Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Watch List Recap

WatchlistDuring the two and early three year old seasons, I create the monthly Watch List, noting promising juveniles who are well-bred and/or won their debuts or other races impressively. Now that these babies have developed into mature three year olds, let’s wrap up the highlights of last season’s watch list before turning our attention to the two year olds of 2011.

I watched Astrology (A.P. Indy – Quiet Eclipse,AstrologyPhotoAnneMEberhardt by Quiet American) finish third in his debut on my birthday at Saratoga last year and immediately tagged him as a colt to watch. A half brother to three stakes winners with a stamina oriented pedigree, Astrology earned his own stakes win in the Iroquois (G-3) and was second to Santiva in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G-2). This year, Astrology began his year with a couple of second place finishes before charging from the back of the pack in the Preakness Stakes to grab the show spot. Astrology doesn’t appear to have the psyche and will to win, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he’s just a late maturing colt. No doubt we’ll be seeing him in the big races this summer and fall.

unclemo.jpgPhotoMatheaKellyLast August, the pedigrees and talent of three colts caught my eye and had me dreaming of the Kentucky Derby. Everyone had Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie – Playa Maya, by Arch) in their sights after his 14 length blowout in his debut. He went on to an undefeated season and took Champion Two Year Old honors. Uncle Mo became ill after the Wood Memorial, but wasn’t scratched from the Kentucky Derby until after the post positions were drawn. Hopefully we’ll see him race again, possibly this Fall.

SantivaPhotoReedPalmerSantiva (Giant’s Causeway – Slide, by Smarten) and Stay Thirsty (Bernardini – Marozina, by Storm Bird) both had blue-blooded two turn pedigrees and appeared to have the talent to be major players in their three year old season. Unfortunately, Santiva Stay Thirsty Photo Walter Kobbewound up six and Stay Thirsty was twelfth in the Kentucky Derby, but I predict both have good futures ahead, especially if Stay Thirsty is allowed to develop his own career instead of playing the role of Uncle Mo’s workmate.

Sensational Slam Photo Crystal JonesHis connections, Bobby Flay and Todd Pletcher, thought so highly of Sensational Slam (Grand Slam – Roman Romance, by San Romano) that they skipped the maiden conditions and sent Sensational Slam into a stakes race in his first start. He rewarded their faith by winning the Clarendon at Woodbine then turned around three weeks later to take the Vandal Stakes at the same track. Sensational Slam has been unplaced in two graded stakes, the With Anticipation and Blue Grass, but won the Fred “Cappy” Capossela earlier this year. The colt has been working consistently at Saratoga.

Smash (Smart Strike – Dixie Holiday, bySmash Dixieland Band) was $400K purchase at 2010 OBSC March Select Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He was a precocious baby, and won his five furlong debut on July 18 over the Hollywood Cushion Track by 2 ½ lengths in :57 4/5 while on cruse control. Not surprisingly, Smash was injured and missed the rest of his juvenile season. He recently started his three year old campaign and placed second in a six furlong allowance race at Hollywood Park. Smash has been working steadily since that contest. His trainer Bob Baffert will certainly aim towards a stakes campaign for Smash, so keep an eye out for him in the Mid-summer races at Saratoga or DelMar.

AwesomeFeather2 Jim LisaIn Florida, a state known for producing precocious juveniles, Awesome Feather (Awesomeofcourse – Precious Feather, by Gone West) swept the Florida Stallion Stakes then dominated the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The undefeated miss earned top Two Year Old honors, but was injured, delaying the start of her three year old season. Awesome Feather recorded her first work for 2011 at Belmont Park on May 24, breezing three furlongs in 36.78. Hopefully, we’ll see her resume her career in late summer or early fall.

Alienation (Rock Hard Ten – Alienated, by GoneAlienation West) put up a fight to win her five furlong debut over Hollywood’s turf course, and then traveled east to contest the juvenile stakes races over the dirt. After pressing swift fractions in the Adirondack Stakes (G-2), Alienation finished a good second. She again finished second after a stumbling start in the Spinaway Stakes , but was toasted in the Oak Leaf (G-1) upon returning to Hollywood Park. The Baffert barn gave her some down time, and Alienation has been working steadily at Santa Anita for her comeback and perhaps we’ll see her back on the lawn this summer.

ExcitedExcited (Giant’s Causeway – Path of Thunder, by Thunder Gulch) offered a professional win in her debut on August 27 traveling 1 1/6 miles in 1:45.17  over the firm Saratoga turf. She’s competed exclusively in stakes races and was third in the Good Mood as a juvenile. At three, Excited placed in the Sweetest Chant and Grade 3 Herecomesthebride before winning the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico on May 20.

RoyalDeltaPhotoAnneMEberhardtRoyal 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 and immediately jumped to the top of my list for Kentucky Oaks contenders. 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 last 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. Royal Delta had a late start to her three year old season and missed the Kentucky Oaks, but was a convincing winner of the recent Black Eyed Susan Stakes. Royal Delta will aim for the Grade 1 Alabama this summer at Saratoga.

I’ll continue to follow these talented horses throughout their racing and breeding careers. Maybe one will become the next Northern Dancer or a noted blue hen.