Monday, December 6, 2010

December Watch List

The Breeders’ Cup races are in the history books and the juvenile stakes races will conclude with the Hollywood Starlet (G-1) on December 4. Between now and the first Saturday in May, countless Derby watch lists will be on every webpage, blog and Twitter page in the country. Colts that appear invincible one month will become yesterday’s news the next. Late maturing two year olds with only a few starts under their girth often jump to the top of the Derby rankings the following February or March. This is a continuation of the Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds December Watch List which was started on our main website. 
World Renowned - Photo: Jessica M
In California, the big news is Santa Anita’s switch back to real, live dirt. A number of horses that run poorly over Polytrack and Cushion often benefit with a switch to dirt, especially the progeny of A.P. Indy and his sons. One to watch in his first dirt attempt is World Renowned (A.P. Indy – Splendid Blended, by Unbridled’s Song). World Renowned’s dam won the Hollywood Starlet and Vanity Stakes, both Grade 1 events. Trained by John Sadler, the colt has had a steady diet of six furlong works punctuated here and there by the occasional four or five furlong work. In his maiden debut on November 28, World Renowned broke from the 3 post, was slightly rank on the inside and had to be steadied at the 5/8 pole. He wasn’t much of a factor and finished about five lengths behind the winner, Oakcrest Drive (Arch – Ascension, by Night Shift). That one’s dam was Group 2 sprinter in France and her sire produced a handful of Group 1 winners, including 1992 Hollywood Starlet winner Creaking Board and the multiple Group 1 stayer Azamour. Oakcrest Drive has strong breeding for turf and will likely remain on the synthetics or the lawn. 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.94.
Shadow Warrior -  Photo: Jessica M
Another son of A.P. Indy profiting from the Polytrack-to-dirt transfer was Shadow Warrior (A.P. Indy – Victory Ride, by Seeking The Gold). The George Arnold trainee gained ground to finish fourth in his debut this fall at Keeneland, then easily beat a nice field of maidens by three lengths at a mile. His dam Victory Ride was a swift sprinter/miler and won the 2001 Test Stakes (G-1) over eventual champion Xtra Heat. She’s a half sister to Hollywood Derby (G-1) winner River Flyer. Among the Grade 1 stakes winners Seeking The Gold’s daughters have produced are Dancing Forever, Majestic Warrior and Blame.
Awesome Bet (Awesome Again – Ellies Moment, by Kris S) gained second and he’s another colt who will want to go longer. His dam is a stakes winning ¾ sister to Preakness and Belmont runner-up Brian’s Time.
Royal Delta Photo Coglianese
Shifting our focus to the fillies to watch for next year’s big races, Royal Delta (Empire Maker – Delta Princess, by A. P. Indy) stormed out of the back of the pack to win her debut by 12 lengths Belmont Park. She has the pedigree to be not only a Kentucky Oaks contender, but could be well suited to become the first Triple Tiara winner since 1993. By a Belmont Stakes winner out of a mare by a Belmont Stakes winner, Royal Delta is the second foal for her dam, a multiple graded stakes winner over turf. Delta Princess is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Indy Five Hundred and she is a half sister to the Group 1 winner Biondetti, who competed in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Royal Delta’s third dam Proud Delta won the Beldame and Top Flight Handicaps (both Grade 1) as well as four other stakes races over dirt.
Flash Mash - Photo: Candice Chavez
Equally impressive in an allowance race at the Fairgrounds on November 27 was Flash Mash (Smarty Jones – Magical Flash, by Miswaki). Now undefeated in two starts, the Chestnut miss got the best of a quarter-mile speed duel then opened up, embarrassing three other fillies by over 10 lengths at the Fairgrounds. Don’t expect that win to be a fluke. Flash Mash is a half sister to three stakes winners and one half sibling set a new track record at Woodbine for 1 ¼ miles in 2:04.69. Her dam is a half sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Magical Maiden, who is the granddam of Pappa Clem. Flash Mash has now won both of her six furlong starts in under 1:11. Her pedigree leans towards speed, so we likely won’t see her in the Kentucky Oaks, but she could be one to consider for next year’s sprints, especially the Test Stakes. The distant second place finisher to Flash Mash, Tristanme was on a previous watch list for her courageous battle against Just Louise in the Churchill Downs Debutante (G-3). Tristanme finished second by a neck in that race, but hasn’t fared well in subsequent starts.
Amusing - Photo: Sheri Pitzer

Another youngster that may not aim for the Oaks, but should still be one to watch is Amusing (Distorted Humor - Cloud Break, by Dr Carter). The half sister to Champion Sprinter Lost In The Fog won in her second try at Belmont Park on Halloween. Getting the six furlongs in an average 1:11, she sat just off of the pace and took over in the stretch, going away by 1 ¾ lengths. Amusing has inbreeding to the blue hen Pocahontas and to Ribot within five generations, which is uncommon. The chestnut filly hasn’t worked back after her win, which is worrisome, but we’ll keep an eye on her anyway.