: Jim Lisa
In Florida, a state known for producing precocious juveniles, Awesome Feather (Awesomeofcourse – Precious Feather, by Gone West) reigns undefeated at Calder after winning the JJ’s Dream and Desert Vixen Stakes. Awesome Feather is descended from a family of stakes winners. Although her sire is fairly obscure and won only a couple of minor sprint stakes races, Awesome Feather’s dam Precious Feather was a multiple stakes winner and her second dam Last Feather was a Group 3 winner in France. Third dam Quill was champion two year old filly and blue hen. Awesome Feather may appear in the next leg of the Florida Stallion Stakes series, The Brave Raj on September 28.

Stay Thirsty - EclipseSportswire
Meanwhile at Saratoga, we selected the winner of the eighth race on July 14 in our Play of the Day at Horse Racing Nation. Stay Thirsty(Bernardini – Marozina, by Storm Bird) was the only horse in the race with experience and he cruised to a sensational 5 ½ length victory over a well-bred group of maidens, including Heisman, the full brother to Any Given Saturday. Stay Thirsty is a half brother to freshman sire Andromeda’s Hero and his precocious full brother Superfly. His pedigree indicates that he’ll love stretching out and he should improve with maturity.

Sensational Slam Photo Crystal Jones
Speaking of sensational, don’t let Sensational Slam (Grand Slam – Roman Romance, by San Romano) pass you by. The Bobby Flay owned, Todd Pletcher trained colt is undefeated in two starts, both stakes wins at Woodbine. A $240K OBS Select Two Year Old, Sensational Slam has a fantastic pedigree. His dam is a multiple stakes winning sprinter and he can trace his distaff family directly back to Best In Show, through her daughter Sex Appeal. Sex Appeal is a half sister to Blush With Pride, the granddam of Rags to Riches. Several champions were produced from this family including Peeping Fawn, Aldebaran, Spinning World, Domedriver, etc.

Sensational Slam has Rasmussen Factor inbreeding (inbred to a superior mare within five generations) to two excellent dams. As mentioned, he traces back to Sex Appeal and she produced Sensational Slam’s fourth dam, Northern Prancer a full sister to El Gran Senor, who is Gone West’s damsire.

The second inbreeding is to Tamerett. She is Gone West’s second dam, and she produced Tentam, the second sire of San Romano. For now, Sensational Slam is beating up on the Canadian Colts, but he could venture south of the border as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile draws near.

Next week, we’ll review other promising juveniles on the road to the Breeders’ Cup.